As you shuffle through the crowds of people that have lined Tahrir Square in Downtown Cairo one thing is apparent. There is no shortage of smart-phones, digital cameras, video cameras, and assorted technology. Of course this is one of the major elements that has contributed to the wide spread success of the revolution here in Egypt.
Being directly plugged in has allowed us to share our messages and spread information in ways that were never possible before. we are able to mobilize our friends, families, and other supporters through this digital medium. Photos, lists of supplies, locations, and critical information gets shared daily to keep us informed of the progress of our movement.
In a country, that many Americans view as a third world country, more known for pyramids, and archaic communication, I am here to tell you, you are sadly mistaken. Iphone and Blackberry wielding protesters of all ages teem the streets snapping up photos and sending tweets, so much so that the networks in and surround Tahrir Square are often overloaded to the point on failure.
Almost everyone from the age of 15 and up has a phone or smart-phone which they have enabled for social network usage. I ask, “Do you think this movement would have been possible without the use of this technology?” Funnily enough, the answer is frequently, yes. However, I am told, these technologies have only made it faster for us to organize. The bottom line is that this revolution would have happened whether or not digital mediums were available. For instance, for a while the internet was shut down in order to discourage such organization, so what was done? True grassroots movement, talking to neighbors, talking to strangers, spreading information by word of mouth; you could essentially call it “Vocal Wildfire.”
By them shutting down the internet and other digital social channels it forced us to protests. If they had not barred these digital communications, we would have stayed home and watched from our computers and gathered information by online chats. It was the government that truly mobilized our movement, by forcing us on to the streets to talk to our neighbors and to gather in groups to share information. All in all it made us more united and strengthened our communities, but it was a by product of our lack of internet and mobile communications.
As we have seen, while digital media has increased the speed of information sharing, the underlying truth is that information and communication are inevitable, and that as there is a will to fight, no road blocks can prevent the truth from reaching the masses.