[iDC] <nettime> Egyptian Revolution: 2nd decolonialisation for all

john sobol john at johnsobol.com
Fri Feb 4 16:18:29 UTC 2011

Hi Judith, and all...

although I agree that the self-involvement and self interest of media  
folk (old and new) is breathtaking, this is hardly new, or news.

Is there anyone who would suggest that the demonstrations don't  
matter? I don't think anyone has or would.

But I think if some new media types are overly proud of the role that  
social networks have played in these protests, many on this list are  
perhaps overly hostile to recognizing that role as well. Why I'm not  
sure. But in my opinion it would be as foolish to deny the power of  
one as to deny the power of the other, or more importantly their  
essential interconnectedness.

It is this aspect - the symbiosis of virtual and material sociality -  
that has created the drama that continues to unfold. One could and  
would not have achieved anything without the other. That is the  
lesson of these events, as it has been the lesson of many other  
evolving social contexts in recent years. Certainly people are in the  
streets talking with one another, as they are online talking to one  
another (where they still can be, and where they were until the  
killswitch was hit) creating distributed, non-hierarchical, temporary  
autonomies in both realms, each feeding and sustaining the other.

Where will it lead? Quite possibly nowhere that any one who dreams of  
freedom wishes. But we shall see. Certainly, as the recent executions  
in Iran proved, the nefarious workings of tyranny are enhanced by the  
end of privacy and the durability of data, just as they are  
threatened by other inherently liberalizing characteristics of  
digital culture. But either way, this is - assuming we all survive  
ourselves in the coming years - just the beginning of many  
revolutions to come, digitally-enabled, materially lived, both  
progressive and alarmingly tribal (hello Tea Party!) against which I  
fear the only real resistance may prove to be the authoritarian  
hammer of literate politico-militarism (i.e. 'order' as it is defined  
by those who cannot abide social structures that resist  
paperization). Witness Obama's desire (soon to be imposed) for an  
orderly transition. That would be the same kind of orderly transition  
that he imposed on the auto industry, Guantanamo, wall street, health  
care, BP, afghanistan...

Anyway, I risk losing my way in the tangent that is Obama's  
heartbreaking betrayal, so I'll stop here. I would conclude by saying  
that it is just as pointless to argue against calling this the  
Twitter Revolution as it is to argue for it. The behaviours are real,  
the impacts are real. The argument over nomenclature is divisive and  

The one and only time i was in Cairo - some 20 years ago - I was lost  
for a week in a fog of fever, sweat and dreams, cared for by  
strangers. Today I'm a ghost, lost in the fevers, sweat and dreams of  
unknown friends seeking freedom, and finding it with each inspired  
breath, each courageous step, each defiant word...

peace and blessings be upon them

On 4-Feb-11, at 10:00 AM, Judith Rodenbeck wrote:

> "Most of" the people in Tahrir Square are NOT journalists/bloggers!  
> And they are communicating with hands and voices, giving the  
> conditional lie to the notion that demonstrations don't matter. The  
> self-involvement of "new media" folk is breathtaking.
> On Feb 4, 2011, at 7:27 AM, sumandro wrote:
>> Why are people on streets in Cairo are tweeting and claiming  
>> hashtag spaces? Only because most of them are journalists/bloggers  
>> and they require the global audience for their living? How does  
>> tweeting from the streets change their experiences and future  
>> experiences of those streets?
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