March 22, 2011, 1:50 PM — There's no iPhone app for deposing Gaddafi or swapping out Mubarak, but your everyday tech gadgets and Web services can definitely help. Here's how to use your PC to organize your fellow citizens to rise up (or maybe just come to your Neighborhood Watch meeting).
[ See also: Radio/Web geek offers inside view of attacks on Libya ]
The Climate for Revolution
The first thing a revolutionary must do is assess the market for revolution in a given region. Recently a few news organizations have started publishing revolution or uprising ratings or "indexes" that predict the likelihood of an uprising in a given region based on such factors as GDP, duration of current leader's reign, democracy and corruption ratings, and so forth. Check out the Shoe-Thrower's Index (named after Muntadhar al-Zaiydi, the angry Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at Bush during a Baghdad press conference in 2008) from the Economist and the Uprising Index from Reuters, for example.
While these indexes have been only intermittently successful (it's hard to find a formula that predicts unrest in such diverse places as Libya and Jordan, apparently) the number-crunching going on behind them is linking up online data-diving with revolutionaries. In fact, you can even make your own version of either index: The Economist has a Web app that lets you change the weighting of various factors in the Shoe-Thrower's Index, while Reuters has made its Excel spreadsheet available for the Uprising Index.
After you've assessed the political landscape and fine-tuned your messages for optimal agitation, you'll need to identify the best ways to communicate them. Since distributing leaflets in the city square is likely to get you beaten over the head with a truncheon (or worse), it's best to use the broad and immediate reach--and the anonymity--of the Web to plant the seeds of uprising.