Around the developing world, political leaders face a dilemma: the very information and communication technologies that boost economic fortunes also undermine power structures. Globally, one in ten internet users is a Muslim living in a populous Muslim community. In these countries, young people are developing political identities online, and digital technologies are helping civil society build systems of political communication independent of the state and beyond easy manipulation by cultural or religious elites.
With unique data on patterns of media ownership and technology use, The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy demonstrates how, since the mid-1990s, information technologies have had a role in political transformation. Democratic revolutions are not caused by new information technologies. But in the Muslim world, democratization is no longer possible without them.
Philip N. Howard is an associate professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, with adjunct appointments at the Jackson School of International Studies and the Information School. His book New Media Campaigns and the Managed Citizen won the American Sociological Association's Communication and Information Technologies Section Best Book Award and the International Communication Association's Outstanding Book Award. He directs the World Information Access Project (wiaproject.org) and the Project on Information Technology and Political Islam (pitpi.org).