January 29, 2011

Events in Egypt (everything is fine love the egypt government)

Along with tons of others out there, I have spent a good part of the last 24 hours watching AJE's live coverage of the events in Egypt, and reading all of the reports and posts about these events. The Guardian UK also has a page with live updates, here. Max Forte has a new post over at Zero Anthropology: "Focus on Egypt." Daily Kos has an open thread going right now, as well as a large collection of posts, reactions, thoughts, and links about the protests. Twitter has also played an interesting role in spreading news about these events through a series of topics and tags (ie #Jan25; #Egypt, etc).

Above: screen shot of a popular tweet that has been all over twitter the last few days.

As numerous people have already pointed out, social media has played a key role in all of this (but it's also important to realize that what is happening extends beyond these forms of media). This short BBC video talks about "Protests and the role of social media." Max Forte (in the post that I already linked to above) has also highlighted the role of blogs in these protests:

"Egypt’s bloggers are playing an increasingly important role in broadening the scope of acceptable political and social discourse, and self-expression,” and Egyptian bloggers work as human rights activists, although this has been diminished by various government crackdowns and the turn to other social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. While usually targeting the Muslim Brotherhood, the government “has also used the Emergency Law in some recent cases to target bloggers and labor demonstrators.

One of the most blatant moves of the Egyptian government was the decision to close down social media (internet access, cell phone use, etc) to attempt to control popular unrest. Not a good decision--and this speaks to the power of these tools when it comes to political organization and expression. Of course, this whole story is developing as we speak, so it remains to be seen how things will play out. More about this later on.


There are tons of media depictions of the unfolding events in Egypt--videos, reports, photos, images, tweets, blog posts, etc. Sites like YouTube are flooded with all sorts of footage, shot by media professionals and people with cell phones. Social media is certainly playing an undeniable role in all of this--and there are endless examples out there that provide unique insights into how actions, thoughts, sentiments and ideas are being communicated. Pretty fascinating stuff. Here's just one of many:


Barbara Miller at anthropologyworks posted "Understanding Egypt," which has a ton of good references for anyone looking to learn more about "culture, society, and contemporary change" in Egypt.

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