Virtual Collective Consciousness: Social Networking Accounts of the Arab Spring

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 1:30 PM-4:30 PM
Room LL21B (San Jose Convention Center)
Yousri Marzouki, Aix-Marseille University & CNRS, Marseille, France
Social media have significantly penetrated our lives and consequently have modified many of our behaviors and our brain activities. Virtual Collective Consciousness (VCC) is a promising framework to understand the mechanisms underlying these new virtual channels of communication. To illustrate this idea, VCC was first shown to be captured through analyzing a 6640-word corpus from 333 respondents about Facebook contribution to the Tunisian revolution and then by tracing the Search Volume Index of specific keywords as a worldwide proxy of VCC during the Arab Spring. Indeed, few studies have shown recently that search engine query data have proven useful in offering insights about the complexity of our world (e.g., economic interests). To do so, data from Google Trends covering the 52 weeks of 2011 were extracted using the following search terms: Tunisian revolution, Egyptian revolution, revolution Facebook, and Twitter Facebook. the results revealed significant cross-correlations between these terms being strongly mediated by the “revolution Facebook” search term volume. Taken together, these findings allow to: i) support the idea that a working VCC in the Tunisian cyberspace swiftly migrated to the Egyptian cyberspace through social networking and ii) trace back significant indicators of the role of search query in promoting a large-scale Transactive Memory which is mandatory in shaping collective virtual behaviors according to VCC framework. Hence, such complex interactions that occur within large but leaderless and effective networks morph into a data-driven society paradigm where our communication relies entirely on big data.