It has been some time since the world’s attention was focused on a single event and the event was worthy of that attention. Such is the case of Egypt.
In the past 12 months, the saga of the trapped Chilean miners and the prophetic death throes of an octopus called Paul have unleashed hell to people who are concerned with this world and are sick of dumbnewspeak and fauxmances.
It is only six weeks ago in Tunisia that a frustrated 26-year-old graduate called Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire. Unbelievably, utterly unbelievably, since then there have been two revolutions and likely to be several more, although nobody in Haslemere or Knightsbridge is quaking in their Manolo Blahniks.
This is even more extraordinary than the gradual erosion of the Berlin Wall because both have happened so quickly. In a sign of the times where everything happens faster than it did, these have been Twenty20 revolutions and it has supposedly been social networks that have been responsible.
That may be so but perhaps there has been a bifurcation of Facebook’s and Twitter’s influence, especially in Egypt. For those of us in the pampered West with more-than-fast-enough broadband and mobile internet, it has been Twitter that has provided the necessary news feed, whereas Egyptians have settled on Ye Olde Faithful Facebook to organise their protests.
But another social network has probably been more responsible for bringing together all facets of the Egyptian protests and that is YouTube. In the aforesaid world where attention spans are limited, nobody really wants Revolution Live, they want Revolution Highlights and YouTube is the channel for that.
The Battle of Qasr Al-Nil Bridge, a diplomatic car knocking over 20 protestors and the bizarre, almost Ben Hur-like, images of a man-on-camel attempting to plough into people are all available to see. It means the thuggish attacks on journalists by Mubarak supporters have been obviated by the journalistic actions of mobile-wielding citizens.
So, again, we’re all publishers now and these are catacylsmic times for media. There are those who remember the First Gulf War when CNN dominated the world. That channel has been non-existent almost two decades later and even the worthy folks at Al-Jazeera have been targeted by Mubarak’s Tonton Macoutes and relatively silenced.
This is an revolutionary time in our lives. The whole world order, not just the media, are going to be transormed by the early months of 2011 and it remains to be seen if the outcome will be benefient.
One thing is certain though, the Man/Woman of the Year is Mohammed Bouazizi, the man who changed the world and in ways we have yet to know. Allah Akhbar!