I don't know what it was, but something must have shifted. The Economist covers "Liberation technology | Mobiles, protests and pundits" in its latest issue.
Remember the anti-cartoon protests across the Muslim world earlier this year? Well, apparently many of them organized via cellular phones - a technique known as "flash mobbing" or "smart mobbing."
Seems collective action is much easier when people can communicate (and thus coordinate) their efforts. It's also probably a lot easier to identify leaders (e.g., phone records)...
Are cell phones producing a qualitative shift in our capacity to remain informed and engaged (or monitored and controlled) as citizens? I suspect these forms of tech-enable activism and surveillance will only become more significant with time.
Either way, it seems a very fertile area of study for political science. Anyone aware of any nascent dissertations on the subject(s)?