Egypt Social Media Activity Unexpectedly Small

I have been digging into the background story on the 2011 revolution in Egypt. Follow that last link for a good recap of how the police beating of Khaled Said created a maelstrom that has turned into massive protests and labor strikes in Egypt. A man named Wael Ghonim has emerged as a symbol of the revolution in Egypt after his CNN Interview as a rebuttal of Omar Suleiman, the General now promoted to a VP, did an interview with ABC News.

Regarding the politics of Mubarak’s autocracy, I think we can agree on some fundamentals:

  1. The killing of Khaled Said was unjustified and horrible.
  2. The government response to these allegations in Egypt was insufficient.
  3. The protests are right to object to 30 years of “Emergency Rule
  4. Mubarak should step down immediately
  5. The US historical support for Mubarak, while unlike the situation with the Shah in Iran, will likely not win us many friends in post-Mubarak Egypt.
  6. Social media has played a key role in the protests as evidenced by the Internet blackout implemented by the government.

Wait. I’m not so sure about number 6. The role of social media is unclear.

Working in social media I was curious and looked up the facebook group and the twitter accounts. What struck me was that for a country with a population of 77 Million, the page and the twitter account have relatively few followers. Right now Wael Ghonim on twitter has 46,035 followers

and the Khalid Said page on Facebook has 61,687 fans

Both of those numbers seem small to me given the scope of the protests. My first thought was “you must be looking at the wrong page. Surely there is an arabic page that is the real FB connector. I emailed a politically active Egyptian friend (Fayza!) and her response was:

I think that’s probably as good as you’re going to get. It’s a very active page, so my guess is that it’s the best resource for his supporters that Facebook has to offer. Lots of Egyptians speak fluent English because of the prevalence of tourism. It doesn’t surprise me that the primary FB presence is in English at all.

Perhaps Gladwell is right that the Revolution will not be tweeted. When Gladwell in his post talks about networks he says:

The drawbacks of networks scarcely matter if the network isn’t interested in systemic change—if it just wants to frighten or humiliate or make a splash—or if it doesn’t need to think strategically. But if you’re taking on a powerful and organized establishment you have to be a hierarchy.

So either social media isn’t the huge driver for change, or it is a very small subset of the population communicating through social media that is facilitating the action. But you certainly can’t say that hundreds of thousands are responding to direct tweets with a central call to action.

So to me the role of social media in the revolution is still a conundrum. And as I type this, it looks like the rumors of him stepping down tonight on 2/10/2011 were false.

More to follow….

Ford Fiesta Movement Mission 4 film from Team Houston

From the description on youtube:

zenfilm — June 09, 2010 — The Ford Fiesta Movement Mission 4 film from Team Houston “Pause” presents an unusual twist on romance with sci-fi/fantasy overtones. Pause was filmed in one day by the Zenfilm creative team and features the sights and sounds of America’s 4th largest city set to the music of Houston artists Southern Backtones and Tyagaraja. To vote for this film in the competition simply text “Zenfilm” to 44144 . There will be no spam… we promise. Thanks for your support.

SchipulCon in two days – Oct 45, 16, 2009 at the Houston Zoo

What started in 2007 as the Tendenci User Conference, was canceled in 2008 due to a very unwelcome hurricane, has now morphed into SchipulCon 2009. Planned by @MagsMac, the conference has a great lineup of speakers including Deirdre Breakenridge, the author of PR 2.0.

The full SchipulCon 2009 Agenda is posted on the site. And registration is here.

And of course a HUGE thanks to our sponsors without which this would not be happening!

Southwest Airlines Porch Swing Desserts YouData
Bright Sky Press Coffeegroundz St. Arnold's Brewery
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Social Media Training for Political Campaigns Presentation

Busy weekend. From the Bill White Social Media Training post on the Schipul blog

We had a super morning this Saturday, meeting with Mayor Bill White, his WONDERFUL wife Andrea White, their staff and a great group of volunteers.  The topic was telling Bill White’s Story online and responding to less-than-wonderful commentary on Blogs, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Monica Danna (Cosmopolitician) coordinated the event at HTC – including @kolachefactory breakfast and @coffeegroundz coffee.  Awesome small group leaders included Maggie McDonald (Magsmac), Laura Mayes (Girl Con Queso), Grace Rodriguez, Katrina Esco, Ashley Minor, Julie Pippert and the lovely Jennifer Rebecca Stephenson (LolaJRS).

I have to say teaching the class with @happykatie was a blast. And quite an honor. Thanks for the support Houston!

I’d also like to add a HUGE THANKS TO MARC NATHAN! Mr. marc1919 did an awesome job of getting the Houston Technology Center ready on a Saturday. Very much appreciated Marc!