For many Americans, the Middle East is a haven for terrorists, oil, and sand. This infographic loosely based on Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark might help with regards to Egypt. This infographic from Hootsuite shows some of the social media metrics. The Daily Show and the Colbert Report also do more than your favorite pundit, fearmonger, or gasbag.
The current crisis in Egypt first appeared in my Google Reader with a story of Egyptian Muslim’s protecting their fellow countrymen Coptic Christians during prayer.
There was (and is still) great debate on the contribution social media in revolutions spreading across the Middle East (and causing concern as far away as China). These tools were and are bring used in capacities beyond their original intent, spreading the protesters plans (full translation here). World economic leaders gathered at DAVOS appear to have appreciated that social-media led uprisings are the new normal. The true factor powering these protests is the network of people, not profiles on Facebook and Twitter. Regardless, YouTube and Flickr are assisting in the story telling in ways only they can.
While the Obama Administration appears to have been surprised by the events in Egypt, US State Department cables released via Wikileaks in the NYTimes showed increasing dissatisfaction and disengagement. The US State Department also worked with Google to get videos showing human rights abuses uncensored after blocking at the request of the Egyptian government. It’s worthwhile to point out that the military hardware crushing dissent was paid for in American dollars.
Network analysis revealed that access to the internet in Egypt was nearly cut off [infographic]. Cutting off access to connect, communicate, cooperate, and collaborate is essential to stopping a revolution; Cutting of access is not without cost. It sends a signal to peer nations, the populace at large, and business and trading partners, none for the better. I suspect that access to social media will be regarded as a barometer to the freedom and stability of nations.
I’m unsure if anyone has checked in with Malcolm Gladwell on the subject, who previously reported that social media was not sufficient for activism. His criticism was not well received at the time, even less so now.