Appropriately, inspiration came in the form of a reweet about Egypt from my friend @jayfry3. He writes: “RT @DCgov: What Egypt's young, smart and connected need now are jobs. I hope the tech sector responds. [Next steps really going to matter.]”
Appropriate because some are calling the events of the last 18 days in Egypt the Twitter or Facebook revolution. Others are debating what role social media may have played.
Ulises Mejias, an assistant professor at SUNY Oswego summarizes the debate neatly, “Granted, as Joss Hands points out, there appears to be more skepticism than support for the idea that tools like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are primarily responsible for igniting the uprisings in question. But that hasn’t stopped the internet intelligentsia from engaging in lengthy arguments about the role that technology is playing in these historic developments. One camp, comprised of people like Clay Shirky, seem to make allowances for what Cory Doctorow calls the “internet’s special power to connect and liberate.” On the other side, authors like Ethan Zuckerman, Malcolm Gladwell and Evgeny Morozov have proposed that while digital media can play a role in organizing sOne camp, comprised of people like Clay Shirky, seem to make allowances for what Cory Doctorow calls the “internet’s special power to connect and liberate.” On the other side, authors like Ethan Zuckerman, Malcolm Gladwell and Evgeny Morozov have proposed that while digital media can play a role in organizing social movements, it cannot be counted on to build lasting alliances, or even protect net activists once authorities start using the same tools to crack down on dissent.”
I think I understand his sentiment. Still another commentator noted that Facebook and Twitter do not foment revolution so much as they allow more and more people to share the injustices of a repressive regime, rather than stewing about their grievances in isolation. GigaOM cites Jared Cohen of Google Ideas for putting it well, “…social media may not be a cause, but it can be a powerful “accelerant.”
It is instructive that Mubarak’s instinct was to cut off internet communications in the country. And he did so with ease, which led me to wonder about the state of the industry in the nation.
The picture is mixed. On one hand, a recent study by AT Kearney (reported by InfoWorld) placed Egypt number 4 as an outsourcing destination. At first, I thought this meant that Egypt might have a thriving colo industry, which would suggest that Jay’s retweet was off the mark. Instead, I found only that a few large multinationals had built facilities, and six colo facilities listed on DataCenterMaps. <p>
Egypt’s reputation as a politically stable place must have contributed to its high AT Kearney listing, and a large educated young work pool would add to Egypt’s attractiveness.
I’d suspect that Egypt’s reputation for political stability is gone for now, at least, and that it will take a brave operation to invest deeply in the country’s infrastructure until the future is clearer, which perhaps is the last thing Egypt needs now.