IMAGINE A DEVELOPING COUNTRY THAT IS STARTING TO GET SOME ECOnomic traction, with a growth rate of 6 or 7 percent per year. The president, up for reelection, faces a stiff challenge from a popular opposition leader. The challenger, a charismatic tribesman with a wide following, campaigns hard. The election is extremely close. After the vote, the president arranges for a quick swearing-in and abruptly declares himself the winner. Supporters of his opponent cry foul. Violence erupts across the country. The major city is thrown into turmoil. The country’s main port shuts down.
During the election, a group of citizens used the Internet and their cell phones to tell the story of what was going on through firsthand accounts. These activists, ...