While the organizing power of social media and the so-called “facebook revolution” is interesting, I think the biggest thing happening in Egypt in connection with new media is the fear it strikes in those of power.
Everything I know on Egypt is coming from Reddit.com and Democracynow.org—which is devoting the majority of their daily shows to Egypt. For the last couple days they’ve been focusing on the “systematic targeting of journalists.”
“The world is watching” was the chant at the G20 protests in Toronto and that is certainly the case in Egypt. No one will ever try to cover up another Tienanmen Square, and anyone who thinks they can control information is severely confused about how the Internet works.
One of my favorite images (even though I couldn’t find it for this post) is a line of fully armed riot cops facing a crowd of protesters with camera phones above their heads.
People are nervous about the overload of information available online, but I’m convinced that if enough people record an event then the truth has to rise to the top. And for whatever reason, this scares people in power.
From what I understand, journalists are in the most danger in Egypt right now. A journalists was shot and killed and Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud, the Cario bureau chief for Al Jazeera English was detained. On Monday Sharif Abdel Kouddous, the senior producer at Democracy Now, reported on the systematic targeting of journalists and how they’re continuing to do their job despite the threats. There’s a media center set up in Tahrir Square that is collecting photos and videos, putting it on cds and flash-drives, and getting them out of the country so they can be uploaded while the internet is down in Egypt.
I really am a believer in the fact that if you’re not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide. While I still don’t really believe that government has a place in the bedroom of its citizens, I don’t really care. I more or less assume everything I do is recorded or traceable and I stand behind it all, even though I’d rather not discuss a lot of it with my mother. I’m also not in a position of public service; I think this is twice as true when you live off the taxes of the people.
The ease with which we can transmit media and the amount of material now available to journalists is just amazing. There can never be too much footage, and the more a government seems afraid of it, the more I’m convinced of how important it really is.