Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: "Orderly transition" in #Egypt

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  • Raymond A Francis,

    These are the times that our PM is an embarassment

    How quickly people forget
    Remember Miss Clark being attacked for talking on her cell phone etc
    It is good to remember that the rest of the world does not look to NZ for direction

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Christiaan,

    Talk of Twitter revolutions have been overblown but Gladwell underestimated the utility of these tools. This is definitely a revolution of the people but they’ve been highly organised, making good use of Twitter and Facebook.

    I thought that was the point he missed in Iran. Sure, the majority of people there weren't using Twitter, but student organisers in particular were -- in large part because the mullahs hadn't worked out how to block Twitter effectively. Just as you'd noted wrt Egypt, you could see some of it actually taking place. I helped pass on a couple of anonymous proxies via a friend, which felt nice.

    But speaking of Anonymous ... Anonymous's threat to mount DDoS attacks against Egyptian government websites is pathetic. Like the regime really cares about that. Like DDoS attacks are actually what the Egyptian internet needs. Like shutting down websites is a useful response to the shutting down of the internet. It's verging on attention-seeking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • ScottY,

    The response by Israel is interesting. Israel's vocal support for Mubarak may not be particularly helpful in quelling the riots. Israel is not loved in the Arab world, as we know.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    I love this shit too:

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Some pictures

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    To which Veitchie and Deano both guffawed and, to general sniggering, said in unison with the P.M. the word"moist".

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    @adbu on Twitter is reporting that the last internet provider in Egypt is about to go dark -- followed by the entire mobile phone network. Holy shit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    So why did the regime block Twitter, Facebook and then any connection to the rest of the internet?

    Because they can. But that doesn't mean twitter and facebook are major players in the protest. Yes those media are being used but I seriously doubt they are the major routes of information flow within Egypt. When they shut down the mobile phone network then I'll pay attention.

    It seems pretty clear that Facebook groups in particular played a significant role in the initial momentum of the protests.

    There are 20 million plus in Cairo. How many of the facebook group were in Egypt?

    Sure both twitter and facebook are being used especially in getting information outside Egypt and perhaps between cities within Egypt. But there are many other ways of moving information around that don't require computer access that are much more useful to the population. It plays a role but I just don't believe it plays as big a role as us media junkies might perceive here. From what I saw as a tourist a couple of years ago mobile phones seem like a much more powerful organising tool since everyone has one (or more), and no I don't mean smart phones.

    But whatever, it really isn't significant compared to the reality of revolution. It isn't twitter or facebook causing or even enabling revolution, it's the reality that people are unhappy enough to be willing to die on the streets.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Lay off our mate Mubarak says Israeli government.

    Israel's concern at the popular unrest in Egypt is not just about the internal affairs of a near neighbour, but the strategic issue of its 30-year peace treaty with the largest Arab country, once its bitter enemy.


    ...the government is seeking to convince the US and EU to curb their criticism of Hosni Mubarak to preserve stability in the region, even as Washington and its allies signal their wish for an "orderly transition" which the incumbent almost certainly cannot ignore.

    If democracy is the issue on the streets of Cairo, stability is Israel's paramount interest.

    ...


    The nightmare scenario would be abrogation of the peace treaty under pressure from an Egyptian public that has always been hostile to it, though the US would likely work hard to prevent that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    Watching some of the video the scariest thing wasn't the big clashes with riot police but the plain clothes police going in and grabbing people from the crowd. Fucking scumbags. Courageous kids going up against that kind of of shit.

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    followed by the entire mobile phone network.

    Now that is serious shit. Everyone seemed to have a mobile and use it constantly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Have you got that handle right Russ?

    https://twitter.com/adbu ?

    Edit: found it: https://twitter.com/abdu

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Giles Reid,

    While social media might have been a handy tool for some Egyptians, it wasn't the cause of the revolution-in-progress, and neither does it appear to have been essential to it. Surely it's far more important to understand the social and political circumstances that led to mass protests rather than speculate about the influence of Western re-tweets etc.

    I think the focus on social media highlights the massive difference between the power of real popular protest and unrest and the angry tweets/blogs/facebook protests which seem to have become their ineffective substitute in the West.

    A couple of links in this theme:

    http://www.chapatimystery.com/archives/homistan/days_of_anger.html

    https://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2011/01/29/i-have-no-words-but-all-i-have-is-words/

    EDIT: Seems Bart beat me to it!

    Christchurch • Since May 2007 • 7 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    It will mean much of the footage is going to stop making its way to our screens but: @weddady: Mubarak is such a 20th century doofus, shut down the internet if u want, the protest moved offline a long time ago..

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    I disagree. The US and European leaders have effectively cut Mubarak loose; Key is still praising him.

    Its a loop thing. The US and Europe have spent 30 years providing support to Mubarak's repression of Egypt; NZ hasn't. We are always going to lag our European and American allies as they decide how to proceed.

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    that doesn't mean twitter and facebook are major players in the protest. Yes those media are being used but I seriously doubt they are the major routes of information flow within Egypt. When they shut down the mobile phone network then I'll pay attention.

    In places like Egypt, Twitter is used mainly on mobile phones, isn't it? Think of it as the social layer that helps route messages to groups. Like a telephone tree on steroids.

    Not sure if anyone's linked to it already but I've read coverage that positions youth leaders in the driving seat alongside the Brotherhood and Elbaradai. Social technologies are business as usual for them, thoroughly integrated with older forms of social organising.

    The regime knew that, which is why they took the unprecedented step of cutting off their whole country's internet access to the world and one another. I don't believe they're leaving the telecoms networks alone either (not that they were ever without interference), but others may have some info about that.

    EDIT:

    followed by the entire mobile phone network

    Things moving way too fast for me, even just on this thread.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    All train services suspended too, ahead of tomorrow's march in Cairo.

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Christiaan,

    Very cool, Egyptians can tweet by leaving a voicemail, no Internet required:
    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/01/some-weekend-work-that-will-hopefully.html

    London, UK • Since Dec 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Andre Alessi, in reply to Christiaan,

    Watching some of the video the scariest thing wasn't the big clashes with riot police but the plain clothes police going in and grabbing people from the crowd. Fucking scumbags. Courageous kids going up against that kind of of shit.

    I agree. It's much harder to fight against the state when the state could be any old stranger walking beside you. The core reason these plainclothes are doing what they do is to encourage suspicion between ordinary citizens-if you can't trust the person standing next to you, are you really still going to go ahead with your planned civil disobedience?

    This sort of thing (that really came in to fashion around the time of the Prague Spring) has been simply one of the worst things for peaceful protest around the world, it's so very hard to fight against.

    Devonport, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 864 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    Tweeting by leaving a voicemail will be somewhat limited if the mobile networks are down. What's the penetration of landlines in Egypt - especially amongst the poor - vs mobile phones that everyone seems to have?

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Andre Alessi,

    I agree. It's much harder to fight against the state when the state could be any old stranger walking beside you.

    There also seems to be reasonable evidence that at least some of the looters have been agents provocateurs.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It is their revolution and from here it may look like facebook and twitter play a role but in Egypt I doubt it. It may be our portal to the events but not theirs.

    There have certainly been widely circulated materials on demo strategy that expressedly urged participants not to use Facebook or Twitter, for they'd be monitored. I'm not denying that they might have been of some use - hey, protestors will use whatever ICT is available, what's new? - what's been really appalling is how social media-obsessed types have insisted to make it the story, as they did wrt to Iran. If I read the phrase "the Twitter generation" one more time in the coverage of this thing I'm going to kill somebody.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Egypt now shutting down its sole functioning ISP.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    If I read the phrase "the Twitter generation" one more time in the coverage of this thing I'm going to kill somebody.

    All part of the cunning plan to spread the revolution

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    There have certainly been widely circulated materials on demo strategy that expressedly urged participants not to use Facebook or Twitter, for they'd be monitored. I'm not denying that they might have been of some use - hey, protestors will use whatever ICT is available, what's new? -

    Well, in that it's not new in Egypt, sure. The student end of the pro-democracy movement was using Facebook groups in 2008. The extent of their impact is a matter of debate, but the regime came down hard on the organisers.

    what's been really appalling is how social media-obsessed types have insisted to make it the story, as they did wrt to Iran. If I read the phrase "the Twitter generation" one more time in the coverage of this thing I'm going to kill somebody.

    It's not the story, certainly, but in the context of the regime's near-total shutdown of electronic communications, it is a story.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

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