Tuesday, February 1, 2011



“What we’ve seen over the last five days is that change of this magnitude—revolution perhaps—is a function of people and passion, not of any particular technology.

Late last week the Egyptian government took the virtually unprecedented step of cutting off the country from the Internet, and yet protests continue unabated. This is not to say that social networks did not play a key, catalytic role—they did. They are part of a vast web of instantaneous information lines into and out of Egypt that connected the protesters to each other and to the outside world in the run-up to the street protests we’re seeing.

When you ask many of these activists about the role of these networks they will often describe them as a kind of lifeline. And if these networks, communicating via the Internet and mobile phones, weren’t so critical, you can be sure that the government would not have hit the “kill switch” the way it did. This was really unprecedented.

In virtually every other case of new media-connected movements—Tunisia, Iran, for example—the governments were much more moderated in cutting off access, slowing things down, opening them back up, slowing them down.

Egypt really was the first of its kind, in terms of near total blackout for a couple of days—raising all sorts of worrying questions. But the fact remains—the protesting never stopped nor did the media coverage of events.”

--Sheldon Himelfarb, U.S. Institute of Peace, Jan. 31, 2011 URL

• Image: Note that in the Aljazeera photo above that some protesters are using cellphones.
Photo Gallery from Aljazeera
Coverage of today’s (2/1) protest from Aljazeera

• Editorial Comment: It’s the message, not the medium.

• PeezPix: PeezPix prints and notecards for sale.


  1. Egypt is the best example to show how attached we are to the social network... internet. It's like taking cigarettes away from a smoker, or alcohol from an alcoholic. People will fight back, when they've been hooked on it (it being the internet, or smoking, etc)
    Romina Nedakovic

  2. First of all, no one can really be named Sheldon Himelfarb.

    Second of all, I am pretty sure some other countries have cut off the Internet.

    Third of all, if the protest movement didn’t miss a beat with the Internet cut off, what does this tell us about the Internet?