Saturday, February 12, 2011

WE ARE ALL KHALED SAEED: Facebook, Twitter, & Egypt

via: April 6 Movement
We have been waiting for a while to write this post. We cannot help but be deeply moved by the realizations that have come to the freedom loving people of the ancient and great country of Egypt.


We salute the freedom loving, brave and wonderful people of Egypt. It seems to us that every American should be able to sympathize with any people who want their freedom, the precious principles contained in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution require this of us. We salute you Egypt! If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://youtu.be/Jq4nwxEy11Y.




How This Revolution Started
Khaled Mohamed Saeed
Although, this revolution has been a long time coming, the immediate cause for this peaceful uprising was due to the death of a solitary man. USA today story by Jim Michaels revealed the reasons for this revolution. It began with a Facebook page created in memory and tribute to Khaled Mohamed Saeed. He was a blogger in Alexandria who according to Al Jazeera English, was beaten to death for having video evidence implicating members of the Egyptian police in a drug deal. According to witnesses he was arrested at a cafe and taken to the street and then literally beaten to death in front of witnesses. The medical examiner that did the autopsy, claimed he died from choking on a hashish that he tried to swallow. We have a picture of his face after his death and it shows the brutality of his beating which killed him. If you wish to see it, it is on wikipedia. The motto quickly spread in Arabic, "We are all Khaled Saeed."

"This revolution belonged to the internet youth, then the revolution belonged to the Egyptian youth, then the revolution belonged to all of Egypt. It has no Hero, no one should steal it's thunder." Wael Ghonim (translated interview)
What Role Did Technology Play In It?
Wael Ghonim with the mother of
murdered Khaled Saeed
via: oldjoe blog
Once this Facebook page was organized in support of Khaled Saeed, Facebook and Twitter became the means not only to communicate but also to deceive the Egyptian authorities. A New York Times article by David Kirkpatrick gave an excellent analysis of how these protests were organized. According to the article the revolution was started by 15 people, including Wael Ghonim, who was arrested on January 27 and kept in seclusion by the Egyptian police. We include a playlist in three parts of an interview down with Wael Ghonim by Al Jazeera which galvanized the entire Egyptian protest movement to continue their protests. At one point, Wael broke down an cried when he heard about those killed in the protests. The interview is in Arabic, but if you click on the closed caption button on the right bottom side (CC) it will subtitle it in English. If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4z47mv2.


Asmaa Mahfouz
These 15 people who began this revolt were young professionals. They planted false rumors to mislead the police as to where the protests would be. These men were also inspired by events in Tunisia when Walid Rachid, Ahmed Maher Ahmed Salah and Asmaa Mahfouz, came into contact with an anonymous person who needed marketing help with a protest in Egypt for January 25. They used google chat because that was deemed the safest from government spying. The anonymous user turned out to be Wael Ghonim, a Google executive at that time living in the United Arab Emirates. Fooling the police into thinking they would gather at a mosque in an upscale neighborhood in central Cairo, the police gathered there awaiting them. Instead, the organizers went to a poor neighborhood. For the rest of the account, we will quote from the New York Times:
They divided up into two teams — one coaxing people in cafes to join them, the other chanting to the tenements above. Instead of talking about democracy, Mr. Lotfi said, they focused on more immediate issues like the minimum wage. “They are eating pigeon and chicken and we are eating beans all the time,” they chanted. “Oh my, 10 pounds can only buy us cucumbers now, what a shame what a shame.”
Ms. Moore said: “Our group started when we were 50. When we left the neighborhood we were thousands.” As the protests broke up that day, she said, she saw a man shot to death by the police. She carried her medical bag to the next demonstration and set up a first-aid center.
Thus the internet was not only used to organize but to confuse the authorities. This is a fact often overlooked in the discussions on this subject.


Government's Response: Old Media vs. New Media
Although, it is true that most of the mainline media was on the side of the protestors, and especially Al Jazeera played a great part in revealing the events to the world, it was really a standoff between the typical media of radio and television, controlled by the Egyptian government and the new media of the internet controlled by the people. The state controlled old media was powerless to persuade the people. It was ridiculed, belittled and uninfluential in the final outcome. The people went for their news to either Al Jazeera or even more importantly, Twitter and Facebook.

The Egyptian government turned off the Internet in Egypt. The country went digitally dark. But people were able to resort to another technology that the government had not thought of - the Fax machine.
When Internet service and social media were disrupted in late January — allegedly blocked by the regime of President Hosni Mubarak as tens of thousands made their way to Cairo's main square to demand change — faxes were sent "by online activists and others who wanted to contact people inside Egypt and pass on information about how to restore net access," BBC reports said. "The group of Internet activists known as Anonymous was also using faxes to get information to students at several schools in the country. Anonymous activists have been faxing copies of cables from WikiLeaks relating to Egypt in the hope that the information they contain about the Mubarak regime will be more widely distributed."
In other words, for some Egyptians the fax machine has become an essential part of the Twitter toolkit. Want to send words or pictures to someone by land line? There may not be an app for that, but there is a fax machine.
So the Fax machine for the first time in history became an analog extension of Twitter and Facebook.

Also Google worked during the weekend of January 31 to provide a way for Egyptian to get in contact with twitter through their cell phones by speaking a message and having it tweeted.
We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.
The further upgraded their service to be able to detect the geographical location of the caller and enable the software to post a hashtag for that country.
When possible, we're now detecting the approximate (country-level) geographic origin of each call dialing one of our speak2tweet numbers and attaching a hashtag for that country to each tweet. For example, if a call comes from Switzerland, you'll see #switzerland in the tweet, and if one comes from Egypt you'll see #egypt. For calls when we can't detect the location, we default to an #egypt hashtag.

"This was an internet revolution. I'll call it revolution 2.0" Wael Ghonim
Where Will This Revolution Take Egypt?
OF this no one can be sure. But we feel certain of one thing. Egypt will not permit themselves to be disconnected from the Internet again. Those naysayers who do not think there is a new era coming of freedom and openness because of the fact that people all over the world can communicate freely are greatly mistaken. Let all despots and dictators beware, the Internet is not their enemy, the people is not their enemy, but information IS their enemy. The fact that a cell phone can photograph and image and in seconds set it around the world is a revolution 2.0 alright. It IS changing the world and will continue to do so. All governments who seek to keep brutality secret from their people and the world - tremble for your future. Yes the Internet was turned off in Egypt, but the Internet cannot be turned off in the entire world. This no country of single despot can control. If there is a guarantor of our rights and freedom it is the Internet. It can be used to spy on us, but we can also use it to spy on the spies. The hunter is also the hunted.

Is This Revolution Affecting Other Countries?
Already, when people can communicate, they begin to think. This is the most dangerous thing to governments who suppress their people. We predict that this revolution 2.0 will sweep many dictatorships in the world aside. There may be for a time, a revival of democracy worldwide. Already there are reports of sympathy protests in Iran, Yemen, Algiers, and even China! To us, it is ironic that the Arab people, who so often are caricatured as backward and resistant of modern trends, should show the entire world how to use technology in a brilliant way to carry the torch of freedom. EGYPT! YOU HAVE BROUGHT US TO TEARS AND INSPIRATION! WE SALUTE YOU!
If you cannot see the embedded video here is the link: http://tinyurl.com/4gk2ok2.

5 comments:

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Artur Landerzon Barrera Garcia said...

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Yosreyaelmalah said...

mabrook elnasr bahebek ya masr