Remembering Revolutionary Media

The movement in Egypt was said to be “very dependent on Facebook,” according to an Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah who was quoted in the Washington Post. Fueled by the anger over high food prices and high unemployment, the citizen’s communications strategy went beyond social media.

Collective Intelligence expert, Don Tapscott, wrote in HuffPo about Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s attempt to maintain a “firm grip” on the country’s media, which was ultimately lost due to the “interactive and decentralized” power of the web.

ReadWriteWeb noted that even when 90% of Egyptian internet access points were shut down by major ISPs, the coordination of “old-style” dial up connections helped maintain communications throughout the country.

The revolution included a number of alternative media channels as well, which Alex Dunn, a researcher in Cairo wrote about.  He tells us that leaflets were “largely distributed in areas with low Internet penetration rates” by organizers who spread awareness of the citizen’s demands.  Drivers stuck in traffic are said to have shared information from the Al-Arabiya satellite news radio with pedestrians on the street who would then share the information with their social networks. Dunn suggests this form of dissemination led to “actionable information being distributed between formerly disparate networks.”

Enthusiasm from around the globe was especially drawn to the Egyptian’s use of FB and Twitter as a means to amplify their revolutionary aims.  Through the web, the revolution captured global participation and with the tactics of the online group Anonymous, NYTimes reports, the Egyptian government’s Web sites were “paralyzed”.

The rapid acceleration of citizen intelligence during the protests against Egypt’s dictatorial regime bypassed the attempt at media suppression. The coordinated uprising of frustrated young Egyptians utilizing media in many forms guarded them against the “kill switch“, reminding individuals that broadcast and print may also prove crucial.

Remembering Revolutionary Media

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