While it normally does not fit within the context of discussions on this website, I would be remiss to neglect discussing what we can learn about new forms of communication from the events in Egypt this past week.
It is impossible to draw parallels between what is happening in Egypt and past utilization of social media in the United States, or anywhere else in the world. What one has to admire, and study, is how multiple communications tools have turned uncoordinated social protests into a political movement. What is extraordinary to witness is that this social revolution – which it can be legitimately called at this point – is truly a movement from the masses, with no help from centralized leadership.
Earlier this week, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams interviewed some of the ten volunteers who are helping coordinate protestor activity in Cairo. You heard that correctly, there are only ten people actively coordinating the demonstrations of millions.
The events in Egypt are also an illustration of how newer, multimedia channels are dwarfing traditional media. The Egyptian people are communicating through social media, text, and mobile phones, and the world is watching through those same avenues. This past week weekend, traditional news sites were leveraging Twitter as a means to collect news and the Egyptian government’s decision to shutdown internet service caused worldwide condemnation.
Certainly Egypt is a once-in-a-generation example, but what we are witnessing is an illustration of how communication is continuing to evolve and effect our lives. Just as the printing press had an instrumental affect on the reformation and subsequent revolutionary activity in Renaissance Europe, new forms of communication are central to invoking social change in the world.