Did the 21st century really start now?

Another hectic week, and the last few days were an emotional roller-coaster as I covered the events in Egypt – from a distance, immersing myself in social media.

So, is this a Twitter or a Facebook-revolution? I don’t think it makes much sense to put it that way. This revolution is the result of having a large population of young people, a lot of them well-educated and used to social media but underemployed, having no real future in Egypt and realizing how corrupt the system is.

Twitter and Facebook are being used, but combined with audiovisual media (think Al Jazeera), blogs, live blogs, dumb phones and smartphones etc.

However, it’s the horizontal nature of the protests which is fascinating. The web allows us to communicate up and down, and also horizontally – with our peers. The real power is in this horizontal communication. The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia had no charismatic leaders who were telling their followers what to do. That made it very hard for the regimes to defeat the protesters. Could it be that the 21st century – the age of participation, The Great Horizontal – started a few weeks ago in the Arab world?

Here you can watch Wael Ghonim (a Google manager who participated in the uprising) talking about the revolution and the web:

Read also Terry Heaton’s PoMo Blog, Living History, After Tunisia and Egypt: towards a new typology of media and networked by political change by Charlie Beckett and on this blog The murmuration in the Arab world.

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