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40 Qs About The (Coming) Revolution

Cairo: Facebook mobile

See also: Is Internet Access a Human Right?

These questions were originally meant to be weaved into a post here on Future Perfect – ended up being tweeted out from a bar in Tokyo in the early hours of the morning – trying to stay awake up long enough to catch an early flight out of Haneda. I’ve been teasing out the answers to these questions this part week in Egypt and Libya, but frankly still a long way off.

  • &#187 Thinking about our motivation for framing and rewriting history
  • &#187 What is the internet penetration in Egypt?
  • &#187 What % of those on the net on Egypt read/write English?
  • &#187 What motivates a native Arabic speaker to communicate in ~English?
  • &#187 Through what media/medium did you follow events unfold in Egypt?
  • 5

  • &#187 What is right mix of online/on-the-streets to overthrow a government?
  • &#187 Is lack of affordable internet access ‘censorship’?
  • &#187 Is the lack of affordable internet access *in your country* ‘censorship’?
  • &#187 Is it possible to tweet with one hand and fend off a baton charge with the other?
  • &#187 Who is the first to take to the streets?
  • 10

  • &#187 Who takes to the streets only when the Internet is switched off? Why?
  • &#187 In a surveillance/traceable society is the online activist in more danger than a face in the crowd? What are the gulfs between online and offline risks and how is they shifting?
  • &#187 Who didn’t want to communicate in English? Why?
  • &#187 Does $billions in military aid for the Mubarak regime affect who wants to communicate to an English audience?
  • &#187 Whose voices are you yet to hear? What effort are you making to hear them?
  • 15

  • &#187 In a real-time/near-time world does the emotion of the moment affect what is communicated? How it is received?
  • &#187 Is switching off the Internet for a digital elite censorship or democratic?
  • &#187 Is a revolution in real-time addictive? To whom? What are comparable addictions?
  • &#187 How many heroes and heroines of the revolution can the mainstream narrative support?
  • &#187 How many non-English speaking heroes and heroines of the revolution can the mainstream english language narrative support?
  • 20

  • &#187 Is writing a book about your experience in the revolution heroic? Your duty? Cashing in? Selling out?
  • &#187 What are you doing to follow the Arabic-speaking narrative?
  • &#187 History doesn’t write itself, or does it?
  • &#187 If we didn’t have heroes and heroines would we need to invent them?
  • &#187 Can you learn more from a revolution that succeeded, or one that failed?
  • 25

  • &#187 Do we hear/read/seek out more about revolutions that succeed or ones that fail? Why?
  • &#187 How many phone numbers do you remember by heart? (bear with me here)
  • &#187 How many faces/names/sites/addresses/… do you need to remember by heart? How has this number changed over time?
  • &#187 To whom or what do you devolve your need to memorize?
  • &#187 Do you trust them? Why? What will it take to maintain/challenge that trust relationship?
  • 30

  • &#187 What happens when more of what you need to recall is reliant on algorithmic choices? The whim of a interface designer?
  • &#187 Again, who is history’s gatekeeper? And who do you trust to be the gatekeeper of your history?
  • &#187 What happens when history’s gatekeeper needs to bolster its share price? Has an overt political agenda? Has no apparent agenda?
  • &#187 Just how elastic is history? Just how elastic do you want it to be? What contexts suit what levels of elasticity? What tools are optimal to stretch and compress history? To whom?
  • &#187 Could a digitally generated immolation spark a revolution in a country where the mainstream media is not trusted?
  • 35

  • &#187 What’s so special about the streets?
  • &#187 What drives people to the streets? Does turning off the phone network, the internet and blocking Al Jazeera helps unglue people from their seats, and onto the streets? What other factors are needed?
  • &#187 What would an online revolution look like? In which country is this closest to reality? Why?
  • &#187 Why do we get ‘caught in the moment’? Who is motivated to create moments to be caught in? Why?
  • &#187 Channelling @changeorder: Is it better to capture a moment or to be caught in it?
  • 40

  • &#187 What is the optimal mix of those capturing or caught in the moment? How is this mix changing over time? (And optimal mix for what?)
  • &#187 I’m spent. Thanks for your feedback and comments. Remember: you are what you allow yourself to be, explore the edges of what you don’t know

Coming revolution? Those that don’t understand the causes, dynamics, will mis-read what happens next, will be surprised at what occurs down line. Revolutions are relative to your reading of the situation, which begs the question what do you read?

Cairo: multi-sim ownership

Photo: Facebook through a mobile phone – part of of a group interview in a Cairo chai house.