Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Citadel, Cairo, Twitter vs. Old Media

Originally uploaded by martin_kalfatovic
So, on January 24, I was at a meeting for digital libraries of the Maghreb (North Africa, minus Egypt). There were a number of Tunisian representatives at the meeting and with the ongoing Jasmine Revolution, I was even more highly aware of events in North Africa.

As events in Egypt began to unfold on January 24, I checked my online mainstream media; the BBC, CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times. Little or no mention of events that were beginning to unfold in Egypt.

Twitter, however, was much different story. Already, on January 24, there were reports of protests, actions and other nation-changing events.

The next day, January 25, still, CNN and BBC were only covering the unfolding events in Egypt as "World News", not "Headline News". Twitter, meanwhile, was dominated (especially among those I followed) with minute by minute (despite the government's blocking of the InterTubz) updates of events in Tahir Square and beyond.

As my meeting ended on January 25, events in Egypt were still forming, but US State Department officers were following along as eagerly as I was.

Now, nearly a week since the protests began, the oldstream, mainstream media have finally caught up. CNN, BBC, etc. now have Egyptian events on their front pages. Twitter, however, continues to bring us the "eye/ear on the street view" as events, the meaning of which we don't know, unfold.

Speaking of which, I recall the events of November 1979 when Iranian students took over the US Embassy. A college freshman at the time, I recall sitting in the cafeteria and being asked to join a group that was heading to the Iranian embassy to protest (by a classmate, who, ironically, ?, later became a staffer at the CIA). I passed on that (through apathy or whatever).

But now, in 2011, I firmly wish that the US government (hey Hillary!) sees where the world is turning and continues to promote freedom and those ideals that America is founded on, and deals with them in the world at large.


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