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Who Deserves Credit for the Egypt Uprising?

Despite Jon Stewart poking fun at us for trying to take credit for the relatively peaceful revolution in Egypt, I really do have to wonder what role the Internet played in all this. Is free exchange of information making it more difficult for dictators to control their populations? I hope so.



  1. Jeff wrote:

    Let’s give credit to the Egyptian people. The internet may have served, and probably did serve, a role in sparking the revolution, but it was the individuals who organized the demonstrations and the people who joined them that were really responsible.

    IK, a while back you had a post about WikiLeaks possibly having something to do with all the demonstrations going on in the region. If there was one site responsible, WL is probably it. But again, it comes down to the will of the people to stand by their own liberty.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink
  2. Don wrote:

    I’m with Jeff. A very interesting interview on Al Jezeera a week or so ago addressed this very question. The general consensus of the three speakers – all involved in events in Egypt – was that the internet played a role, but at critical times, it was interpersonal communication the old fashioned way that brought out the hundreds of thousands of folks in Egypt.

    I may not have the numbers quite right, but I believe that only about 25% of Egyptians have access to the internet and significantly fewer have smart-phone devices. At the peak of the protests, the internet and much cell service was effectively cut off, yet people turned out.

    That’s not to underplay the role that open media, principally delivered via the internet, played. But I have to believe that it was the will of the people to overthrow an increasingly despotic ruler that really carried the day.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    I should have been more clear. If anyone or anything deserves credit for what happened in Egypt, it is obviously the Egyptian people. But why did they suddenly decide they had had enough, and what gave them the push to do something about it? Their situation has been bad for almost 30 years — why did this happen now? There was nothing Mubarak did now that he hasn’t been doing for a long time, and no event that triggered the protests other than Tunisia and WikiLeaks.

    Maybe they were inspired by what happened in Tunisia. But Tunisia was definitely helped along by disclosures from WikiLeaks. Maybe the Egyptians were helped along by the internet (I don’t think it matters that only 25% of Egyptians have access to the internet — that’s more than enough).

    I’m not trying to take away credit from the Egyptian people, I just want to know why they decided to do something now and what gave them the courage to actually do it.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Permalink
  4. Jason Ray wrote:

    There is no doubt that oppressive regimes depend on control of information to maintain their oppression. That’s why in the old USSR they monitored every single Xerox machine in the country, to make sure that no one could print up “revolutionary” material for distribution. And it’s why when the first Soviet Olympians came into the United States they were told our supermarkets were fakes made up to deceive them, because they *knew* that it was impossible to have a store with enough food to keep the shelves stocked. It’s also why we started the Voice of America and similar programs – the more people know that there is a way to a better life they tend to take it (Prosecution cites Illegal Immigrants v. USA) If life was worse here than where they were, they would stay home.

    I believe that what happened in Egypt is a classic example of hitting a “Tipping Point” (by Malcolm Gladwell, for those that haven’t read it) and that what we saw is how the Internet and social media can cause things to tip in a very short period of time. IK, my hypothesis is that thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and other communication methods (playing the Tipping Point role of a Connector) connected a critical mass of Egyptians that realized there were enough like minded citizens that they could do something – and once it started, it snowballed.

    The Internet and social connection technologies are causing cracks in many repressive regimes and the success in Egypt will accelerate that – and maybe we’re starting to see how a real world government might emerge some day.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    That’s a good point. Something minor (like WikiLeaks) can cause a tipping point to be hit.

    Are there any other theories of something else that could have acted as a catalyst for all this lovely democracy springing up in the Middle East right now?

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  6. BTN wrote:

    Well, I haven’t done the research to back this up, but employed, well-fed, safe, and healthy people seldom tip over the apple cart. If you think this is dramatic, wait until the oil production in Saudi Arabia starts to dramatically drop (it may still be while, even if we have already passed peak oil).

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
  7. Mad Hatter wrote:

    Maybe with the Republican’s following through on their draconian (and totaly unnecessary) budget cuts, we’ll start having our own homegrown revolutions.


    ….and I’m talking real grassroots revolution not the fake astroturf Tea Party kind.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink