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In our case study we followed the research approach outlined by Eisenhardt (1989), Pentland (1999), Yin (2009), Gerring (2007), and George and Bennett (2005). Our research steps were to:

  1. Compose a logically sound narration of the case, paying particular attention to the cyber activities carried out and the ICTs used at that time;
  2. Extract from this narrative some initial ideas about the role of ICTs in the Orange Revolution events and processes (see Appendix for some details);
  3. Derive related patterns for use during the creation of our initial theoretical framework;
  4. Synthesize that framework based on those patterns; and,
  5. Distinguish possible areas which need further investigation through additional case studies (a subject of our future research).

The analytical techniques suggested by case study methodology experts for employment during theory–building closely resemble those used under the grounded theory approach (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Strauss, 1987), in which “theory is grounded in descriptive categories and relationships that emerge from properly collected and coded data, where the use of theoretical preconceptions or prior theory is minimized so as not to force the emergence of a theory.” [4]

In the course of our case analysis we group data into topical categories (such as Internet penetration rates, authorities’ attitude towards the Internet, legal control of the Internet, dissenters’ use of the Internet, youth and the Internet, political humor online, etc.). From these categories we determine the main stakeholders of the political cyberprotest (dissenters, authorities, citizens, etc.), the main Internet–based tools used, and the main tactics and strategies those stakeholders undertook utilizing those tools. Combining these latter data allows us to build the initial version of our theoretical framework.

By following this research approach, an interpretation of particular chronological sequences of the case’s evolution allows us to postulate contingent causal relationships between some important indicators and parameters of cyberprotest development. For example, we observe how some dissenters’ tactics and strategies of cyberprotest, including the use of certain features of Internet–based ICTs, developed over time from the first active phase (the “Kuchmagate” events of 2000) to the second (Presidential elections of 2004). We can assume that these strategies were connected with increases in the Internet penetration rate and changes in the organizational forms of the dissenters, who chose to adhere to the more robust mirrored networked organization where ensuring constant connectivity plays one of the critical roles in the movement’s success. Accordingly, it is possible to analyze the development of these phenomena using the above–mentioned analytical approach. This allows us to better understand the roles and weights of various time–dependent parameters in the complex process of political cyberprotest, and to properly account for them in our theoretical framework.

In our case study we conducted extensive secondary research by drawing on information sources devoted to ICTs’ role in the socio–political development of Ukraine during its independence (especially around the time of the Orange Revolution), in Ukrainian, Russian and English. Thus, we were able to review and synthesize practically all known to us important sources of information on the topic.

Our findings were based on the process of extracting findings from a narrative (Pentland, 1999). We used the case of the Orange Revolution as depicted in various sources, mostly papers from peer–reviewed journals, both those specifically targeting the role of the Internet (Bandera, 2006; Kyj, 2006; Goldstein, 2007), and general descriptions (Slaboshpytskyi, 2005; Kolesnikov, 2005; Borovyk, 2006). All of these works are descriptive, and some of them are also explanatory in the sense of Dube and Pare [5], but none of them is exploratory; that is, none of them are ‘proposing new constructs and/or building new theories.’ Our task, on the contrary, was to derive related patterns which could subsequently be used in the creation of a theoretical framework.

Among the main primary information resources used, we studied the Web sites of:

Since we drew from different, often politically opposite information sources, we had enough data to grasp the essence of the events of interest to us, achieved saturation and triangulation of the data, and ensured the data’s reliability and validity (Flyvbjerg, 2006). If we encountered any issues in which we had inconsistent data (as it was with the Internet penetration rates) we provide all of them, allowing the reader to establish at least approximate numbers and values. Based on these data we were able to follow the dynamic development of the situations around the Orange Revolution, trace the role of Internet–based ICTs in that development, build a detailed timeline of the events, analyze it from an information science perspective, and come to conclusions which suggest importance of the role played by Internet–facilitated information flows in the political development of non–democratic countries (of course, there are also other important factors (see, e.g., Kuzio, 2005) which should be taken into account).

In our case narrative we provide a general picture of the political Internet in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution, paying special attention to the Ukrainian authorities’ attitude towards the Internet and to the characteristics of Ukrainian Internet users. We provide a description of the use of Internet–based ICTs during the “Kuchmagate” events of 2000–2001, which marked the first active phase of the Orange Revolution. We also examine the transition period of 2002–2003 between the two active phases of the Revolution. Subsequently we describe Internet use during the primary active phase of the Orange Revolution in 2004 and examine the most vivid sub–cases of Internet–based ICT use, such as Ukrainska Pravda, Maidan, and Pora, monitoring of the elections, information wars, online humor, etc.