Author Theodor H. Nelson states in his book Computer Lib/Dream Machines: “Almost everyone seems to agree that Mankind (who?) is on the brink of a revolution in the way information is handled…” This book was published in 1974. Forty years later, this prediction has become a reality. Social media has forever changed the way information is dispersed, and this is no where more true or more readily seen than in the Egyptian Revolution.
As Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, authors of the essay “Personal Dynamic Media” state: “’Devices’ which variously store, retrieve, or manipulate information in the form of messages embedded in a medium have been in existence for thousands of years. People use them to communicate ideas and feelings both to others and back to themselves.” In the Egyptian Revolution, social media sites Facebook and Twitter were the main couriers of information for the revolutionaries. Through these sites, numerous grievances against Hosni Mubarak and his oppressive regime were shared and debated, but one particular problem the Egyptian people faced circulated more than any other: increasing police brutality.
Police brutality was a true problem in Egypt long before the Revolution began. In one such instance of incredible police brutality, Ann M. Lesch, author of the essay “Egypt’s Spring: Causes of the Revolution,” describes a report of police brutality which showed a video of Egyptian police officers sodomizing a young minivan driver in early 2006. The video was recorded by police officers and sent to other drivers to frighten them. It was not until June 6, 2010 that police brutality in Egypt was firmly brought to light.
The death of Khaled Said, a young man savagely beaten to death by Egyptian police officers on June 6, 2010, launched the creation of the Facebook page “We Are All Khaled Said” which amassed over 300 people within the first few minutes of going live. It was through this page that an event for a massive protest on Police Day, January 25, 2011, was organized. Approximately half a million people clicked “I’m attending” the event, and eleven days later, the Egyptian Revolution began . Through Facebook, revolutionaries were informed about times and locations of protests as well as what to bring, what to wear, and who to contact in case of emergencies.
Twitter also contributed to the Egyptian Revolution. In the days leading up to February 11, 2011, the day Hosni Mubarak resigned, tweets discussing and demanding political change in Egypt exploded from around 2,300 per day to approximately 230,000 per day. On January 29, 2011, that number erupted to a cumulative of 334, 612 tweets as Mubarak dismissed his cabinet. Twitter was used to provide live updates from the protests, alert revolutionaries of danger, and to inform one another of individual whereabouts.
The Egyptian Revolution began once the people realized that enough was enough- that the ever growing police brutality in Egypt was not to be permitted any longer. Egyptians took to social media sites Facebook and Twitter to express their grievances and rally for change. They found an overwhelmingly effective solution to their unbearable problem, and as Douglas Engelbart states in his essay “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework,” “This is because man’s problem-solving capability represents possibly the most important resource possessed by a society.”