As events in Egypt move forward, the United States has appeared to be a befuddled bystander, reacting slowly and with a muted voice that cannot be heard above the din of those demanding freedom.

The State Department has been working furiously and mostly behind the scenes to cajole and pressure Arab governments to halt their clampdowns on communications and social media. In Tunisia there seem to have been real results. In Egypt, it's too soon to tell.

Citizens in Egypt have been using Twitter, Facebook and other pathways of the Internet to communicate to the outside world, challenging the government of President Hosni Mubarak. Authorities have shut down Internet services, but protesters are finding ways to get information out and organize mass rallies. While Egypt's government has to shut down Internet services, the U.S. State department is using Twitter and other social media service for statecraft and diplomacy.

The turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia provides a stark illustration of how the digital revolution can empower individuals on a grand scale — but some members of the world's elite at Davos say it also can stifle diplomacy and give radicals the loudest voice.

During the street demonstrations in Tunis, amidst the signs demanding “Ben Ali Out” were placards saying “Thank you, Al Jazeera.” The Qatar-based pan-Arab television network has never been allowed to open a bureau in Tunisia – a prescient if ultimately unsuccessful tactic by Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s government...

If I were able to travel back in time and tell my teenage self that I would one day be enthusiastically welcomed in Manhattan as a lecturer on Japanese anime, fashion and music, the younger me--a fan of films set in the Big Apple--would never believe it. But in October I did indeed speak as an invited guest at the New York Anime Festival.

The internet alone won't set anyone free. Between north Africa and Belarus, we are learning just what it can and can't do...What contribution do websites, social networks and mobile phones make to popular protest movements? Is there any justification for labelling the Tunisian events, as some have done, a "Twitter Revolution" or a "WikiLeaks Revolution"?

For those confused about the direction of Turkish foreign policy, good news is at hand. Every twist and every turn, we are promised, will be able to be condensed into a microblog of 140 characters and posted on Twitter.