Showing posts with label Gartner Hype Cycle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gartner Hype Cycle. Show all posts


Egypt elections and the 'hype cycle'

As the verdict in Egypt's election comes in, I can't help but think about my post written a year ago, just after Mubarak's ouster, predicting the course of the revolution. In my post "Revolutions and emotions in the Middle East" I stated that:

  1. It is too early to write off Islam as a political force in Egypt
  2. Revolutionary emotions give rise to reactionary forces
  3. Islam is not necessarily antithetical to ideals of "democracy" and there is the danger of media narratives shaping such a demarcation

Now as we see it, in Egypt today, the parliament stands dissolved, there's no constitution and the president will now either be from the Muslim Brotherhood (Mohd Morsi) or the old guard (Ahmed Shafiq). Did the revolutionaries anticipate it? I don't think so. The revolution has not ended in Egypt and the repercussions of this phase will be significant on world politics and the politics of the region. As I wrote in my post a year earlier, it is now that the revolution has entered the "trough of disillusionment" in the hype cycle. This is where the 'realpolitik' begins and only in the coming few years we will see what it would lead to. 

For a section of Egyptians, Mohd Morsi by virtue of being a conservative Islamist, may represent a millenarian break from the past to a better social order. While Shafiq might represent stability and order that came with the old guard. It will be interesting to see the media rhetoric and media's representation of Egypt's situation in the coming few days and the reporting on Muslim Brotherhood and the mood in Egypt's street. 

For those who led the civil resistance in Egypt, this was definitely something that they never anticipated. Nonetheless, the revolution is far from dead... in fact it has just started!

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur

'Emotional connect' in the elections in Egypt

So we all know the results of the elections in Egypt. Muslim Brotherhood leads with radical Salafists coming a close second. In fact Islamist parties cornered two-thirds of the votes in the elections. On March 21, 2011, I had clearly written in my blog that it is too early to write off Islam as a political force as a result of the Arab Spring. In a bit of kamikaze thinking, I also applied the Gartner Hype Cycle to explain why religion might become central to Arab political discourse after the Arab Spring. You can read the post here - Revolutions and emotions in Middle East.   By this time we also know that Tunisia has turned 'green' and Libya intends to do so as well. 

History has showed us time and again that revolutions often lead to 'millenarian' expectations that often results in it becoming reactionary or throwing up results that maybe unanticipated. This is not to suggest that the victory of Islamists is a reactionary development; it might be good for those countries and the world in general. They were elected by a democratic process. Just that we don't know yet.

Religion is emotional and appeals to the heart and so has wider appeal than political concepts. It can be felt and doesn't need to be learnt unlike a political concept. Besides, religion promises final salvation, the education and training for which begins at home. It is also not alien and is instead steeped in the local customs, culture and folklore. It is familiar, pure and can be trusted. It is what in communications we call the 'emotional connect.' In societies where religion has always been central it is no surprise that people have expressed their faith in Islamists. Congratulations to the people of Egypt for successfully electing a government of their choice!

Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur


Revolutions and emotions in the Middle East

There is considerable hope and optimism all around that political churn in the Middle East  would eventually lead to a democratic transition in the entire region, overcoming political Islam and dictatorships. I feel this is where we need to be careful and understand how revolutions tend to unravel.

As I sit to write, news comes in of Operation Odyssey Dawn entering a crucial phase with coalition forces firing hundreds of Tomahawk cruise missiles into 'military targets' inside Libya. Gaddafi, meanwhile, has declared the coalition's intervention in Libya as "war on Islam." Nearby in Egypt, where a referendum is underway, critics are wary of Islamists becoming a major political force in Egyptian politics. 

Expectations tend to rise to unrealistic levels during revolutions. Revolutions also create powerful emotions. The measures that follow, more often than not, may not be able to meet such expectations resulting, very often, in a reactionary tide against the revolution. In the  Middle East, lack of economic dynamism, unstable political culture and a closed society may very well lead to a gap between expectations and delivery. This is when reactionary forces might set in, and in the Middle East, it may very well be Islam. Because when people lose hope, become desperate, they often turn to God. Besides religion is something deeply emotional and  personal and is in the heart. It appeals to emotions unlike a political concept  - democracy. 

This might be bit of  a stretch, but I would like to apply Gartner's Hype Cycle to the above argument as it is applied to new technology in the world of communications. There might be the possibility of Islam emerging as a  force in the "Trough of Disillusionment" as illustrated below:

Stages in the Gartner's Hype cycle hypothetically applied to revolutions in Middle East

Freedom, as the West understands it, may not appeal to some societies in these regions. Besides, be it the French Revolution or the Iranian revolution, examples of a strong counter current are many in history. Hence, it is too early to write Islam off as a political force in the Middle East. In this entire debate, there is a tendency to assume that Islam is antithetical to democracy. In fact, India is the best example where the second largest Muslim population in the world have embraced democracy. To pit Islam against democracy, and, adopt a line of discussion/news reporting that encourage such a demarcation will only lead to a "clash of emotions." 

Suggestions/Critiques welcome

-- Madhur
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