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Egypt and the Myth of Electronic Revolution

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Tens of thousands continue to take to the streets of Cairo, Egypt in an effort to end President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year authoritarian rule. Elsewhere in the world, there are people who are disproportionately more concerned with the average Egyptian’s ability to communicate with them than with what drove the average Egyptian to the streets in the first place.

These people have moved the issues of Egypt’s unemployment, high food prices, and government corruption to the back burner. They are instead focusing on how to get the Internet back up and running in Egypt—and to what end? So the average Egyptian can communicate with citizens of the world who will in turn come a-runnin’? No, it’s so those outside Egypt can resume feeling good about themselves by virtue of feeling bad for Egyptian citizens when they read their Twitter posts and see their Facebook uploads.

This is tantamount to walking up to a burning home and instead of heeding the residents’ cries for help, hurling cell phones at them so they can call you and talk about the experience.

It’s okay to say, “I feel helpless in the face of what these people are now enduring on top of their unemployment, high food prices, and government corruption.” It is not okay to hide this feeling behind a self-righteous campaign wielded from one’s device of choice and say, “Their most important tool is communication—with us!” No, they’re already communicating with the man who hasn’t addressed their issues. That’s not you, Desktop Dan.

Egyptian citizens have already been robbed of their most important tools by their own government. Unless you have a job, affordable food, or an honest government leader hiding in your pocket, you’re of no use to anyone in Egypt—or any other citizen of a destabilized nation.

Despite growing enthusiasm for remote-control revolutions, they are ineffective and unproductive. At best, communications will do little more than send a lot of people scurrying to the Internet to find out the correct spelling of the country in question and make others in the world aware of what’s happening—assuming the communication is in a language you personally can understand.

The monolingual militia need remember that while many Egyptians (and other citizens in need around the world) do speak English, the bulk of any communication coming directly from an Egyptian citizen is going to be in Arabic. You could swing a lot of dead cats ’round the States before hitting anyone who understands Arabic.

Tom Twitter, Fred Facebook and thousands of their closest untrained friends are not going to change anything or make anyone’s life better no matter what post they read or uploaded picture or video they see. That power, in the United States, rests with the Executive Branch and USCentCom (United States Central Command).

An American could join the U.S. military or get a federal job that might land them somewhere near CentCom, the Treasury Department, or the State Department, or they could secure employment or a volunteer position with USAID (United States Agency for International Development) or any number of other international agencies that help with everything from basic living needs to negotiating with a difficult government leader. Any of this, however, requires a lot more work than anyone is willing to do who also thinks Twitter is a revolutionary tool.

Those who would denounce the opportunity to secure a U.S. federal job by pointing out our own unemployment, high food prices, and government corruption need only ask themselves, “Why, since I think my country is so bad off, am I focusing on the communication debacle of another country instead of working to meet the basic needs of the citizens of either?” There is only one answer: “I am not concerned with the basic needs of either. I am upset that anything or anyone could or would interfere with the flow of information I personally seek.”

It is okay to admit powerlessness in the wake of a fellow human being’s suffering, especially when s/he is thousands of miles away. It sucks, many of us wish it wasn’t like this, and many wish they could do more. It is not okay to take the path of least resistance and then claim to be running the gauntlet.

If you really want to help someone somewhere in need, pick a culture or country, learn the language, get educated in a field of study that could help with situations like the one in Egypt, and apply for the jobs that would take you there and allow you to walk the walk. If you really can’t muster up more than talk, text, and the chance to be known for both, Maury Povich is always looking for guests.

Photo: Amr Nabil, AP

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • Fully concur with your latter point, Roger.

  • No, ultimately it doesn’t. I said “extremely,” though, so I view it as an aberration and am making an allowance (especially since we’re talking about communications which, by their very nature, are personal and emotions may rise to the top – a human thing).

    Anyway, it’s a different case from those who are routinely rude for no “good” reason at all.

  • Cindy isn’t alone in that, Roger; does hard times justify such behaviour? If it does, you’re a ******g *********r! LOL!!!

  • She’s going through extremely hard times, Chris.

  • The notion that a “british male does not understand passionate emotion” is either a fiction used to justify your completely uncalled for tantrum, Cindy, or another insult, albeit more politely expressed.

    Isn’t it amazing how one person’s reasoned debate makes them either a “cocksucker”, to quote your original outburst, or your latest bilious spewing in #48 above, “condiscending” (sic) ?

    Actually the truth is that you were wrong then and are still wrong now. That isn’t either caustic or patronising, it is simply a fact.

    I would have thought an all grown up anarchist like you would be able to handle other people’s expression of their ideas in a respectful way but apparently not.

    Thank you for (inadvertently?) demonstrating the real world practical difficulties with the concept, as opposed to its theoretical attractiveness…

  • “CS” epithet is the bone of contention here, Cindy, nothing else. Besides, you should read my #47 only as a literary construction. That’s how I meant it.

  • cindy

    talk to me about what? the occurance that a british male does not understand passionate emotion? he’s not italian after all (though i have seen him be quite caustic in that holier than fucking thow condiscending sort of way)

  • You’re right of course. though my address was indirect. Time to talk to Cindy.

  • That may be true, Roger, but then it is also true of Cindy, who has a nasty potty mouth when she loses it, unlike Diana who is a big sweetie even when she’s wrong, as here.

  • I wouldn’t expect a response anytime soon from Queen Diana, Cindy. Judging by her #30, she’s not the kind of person who takes kindly to having her opinions questioned.

  • Yes, it’s direct because YOU are the one who is doing something rather than going through some relief organization, private or governmental. Of course you could ignore Hillary’s advice to the contrary and board a place, destination Egypt – Diana’s suggestion – and get your feet down and dirty. That’s her meaning.

    It’s not that she didn’t understand yours, unless her facility with Farsi clouded her English comprehension; she chose not to because she had a point to make.

  • Diana,

    I just realized I have a question though. How is using your actual computer to provide bandwidth and relay messages for people not directly helping in any sense of the word?

  • So, in the sense that I am using it, the action is direct, as it is not mediated by any authority, government etc.

  • Here is a good idea of my meaning:

    “Basically, direct action means that instead of getting someone else to act for you (e.g. a politician), you act for yourself.”

    Typically ‘direct action’ is a form of struggle, dissent, protest, etc. However, the meaning above is fine for what my intention was above.

  • I misunderstood Diana, she apparently wanted me to support the 3rd comment I made to this thread. I thought she wanted me to support the point in the third sentence of my article.

    In other words, I thought she wanted me to show evidence of people asking for Tor relays in Arabic. A simple misunderstanding. Now cleared up.

  • From her last post, I was under the impression that Diana is fluent in Arabic, Farsi, and a host of Middle-Eastern languages.

  • 35 Diana,

    I’m disappointed to know you have no Arabic-English communication to share.

    Oh, but I do. That isn’t what you asked for though.

    Your previous post indicated you did…

    My previous post merely indicted that google translate could be used to understand Arabic.

    You didn’t ask if I had any translations from Arabic. You merely said you wanted me to post something translated from Arabic that would support my 3rd statement. I have no translations from Arabic regarding Tor relays. So, I can’t post one that does.

    However, although I don’t generally save what I translate. I do happen to have one comment that I saved and posted to my blog on January 26th.

    I hope this one will do. I really liked the message.

  • El Bicho

    Thanks for the link, but all the Treasury Dept did was issue a memo to US financial institutions almost a week after Ben Ali dissolved the government. Not sure how many people it took to craft and send what is likely a standard memo, but if that’s the indication of their involvement, they might want to develop a more proactive response.

  • The use of “direct” in the subject sentence is one area of bogus disagreement. Cindy’s is an extended use to mean something on the order of “immediately,” Diana’s use is more conventional, suggesting no intervention of any kind between the parties to the transaction.

    But uses (and senses) are valid.

  • Cindy, it’s indirect assistance, not direct. It doesn’t make the effort less laudable, nor does it make it more laudable by insisting the assistance is direct.

    I’m disappointed to know you have no Arabic-English communication to share. Your previous post indicated you did, but I found the text of that indication linked to but one sentence you’d translated the same day it was posted, rather than anything from anyone on a different continent than yourself.

    Yes, the numbers speak for themselves – that’s what they’re supposed to do and that’s all that can be expected from them. They don’t speak for what is actually going on in the streets; they don’t speak to what effect indirect assistance is having on those streets and in that struggle; and they don’t speak in place of your having nothing to offer even after having said, “I talk to people all over the world–in Arabic, in Farsi, etc.”

  • Diana,

    You can install a Tor relay on your personal computer and directly assist those in other countries who are struggling for their freedom against their government oppressors.

    That is my 3rd sentence.

    Although I don’t have it in Arabic, I think the numbers speak for themselves.

    Since January 24 “the number of Tor users in Egypt has skyrocketed”. You can find the chart depiction a short way down this page.

    Over the last three days, 120,000 people — most of them Egyptian — have downloaded Tor software, which helps activists protect their identity from surveillance by repressive regimes and get around blocked sites, according to Andrew Lewman, executive director of Tor, which provides the software for free.

    “We saw this huge amount of traffic,’’ said Lewman, who said the group normally gets about 20,000 downloads a day worldwide. “We started looking at what was going on and the Internet service provider called us and said, ‘You are getting a huge amount of requests from Egypt.’ It didn’t look like an attack. It looked like a flash crowd.’’

    Most of the downloads occurred just before the Egyptian government ordered a near-total block of the Internet on Thursday night, but usage remains high through the few pathways to the Internet that remain.

  • Could you elaborate, Robert, the last part, that is?

  • Robert Weller

    Some certainly exaggerated the role of the new electronic frontier. Others unfairly minimized it, going so far as to say Egypt had become a blackhole. There are people with agendas. Obama and Keller’s NYT want to convince people Assange is a slob who has done nothing. Assange wants to convince people Obama and Keller are well-dressed, rich liars who have done many bad things. Even when the Internet was down, despite what was reported in some mainstream media, there were ways to get information in and out.

  • El Bicho, the U.S. Treasury Department’s involvement in Egypt is not yet known. If the department’s involvement with Tunisia having already been made public is any indication, one can expect to hear about the department’s involvement with Egypt in the weeks to come.

    The degree to which the Treasury Department helps to bring another country into any degree of compliance is subjective. There are those, however, who swear by the kinds of action taken – and for the person who thinks these actions are a part of a solution and wants to be a part of that, the Treasury Department is a good place to start.

    Cindy, I would be most interested in the information you’ve garnered from translations you’ve made of Arabic communications – especially any that would confirm and/or support the third sentence of your article.

    Glenn, per social media’s part in the Iran revolution, this was addressed in the article I linked to per that very issue. A relevant tidbit of that article from Golnaz Esfandiari: “It is time to get Twitter’s role in the events in Iran right. Simply put: There was no Twitter Revolution inside Iran. Western journalists who couldn’t reach—or didn’t bother reaching?—people on the ground in Iran simply scrolled through the English-language tweets post with tag #iranelection. Through it all, no one seemed to wonder why people trying to coordinate protests in Iran would be writing in any language other than Farsi.”

    If I’ve left a concern unaddressed or question unanswered, let me know. If I answered a question in a way you didn’t like and you use this to say I didn’t answer the question, I will ignore you.

  • Unlike the walking/texting woman who was so caught up in her own little world that she fell into a fountain, the people of revolution (current and past) are/were busy with the work of revolution. Their eyes are up. The tens of thousands on the streets are not the many millions living in and around Cairo who also have a stake in this fight. The latter’s ability to communicate via technology having been shut down isn’t impeding the revolution going on below them. (No recognition or mention yet of the older person watching their loved one die of a heart attack because the phones are down and emergency services is busy elsewhere.)

    If the point of device-driven effort is to assist those who are reporting on (average citizen and journalist both) rather than participating in the protest and to accommodate communication between protestors, say as much and be clear on that point. Do not tie your effort and the actions of the protester together, take credit for both and still expect to be taken seriously.

    The assertion that installing a Tor relay on your personal computer will “directly assist those in other countries who are struggling for their freedom against their government oppressors” is the perfect example of just how grotesquely inflated the ego of the desktop revolutionist has become. In this context, the word “directly” has been used in place of the word “virtually.” If not to garner a mountain of Good Samaritan points out of an otherwise perfectly respectable molehill of effort, then why that wording? What’s wrong with being honest? “I wish I could do more, but here’s what I’ve got and I hope like hell it helps because I do care.” Think this is a game of semantics? Anyone who would contend “directly” is synonymous with “virtually” need only pay their rent “virtually” to find out what “directly” really means.

    To directly help you have to directly be there. Everything else is indirect. It is important to keep any action or effort in proper perspective because at no point should the infliction of a wound on a protestor on the ground ever be equated with the way someone feels who sees it on video – and that is precisely what is risked when equal regard is given to both revolutionist and reposed.

    The protestors have taken on the job (does anyone remember unemployment is still an issue?) of getting Mubarak out of office and out of their lives. Their job duties do not include what is quickly becoming a Disney-fied, West-inspired PSA depicting a page from the diary of a protestor: “Internet down. Threw a rock. Internet up thanks to the West. Texted gratitude. Ducked. Made a quick call.”

    I concede it’s much easier for someone to pose a problem without also posing a solution, take issue with a suggestion rather than coming up with one themselves, or making more of a suggestion than is due, but those were roads I chose not to take. Those who expressed discontent with my having made suggestions and the suggestions themselves: Duly noted.

  • Alan, your commitment to falsehood is impressive, if disappointing.

    You haven’t had a comment deleted for four days now; both the comments that were deleted at that time were entirely personal attacks that made no other point at all.

    Prior to that you had five comments deleted almost a week ago that were all personal attacks. Apart from those instances, your recent opinions have all passed unmolested, without so much as a single edit. This is all provable fact.

    It is simply untrue to say that I brook no disagreement; indeed, here we are disagreeing, although I have fact on my side and you have what seems like prejudice, a most unattractive quality.

    If you want any opinion of yours to be known, then simply avoid insulting people and make it.

    So, are you going to tell us in what ways you are anything other than an armchair warrior or not?

  • There is no point in my responding to you. By deleting one comment after another of mine, you’ve made it clear that you brook no disagreement. I’m sick of wasting my time crafting a comment only to see it disappear forever because you consider it “unacceptably rude.”

  • Alan, I’ve already asked you in what way you are any different to those you portray as “armchair anarchists”, which you ignored, your favourite tactic when the spotlight of inquiry is turned on yourself.

    Are you actually going to tell us or simply continue your attractive posturing? If not, is that not also cowardice?

    You like to control and frame the dialogue but never acknowledge or respond to any attempt to get you to do anything other than complain.

    Seems to me like you’re the one that likes to sit back…

    Ruvy, I’d really like to know your definition of lucid, as it isn’t a quality that would readily spring to mind when thinking of you.

    A great example of this is your referencing people like Hirschhorn or Nalle – who are both heavily invested in the political status quo in the USA – as examples of people calling for major regime change in the USA.

    There is a need for major political and legal reform all around the world at the moment, not just the Middle East, but the largely irrelevant posturing on the political stage these two seem to enjoy is nothing at all to do with that urgent requirement.

    I suspect these changes aren’t going to be any kind of major change that you would be happy about as, thankfully, religion has not really been a prominent feature on the wish lists of the protesters.

    If we are really lucky, what will happen is a significant reduction in the level of political and commercial corruption and a corresponding increase in democratic accountability.

    Our current systems are clearly not serving the needs of we the people and are in need of major overhaul.

    I may be mistaken but I hope this is just the beginning of a major sea change in human affairs, a renaissance if you will, that will ultimately result in a more open and honest political and commercial environment, a more comfortable space for us all.

  • Hirschhorn and Nalle may advocate régime change, but that’s not what BC’s armchair anarchists seek. They want to destroy the government–not that they’re willing to lift a finger to accomplish it. They expect others to do the heavy lifting for them. Which is to say they’re not only cowards, but lazy as the day is long.

  • Ruvy

    Alan, I don’t really spend my time reading the articles of Blogcritics armchair revolutionaries except where they seem especially lucid or informative. And I don’t worry myself over their motives too much either.

    I DO see the need for a serious régime change (read revolution) here in Israel – though I’m not too sure how to pull it off. I’m left with the unpleasant prospect of waiting for HizbAllah’s missiles to destroy the Zionist régime for me, and that really bothers me. But when all the government goons have most of the guns, that seems to be the only solution. This is not cowardice – just logic in the face of overwhelming force.

    Lots of the commenters and writers here at BC want to see a major régime change in your country, other than the armchair revolutionaries and anarchism defenders. And they call for it – like Mr. Hirschhorn and his unending calls for a 5th Amendment constitutional convention – or Dave Nalle, promoting some kind of internal reform of the GOP (good luck on that, Dave!).

    But I do appreciate your concise descriptions of anarchy in action in Egypt. They are the best arguments against the belabored screeds defending anarchy, anarchists and anarchism that appear on this site.

  • To me, after reading their articles and many of their commentaries, it’s clear that BC’s armchair anarchists despise the U.S. Government and favor its overthrow by any means necessary, up to and including violence. Yet they refuse to come out and say so in plain language, preferring to gussy it up in secondhand philosophy. Why the dissimulation?

    I think it’s because they’d rather sit back and watch other people, such as the Egyptians at the moment, take all the risks of actually overthrowing one’s government. There’s a word for this: cowardice.

  • Ruvy

    It isn’t the west that needs to know, it is the guy in the street who pays for Orange Big Talk or some such other thing so that he can keep in touch. And most of this communication goes on in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish & Hebrew. You English speakers get locked out of a lot of it with your utter ignorance – except those of you who can tolerate Google Translate.

    Diana’s article misses the mark, and Cindy’s comments hit the mark.

  • Another of Roger’s spiteful ad hominem attacks. What’s that, 1,074,693? I admit I’ve lost count.

  • But Alan is the epitome of bravery, Boeke – on the net. He is, to use Diana’s apt phrase, the “Desktop Dan.”

    Don’t ever take it away from him!

  • Boeke


    I haven’t been following this thread, but your comment 19 got me thinking along this line: yes, the dissident tweeters can hide behind the internet and their anonymity, but that’s not really much different from oppressors who hide behind secret police and contrived legalities. But, so what? Neither oppression nor revolution requires or rewards bravery and martyrdom.

    One could say that the anonymous internet dissenters have at last achieved equilibrium with oppressors: each has a barricade to hide behind, whereas previously the oppressor had an advantage.

    There’s little evidence that bravery counts for much in a revolution. Usually the bold die early. And soon people are tired of them anyway and turn against them for showboating.

  • Trenchant and courageous blog, Diana. Naturally it exposed you to defensive counterattacks from BC’s vaunted armchair anarchists, which is par for the course. They are nothing if not predictable.

    Thanks also for your link to Malcolm Gladwell’s outstanding New Yorker article, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted.” As Gladwell observes, “The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. … But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.”

    Such media succeed, writes Gladwell, “not by motivating people to make a real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not motivated enough to make a real sacrifice.” After all, not asking too much is “the only way you can get someone you don’t really know to do something on your behalf.”

  • Don’t be silly. I didn’t dump on her. As to you, and the rest of you, who need only one reading, what can I say except that you’re a bright fella.

  • El Bicho

    “I disagree with Diana’s idea of a solution”

    Like the rest of us who only needed one reading to come to that conclusion. Do you owe Diana an apology as well?

  • Alright, I’m going to try to be fair. As to whether this article was a direct rebuttal to yours, generated by possible feelings of animosity, that I cannot tell. Diana is the one to respond.

    Also, on second reading, I disagree with Diana’s idea of a solution – in this case working through US-sponsored agencies, official or unofficial. In this respect, I must say she overreached, failing to recognize or at least own up to the fact that in part at least, it was none other than US foreign policy in the Middle East that largely responsible for the present state of affairs. So yes, this part in my estimation is misguided.

    Which still leaves us with the question as to what is the central point of the article, (a) a valid critique that all to often we take the path of least resistance in order to feel good about ourselves, patting ourselves on the back all the while that we’re thus discharging our obligation to the suffering humanity, or (b) Diana’s recommendation that the most effective means of helping the distressed peoples is via joining US-sponsored agencies and initiatives (with with I vehemently disagree)? What’s not in question, however, is that the latter definitely detracts from the intended force of the former, rendering it, shall I say? moot.

    So perhaps it’s best for Diana to step forward and clarify her meaning. Until then, I’ll try to keep an open mind.

  • And also read al’s posts 1 & 2, which are in line with reality.

  • Roger,

    It was her entire point.

    She showed up with a brusk comment on my article about the Tor relay. Then she marched off, in apparent irritation, to write her piece. (In it is a link to my article and an insinuation that I think that chatting with people on twitter and facebook is more important than their problems on the ground.)

    Yes, please do reread it.

  • I’m being honest, Cindy. I didn’t pay much attention to that dimension of her article, didn’t thing it was central to her making her point.

    Do you think I ought to re-read it?

  • Roger,

    You must be doing one of your benefit-of-the doubt despite the writing on the wall thingies. It is clear what she said.

    She said that the United States Gov’t and its military are the legitimate vehicles to effect change in other countries. I’d have to disagree, unless overthrowing democratically elected gov’ts and installing or propping up dictatorships is the sort of change one is looking to make. Then the US is definitely your vehicle.

  • You guys are being unfair to Diana. She makes very valid points. Of course she underplays the importance of the social media revolution in affecting today’s world events, but she does so in her journalistic fervor: in short, she couldn’t make the kind of points she wants to make, and with equal emphasis, while extolling the virtues of modern technology and uses to which it can be put.

    Diane certainly is not going to deny the whole range of positive developments that have come about as a result of the social media revolution – WikiLeaks being one example. It’s equally certain she wouldn’t deny that the people of Egypt would definitely benefit from, indeed welcome, moral support from the simple fact the we in the West are following these developments closely. It’s asinine to accuse her of such ignorance. So yes, she makes a number of valid points while conveniently downplaying the kind of things what are so important to you all.

    So come on, people, let’s get a grip and not be unduly impressed with our self-importance. You owe her an apology.

  • El Bicho

    Nice to see you back around, but you are wrong about this. Maybe you are following/friends with the wrong people but all this information brings people together and makes them better informed, such as when they have to vote for the leader of the Executive Branch.

    Your solutions don’t off much solution from where I sit. What good does it do being part of the State Department when the people of that country don’t like the leader we are allied with? How is the Treasury Department helping in Egypt right now?

  • Tom Twitter, Fred Facebook and thousands of their closest untrained friends are not going to change anything or make anyone’s life better no matter what post they read or uploaded picture or video they see. That power, in the United States, rests with the Executive Branch and USCentCom (United States Central Command).

    Yes, I can see that based on Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton’s comments.

    No power to the people for you, eh Diana? Somewhere in Egypt there is another Diana saying the same thing about her government and how it is the only legitimate path to effect (affect?) change.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    When it comes to ‘Anonymous’, is anyone else here familiar with “Ghost in the Shell – Standalone Complex”? Talk about life imitating art….

  • “First – in the name of all Tunesien people – I want to thank Anonymous. Anonymous were the only ones to help us. Anonymous has blocked all governmental websites [of Tunesia] because they [the Tunesien government] have blocked? our internet access so we may not get information. Thank you Anonymous! We want to let you know that you have found new allies and that there are many more people living in oppresion.

    And that you have won us to aid you in this fight against all dictators thay still remain in this world….”


  • Glenn Contrarian

    Diana –

    The digital revolution isn’t a be-all, end-all solution for poverty…but the internet IS the biggest threat to dictatorships around the globe – and the dictators know it! For example:

    – Remember the unrest in Iran in 2009? It would not have been possible on such a grand scale had the word not been spread by internet…and the Ahmedinejad government knew it. That was why they tried (with limited success) to shut down the internet in Iran – which led to Twitter flexing its muscles and establishing itself as a legitimate political tool.

    – Not long afterward came the moderates’ victory over Hezbollah in Lebanon. Whether or not it was due to the so-called ‘Obama effect’, the victory would have been highly unlikely if the majority of moderates in the general populace had not had access to the free flow of information in the internet.

    – Tunisia has perhaps the most well-developed internet system in North Africa…and guess who they just installed as a government minister since they kicked out their dictator? A dissident blogger.

    – This past first week of November was election season, not only for America, but also for Myanmar. Their national internet system was mysteriously shut down for the entire week previous to the election (they claimed it was due to some kind of ‘attack’), and miraculously came back on line the day after the election!

    – North Korea.

    – The Great Firewall of China. Do I really need to elaborate on this one?

    Do you see what I mean, Diana? The internet isn’t a panacea for poverty…but it IS the biggest threat that totalitarianism has ever faced – ever! – and the dictators know it, as you can see by the examples I presented above!

    One last thing – the Chinese are the smartest about how they’re controlling their citizens’ access to the internet. They don’t prevent said access…but they control the content accessible and assign people to search for those posting articles critical of China. I clearly remember a year or two ago when we had an article posted on BC critical of China…and suddenly we had a small infestation of trolls! All of a sudden there were several Chinese apologists trying to explain away the situation…and their use of grammar made it obvious as to who and what they were.

    Will China be successful in the long run? I don’t know…but I think the odds are against them.

  • I find it hard to imagine you have never translated a news piece from a foreign language. I talk to people all over the world–in Arabic, in Farsi, etc.

    Before exposing ‘myths’, I advise one to actually do even the merest smidgeon of investigation and gain some experience with the actuality, on the ground, one is claiming to debunk from one’s ivory tower.

  • At best, communications will do little more than send a lot of people scurrying to the Internet to find out the correct spelling of the country in question and make others in the world aware of what’s happening—assuming the communication is in a language you personally can understand.

    You aren’t aware of google translate? You don’t realize that we can now communicate with people all over the world easily?

    And what’s wrong with people knowing what’s happening in the world? Should the better be watching The Young and the Restless? If that were the best thing (and I disagree it is) that would be a fine thing.

    Why so much venom?

  • Diana,

    Apparently in your lack of direct communication with protesters you aren’t aware of what they want. They need to communicate with each other. Communication is everything to humans. It is how they assemble, arrive at strategy and make their positions known.

    “Their most important tool is communication—with us!”

    With us? Says who, you? That’s certainly not something I said or implied.

    You presume twitter and facebook are all about sharing pics and texts? That seems to say more about your limited perception and experience than anything else.

    Why do you think a dictator would cut the people’s communication off. Do you think such effort was done to keep them from playing Farmville?

    Connection to the world at large and support is necessary as well as means of internally coordination revolts. I am surprised at your lack of insight.

  • a l

    its about building momentum and keeping their struggle alive outside of Egypt.

    “Dear US & Co., we refuse to remain pawns in your hegemonic chess game. Get ready for a New Middle East. Sincerely, The Arabs

  • a l

    so…umm how do you expect us to communicate with the people on ground? how come the Egyptians themselves are calling for virutual support so to get to corporate news medias attention? i guess their call to have their internet back on is for no reason at all. we should just rely on the TV than for information. this article needs a reality check!