I write about digital strategies and communications — and their intersection with culture, politics, journalism and social activism.


What a Social Web Week!

As a follow up to my post earlier this week about Twitter critical role in the Tunisian revolution, here are some links to other article posts, videos and articles looking closely at the social web's role in the Egyptian uprising.

Computerworld reports on efforts earlier this week by the Egyptian government to shutdown various social network platforms in particular Twitter. The lead to its story says it all:

The Egyptian government's decision to shut down access to Twitter appears to be an acknowledgement of just how potent social media tools can be amid the widening civilian unrest.

In a post called "Social Media at the front line in Egypt", CNN takes a look at the social web and its value to journalists in directing them to stories even if it means they have to sift through hundreds of rumours and panicky notes to find the "news". After all . . .

Despite attempts to block Twitter, Facebook and other sites (the government denies it was responsible), a Facebook page devoted to Friday's planned protests had more than 80,000 followers as of 2 p.m. ET Thursday, compared with some 20,000 the previous day.

Al Jazeera is also covering how online activism is fueling protests and helping organize anti-government demonstrations, commenting:

Activists spread the word online about Friday's protests, detailing the list of public squares where people should gather.

Calls for action circulated on Twitter and Facebook since early on Friday morning.

Twitter user rassdwda wrote: "#Egypt protests begin from mosques & churches, #Muslims #Christians 2gether#Jan25".

The Egyptian government itself recognized its inability to control the information flow when it ordered the shutdown of all international ISP connections. And thanks to The Huffington Post, here is a visual on how traffic declined as a result of the government's edict.

History being made . . .


Damn - I May Have Got it Wrong

After about 30 years in corporate and issue communications consulting, I've just learned that I may have gone into the wrong business. A couple of weeks ago, the firm I work for held a strategic planning session in which the very able facilitator asked us to describe what we were deeply passionate about in a professional sense.

Here's what I wrote down:

I am deeply passionate about the creation - or revelation - of transformational ideas.

By and large my colleagues expressed their passion in terms like 'making a meaningful difference',' being part of an effective team', 'working to solve client challenges' . . . all important even noble aspirations and particularly suited to the role of consultant.

My one-liner speaks of a different prime mover. Not that I don't get satisfaction from any of the things which motivate my colleagues. But we were asked about "passion" and it is the sweep of ideas that make an appreciable change in principles, that re-shape the way we see the world, that turns my crank.

It sounds embarrassingly elitist to say so I know, but I was probably meant to be an academic, not a pedant or dreary don I would hope, but someone who spends his days talking about, evaluating and debating ideas. Historian Tony Judt in The Memory Chalet, his last book before succumbing to ALS, thinks of it as the "seductive appeal of French intellectuality."

I love Paris: Can I have a do-over?