news analysis and commentary

Tweet Revolution

A recent uprising (A.K.A. attempted revolution) in Egypt has presented some challenges for the ruling Egyptian government. The government attempted to calm the protestors and riots by shutting down the Internet and cell phone services. The government hoped to limit protest leaders from organizing and communicating with the demonstrators.

After the reports of the technology services not being available, communication found a way.  Google engineers collaborated with Twitter to develop a piece of software that would take plain voicemail and convert the voicemail into text that posts as a Tweet. They named this software Speak2Tweet. The phone numbers for the voicemail were shared across Egypt and the world could hear Egypt again.

How has technology changed the landscape of the typical revolution? After this chapter of Egyptian history is written, will historians be able to quantify the role played by technology?

As of February 4th, protestors logged 2000 tweets. Did these tweets assist in organizing the demonstrators? The mob psychology theory was raised by another blogger who says “An individual’s cost in participating in a revolution is s function of how many other people are involved.”  For example, a 2010 snowball fight at UNC-Chapel Hill was organized via Facebook. UNC students showed up for the snowball fight to have fun and socialize with friends. Facebook was simply a tool used to help orchestrate the event for the people.

Did the tweets simply serve to keep the Egyptian protestors voices “on the world stage”, which gave them leverage to apply further pressure on their governmet leaders?

We may lose tangibles, but courage, faith, love, joy, and honor can never be stripped from us.

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3 responses

  1. Frugal Corner

    It is amazing how fast they were able to create a new form of communication for the people of Egypt. I wonder what would happen here if the government shut down the internet?

    February 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm

  2. tracy mabe

    Technology is an amazing thing! We can connect with someone across the world in the blink of an eye. We’ve come a long way in the past decade.

    February 22, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  3. As Tracy pointed out, technology is a wonderful thing. However, couldn’t it be said that as a society and world, especially the “me generation” (my generation), are becoming too dependent on technology? For instance, if people aren’t taught how to communicate with each other face-to-face, use context and situational awareness in conversations, or write in cursive, what will occur when they must work for a living? Even with the advent of technology and the great benefits we reap from it, we must be careful not to become dependent on it for every aspect of life.

    However, this story is fantastic and shows how the developments in technology have and can help people to stay connected when distance or other factors hinder face-to-face communication.

    February 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

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