a month ago people were literally afraid to talk about politics. in tunisia having a political conversation is known as "dangerous talk," something you only do with those close to you.
now protesters are openly demanding the removal of the president, and he is backtracking. before today we had to use internet proxies (programs that disguise your ip address) to access websites like youtube and al jazeera. they were unblocked this morning.
more importantly, it's always been assumed that president ben ali will be in office until he dies, or at least for the foreseeable future. on thursday night ben ali promised not to seek "reelection" in the next poll (in 2014).
these changes are huge, but probably too little too late. the protesters clearly don't want another 3 years of rule by ben ali, the people in the streets want him out now.