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Mapping Online Networks between Arab States

The final speaker in this ICA 2010 session is James Danowski, who zooms in on online networking patterns across Arab countries especially. One suggestion here is that Internet network development is a precursor to the development of civil societies - and from 2004 to 2010 there's been a tenfold increase in the number of Internet hosts in Arab countries (with a doubling in the last two years alone). So has the lag between network and civil society development remained the same; is it different between English and Arabic spaces online; can we compare this to the development patterns in telephony networks? Can this be tracked through appearances of key Islamic terms like 'sharia' or 'jihad'?

James conducted a study similar to Han's to identify the links between nations, as well as data on regular telephone calls between Arab countries, and a Google search for terms such as 'civil society', 'sharia', and 'jihad'. The growth of Arab network hosts has been significant, with some 1,500,000 hosts in 2010. In 2004, the UAE and Saudi Arabia were most central to the network; today, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Algeria appear the most central (now measured by co-links to .com sites). For phone networks, there seems to be more density among peripheral countries during 2010 - Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia all figure prominently. There is limited overlap between hyperlink networks in 2004 and 2010; there's even less overlap between the hyperlink and phone networks in 2010.

The exploration of civil society terms shows that there are stronger correlations between network centrality and the Arabic word for 'civil society' than for the English term. Further, while in 2004 there was a six-year lag between Internet development (growth in the number of hosts) and mentions of civil society, this has now shrunk to a six-month gap. Finally, James also ran a pilot study of content on radical jihadist Websites (translated into English).

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