Submitted in part fulfilment or the requirements for the MA in Community Education, Equality and Social Activism Departments of Adult and Community Education and Sociology National University of Ireland Maynooth


Supervisor: Bernie Grummell



Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Glossary of Terms 1.0 1.1 1.2 • Introduction Background Situating myself in my research Methodology o Critical pedagogical theory and social media tools o This philosophy in practice o Data used in this research o Limitations of my research o Toward praxis Historical Context o History from above: Colonialism, Nationalism and Authoritarianism o History from below o Social media connecting pro-democracy and workers movements Practical Guides o Social media as a tool for activist journalism – case study 1  Background to State Security  Journalism as a conscious act of solidarity o Using social media as a space – case study 2  Technical process  On the relationships between the people, the army and the police  Social media as a spark  Aspects of social media during the uprising o Some reflections o How to guides  Facebook  Twitter  Blogs  Tweetdeck Timeline of the Egypt revolution – archived twitter communications o Advice on reading a Twitter timeline o 25 January – 1 February 2011 o 2 – 8 February 2011 o 9 – 11 February 2011 Radical media practice and social media use in a changing media ecosystem o What is different about social media? 3

o Gramsci, power and the media o Narrative-making in the Egyptian revolutionary movements o Blurring boundary between mainstream media practice and radical media 7.0 The internet as a site of struggle Introduction Consumer pressure gets the goods Memes – the cultural evolution of thought Mubarak, the internet and the hidden picture The internet and technology corporations ‘Democracy’ and social media Authoritarian regimes and the internet 8.0 Conclusions





There are many people I would like to thank for bringing this piece of work to life and for ensuring it got carried over the finishing line. In the first instance I have to tip my hat to the course designers, tutors and all the participants on the CEESA course. It was a privilege and pleasure to take part in so many thoughtful discussions, and to share in and learn from the abundance of knowledge, experiences, passion, and care that formed the foundation of a genuinely inspiring year of study. I come away with a fire in my belly having made new friends and allies in struggle, and look forward to collaborations in the future. I would particularly like to thank my supervisor Bernie Grummell for her advice and support. I still wonder at her ability to instantaneously make sense out of the chaotic meanderings I brought to each meeting, which rescued me from my own salvation-despair cycles. Her encouragement to believe in the validity of looking beyond traditional presentation and to think about form and content as it relates to learning was one of the most valuable things I will take away from with me from the course. Much thanks is due to Laurence Cox for wise words and really useful research tips and links. But mostly thank you for encouraging me to apply for the course in the first place. It has been one of the most significant years in my life and lessons continue far outside the university. Much thanks to Theresa O'Keefe for lending me a book just after she bought without even getting to read it herself. I promise to get it back soon. Special shouts to Eilis Murphy and William Hederman for letting me use their house as a second home for some research and a lot of Twittering. Its was above and beyond the bounds of next door neighbourliness, its genuinely appreciated. I look forward to hanging out properly with no laptop in sight. The same goes to Sióbhan Clancy. Much thanks is due to her for proof reading, as well as for technical assistance and lending me a great audio recorder for my interviews and videos. Our chats and her insights, were instrumental in helping me formulate my ideas a lot clearer. It would be fair to say that this work would be a hell of a lot harder to read, and probably not 6

handed in yet, were it not for the organising whirlwind that is my housemate and friend Clare Butler. If everyone who worked in the public sector had her knack for getting things done with the most effective use of time and resources, we would probably well on the way to workers self management. I'm sure we're both glad to have no more awkward silences after she asks “well hows it getting on now?” Big cheers to Sian Crowley for late night virtual smoke breaks as we tried to figure out just what the hell we were doing in the first place. That online Harvard reference generator was a real find. And to Grainne Griffin and Shane O Curry, gracias for giving it to me straight with the tag team proof reading. Any propensity for waffle you find inside occurs despite their thoughtful contributions. Learning is a ongoing life time experience and I have been very lucky to have worked, fought alongside, stressed and laughed with some of the most beautiful human beings a person could meet. Without the love, care and respect of my parents I doubt I would feel as free as I do to be making it up as I go along. They have taught me the futility of carrying anger as a means to solving problems, and the strength in putting love and laughter at the center of your life. If it wasn't for Darren I probably would be in bed now. Instead his lessons that there's a life to be had sticking your head above the parapet; that there is real community in struggling against what you feel in your head and heart is an injustice once, and injustice twice; that building bridges is sometime more useful (and fun) than pushing through lines of cops but that there is space for both; this and many many more things. Its a privilege to have friends and allies like that. Its kinda crazy when its your brother. It could have been odd sitting in a class with one of your closest friends at the top of the And if it had have been anyone else other than Fergal Finnegan that most likely would have been the case. I've yet to meet another person as generous with themselves as he is. He has been a mentor for years without ever letting on he was trying to be and his curiosity about life and fellow humans is matched only by his humility, compassion and commitment to truth. Like is said I've been very lucky with the people I'm able to call close


friends. And finally a very loud 'hello again' to the good folks of WSM, Seomra Spraoi, RAG and the broad millue of big hearted trouble makers. I've been living in the internet for too long now and its time to come home. I'm looking forward to hanging out, working and openly conspiring and learning with some good people who refuse to accept the logic of “there is no other way”.


Glossary of terms

# story

Hashtag, used in Twitter to denote a specific topic e.g. specific news


At, used online to state who comment or reply is addressed to


Website used, often by an individual, to post stories and articles written by oneself. Often used as key resource in citizen journalism


Social networking website, user has profile, can have “friends” and

share various information, news and links within network


The act of sharing information through a social networking site


To forward on a tweet, usually verbatim, through Twitter


Short message sent using Twitter, often 140 characters or less


Social networking website, user has profile, can have “followers” and

share short statements and links Tweetdeck A free software package for use with Twitter with increased





CHAPTER 1 : INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background Earlier this year, I was, like many activists across the globe,

What can we learn from the recent Egyptian revolution that can help in our struggle for a more egalitarian world? transfixed by what seemed a spontaneous wave of popular uprisings across much of North Africa and the Middle East. In what western commentators dubbed the 'Arab Spring', Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain all witnessed large-scale popular dissent against their authoritarian regimes, all of which continue to this day. Most mainstream media coverage of this event presented these manifestations of popular revolt as being the result of technological determinism. Facebook and Twitter were singled out for particular note as being instrumental in the revolutions. This narrative is a reductive mainstream media discourse that clouds a critical understanding of the human agency at the heart of these uprisings. It is also contradictory, in the sense that the same social platforms lauded - and the culture of sharing information freely they engender - are considered disruptive technologies and behaviour, particularly to the newspapers of those same media corporations. This has lead to a polarised but false debate around the role of social media in the uprisings. It also completely ignores the central point of how activists use social media with the intent of creating counter-power. I exemplify how I use social media tools for radical media practise in Chapter 4, alongside some 'how to' video resources based upon my experiences and learning. Chapter 5 is an experiment in presenting archived material directly as a particular form of historical record of events from below. In some sense, it can be conceived of as a stand-alone document that can be used to track my interactions with others in an online public space around the uprising in Egypt. In the first instance, this archive has acted as a memory of my activity, what I said, what I was talking about, what information was being shared with whom, far in excess of what my actual memory could have retained. It has also acted as a springboard for further investigation facilitated by the very nature of its rich content and contextualising form. By making this public, which I intend to do with the complete work, two functions are served. It tells a very particular story – my use of Twitter around the Egyptian revolution – whilst affording a basis for further exploration by other researchers of the myriad of events, themes and issues contained within.


I explore some of the questions that arise around the uses of social media in the Egyptian revolution through the lenses of Gramsci's idea of counter-hegemony. Much mainstream discussion has fixated on a false polarisation that positions social media as either something that reproduces unequal social relationships and capitalism, or as a panacea for resolving those same things. This is analogous to previous expressed concerns about new media impacts, described as the salvation-despair cycle (Lowery and de Fleur 1983), where new medias are initially praised for all the wonderfully empowering and educational potential and applications they have, but over time cynicism creeps in. The early sense of salvation has been replaced by deep concern for the negative impacts these media forms now have. These concerns tend to reflect worries about socio-cultural effects. Radio, TV, film, and the Internet have all followed this cycle of salvation-despair, which suggests this is a cyclical, repeating trend modulating between two binaries. Both these potentialities and actualities co-exist in much the same way that all forms of communicative technologies have been utilised: either as tools of domination or tools for emancipatory struggles. The usefulness of the discourse of cyber-utopianism versus cyberpessimism – explored in Chapter 7 – lies not in supporting exclusively either reified position, but in holding both as coordinates in understanding that social media tools, like most technology, carry with them the legacy of struggle in their production and use, and indeed it is our struggles now that will give legacy to their use in the future. Equally important in challenging much of the existing discourse so far about social media and the Egyptian revolution, is my desire to restore human agency as the central foundation of challenging power and as struggles for emancipation. Narratives of technological determinism misplace social media in an historical context. Such narratives do a tremendous disservice, both to the commitments, sacrifices and successes of human endeavour of Egyptian activists, but also to the telling of a history that ignores the specific context within which this revolution occurred. I hope redress this in a small way by sharing aspects of the wider historical context of social struggles in Egypt alongside personal testimony of organisers from the April 6th Movement and other activists involved in the revolution. In doing so, I follow a conscious perspective that values knowledge, experiences and human


agency from below.


Situating myself in my research.

For me, the Egyptian revolution was glimmer wave of human hope, courage and possibilities in a sea of political gloom. From my own perspective at that time, we were (and still are) in the midst of a convergence of crisis across the globe. In my own practice, I had begun to feel that I had reached the limitations of what I knew to be doing. My decision to take this MA course was a conscious step back from my everyday activism, with a desire to look and learn from the experiences and knowledge of others, so I could look ahead to see what opportunities we can create for progressive anti-capitalism in Ireland. The uprising and toppling of de facto dictatorships and spread of popular revolts across the region of North Africa and Middle East was like a bright light on a horizon of gloom. Much of my own activism is rooted in radical media and radical social spaces. I have been involved in the production of an anarchist radio project Radio Solidarity with the Workers Solidarity Movement with a focus on hidden struggles in Ireland. Also I helped set up an autonomous social centre project in Dublin - Seomra Spraoi - which was to provide political and cultural space for radical anti authoritarian movement building in the city. I have acted alongside other activists as a delegated spokesperson/mainstream media liaison for mobilisations at summit mobilisations such as Mayday 2004 and the G8 meeting in Stirling, as well as for campaigns. Working with other activists in Dublin, I have facilitated 'dealing with the mainstream media' workshops at educational gatherings for grassroots campaigns. Given the contentious relationship between our movements and corporate media, it was one of the first areas of my activism where I keenly felt the connection between theorists like Chomsky and Gramsci and my own experiences. Having thought a lot about the relationship between creating our own radical movement media - where we speak unmediated and in our own voices to each other and to a wider public not already engaged with our movements - and our movements engagement with mainstream corporate media, I was already very interested in the social platforms of Facebook and Twitter and the potential they offered, as both tools of communicating and as enablers of alternative public narratives. I will explore further reflections on my own use in later chapters.


I first came across news of the uprisings in the Guardian website on the 24th of January, 2011. A report mentioned activists in Egypt were organising and communicating via Twitter and Facebook for a major demonstration on the 25 th of January using the Twitter hashtag #Jan25. Over the course of the next 72 hours, I became immersed, mesmerised and emotionally involved with events on the ground in Egypt, as I watched an incessant stream of videos and photographs uploaded to Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. I saw and heard activists at first gather, then occupy Tahrir Square, fight off police, make appeals for both global solidarity and food supplies to the square. It blew my mind that this was militant movement, consciously unarmed against an openly repressive regime. I read blog posts that were updated with personal accounts of daily struggles. As the days rolled on, reports and images of increasing deaths at the hands of the regime, the spreading of the revolutionary movements across other cities and regions of Egypt, the formation of local community organisations and autonomous workplace councils and the eventual national strikes were all mediated in what seemed like a chaotic and spontaneous manner. Throughout the time from 25th January to 11th February, I was sharing out videos, blog posts, pictures, activist accounts, mainstream media accounts to people in my Facebook network and on Twitter, as well as writing my own blog posts.

Alongside this, I had a growing recognition, gained via Twitter and Facebook, that there was an international network(s) of online activists, many of whom specifically sought to remain anonymous, who were openly sharing technical advice and information on how to get around state control of telecommunications and internet blocks, and people who were organising online fundraising to purchase mobile satellite communications. Others were organising web defacement attacks on Egyptian Government websites. All these things taken together at the time seemed to have a chaotic coherence, but I was without a real understanding of the nature, extent and form of the relationship between all these things. As a concerned and empathetic human being, completely supportive of the uprisings, I felt an emotional affinity with the revolutionary movements and with the people I had been following and communicating with. When Hosni Mubarak announced he was stepping down, it was one of the most uplifting experiences of my life. I felt inspired by the courage, tenacity and strength


of those who organised and agitated for a revolutionary change in the power structures within their society. It was clear that this was not a Facebook or Twitter revolution, but a human one.


CHAPTER 2 : METHODOLGY 2.1 Critical pedagogical theory and social media tools

I have been greatly enabled by the formal academic setting, institutional context and the active personal commitment, support and encouragement of my tutors, course designers and participants on the Community Education, Equality and Social Activism (CEESA) course. Without such support I would never have undertaken or completed this work. Throughout the course year, there was a conscious and open contradiction between the nature of the course and the intent of its participants – as people involved in struggles for equality and social and ecological justice, and the nature of the university as a validating institution within what Freire (1971) describes as the “banking model” of education which, on the whole, currently serves the needs of neoliberal ideology rather than any larger project of human emancipation. It is that very experience of support in its context of community and popular education that provoked me to explore both the technological limitations of using public online resources as much as possible and any issues that raises. As a methodological practice to try to understand some of the roles and limitations of the internet and social media as emancipatory tools, I have tried as far as possible to produce this thesis using only tools and resources which are freely available on the internet. It is an experiment in deliberately wanting to see if an exploration of the roles of social media tools and the internet, in the context of social struggle, could be carried out using those very tools. Throughout, I have adopted an approach that argues for universal access to education, research and culture. Whilst in relation to the use of the internet and technology, this idea is understood contemporaneously as creative commons, its roots lie in the critical pedagogical approach most associated with Freire and Illich. A good educational system should have three purposes: its should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and , finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known. (Illich, 1971) Forty years ago, and before the internet existed, Illich presented the philosophical 17

underpinnings of the open software and creative commons movements. A more eloquent summation of optimistic perspectives on the role of the internet in society would be hard to find. Illich at that time was making argument around new media of TV and tape recording. Calling for the creation of a network of tape recorders, rather than TV's, across Latin America; he saw such a network as having great potential for independence and learning rather than bureaucracy and teaching. Whilst his calls were ignored by Latin American states and institutions, his pre-figurative descriptions of socio-technological networks suggests the importance of imagination itself as a tool for emancipatory struggle.


This philosophy in practice

With the exception of telephone interviews with Egyptian activists – which themselves where organised using Twitter and Facebook – and approximately five hardcopy books borrowed from the library, I made use solely of online book and journal depositories e.g. I used free-to-use open source software as well as using several software programmes that would have cost money to purchase if they had not been 'cracked' versions. Proprietary software produced and sold as a for-profit product, normally requires the purchaser to complete a registration process that involves some form of verification between the the seller and the buyer usually involving entering a alpha-numerical code given by the seller at the time of verification. Without this the software will not work or have limited functionality. 'Cracking' software is a process of creating false verification on the computer, very often by using a stand alone code generator that has been developed and supplied by people who take a political-philosophical stance in favour of the free sharing of computer code, and comes from an ideological culture of free movement and sharing of information. Its is relatively easy to find cracked versions of most software applications on the internet, complete with instructions on how to install and use them. These are useful tools and resources for activist enquiry and knowledge generation. The low monetary cost (zero) and ease of availability (when information is shared about where one can find these resources online) means that some barriers of both individual and collective learning, enquiry and practice are removed. From the perspective of our activist research and movement knowledge that is a positive thing.


Online sharing as practise should be understood as a critique of intellectual property rights as well as being resistance to it. Such rights provide a legal basis for the enclosure of knowledge and information through mechanisms such as copyrights, patents and licensing. They are perhaps most commonly visible and understood in the context of cultural expressions of music, writing and art because of the actions taken by “entertainment” corporations to stop people sharing (Lievrouw, 2011). This concept has been expanded and applied to many areas of social human activity and includes information and knowledge about plant genetics (Swanson, 1998), the coding of software (St. Laurent, 2004), the generation of energy via renewable means and the chemical make up of medicines, the extent that they impinge severely and regularly on other recognised rights (Halbert, 2005). This extends to the concept and practise that is carbon trading (Abramsky, 2010) which is the breaking up real polluting emissions into intellectual/non real units of the atmosphere that can be traded for profits under the guise of tackling global warming (Lohmann, 2006). The in effect make illegal human behaviours of sharing. These are all example of specific knowledges and information, fundamental to the quality of life of the billions of humans across the globe, not held or understood as common goods to be utilised by all. Instead these are re-framed as something that henceforth can be said to be privately owned and profited from. From the perspective of anti-capitalism these legal frameworks invite transgression as part of a normalising of resistance and an undermining of the common sense of enclosures logic. Indeed the entire experiences of human struggles for emancipation are based upon individual and collective transgression. The effect of turning knowledge and tools of knowledge creation into a commodity with exclusive ownership also controls how others can or cannot use that information/ knowledge. The tendency to share with others, one of the central characteristics of a humans as a species, (Graeber, 2004) is in many circumstances transformed into an illegal activity. John Holloway's Change the World Without Taking Power (2002) throws a critical eye on the idea of commodities simply as products, as things. Products aren't just things. How things are made and how we use them, and what they mean all have dimensions of social processes. By seeing things simply as things we miss a large part of their meaning. But by taking a perspective that views all products and by extension all work itself as social processes we can


see a longer chain of activity. It is in our activity that we make and remake our world. “Reality is a matter of humans doing and making things together: what we perceive as fixed objects are really processes. The only reason we insist on treating objects as anything else is because if we saw them as they really are, as mutual projects, it would be impossible for anyone to claim ownership of them.” (Shukaitis, Graeber 2007 ) It is important to make arguments against the legal manifestations of enclosure, both in principle, and to assist in activist-research development within the university. From that perspective, as an activist researcher it would require intellectual and emotional dishonesty to look at the either my own practise or the practise of Egyptian activists without reference to the conscious action of hundreds of thousands of people who have shared and continue to share time, energy, thoughts, experience, knowledge, love, solidarity, hurt, despair and hopefulness across the vast history of social movements, often in the face of repression, personal sacrifice and trauma. All of this collective activity with the explicit aim of walking towards the eradication of structural injustices and inequality. 2.3 Data used in this research

My primary data is: a) Three interviews with Egyptian activists earlier this year. Two of these interviews were part of my ongoing activist journalism. Explicit consent was gained for use in this thesis of one of the interviewees, Mohamed Abdelfattah. I did not seek consent from the second person I had interviewed. The nature of their work was ongoing and very hectic thus I felt it inappropriate to seek to quote or even seek consent from them. The interview has in itself given me some insights into particular aspects of the regime since the revolution and has informed my research in this regard. It is also already online and linked to within the body of this work. I conducted a third interview with Waleed Rashed, a pro-democracy activist who helped set up the April 6 th Youth Movement. When quoting from both interviews I have not changed the spoken words or grammar but left them as the original.


b) An archive of my Twitter feed from which I have extracted tweets from 25 th January to 11th of February covering the 18 days until Hosni Mubarak resigned. I have chosen this because when I first downloaded my twitter activity and re-read my posting over this time, I couldn't believe the amount of information it contained. It was striking in the sense that all this information is stored somewhere without most of us really thinking about it. I present it is as an experiment in archived social media practice. For reasons explained below this experiment is much more suited to an online version. However to make arguments for electronic submission, I have presented it here in a form where I provide some context, particularly where posts relate to areas of further discussion later on. c) Observations of online events, and in changing media practises For the best part of 6 months I have spend perhaps more than 60 per cent of my time awake online in an attempt to make some sense of the ideas between social media use and social struggle. Within the midst of that near obsessive activity I have seen many, many fragments of collective behaviours and social media, particular struggles, changing media practices etc. Many of these observations are contained within.


Limitations of my research

I cannot speak nor read Arabic and as such the possibility of engaging in much of the online discussions or interviewing people in the majority language of Egyptians didn't exist. My direct spoken contact with people was all in English. What ever my sense of emotional solidarity with those in revolutionary movements, the reality of geography, language and culture places me very much as an outside activist researcher. I am conscious of not making any attempts to speak for Egyptian activists. I'm also conscious not to turn Egyptian activists themselves into 'objects' of study. Mona Abaza, Professor of Sociology at the American University of Cairo has articulated a growing sense of unease amongst Egyptian academics surrounding an international division of research labour and the sensation of many Egyptian academics:


“of being reduced to becoming at best “service providers” for visiting scholars, a term I borrowed from my colleague, political scientist Emad Shahin, at worst like the French would put it, as the “indigène de service”, for ironically the right cause of the revolution. To rather cater for the service of our Western expert colleagues who typically make out of no more than a week's stay in Cairo, a few shots and a tour around Tahrir, the ticket to tag themselves with the legitimacy and expertise of first hand knowledge.” (Abaza, 2011 ). If this is the experience of academic studying their own revolution, I can only imagine what it might be like for activists themselves.


Towards praxis

In the spirit of sharing and hopefully contributing to an increased activist knowledge around social media use, I have included in this work several “How To” videos. They are created using open and cracked software to help those may not be familiar with using social media platforms as radical media tools understands how these specific platforms work. I have created a series of scripted videos as the most effective educational way of sharing this type of information. The aim is not just to provide useful practical skills, but more fundamentally to encourage a critical engagement within within our movements when thinking how best these tools can be used for there own practice. A final word in terms of methodology is that even as the deadline for submission looms, I am unclear within myself about what I 'am' in presenting this work. It is part research and learning from the struggles of others, part reflection, part activist journalism and radical media, part observation and more reflection. In one sense this reflects an internal struggle of definition of myself as either as an activist, a researcher, or learner. The resolution is being all these things at once. The nature of the topic I'm looking at at means it was unbounded by anything other than arbitrary boundaries I set myself. The peculiarities of social media exploration itself is unlimited, there is always more sources, more video, more articles, more perspectives. The 22

immediacy of platforms like Twitter and Facebook and more specifically the content that posts are linked to means that one very easily feels you are viewing multiple windows or inhabiting another world entirely. There is logic to the idea that to understand the potential of the internet as a tool you have to live in the internet for a while. And to be honest I feel I have lived on the internet for a while, but its time to go home. From the perspective of a researcher, I have lost count of the times where I've felt I was grabbing at fragments in an attempt to make sense of a larger whole. What I present here are those fragments.


CHAPTER 3 : HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL CONTEXT 3.1 History from Above: Colonialism, Nationalism and Authoritarianism

Like Ireland and much of the planet, Egypt has a colonial history that is threaded with anticolonial struggle. As a unified political entity in the Nile Valley, Egypt has existed for 5000 years (Beinin, 2010). It is a history shaped by the effects of, and resistance to, imperial exploitation associated with capitalism in western Europe. In the early part of the 19 th century, Muhammad Ali emerged from the fallout out of a decaying Ottoman Empire and set up a political dynasty propped up by the British who invaded in 1882 and occupied the country. Over the following decades, colonial powers of western Europe fought to suppress struggles for national self determination in Egypt. Within colonial empires of occupation and exploitation, Egyptians were like many others considered simply as people in a specific geographical space that provided natural resources, exploitable labour and unlimited potential for wealth accumulation for the almost exclusively white, male industrialists at the frontier of developing trade and power networks. (Meital, 2005) French and British interests along with other European financial institutions bankrolled the construction of the Suez Canal, a waterway of significant value in the global trade of oil and other commodities. As is the case throughout history, the financial benefits of such developments tend to be privatised and remain in the hands of a few, whilst the cost of construction was borne by the Egyptian population via the enforced imposition of taxes. Historically, the Egyptian army has been a source and expression of counter power against imperialism and colonialism through which it forged a strong nationalist identity. In July 1952, low ranking officers of the Egyptian army again were the forefront of a national liberation struggle when Gamal Abdel Nasser led a military coup under the banner of Free Officers which deposed King Farouk. Over the course of a year the monarchy was abolished, and General Muhammad Naguib from the Free Officers was declared the first President of the new Republic of Egypt. A committee was formed to come up with a new constitution to replace the annulled constitution of 1923. Splits between the government and opposition groups at this time provided much of the foundations that led to autocratic regime soon after Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser took his place. Yoram Meital, describes how post 1923: a severe crisis ensued between the adherents of the revolutionary regime and its opponents, both within and outside of Egypt, over the 24

means employed for advancing the democratization process. The revolutionaries suppressed their domestic rivals with an iron fist as all the arms of government –led by parliament, the courts, and the security forces – were harnessed for the mission. Accordingly, the government disbanded all political parties in 1953 and nationalized the press in 1960. The persecution of internal political opponents continued throughout the years of the revolutionary experiment, and the consequences of these policies for the political sphere were quite evident for many years after the collapse of the “revolutionary order,” when policies with entirely different goals and characteristics had already been adopted. Following the many long years of revolutionary experimentation, even the most devout Nasserites realized that the revolutionary regime had failed to advance a democratic government. The struggle against the government’s domestic opponents culminated in the destruction of a functioning party and parliamentary system and in serious damage to the Egyptian public discourse. (Meital, 2005) After the assassination of Anwar El Sadat in October 1981, Hosni Mubarak took his place as president. Over 30 years Hosni Mubarak repeatedly invoked on an ongoing basis the so called “Emergency Law” which placed many restrictions on freedom of assembly and association. Political opposition was squashed and regular complaints where made about elections being rigged. Most of the people involved in the revolutionary youth movements where borne under Mubarak's rule.


History from below

Much of the existing discourse about the Egyptian revolution removes agency as the central foundation of challenging power in struggles for emancipation. Narratives of technological determinism, the idea that technological development resolves social problem because technology itself challenges power misplace social media in an ahistorical context. In doing so such narratives do a tremendous disservice, both to the commitments, sacrifices and successes of human endeavour of Egyptian activists, but also to the telling of a history that ignores the specific context within which this revolution occurred. Egyptians themselves are using social media tools and the internet to document the recent revolution. Its can be seen in a many of online projects such as, an online project that is dedicated to scanning, and translating from Arabic to English, real world 25

publications, pamphlets, flyers and leaflets produced by activists groups and organisations. This is literally a project telling history from below, of making visible to the world via its website the demands, critiques and ongoing debates as told from the perspective of the revolutionary youth, workers movement, pro-democracy organisations, Islamic groups, and unaligned individuals. Digital scans of the originals are available to download as PDF files. For activists and critically minded researchers there is a treasure trove of information, experiences and stories that will form the basis of further research, which can facilitate a much more nuanced understanding of the history from below as opposed to the normative history of winners so prominent in formal education setting. Other similar sites such as and both focus on a creating participatory online libraries of people's own videos, images, writings opinion etc. all which specifically over the 18 days from 25th of January, the day of the uprising to the 11 th of February. A central premise to these projects is the democratic and participatory process of telling of people own experiences. Within the multitude of voices and stories, amongst the collation of self made videos and images of the revolutions shared online there are echo’s of Linebaugh and Rediker (2000) The Many Headed Hydra. Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic.


Social media connecting pro-democracy and workers movements

Pro-democracy activists in Egypt did not have the option of engaging with mainstream state controlled media. Under Article 3 of the Emergency Law, the state could also confiscate and shut down any political publications. The activists that were to become the organisers of the April 6th Movement had been active in the pro-democracy Kifeya movement and they had built links with worker movements from 2004. Workers struggles in Egypt had been on the increase from the mid 1990s as a result of impacts of neo-liberalist policies of privatisation, direct foreign investment etc. (as was common under the 'Washington Consensus'). Unemployment rates rose to 12 per cent in 2003 according to official figures but many commentators suggest it could have been double that in 2010. There had been significant rise in worker militancy with over 1.7 million workers engaging in some kind of work place action in the years 2004 to 2008. (Benin, 2010)


It was from a call to support a day of workers action in Mahalla that the April 6 th Movement found its wings. Asking Waleed Rashed, an organiser in the April 6 th Movement about their beginnings he said: “We were thinking many times can we make the revolution in Egypt'?. We don't know exactly how. After we know how to make it, we were thinking it is civil disobedience. But it will take many steps, it will not be in one day, two days or one year. It will take long time. But the point of the April 6th exactly is that we got an invitation and we become as a movement after 6 April 2008. Not before 6th of April 2008. Before the 6th of April it was a normal day .We got an invitation from the Mahalla Coop. [...] There is a lot of workers are working there. They are telling us they are going to make a strike in our city in 6 th of April . So we attend, so we ahh we create an event in Facebook. It was our page and in a few hours only we got a lot of members[...] We start this event in Facebook as any normal event, we did not know that this event would be a big event in the whole all of the country or like that. But we say to people why will the strike only to be in Mahalla coop lets make it as a general strike in whole Egypt. After 6th of April by the end of the day and April 7th the day really is a success and we come to learn and know many things from that day. We told the guys on Facebook in the event page about why we must close the regime, shut down the regime. We say let's go for another meeting and from this meeting we will go for movement.” (Waleed Rashed, Interview) That a general strike could be organised via a call out on Facebook seems odd, but in the context of a very tightly controlled media set up it perhaps makes a little more sense. This link with workers was a significant one and was mutually beneficial to both. For the most part the April 6th was made up of mainly educated youth under thirty but they kept close connections with the worker movement across Egypt. “About workers exactly, is was very, very, very important to support


them. If each group of worker has any problem in his company we must go to him. We must go to support him, we must open channels with him because someday of course you will come to ask him “please support me in the revolution”. As I told you the revolution will come at many steps, and really its is having the last revolution after 25 th and lots of [social movement] groups and a lot of workers from a lot of cities, they are telling there will be in civil disobedience till Mubarak is gone. So it helps us and it was as a pressure also for them for the government [to respond to workers demands] and for the economy so yeah, you really will support him today and of course he will come to support you today. Actually I don't want him to support me as Waleed, no I want him to support our case – our case is the revolution. How to change the regime” (Waleed Rashed, Interview) This connection between pro-democracy and workers movements are important. It was quite probable that without these links, without a common narrative that sought to address both social injustices and economic inequalities, the regime may have been able to hold on. However from my Twitter stream you can see that a wave of strikes across all sector essentially rendered the momentum for change unstoppable.


CHAPTER 4 PRACTICAL GUIDES 4.1 Social media as a tool for activist journalism

Case Study 1 Blog Post “Breaking in #Alexandria : People Storm State Security HQ” "State security, tell us straight / Where's our security? Where's our state?" slogan chanted during the uprising Via @jarelkamar I am inside state security building wt the ppl. It's a dream. SS has fallen! #Jan25 On the evening of Friday 4 th of March 2011, I noticed some people I had been following on Twitter where discussing that that there was a demonstration in the city of Alexandria, Egypt outside the building that housed the State Security Headquarters. This tweet in particular caught my attention, which I then retweeted: State Security in Alexandria is throwing Molotov cocktails & tear gas on protesters surrounding "Alfara'na" office #Jan25 #amndawla!/NahlaMohamed/statuses/43751238331924481

4.1.1 Background to State Security The State Security was a particularly reviled organisation across Egypt. It had been regularly involved in intelligence gathering, illegal abduction and torture and acted with a vicious impunity – not just in squashing political dissent but also in the intimidation of many citizens. My own knowledge of the State Security before this was based upon reading about Khaled Said, a young computer programmer who had been working uncovering police corruption. Much like the young man who burned himself in Tunisia Khaled Said's death at the hands of the State Security became a touch stone which resonated deeply with people living under the regime, and embodied a specific example of state impunity and injustice.


On the 6th June 2010, State Security officers arrived at an internet café in Alexandria and arrested him. Friends and the family of Khaled say he had video evidence that State Security forces and police where involved in drug dealing and that the suppression of this evidence was the real motivation of his arrest and subsequent beatings and death. Khaled was picked up by the State Security alleging he was carrying illegal drugs and was very badly beaten up on the street in full view. Its seems likely that Khaled's death at the hands of the police would have just been another in a long list, had it not been for the fact that Khaled's brother Ahmed secretly took photographs with his mobile phone and uploaded them to the internet. The effect was immediate and significant. The graphic image of his brutalised face as he lay in a city morgue became a visual meme that represented the experience of millions of Egyptians, and a rallying point against the State Security forces in particular and the regime in general. These images of Khaled's broken body, alongside photos of Khaled as a healthy young man where soon posted onto a Facebook page created by Wael Ghomin on the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page. Alongside the April 6th movement and youth wings of the Muslim Brotherhood, people working together under the “We Are All Khaled Said” banner played a significant role in organising the mass mobilisations and occupation of Tahrir Square that fermented the fall of Mubarak. It was on this Facebook page that the initial call for a “Day of Rage” on the 25th of January 2011 in Cairo was called. The Facebook page also was a significant source of updates and commentary from the perspective of those occupying Tahrir Square during its initial stage in January 2011. I followed updates on the Facebook page over the 18 days (25 th January to 18th February and it was in this context that I sensed that a late evening gathering outside the State Security was likely to be both contentious and dangerous. Some people where using Twitter to make brief reports from the ground, others making suggestions about what actions should or should not be done if the building was breached. Using Tweetdeck, a social media tool I describe in video X, I was able to follow hashtags #Alexandria, #Alex and #amndawla. I could thus identify specific people tweeting simultaneously and in real time. By observing what tweets where being re-tweeted it was relatively easy to see who was actually there so I began to


follow these people via Tweetdeck, including a someone using the name @Abalkhair. It was through a conscious process of filtering, searching and observing – with the specific aim of finding people who where on the ground – that I could get to see information and individual narratives of what was going on. What was not clear at the time was a larger context. Ahmad Shafiq, the prime minister installed by Mubarak had just resigned and according to Ahdaf Soueif, writing in the Guardian newspaper, “minutes after the new prime minister had spoken in Tahrir, people noticed plain-clothes men carrying garbage bags out of state security headquarters in Alexandria. They intercepted the men and found the bags contained shredded documents. The people formed a cordon and insisted nothing leave the building”. At the time, this was not clear to me. As people where posting up photos, descriptions and video, it became clear that this was not just a static demonstration, but seemed a concerted effort to both overrun police force protecting the building, and to gain access to it. Having made a choice to search out people on Twitter taking part in the demonstration it made sense to me at the time that rather than simply satisfying a personal curiosity about what was unfolding – in essence being a passive, if interested voyeur – I could use the position I'd put myself in to collate the fragments into a news report. My decision to create a news blog post came after I sensed that it could be a useful thing to do with the information I had available. Its important to say that, I feel, because it (hopefully) debunks possible revisionist tendencies as I write about this now. People attempting to overrun the State Security HQ, in the presence of the police and army, seemed like an another significant social and political event in the ongoing revolution. I posted this tweet: “@Abalkhair I'm happy to collect and collate footage, tweets and photos and post via twitter, FB blogs etc” @Abalkhair, who was posting photographs from the ground re-tweeted this tweet to his followers. I downloaded all of the photographs I could come across that had been posted online with the hashtags mentioned above, and collated the descriptive tweets to write up what I felt was as accurate and honest a picture from the information available to me. I embedded a video that had been uploaded from the demonstration outside the State Security HQ and uploaded the photographs as well as the written piece and posted the blog. This took


less than about 30 minutes. Once I had initially completed the blog post, I tweeted its URL back onto the Twitter, and on to several Facebook page groups. The blog post was also subsequently picked up by several human rights websites. I shared the blog report directly with many of the Egyptian activists based in Cairo, as well as other mainstream journalists and activists who has been actively tweeting from around the globe on the uprising: Ive posted report from tonights situation from Twitter info in #Alexandria #Jan25 #Egypt #alex here Breaking report of events #alex @marklittlenews @MaryFitzgerldIT @Liberationtech @jilliancyork @3arabawy @mfatta7 Report from #alexandria tonight at SS HQ #egypt @Gsquare86 @guardiannews @anonops @paulmasonnews @kyrah @Sandmonkey I also posted the report onto several Facebook pages such as the April 6 th Facebook page and the We are all Khaled Said page. It was quickly picked up Global Voices, “an online global network of bloggers and citizen media” linked to it in both English, Arabic and French

4.1.2 Journalism as a conscious act of solidarity At the time I felt it an imperative to try to get this information out as quick as possible. I felt what I was doing was citizen journalism. I wanted to try to share what was happening, from the perspective of people on the ground taking direct action against an institution that was an integral part of the Egyptian state apparatus. I had made links with and interviewed a student activist in Alexandria (Case Study 2). This added to my sense of empathy/responsibility to use what means at my disposal to try and make sense of the fragments of information out


there. I was very conscious of my own position of safety and distance from the events as they unfolded. As tweets came in speaking of sniper fire and physical clashes where people were disarming police, I was sitting in my living room, preparing to meet friends in Dublin. I felt that I had a responsibility to do what I could to act in solidarity. This differs from what could be described as professional journalism, which seeks to present a positioning of objectivity. However as I discuss more fully in Chapter 6, the boundaries of professional and citizen journalism, and between mainstream and radical media are increasingly becoming porous as people consume information in much more diverse way that has been traditionally theorised.



Using Social media as a Space

Case Study 2: Inside Egypt : An Interview with Mohamed Abdelfattah, Alexandria. My main aim in interviewing Mohamed Abdelfattah was to make a mini audio-documentary that sought to let people in my online and real world social network hear about the recent experiences of the Egyptian revolution from the perspective of someone who was involved. He was one of the first people I came across tweeting from within Egypt, when I began to follow the Twitter conversation on the #Jan25 hashtag. Mohamed is a journalist, blogger and, at the time, a student from the city of Alexandria who participated and reported during the uprising. At the time of interviewing Mohamed, I was unaware that he was one of the first journalists to cover the story of Khaled Said's murder by State Security police force in Alexandria in 2010. On his blog he not only published the details of Khaled's death, but also a video, filmed by Khaled and provided to Mohamed by Khaled's sister which shows State Security police officers involved in a drugs deal. It is widely accepted that Khaled was about to expose these officers and that's why he was murdered. Google executive Wael Ghonim set up a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said” which attracted over 400,000 members, and it was one of the forums used by the revolutionary youth movement to call for a mobilisation on 25th of January. (On September 21st 2011, Mohamed was awarded the 2011 International Press Freedom Awards from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) for his role in covering the murder of Khaled.) I will quote extensively from our discussion. The online version of this work has the audio embedded at this point so that people can listen to Mohamed himself speak about his experiences and perspectives. My first contact with Mohamed was a tweet I sent to him at 2.07am 26 th January 2011, less that twenty four hours into the uprising. @mfatta7 Solidarity from Dublin, Ireland It seems fickle now, but as well as the fact Mohamed was tweeting regular updates, I was also initially attracted by Mohamed 's avatar, the image used on ones Twitter account. At the


time, it was a red and black raised fist suggesting to me someone who wasn't a passive observer and who potentially shared similar radical left wing perspectives to me. I first asked Mohamed on the 27th January if he would be interested in being interview for a radio programme, Radio Solidarity, I co-produced for a Dublin community radio station Near FM. Radio Solidarity programmes, which are shared online, specifically seek to cover issues and themes of social struggle from a grassroots perspective. It is a project of an anarchist organisation the Workers Solidarity Movement (WSM). My method of asking Mohamed if he was interested was sending a message via Twitter on 27th January: @mfatta7 would it be poss to get an interview withfor Radio Solidarity in Ireland ? 4.2.1. Technical process The technical process to allow me to record audio whilst interviewing was relatively simple in itself, though it did require spending a small sum money beforehand. I purchased a device found in most electronic shops that connected between the phone line and the telephone, this was then plugged into an external high quality audio recorder. (This is a piece of technology that most professional journalists use, though many people may not know exists.) I transferred the audio file from the audio recording device on to my computer and used 'cracked' audio software to improve the audio quality and remove simple 'ums' and 'ahs'. This was the first time I'd conducted an interview this way and unfortunately technical gremlins meant I had missed approximately a minute at the start of the interview. I then uploaded the interview to a free audio hosting site here: cloudcast_link I then linked the audio file to the post on my blog. Mixcloud is a free online service normally used by musicians to upload mixes of music, but I used it as a free and easy way to share political audio documentaries (it can be easily embedded into social network platforms). After publishing the blog post, I then shared it out on my own Facebook and Twitter social networks and encouraged others to do the same. My rationale for making the documentary stems very much from intellectual ground covered


in the MA course, as well as my own experiences and practice in activism. In my blog post with the interview, I explained to readers/listeners the reasons why I thought it useful. I wanted to “ cover some themes not covered by the traditional/mainstream press, and allow space for Egyptians themselves to talk about aspects of the recent uprising they feel is important. The bias toward experiential knowledge is a conscious choice, simply because it is often the most neglected form of knowledge in political story telling. Ordinary voices are held as a poor sibling to powerful deterministic political forces and quickly subsumed into an unbending tide of formal history, which cannot speak to the lived experience of people themselves as agents of change and shapers of their own destiny”. That perhaps was an academic way of saying it is really useful to hear perspective from the ground, that we don't normally get to hear. These personal insights and knowledge are probably likely to give us a deeper and more reflective understanding of people's realities than what we read or see through mainstream media. Whilst the interview wasn't very well planned in advance and I wanted to allow Mohamed to talk about aspects of the recent uprising he felt was important. I had a definite desire to find out about what I thought were some interesting dimensions of the uprising.

4.2.2 On the relationships between the people, the army and the police “The Egyptian army has a public image of trust with the people for decades, and they have been quite successful in maintaining this relationship during the revolution when they declared that they would never fire at any Egyptian in the revolution. So far the army is maintaining a legacy of trust with the people but we are really concerned of reports of some violations the army practices against some demonstrators [in Tahrir Square]. We are hearing some reports of youth being detained by the army and the army is denying their presence. We are also concerned with how the army and police cooperate to bring the police back again onto the street. One of the other concerns is how the army deals with the youth in the negotiation, and how they are a bit slow in responding to the demands of the protest movement. But so far I think the relationship has been quite good. As for the army and the police, there has been a culture of antagonism between individuals in the police and individuals in the army. And also from friends I have in the army as officers and as soldiers,


they tell us that they have been working day and night protecting the streets because of this revolution which they think has been caused by the police brutality against the people. So they are angry that it is the police brutality in recent years that has caused this uprising. So I think the relationship between the people and the army is better than the relationship between the police and the army and of course between the police and the people”. (Abdelfattah interview) His description of concerns at the time relate to incidents of torture by the army of some of the 177 activists arrested in Tahrir Square within a week of Mubarak's fall, an incident that provoked the revolutionary youth movements to begin a campaign called “No To Military Trials”. The online version of this work has an interview I did with one of the organisers in that campaign Nazly Hussein embedded at this point.

4.2.3 Social media as a spark “We have to understand that the spark of this revolution was organised on Facebook. When the Egyptian youth watched videos of what happened in Tunisia, and the fact that toppling an Arab dictator is possible; Tunisia sent a lot of energy into our blood. And then very famous Facebook page for a young man would was killed by the police called Khaled Said – this fan page is called We Are All Khaled Said. By January 25 th, this Facebook page had almost 400,000 members. It had called before for demonstrations against police brutality and other abuses. Immediately after what happened in Tunisia this page started campaigning very heavily for a similar revolution in Egypt. And this is actually what happened on January 25th, against the expectations of many people. We used to mock actually this event and say how can everything start from Facebook. Its going to be the usual couple of hundred people showing up at the demonstration. The majority of the Egyptian people are not on Facebook and they are not aware of what is going on.” (Abdelfattah interview)

4.2.4 Aspects of social media during the uprising With regards to what role Mohamed felt social media tools had during the 18 days form 25 th


of January to Mubaraks fall on the 11th of February he goes on to say: “During the revolution you can say that Twitter and Facebook for the first days broke the information monopoly that the state media and other private media exercised. But we have to understand that for four days [from 27th of January] the internet was totally cut off and on other days mobile phones where shut down. The organisation of the work has totally been offline on the ground. The people had already been on the streets and the absence of social media didn't hurt the movement. One thing to say also, when Mubarak delivered a divisive speech calling for the people to calm down because he will leave office in six months, that caused a division in the public opinion between the people in the streets – between those who want to leave Mubarak in office until he leaves at the end of his term and those who do not believe Mubarak and say he has to go now. When the internet got back the people saw brutal videos of the police killing peaceful unarmed civilians in the demonstrations. So what was not seen on state television they saw after the internet got back and the movements got momentum again more than ever. That is another way in which social media has helped break the information monopoly that the state media and other private media exercised”. (Abdelfattah interview) Likewise, asking about the role of the United States support and its funding, along with the UK, of Mubarak's military was a very direct way of speaking about wider geopolitical context from the perspective Mohamed has as a participant in the revolution: “During the revolution there where clear chants against Mubarak, dubbing him as an agent of America and Israel.... Arab nationalism has a significance during the revolution, people calling for dignity, people calling for liberating Arab lands from the hegemony of the US and other superpowers. We have to assert as young Egyptians that our fight has not been only been for freedom and liberty from the dictatorship but it is also a fight for independence from superpowers that have always propped up dictators like Hosni Mubarak for their own interests. So its also a fight for independence and we have to make this clear”. (Abdelfattah interview)



Some reflections

From a personal perspective it was both a humbling and enlightening experience doing this interview. It differed very much from writing up the report about people shutting down the State Security headquarters in Alexandria, both in form and intent. In that instance I was collating information – photographs, video and text – about a specific news 'event'. Whilst it still felt emotionally engaged, I had no direct relationship with the people involved. Speaking to Mohamed was an absolute pleasure. As someone who spends a lot of their time speaking, writing, working and thinking about how I/we can assist in creating movements that can affect a radical transformation in our societies, it was a both daunting and exciting to plan to speak to someone who was living within and part of a recent revolution. In many ways it was quite an odd experience, Mohamed was so thoughtful and engaging he made the context of the revolutions, some of its specific events and the larger framing of geopolitical implications seemed both normal and, well, revolutionary. From the perspective of a fellow activist, making resistance both transforming and common sense is one of the key elements of building movement. Hopefully by sharing this voice and others in the near future the small documentaries of people speaking about their perspectives in struggle can contribute to that process.


4.4 'How to' guides These stand alone videos are to assist people in thinking about social media tools and networks as places for radical media practice. It seemed to make sense from a popular education perspective and given the large part that sharing plays as theme threaded through this work that I try to find a way to share some of the knowledge and experiences I had around using Facebook, Twitter, Tweetdeck and blogging. I only started using twitter frequently last January and only began blogging semi regularly when I started this course last year, so I should qualify that the how to guides are based purely upon my own practise. That said my practise has specifically using these tools from a radical media perspective. There was one minor complication. I didn't know how to make educational videos, and had only made one other video before I made these. At first I thought about getting someone to record me as I used Facebook etc. Then I thought of using software that recorded the screen. I searched on the internet 'how can I record the screen on my laptop screen' and got the name of a programme. I searched online for a cracked version, downloaded that and taught myself as I went along. In terms of process it became clear that they would need to be scripted rather than made up on the spot. It took a little time to get that right. One thing that took a bit of re recording was fixing the video to a correct narrative. I had to record the narration separately, and it took me a few recordings for each video. Part of the usefulness in this process was developing my own skills at making video, nut also the thinking about the assumptions and my own practical behaviours in ways that make easieri to absorb. Please see the DVD insert for the following: 4.4.1 Facebook 4.4.2 An introduction to using Twitter in your browser 4.4.3 Using Tweetdeck as a tool for citizen journalism 4.4.4 Using the blog for as a radical media site


CHAPTER 5 : TIMELINES OF THE EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION Archived Social Media Communications as a Recording of History 5.1 Methodology, advice on reading, and notes on presenting a Twitter time line

What follows is a time line of selected Twitter posts from the 25 th of January, the day the mobilisations started, to the 11th of February, the day Mubarak stood down. I used free online tools to create a downloadable archive of my own Twitter activity. These archives can now be presented as part of a real-time conversation and sharing of information. Tweets not directly relating to the uprising in Egypt have been removed. The tweets are represented as text in bold with some accompanying explanation or context also provided where required. The reader can gain an impression themselves about what insight these records of activity provide. It should be noted that these are just my input into conversations happening within a wider public space. In some instances, pictures from links within specific tweets have been included not just because they are powerful visual images, but to highlight the difference between online and printed presentation. In an online presentation of this work these images as well as linked articles, video, audio etc. are readily available simply a click away. This makes the original electronic document not just an archive of tweets, but a window to context and further research in ways that cannot be achieved with print without an extraordinary amount of additional work. Commentary has been added under specific tweets worthy of further contextualisation. In some cases this is because what is presented is merely one side of an otherwise invisible conversation; others because they related specifically to themes, specific events or people mentioned elsewhere in this work. Time data is displayed beneath each tweet as Twitter by design is very much an immediate communications tool. The abbreviation UTC is the same time as Greenwich Mean Time, and is a global standard of time used in computing and global digital information exchange. At one point UTC is replaced by -0600 – here the time displayed is 6 hours behind when the tweet was actually sent. Most tweets included were posted or retweeted (RT) by me, those originating from others are labelled as such. There are headings for each date but as can be seen through the time line, days and night blurred in my own twitter activity at different periods throughout the uprising. There are


some periods where I have little twitter activity e.g. 30th January has no entries. These were periods when I simply had to do other things than sit by my laptop during those eighteen days. 5.2 Twitter Time Line 25th January to 1st February

25th January 2011 Retweet of The Guardian (guardian) Internet, Twitter and phone call s blocked in Cairo during day of protests - follow our live blog 2011-01-25 16:02:27 UTC Get live updates from across Egypt in Mahalla, Suez, Mansoura and Marsa Matrouh. Strong clashes in Mahalla 2011-01-25 21:56:39 UTC How you can help the people involved popular uprising in Eygpt #jan25 2011-01-25 21:59:57 UTC The second and third posts relate to the We Are All Khaled Said facebook page, set up by a Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim using the moniker “ElShaheed” (the martyr). The page was set up by Ghonim in response to the brutal murder of Khaled Said by State Security in his hometown of Alexandria. The case is further explained in case study of the over running of State Security headquarters in Alexandria. The Facebook page itself drew over 430,000 members and was a significant and public voice against police brutality. It was one of the first groups which called for demonstrations on the 25 th of January to topple the regime. The third post is a link to a Facebook note entitled “International supporters: How we can help” originally posted on 4th of August 2010. What is notable is that within a couple of hours of becoming aware of the beginnings of an uprising in Egypt, one can come across the public online face of one of the groups calling for a revolution, and asking for your help. Retweet of The Awl (Awl) Tonight in Cairo, the Parliament is Surrounded - #jan25


2011-01-25 22:00:10 UTC

26th January 2011 Retweet of John Wood (johnwoodRTR) Best tweet of the day "Yesterday we were all Tunisian. Today we are all Egyptian. Tomorrow we'll all be free" #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-01-26 01:42:24 UTC @mfatta7 Solidarity from Dublin, Ireland 2011-01-26 02:08:29 UTC This was my first contact with Mohamed Abdelfattah, a journalist I later interviewed, and is a case study within this work, see Chapter 4. Retweet of SaloumehZ (SaloumehZ) RT @Alshaheeed Suliman Saber Ali is 2nd victim in Suez. Egyptian Police opened fire on protesters killing him & Mustafa Reda. #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-01-26 07:36:57 UTC This is the first example I came across in my Twitter feed during the uprising of people naming and making visible the deaths of people they know. From my own perspective it made the reality of the ongoing struggle a lot less abstract, and is one use of social media as affective communication, i.e. communication that engages at a level of human empathy. Retweet of Adam Makary (adamakary) Good morning everyone, it's a new day and protesters I hear will be gathering in tahrir at 9am, stay tuned #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-26 07:46:43 UTC Adam Makary is Cairo producer for Al Jazeera International. Tear Gas & Medical info for Protesters #egypt #jan25 pls share and dont panic, sorry it is only in english 43

2011-01-26 10:18:38 UTC @telecomix Tear Gas & Medical info for Protesters #egypt #jan25 pls share and dont panic, sorry it is only in english 2011-01-26 11:07:57 UTC The above two tweets are to the web page with fairly exhaustive advice for dealing with teargas. It is one page on an activist trainer and resource website run by Starhawk, an activist centrally involved within the 'movement of movements'. Upon hearing that lots of tear gas was being used against people in Egypt, I sent this to Telecomix, a network of activists who where providing information and technical advice to the uprising. Retweet of benwedeman (bencnn) Plainclothed police snooping around outside Cairo U bothering students talking to press #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-01-26 12:20:33 UTC Ben Wedeman is a journalist working with the American CNN news network. What is interesting about this tweet is that it is an example of how professional journalists, when using Twitter, very often editorialise their comments in ways that differ significantly from a considered “objectivity” which is the basis of most mainstream media products. This is one example of the blurring roles of professional and citizen journalist.

27th January 2011 Trading falls 16% in markets even with trading suspension earlier today 2011-01-27 11:49:42 UTC This was a link to the Daily New Egypt website showing that the uprising was having a significant effect on 'the markets'. Trading had been suspended for 40 minutes to halt a collapse in the markets as international investors began to pull funds out of the country.


Press release to Gov of Egypt. Attacks on gov infrastucture and re-opening of blocked coms underway #jan25 #Egypt #anon 2011-01-27 12:19:39 UTC This tweet is a link to a video posted on YouTube by a network of online hackers and activists under the umbrella of Anonymous. The video makes specific reference about how under Mubarak's regime Egyptians did not have “freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association and the free access to information” and that “the Egyptian government has revealed itself to be criminal (sic) and has made itself an enemy of Anonymous”. The video goes on to explain how they will attack government websites. This poster above for Anonymous Operation Egypt (#OpEgypt) suggests some level of coordination with people on the ground in Egypt, as recruiting for digital direct actions began two days before the uprising itself. The video suggests some forewarning that mobiles and internet communications will be pulled by the regime. @mfatta7 Solidarity Demo in Dublin, Ireland tomorrow at Egyptian embassy. 2011-01-27 13:08:02 UTC 45

Dear @BlackBerry the BlackBerry Service in #Egypt is blocked with all mobile operators CC: @guardian @BBCNews #Jan25 #anonops #anonymous 2011-01-27 16:22:58 UTC @mfatta7 would it be poss to get an interview withfor Radio Solidarity in Ireland ? 2011-01-27 19:50:00 UTC Here I was contacting Mohamed to see if he was interested in sharing his experience and insights, which I write about in a case study, see Chapter 4.

Retweet of Adam Makary (adamakary) Trusted source tells me phone lines will be cut in egypt, maybe in less than 2 hours #jan25 2011-01-27 21:39:35 UTC This is significant as there was official forewarning that phone lines will be cut. Further research has shown that this cut off was indeed planned in advance.

No mention of the $1.3 Billion of military support from the US that is being used tonight to suppress people #rtept 2011-01-27 22:22:48 UTC Retweet of Telecomix (telecomix) RT @baheresmat Confirmed. Internet is down in #Egypt #jan25 Retweet of Jacob Appelbaum (ioerror) I need to borrow some Sat phone and Sat internet uplink for Egypt - please contact me ASAP for in country deployment. #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-27 23:29:48 UTC @ioerror is the Twitter name of Jacob Appelbaum, a researcher and activist who works in areas of technology, anti censorship, privacy and social justice. He helped create online tools for activists, around the areas of anonymity and censorship resistance. This tweet is further evidence of an international network of activists working to resist the Egyptian state closing down telecommunication in a attempt to disrupt the uprising.

28th January 2011 46

@ioerror @jilliancyork @TheAtlantic what is it? 2011-01-28 01:08:30 UTC @jilliancyork is Jillian C York a writer and free speech activist who is a Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the worlds first organisation set up around the issue of digital rights. Retweet of Khaled Said (Alshaheeed) Police agents are pouring petrol in all main squares to light them up during protests. Please retweet & Share #Egypt #Jan25 2011-01-28 02:28:26 UTC Video from the past 72 Hours in #egypt #jan25 2011-01-28 04:01:38 UTC 2011-01-28 04:19:31 UTC Below is a picture that was shared across many social media platforms which shows very dramatically the internet being cut around 5.30pm. The visual impact suggests a drastic action and we think of lines being cut in an authoritarian rage. I myself shared this image on Facebook. When it began to emerge that no physical lines where cut, I went back to review the link above to garner more detail.

On closer inspection, this second image is particularly insightful:


I had been struck by the first image with its representation of an immediate drastic cut. However, what the first image didn't convey, but the second image does is that according to Renesys, an internet intelligence company, each network provider cut their internet connections separately within minutes of each other, until the only network that was left up an running was the Noor Group network which ensured the Egyptian Stock Exchange remained live and online. From Renesy website: “Telecom Egypt (AS8452), the national incumbent, starts the process at 22:12:43. Raya joins in a minute later, at 22:13:26. Link Egypt (AS24863) begins taking themselves down 4 minutes later, at 22:17:10. Etisalat Misr (AS32992) goes two minutes later, at 22:19:02 Internet Egypt (AS5536) goes six minutes later, at 22:25:10. First impressions: this sequencing looks like people getting phone calls, one at a time, telling them to take themselves off the air. Not an automated system that takes all providers down at once; instead, the incumbent leads and other providers follow meekly one by one until Egypt is silenced.”


I will address some of the implications of this later on in the section on how the internet is a site of struggle in Chapter 7.

@ioerror Jacob, great work and solidarity from Dublin, Ireland. Do you know if mobiles will be offline as well as net access 2011-01-28 04:20:55 UTC Egyptian central bank taken off line #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-28 05:01:58 UTC @PJCrowley how about you stop funding the military in Egypt 2011-01-28 05:49:27 UTC PJ Crowley was at the time a prominent figure in the United States State Department. This tweet shows one of Twitters underrated features – the ability to tweet directly to others regardless of their social status or positioning within society (unless they have enabled a blocking feature or ghost writers). People can choose to ignore tweets received but there is a certain dilemma for people in positions of power by opening themselves up to being publicly challenged. Crowley in particular received lots of tweets about the positioning of the United States and the Egyptian regime, and the amount of US military aid provided. The dilemma for Crowley was that many people where able to present devastating critiques of hypocrisy and lies, with links to back up their arguments. I know of no other tool that enables such “truth to power” in quite such direct, accessible and public way. Retweet of Telecomix (telecomix) RT @ludicrous09 40m band, 7.050-7.200 MHz LSB, 318.5 degrees (northwest/north from Cairo) Ham Radio Operators #jan25 #jan26 2011-01-28 07:09:19 UTC adviceninfo on possible connections and comms channels inside #jan25 #jan26 #egypt pls RT 2011-01-28 07:14:10 UTC These two tweets show that Telecommix shared information about using Ham Radio frequencies (long wave or citizen band radio) for communications within Egypt. Retweet of Alaa Abd El Fattah (alaa) and al jazeera is interviewing revolutionaries that are so articulate I want to just want to hug them (and their own crew rocks roo) #Jan25 2011-01-28 14:27:39 UTC 49

@alaa What channel is that on, thks. Solidarity from Dublin 2011-01-28 14:28:12 UTC army seem to b e on the street close to the hilton hotel and police pulling back situtn still not clear #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-28 15:13:06 UTC Alexandria #Egypt the people have taken the city against a curfew shouting "illegitimate" and have overpowered military in areas #jan25 # 2011-01-28 16:15:00 UTC Seuz #Egypt Army has taken over from the police to try and regain control of the people, 1000's of protestors overrun 100 riot cops #jan25 2011-01-28 16:16:39 UTC Vodafone plays a massive part in internal and external censorship #profitbeforepeople #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-28 16:19:08 UTC Live ammunition and blast bombs being used by the army in Cairo. $1.3 billion provided by US #neocons last year - #repression #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-28 16:31:23 UTC @drivetimerte VP Biden on Mubarack last night, make sure the Ireland knows the US position. #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-28 16:44:23 UTC Here I was tweeting to Irish state radio broadcaster's evening current affairs show linking to comments made by US vice president Joe Biden that Mubarak was someone he knows "fairly well" and does not consider to be a dictator.


@drivetimerte The US also provided $1.3 billion of military support lst yr which is now being used for repression 2011-01-28 16:47:08 UTC This was a picture that was shared across the internet of a tear gas canister, one of many used against the uprising. It has marking that says “MADE IN U.S.A”. The image became a very powerful visual metaphor about US foreign policy in the region. Egypt can use this number for dial up: +33172890150 (login 'toto' password 'toto') – thanks to a French ISP (FDN) #egypt #jan2 2011-01-28 16:47:44 UTC Another example of international efforts to assist in bypassing the regimes censorship by offering access to the internet via modems. #egypt Clinton continues the long american tradition of speaking out of both side of their mouths. Remember Suez, Nicaragua, Vietnam etc 2011-01-28 17:16:21 UTC US spokeperson speaking out of both side of his mouth.Supports Mubarak and the people. Frank Wizner full of #USbullshit #jan25 #egypt 2011-01-28 18:17:00 UTC German finance minister worried about "infectious momentum" of democractic demands within the Arab world. Capitalists masks slipping #jan25 2011-01-28 18:20:13 UTC AJE: the army are protecting #Egypt state TV. #Jan25 51

2011-01-28 18:35:02 UTC @NaomiAKlein you might want to share this #jan25 #egypt #us 2011-01-28 18:47:03 UTC This is a link to an article on a US news website showing that Egyptian military where meeting with US military at the time the uprising began.

Video Solidarity demonstration in Dublin Ireland today #egypt #jan26 #jan28 #sidibouzid #solidarityfromireland 2011-01-28 21:05:34 UTC I shared a video of a solidarity demonstration held in Dublin, using hashtags to insert in to global conversations. Retweet of Sultan Al Qassemi (SultanAlQassemi) The spark that pushed the region from darkness to light: Rest In Peace Mohammed BouAzizi. I hope Egyptians name an Avenue after him. #Jan25 2011-01-28 22:03:27 UTC Retweet of Alaa Abd El Fattah (alaa) ♻ @Sarahcarr: 150 wounded people were forced out of a mosque near Tahrir Sq by the army. Current location unknown #jan25 2011-01-28 19:00:00 -0600 Retweet of Карин Козина 404 (kyrah) Venezuelan Student Movement in /via @JShahryar, cc @ajmarquez 29th January 2011 Watched this on thursday nite it 20 hits, still lifts me #jan25 #egypt plsRT 2011-01-29 06:52:11 -0600 The video linked had 20 views when I watched it first. It now has over 2,300,000 and is another example of social media being used as affective communication. It was posted by members of the We are all Khaled Said group with this message “Important message to youtube and people who flag this video: If it gets flagged or removed , it will be uploaded 10 more times”. It really is worth a watch. 52 support of the protesters in Egypt

Bedouins attacked state security HQ in town of #Rafah near #Egypt's border with #Gaza, killing 3 policemen: EGYPTIAN MILITARY GAZA BORDER 2011-01-29 06:56:38 -0600 Retweet of Tweetminster (tweetminster) Al Jazeera has released its #Egypt coverage under a Creative Commons license - RWW #jan25 2011-01-29 07:05:04 -0600 This is a significant shift in mainstream media practice. Al Jazeera have a large creative commons depository and explain their rationale on their site: “As a pioneer in news and media Al Jazeera is always looking for ways to make its unique content accessible to audiences across the world and the launch of Al Jazeera’s Creative Commons Repository is another concrete step in this direction. Through doing this we intend to make a practical contribution to the debate on one of the biggest issues facing content producers today – copyright in the internet age [...]Video news footage is an essential part of modern journalism. Providing material under a Creative Commons license to allow commercial and amateur users to share, edit, subtitle and cite video news is an enormous contribution to the global dialog around important events. Al Jazeera has set the example and the standard that we hope others will follow.” Caused a storm Thurs night, most us thinking it was too soon to share while police still in control , great pamphlet 2011-01-29 07:23:13 -0600 Retweet of Alaa Abd El Fattah (alaa) Big protest in zamalek on of cairos poshest neighbourhoods the revolution includes all of egypt #Jan25 2011-01-29 07:51:41 -0600 deposed president Mubarak tries another manouver by appointing Omar Soleiman (chief of intelligence) as vice president #Jan25 2011-01-29 09:34:28 -0600 31st January 2011 Retweet of Abir Farha (Abir_F) @tinkeyeh FB list of missing ppl is FAKE. Many ppl on it NOT missing. This is state 53

security trying to get info on us. DO NOT RESPOND #Jan25 2011-01-31 07:58:14 -0600 @drivetimerte Army has aready annouced that it wont be shooting #jan25 #egypt MB isnt forcing at anything. No mention of Gen Strike either?? 2011-01-31 12:19:31 -0600 Rumors that cell phones are going to be down in a half an hour. Let's hope not. #egypt #jan25 2011-01-31 12:22:24 -0600 #Jan25 #eypt Very powerful video of solidarity from Egyptians in London Uk , pls share 2011-01-31 13:10:32 -0600 @SherineT Getting tweets from inside asking to call it Millions March rather than Million man march, women have been central to the movement (feminism) 2011-01-31 14:40:35 -0600 Listen to this awesome message from Egypt: | We are with you! | Thank you, @telecomix | #Jan25 #Feb1 #OpEgypt 2011-01-31 18:31:02 -0600 Call +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855 and your message will be autotweeted via #google #egypt #jan25 #opegypt 2011-01-31 18:45:01 -0600# Retweet of Missy (chaos_kind) Hillary Clinton says "America wants exactly what the protestors in #Egypt are seeking." They want bigger cars, faster wifi, and free food? 2011-01-31 20:08:30 -0600 @googlewaveyour @CNN @Ghonim I think this is an unconfirmed video being taken by plain clothes police PLsRT 2011-01-31 22:12:31 -0600 @ioerror @jilliancyork @cnn Im not sure but i think this might be a video of the arrest of missing google exec 2011-01-31 22:16:20 -0600 Bed for a couple hours before sunrise.Tomorrow will be a good day, leavin you with this #jan25 #egypt #ourdaywillcome 2011-01-31 23:00:58 -0600 Retweet of Sultan Al Qassemi (SultanAlQassemi) Hat tip of new Google-Twitter Egypt service to: @Daviddeweerdt @chorlich @Infoballofix 54

@Iramare @farrukh33 @pfesta @rajeshcmishra Thank you 2011-01-31 23:10:17 -0600 1st February 2011 Retweet of Michael Hanna (mwhanna1) Egyptian state tv still showing pro-Mubarak demos w/ paid agents of state. Performance of this vintage has not been seen since June 1967. 2011-02-01 07:44:34 -0600 Retweet of Sultan Al Qassemi (SultanAlQassemi) Mock trial of NDP thugs in Cairo today 2011-02-01 10:20:24 -0600

Retweet of Eowyn (Eowyn9) RT @jan25itak: RT @SultanAlQassemi Al Jazeera is back on (the Egyptian controlled) Nilesat: New frequency is 11555 V. Tell Egyptians. #egypt 2011-02-01 10:21:11 -0600 Retweet of Jonathan Rugman (jrug) V reliable source tells me US Ambassador spoke to Mubarak today - and that he said he wasn't leaving. #jan25 #feb01 #egypt #c4news 2011-02-01 10:42:56 -0600 Retweet of corbosman (corbosman) Dialup accounts opened for #egypt by XS4ALL. Dial 00 31 20 5350535, login: gypt0001 pass: olinver , #jan25 #xs4all @ioerror 2011-02-01 10:57:55 -0600


Retweet of Jillian C. York (jilliancyork) If you haven't yet, check out these 2011-02-01 11:04:00 -0600




Speak2Tweet was a project deployed jointly by Google and Twitter specifically to counter state censorship of Twitter during the revolution. From their website at: “Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground. Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service — the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection. We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.” Retweet of Maximilian Forte (1D4TW) CNN is screwing up everything: estimates crowd "in the hundreds" (blind?), says they were cheering at Mubarak's message. #Egypt #Jan25 2011-02-01 15:19:50 -0600 Retweet of Jillian C. York (jilliancyork) Those in Tahrir are clear: "People are NOT satisfied with Mubarak's speech." CNN, when will you get a fucking clue? #jan25 2011-02-01 15:23:19 -0600 Night has fallen but the drumming and singing is as loud as ever: "He'll leave, we'll not, he'll leave, we'll not." #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-01 15:53:49 -0600 Prosterster just described #Jan25 - "anarchist, leaderless system". Although, also said this was prob. because of lack of plan. AJE. #Egypt 2011-02-01 16:10:14 -0600 5.3 Twitter Line 2nd to 8th February


2nd February 2011 Retweet of Mohamed Abdelfattah (mfatta7) Prepare for the hashtag #DepartureFriday 2011-02-02 05:23:18 -0600 Retweet of Maggie Osama (maggieosama) RT @3arabawy : Photos I've been taking of the uprising: SPREAD THEM! #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-02 05:25:46 -0600

Retweet of Lara Setrakian (LaraABCNews) We've been assaulted twice by pro-Mubarak crowds, they see the camera and jump. Retreating to the bureau, on Bloomberg now by phone #Jan25 2011-02-02 06:05:28 -0600 Retweet of Ian Lee (ianinegypt) Pro-Mubarak supporter's numbers are small but seem well organized. #egypt #jan25 2011-02-02 06:05:49 -0600 Report ofs counter revolutionaries of police and hired hand, armed with stick and machetes attacking a section of the crowd #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-02 07:53:34 -0600 Retweet of Asa Winstanley (asa_wire) 57

There are loads of brand-new twitter accounts today & last night suddenly springing up & spreading lies, rumours & propaganda. #egypt #jan25 2011-02-02 07:54:00 -0600 Retweet of Manal Hassan (manal) My husband @alaa is now under attack by Mubarak thugs & some ppl dare to ask me to tone it down #a7a #jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-02 09:01:34 -0600 Retweet of (ProtestWatch) If anyone knows of any exits out of #Tahrir square, please tweet us, people are desperate to get to safety!! #Jan25 #Egypt #Protest 2011-02-02 09:23:52 -0600 @grimblestweets Its not a disaster, just a co ordinated attempt by Mubarak to mess up a popular uprising 2011-02-02 09:35:05 -0600 Retweet of Jacob Appelbaum (ioerror) Hey @PJCrowley and @Statedept: The people of Egypt want you to stop backing Mubarak – they asked me to relay. Help them now! #egypt #jan25 2011-02-02 10:22:45 -0600 Retweet of Andy Carvin (acarvin) RT @sunny_hundal: Have you received unsolicited pro-Mubarak text messages from Vodafone in Egypt? Upload them here 2011-02-02 20:14:37 -0600 @iDiplomacy Have you received unsolicited pro-Mubarak text messages from Vodafone in Egypt? Upload them here Plz RT 2011-02-02 20:15:15 -0600 The text messages referred to above were varied such as “Youth of Egypt, beware rumors and listen to the sound of reason - Egypt is above all so preserve it.”; “The Armed Forces asks Egypt's honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor and our precious Egypt.”; “To every mother-father-sister-brother, to every honest citizen preserve this country as the nation is forever.”; “The Armed Forces cares for your safety and well being and will not resort to using force against this great nation.”

Gunfire came from NDP according to witness on Al jazeera #jan #egypt 2011-02-02 20:43:36 -0600 The NDP refers to the National Democratic Party, an authoritarian political party in Egypt.


Retweet of Nadim Kobeissi (kaepora) Does heavy machine gun fire in Egypt imply a change in US foreign policy? Call White House Press Office now and ask! 202-456-1414 2011-02-02 21:10:11 -0600 Retweet of monasosh (monasosh) 2 of my friends confirm another one is shot through the head, dead. My friend called me crying #Jan25 this is awful, something has 2 b done 2011-02-02 21:34:09 -0600 Retweet of Evan Hill (evanchill) Made it back safe. Soldier tried to confiscate my camera. I convinced him to just take the battery, and the memory was hidden. 2011-02-02 21:55:50 -0600 @evanchill another wave of molotov attacks on protesters from on the bridge = images on ALJ 2011-02-02 22:09:10 -0600 Retweet of Ali Hocine Dimerdji (hocinedim) People must start making their way to Tahrir Square and help the heroes of Tahrir square. The heroes of the revolution. #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-02 22:40:44 -0600 Retweet of RTwittNews ★ Agency (aglb66) RT @BloggerSeif: Okay ammunition NOW is super heavy, not only near us, but in a further neighbourhood... Iclashes in Maarouf area? #Jan25 2011-02-02 22:45:52 -0600 As can be gathered from the above tweets, the 2 nd of February was a day when large scale attacks were launched on the movements in Tahrir Square in Cairo by uniformed police and plain clothes officers. 3rd February 2011 Retweet of Ali Seif (BloggerSeif) SUPPLY LIST! HERE IT IS RT @Arabzy: @BloggerSeif Here's the supply list. #Jan25 2011-02-03 05:37:21 -0600 Retweet of Nadir M.Iqbal Anjum (MaNiNdigo) RT @PurpleNaNo RT @hamna_: This is horrible RT @5hadz: @RamyYaacoub: Breaking news - Confirmed: @Sandmonkey got arrested! #Jan25 #Egypt Link this to post on my 59

blog. Retweet of benwedeman (bencnn) Al-Arabiya TV correspondent Ahmed Abdullah has been found. Was severely beaten, now in hospital. #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-03 06:04:42 -0600 Retweet of Ian Lee (ianinegypt) RT @hadeelalsh: Hearing there are orders for journos to be arrested today #egypt #jan25 2011-02-03 06:04:48 -0600 Retweet of Sarah El Sirgany (Ssirgany) Yesterday, govt was out to get/kill Tahrir protesters. Today it's the journalists' turn. Be safe my friends! #jan25 2011-02-03 06:06:30 -0600 Retweet of Mayse Nababteh (MayseNababteh) Egypt State TV trying to label the clashes as Anarchists vs those who seek security (could have fooled me) #Jan25 2011-02-03 07:34:28 -0600 Retweet of mark little (marklittlenews) Keep in mind brave Egyptian Tweeps battling to record and share history, particularly @SandMonkey (arrested) @Ghonim (missing) #jan25 2011-02-03 09:31:24 -0600 Retweet of Alaa Abd El Fattah (alaa) Amazing atmosphere at tahrir, the joy is back in the square. Massive crowd singing dancing we cannot be defeated #Jan25 2011-02-03 09:31:30 -0600 Retweet of Mohannad (mand0z) Cairo Cyclers Club collecting bike helmets to protect Protesters from head injuries. Much respect. #Jan25 2011-02-03 10:39:27 -0600 RT @krmaher: RT @jilliancyork: Remember: not just Vodafone. Websense, SmartFilter (McAfee), Cisco, complici… (cont) 2011-02-03 12:18:39 -0600 Retweet of Gladys Chavez (GladysChavez) good friend of mine just posted on FB that his friend Kareem Banouna was just killed by sniper fire. Shot in head. #egypt #jan25 /RT @NadiaE 60

Retweet of iDeskCNN (iDeskCNN) The US has info suggesting that the Egyptian Interior Ministry is involved in rounding up journalists, U.S. State Department said #jan25 2011-02-03 12:34:53 -0600 Retweet of Breaking News (BreakingNews) Egyptian President Mubarak tells ABC News he would like to leave office immediately but can not 2011-02-03 13:30:47 -0600 Retweet of Blake Hounshell (blakehounshell) U.S. Embassy Cairo press inbox: "The message could not be delivered because the recipient's mailbox is full." 2011-02-03 13:31:13 -0600 Retweet of Mosa'ab Elshamy (mosaaberizing) It's basically a face-off with both groups waiting for other one to start the stonethrowing. We'll only hit back if they start. #Tahrir 2011-02-03 13:36:43 -0600 Some of the pictures of people that died in the protests: #Jan25 Jan25 2011-02-03 14:35:40 -0600 From Tahrir Square one voice speaks to all of us: reposting @sandmonkeys last post #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-03 16:20:22 -0600 @3arabawy Hi ive used and credited 3 of your photos : reposting @sandmonkey s lastest post from his site closed . Thnks 2011-02-03 16:43:15 -0600 I reposted a blog that was written and originally posted by Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey. It is a very powerful and personal account of someone within the revolutionary movement speaking about an emerging split between activists and the general population after some promises of reform. Sandmonkey had been arrested and his blog shut down by the regime. I used google-caches, a part of google search that stores web page content, to retrieve the powerful post, and repost it on my blog and make it available, a way of working around the censorship. Sandmonkey was eventually released. The blog post is incredibly interesting and really worth the read.


Retweet of Andy Carvin (acarvin) NYT: White House, Egypt Discusses Plan for Mubarak’s Exit #jan25 2011-02-03 19:32:02 -0600 @anonops @AbouBakr_ @aikilab @bencnn @amnestyintl @BreakingNews @illyriarose can any1 confirm this is real? #jan25 Retweet of ds (brit_newsman) Center for human rights giving INFRA RED SMALL CAMERAS 2 protesters 2 record any night attacks on Tahrir #Egypt #Jan25 CONFIRMATION NEEDED 2011-02-03 20:58:08 -0600 4th February 2011 A kid leading the protest in Alexandria If you haven't seen him yet please do now! #Jan25 #Egypt @hibrme 2011-02-04 07:11:13 -0600 Retweet of Kaylan Geiger (kaylangeiger) DEVELOPING @AJEnglish Reports that Pro-Mubarak supporters are coming across the bridge (wasn't said which bridge) #egypt #jan25 #cairo 2011-02-04 07:12:03 -0600 Canadian journalist from the Globe And Mail @soniaverma was just attacked by mob, Egyptian family let her hide in their home. #egypt #jan25 2011-02-04 07:18:14 -0600 Retweet of Ziad Al Sharabi (ZiadAlSharabi) for those that didn't see the so called diplomatic van that hit more than 20 protesters last night. #Egypt #jan25 2011-02-04 07:21:22 -0600 Retweet of Nic Robertson (NicRobertsonCNN) Calls on street in Alexandria are for unity, one voice, keep up the demands #egypt #jan25 #mubarak 2011-02-04 07:21:58 -0600 Retweet of Reem Rahman (reemrahman) eyewitness: in Tahrir, the Catholic Cardinal in Egypt were seen hand in hand with a Muslim cleric, speaking on unity & democ. #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-04 07:22:57 -0600 Retweet of Yasmine El Rashidi (yasminerashidi) 62

In tahrir square. Incredible energy. Arab League's Amr Moussa was just here. Hope it all lasts. #egypt #jan25 2011-02-04 07:23:31 -0600 Retweet of Ben S. (alnitak250) Getting some reports of human rights activists and journos being threatened/detained outside #Tahrir square #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-04 07:23:56 -0600 A flag-bearer takes nationalism to new heights ;) #Egypt #jan25 (From Al Jazeera TV) 2011-02-04 07:24:46 -0600

Retweet of ashraf khalil (ashrafkhalil) Here's that catapult from Tahrir Square #egypt #jan25 2011-02-04 07:26:07 -0600 They are now reporting 500,000 protesting in Mansoura in northeastern Egypt. #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-04 07:26:21 -0600 A harrowing, historic week in #Egypt (photos from the wonderful Big Picture Blog) #jan25 2011-02-04 07:31:06 -0600 The quasi fascist of Italy, Berlisconni, expresses his support for the quasi fascist of Mubarak #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-04 07:47:12 -0600


RT @lindseyhilsum: In #alexandria teachers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, farmers union all in anti Mubarak demo #egypt @channel4news 2011-02-04 08:33:19 -0600 Tens of thousands protest Egypt regime in Alexandria 2011-02-04 08:33:45 -0600 what is this Retweet of Zayne Amer (ZouEG) Ppl please understand that mass prayers are a form of protest, not necessarily a display of religiousness, but unity #Jan25 #Tahrir #Egypt 2011-02-04 09:47:39 -0600 5th February 2011 Retweet of Kawthar (Kawdess) RT @hadeelalsh: Times sexually harassed walking to work - 8. Times sexually harassed in #tahrir since tues - 0. #egypt #jan25 2011-02-05 07:10:45 -0600 We need more protests in the provinces to relieve some of the security pressure on the protesters in Cairo. #Jan25 2011-02-05 07:54:54 -0600 Retweet of Tala (Yallah2011) RT WIDELY 2000 demonstrators went out in Ramallah #Palestine in support of our brothers and sisters in #Egypt WE LOVE YOU! 2011-02-05 13:54:54 -0600 @paulmasonnews Great blog.This is an template re current revs by Gene Sharp you'd like. Been used in Serbia 2 #jan25 2011-02-05 15:36:15 -0600 From Dictators to Democracy PDF Chp 2 crucial for Egyt Rev @alaa @asa_wire @arabist @jilliancyork @anonops @Sandmonkey #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-05 15:39:23 -0600 6th February 2011 Retweet of Sultan Al Qassemi (SultanAlQassemi) ElBaradei: Egypt’s Treaty With Israel Is ‘Rock Solid’ “I assume Egypt will continue to respect it” 2011-02-06 09:41:31 -0600


Retweet of Sultan Al Qassemi (SultanAlQassemi) Facebook album on killed Egyptian protester Ahmed Basiouny, artist, professor, human being #Jan25 R.I.P. 2011-02-06 11:39:50 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) New post: #Jan 25 ‫ ل تف اوض قب ل الرحي ل‬NO NEGOTIATIONS BEFORE MUBARAK GOES! Retweet of Telecomix (telecomix) Ready your mirrors: @waelabbas documents reposted COPY ALL OVER INTERWEB! 2011-02-06 11:41:16 -0600 Retweet of Omar Robert Hamilton (RiverDryFilm) Maybe we should mint a Tahrir currency? This might last a while... #jan25 2011-02-06 13:25:33 -0600 7th February 2011 Google Executive Wael Ghonim Admits He Was El Shaheeed 2011-02-07 17:16:29 -0600 Wael was the administrator of the “We are all Khaled Said” Facebook page, that along with the April 6th Movement called for the mobilisation on the 25 th and which is spoken about in chapter 4. RT @wikileaks: "CIA already has a strong and growing relationship with the Egyptian Intelligence Service" #jan25 #egypt RT @wikileaks: Cable: #jan25 2011-02-07 18:31:19 -0600 Israeli meeting with Egypt's Mubarak, Soliman

It is no use relying on the Government .You must only rely upon your own determination . . .Charles Parnell 1879 Ireland #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-07 18:37:27 -0600 8th February 2011

65 Tonight the people move to the parliment building for a sit down in Cairo #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-08 18:54:12 -0600



Twitter Time Line 9th February to 11th February

Over the next three days I made a specific effort to re-tweet about the range of strikes and workplace struggles taking place all across the country. 9th February 2011 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) in mins the 3 free unions will start a protest in Galaa St in front of the state backed General Federation of Trade Unions. #jan25 2011-02-09 04:07:46 -0600 Retweet of AJELive (AJELive) More strikes taking place in Mahalla and Suez. About 10,000 workers at various factories in different cities on strike: 2011-02-09 04:19:57 -0600 Retweet of Sharif Kouddous (sharifkouddous) RT @AymanM: Thousands of #Egyptian laborers striking past few days. Cud b very significant development adding momentum to protestors 2011-02-09 04:21:44 -0600 Retweet of benwedeman (bencnn) Mounting labour unrest; anti-govt protests in Upper Egypt, Delta; #Tahrir reenergised. State media wavering. Tipping point? #Jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-09 04:22:49 -0600 Retweet of Lara Setrakian (LaraABCNews) One of the Tahrir organizers described to us how the 'brain' of the protest is evolving – committees, sub-grouped by profession #Egypt 2011-02-09 04:23:49 -0600 Retweet of Gigi Ibrahim ‫( جييييج‬Gsquare86) A strong protest in Shubra El Kheima court where workers have gone on strike in support of the revolution 2011-02-09 04:25:56 -0600 Retweet of Gigi Ibrahim ‫( جييييج‬Gsquare86) The workers of supreme council of antiquities chanting "down with abdel farouk salam" Retweet of Sarah El Sirgany (Ssirgany) 67

RT @hebalsherif: First its the youth, then the brotherhood, then Cairo U's professors then the workers #jan25 #Egypt 2011-02-09 05:00:43 -0600 Retweet of BBC Global News (BBCWorld) Kite Runner actor Khalid Abdalla on #Cairo protests: "People who were undecided are coming out for the first time" 2011-02-09 05:19:26 -0600 RT @arabist: Am in lobby of the old Ahram building, where a protest has just started. Just like everywhere else. #jan25 @nasry #Egypt :) 2011-02-09 05:19:46 -0600 @3arabawy Calls for a general strike tomorrow across the country's private and public sectors #jan25 #tahrir #egypt #cairo 2011-02-09 05:24:12 -0600 Retweet of Joelle Hatem (joellehatem) @HRW: Documented death toll from #Egypt protests reaches 302: 232 in Cairo, 52 in Alexandria, 18 in Suez #Jan25 2011-02-09 06:38:39 -0600 Retweet of Cyril Hanna (CyrilAlexander) 40 protesters killed by police in Kharga, New Valley, #Egypt, which is sharp contrast to what VP said about allowing ppl to protest. #Jan25 2011-02-09 06:39:40 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) shabab i can't keep up with the updates. There r strikes everywhere! #jan25 #egyworkers 2011-02-09 07:20:45 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) the railway technicians in Bani Suweif r on strike. #jan25 2011-02-09 07:23:50 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) tomorrow Ghazl Mahalla #egyworkers will start a strike. #jan25 2011-02-09 07:24:17 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) there is revolt taking place now in all state run newspapers by journalists against their pro governest editors. #jan25 2011-02-09 09:22:16 -0600


Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) Railway technicians and maintenance #egyworkers on strike ‫إضراب‬ ‫عمال‬ ‫# ورش السكة الحديد يشل حركة القطارات‬Jan25 2011-02-09 15:34:28 -0600 @Gsquare86 You spoke really well and with conviction 2011-02-09 17:00:59 -0600 Read The #EgyWorkers Daily ▸ today's top stories via @freiligrad @socialisterna and@bungdan ▸ 2011-02-09 19:09:19 -0600 10th February 2011 Retweet of ~AS~ (angelsavant) RT @3arabawy: thousands of postal #egyworkers r now heading from the provinces to Ataba in Cairo. #jan25 2011-02-10 05:13:12 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) Musicians' Union protest #egyworkers #Jan25 #Photography 2011-02-10 05:13:46 -0600 Retweet of fustat (fustat) R @Cer Around 1000 #workers are demonstrating now in front of Enppi, ministry of oil, Nasr City #Jan25 #EgyWorkers 2011-02-10 05:14:17 -0600 Great article about how Egyptian army is not a neutral force in recent days #jan25 #egypt #egyworkers 2011-02-10 05:25:10 -0600 I set up this for all tweeted articles, pics, audio with #egyworkers and global solidarity, updates every 24hrs #jan25 2011-02-10 05:29:42 -0600 Retweet of Mark Bergfeld (mdbergfeld) just heard that today students from 7 Egyptian universities will be marching toward the capital of Cairo. #egypt #jan25 #solidarity 2011-02-10 05:44:19 -0600 Hundreds of employees in state owned papers and tv revolting, leading to shift in discourse #Jan25 #Egypy #egyworkers 69

2011-02-10 05:45:28 -0600 Retweet of Occupied Cairo (occupiedcairo) Head of cinema worker's union resigned #jan25 #fisitteendahya 2011-02-10 08:35:37 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) I spit on those who went to negotiate with Torturer in Chief Omar Suleiman. You never sawthose #egyworkers strikes coming, have u? #Jan25 2011-02-10 08:36:14 -0600 Retweet of afrol News editor (afroleditor) Wave of strikes could bring Mubarak down #Egypt #Jan25 #egyworkers 2011-02-10 08:37:05 -0600 Retweet of Mohammed Maree (mar3e) Suleiman: The CIA's man in Cairo #Egypt 2011-02-10 08:38:50 -0600


@acarvin Combining socialism and strong democratic anti authoritarian principles really is the backbone and moral thinking behind anarchism 2011-02-10 08:41:06 -0600 Retweet of Andy Carvin (acarvin) RT @jjsutherland: Lots of troops at #Egypt Press Building. Soldiers w/ bayonets. Lots of tanks & APCs w/ .50 cals. Gunners in every window. 2011-02-10 08:41:28 -0600 Seems like Egypt has parted 'official' company with the US and now funded @ Saudi Arabia and Israel #jan25 2011-02-10 16:10:54 -0600 Saudis will bankrole mubarak!!! #jan25 #egypt #egyworkers 201102-10 16:28:01 -0600 Retweet of Nic Robertson (NicRobertsonCNN) At least one UK currency exchange selling Egyptian pounds at cheap rate - looks like offloading #egypt #mubarak 2011-02-10 17:35:42 -0600 Retweet of soundlanguage (sound_language) “@soundmigration: Saudi's will bankrole Mubarak” ... WOW, now we see who sides with whom, and why. Rats on an oil raft! 70

2011-02-10 19:13:53 -0600 For Egypt, this is the miracle of Tahrir Square Zizek #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-10 20:11:14 -0600 Retweet of CBC News Alerts (CBCAlerts) Protesters surround army headquarters in Alexandria .#Egypt 2011-02-10 20:24:20 -0600 What's happened and happening in Eygpt is an inspriation to anti capitalists and social justice activist everywhere #jan25 #egyworkers 2011-02-10 21:42:04 -0600 Retweet of Alaa Abd El Fattah (alaa) ♻ @3arabawy: we need industrial actions. We need the suez canal workers and air traffic controllers to strike. #egyworkers #jan25 2011-02-10 21:52:28 -0600 11th February 2011 Retweet of Jon Snow (jonsnowC4) I have just met a vast crowd up from Suez - petrol workers 2011-02-11 06:34:01 -0600 Mubarak gone #jan25 #egypt 2011-02-11 10:11:19 -0600 Retweet of Hossam 3 ) ‫ عمو حسام‬arabawy) We got rid of Mubarak. Now it's time to get rid of the Mubarak's regime. Long live the Egyptian people. Long live the revolution. #Jan25 2011-02-11 10:14:13 -0600 @jilliancyork @alaa @asa_wire @arabist @ioerror its a long time since ive cried with such pure joy at human potential for change 2011-02-11 10:37:12 -0600 Retweet of AJELive (AJELive) Missed the 30secs that ended the 30 years of Mubaraks rule? Watch it again here: #Egypt #Mubarakresigns #Jan25 2011-02-11 10:52:02 -0600 Retweet of Sara El-Sayeh (Kikiesque) Ladies and Gentlemen, the Egyptian youth bring to you a successful revolution. We brought the regime DOWN!! A revolution from WITHIN #Jan25 2011-02-11 10:52:07 -0600


@kyrah In tears, and with an amazing sense of global solidarity. Thanks for all your tweets and updates too!! Viva la revolution! 2011-02-11 10:53:39 -0600 @MissEllieMae Your hugging the world! And its hugging back!!, today we are all Egyptians. 2011-02-11 10:54:50 -0600 Retweet of Christian DeFeo (doctorcdf) Governments beware. What happened to Mubarak can happen to you in the blinking of an eye. #egypt #jan25 2011-02-11 11:58:05 -0600 Retweet of Nevine (NevineZaki) The army is giving candy to everyone in tahrir 2011-02-11 11:58:16 -0600 Retweet of Ellie Mae O'Hagan (MissEllieMae) We're always told that change isn't possible. Turns out it is. That's pretty fucking cool. #Egypt 2011-02-11 11:59:38 -0600 Retweet of christinA eijkhout (mumke) It's 3 a.m. in China -- and news of Mubarak stepping down is all over Twitter | FP Passport #egypt #jan25 2011-02-11 13:32:31 -0600 Retweet of Jacob Appelbaum (ioerror) To everyone who said that Egypt couldn't throw Mubarak out: You're still welcome to help build a better world! 2011-02-11 13:33:09 -0600 Walk like an Egyptian 2011-02-11 16:52:53 -0600 Eygpt: Some thoughts tonight from an Irish activist cz #jan25 #egypt #egyworkers 2011-02-11 17:08:17 -0600 This was a link to a piece I wrote to try gather my thoughts having followed the uprising from the beginning and seeing the Egyptian movements succeed forcing Mubarak out. “[...] Its tempting to try and dissect what has and is continuing to happen in Egypt, and its essential that we do if we are to learn lessons as the implications are massive. The mix of traditional left groups of 72

workers and socialists, understanding the significance (or otherwise) of social media in internationalising a national uprising and creating a funnel of attention, the conscious collapse of patriarchal and sexist relationships beyond the pro-democracy organisers themselves and into the organic popular movement, the use of strategic non-violence in the face of massive military might are just some of the things that stand out clearly as worthy of close atention. The refusal to cede to demands (both internally and internationally) that the movement put forward ‘leaders’, the almost immediate and seemingly natural emergence of self organised neighbour protections, medical and food distribution etc all provide rich ground for research – but more importantly lived experiences likely to play a role is shaping our movements should we care to learn.” (Malone, February 2011)



Given the significant rise in the use of social networking and social media sites, it is useful to examine what the implications such changes may have for building social movements that can reshape our societies. Understanding the relational changes between alternative/radical media and mainstream media entities can assist social movements in developing more coherent and effective strategies in struggles for social justice, equality and direct democracy. To do this we must ask how our current models of thinking about strategies of communicating fit with the actuality of the contemporary existing media landscape. In attempting to think about this, to theorise about the political and social implications and application of social media, I suggest that it is useful to place social media tools (and radical media practice) in a wider context of a changing media ecosystem. As such, it requires us to look again at our assumptions vis-à-vis radical media versus mainstream media. I will expand on the meanings of some of these terms below, but perhaps at the outset I should make some points of clarification. What I am not trying to do is theoretically dissolve away the tensions between mainstream media and radical/alternative media. There will always be contradictions between the aims of media corporations, including those that use social media platforms, and the aims of anticapitalist movements for social justice. There is a conflict inherent in the relationship and it would be a weakness in critical thinking to seek to dissolve that. Why? Well, put in its most simple form: this is ultimately a discussion about power, best understood via Gramsci's notion of hegemony and counter-hegemony, which I will also look at closer below. Firstly, however, what I am suggesting is that there are: a) Specific vulnerabilities within the particular business model of corporate media, namely getting people to pay for a product that tends now to be available for free, that for many corporations is an extended existential crisis. This is largely caused by the rise of social media networks of sharing on the internet, viewed as “disruptive technologies” from the perspective of many media corporations. This itself is shaping mainstream media practice


towards engaging non-professional (read not paid) contributions through comment sections, discussions etc. Within a context of a global recession, which is seeing advertising revenues plummet, things are fairly gloomy for traditional media corporations. This is a situation that we should seek to exploit. b) Specific characteristics and dynamics of social media tools and networks facilitate the free movement of counter-hegemonic ideas, meanings, education and practices at both a low cost and high speed. Again, to express this in its most simple form: large numbers of people now often have the ability to relate their own experiences and share those experiences, while learning about others with a speed and scope not seen before. This is of course a generalisation that does not address issues of social media literacy, unequal access to tools etc. The point is to suggest the architectural framework is there for using such networks and tools to facilitate strong counter-hegemonic narratives, that make sense of people’s experiences in a time of genuine crisis.


Gramsci, power and media

Radical media (Downing 2001) has been called many things, depending on the context. It is sometimes called “alternative media” (Ardizzoni, Cox et al. 2010), in some places it is described as “social movement media” (Atton 2003) and others describe it as “citizen media” (Rodriguez 2001). A commonality of all these terms is that it is about the creation of meaning from below that seeks to address and challenge power from above (Ardizzoni, Cox et al. 2010). This relates to Gramsci's rejection of the idea that our society is only driven by the cold science of economic determinism. Gramsci's concept of counter-hegemony is central to understanding the function of corporate and state media entities. He argues that the subordination of the interests of most members of a society is central to how the interests of a dominant elite continue to be served. Such structural inequality and injustice is not solely achieved and reproduced by controlling the means of material production. He argues that, at another level, the same dominant elites


also have the ability to project their ideas of how societies “should be” from their dominant perspective. In essence, control over the making of common sense is central to maintaining a discourse that says “this is just the way things are”. This doesn’t just relate to controlling media, but can be extended to other forms of institutions, where the reproduction of meaning is tailored to suit the demands and logic of capitalism and power, rather than to assist in the building of egalitarian societies. Examining this from a critical pedagogical perspective provides much of our understanding of popular education (Freire 1970; Illich 1971). Gramsci also recognised that people are intelligent, communicative social beings. He placed significant importance on the role of struggle – both everyday personal struggles and collective struggles as social/political action – and the making of meaning from below as grassroots 'common sense'. He saw that struggle tends to exist because people see and feel a dissonance between what the hegemonic normative discourse describes and their own lived experiences of inequality, indignity and injustice. Counter-hegemonic narratives and alternative public spheres are an organic manifestation of that dissonance. The ability of these counter-hegemonic voices and spaces to challenge hegemonic ones is an important factor in struggles for social justice. Radical media practice can be considered the making of media with the specific intent of challenging hegemonic narratives and creating new narratives and indeed new public spaces for those narratives to exist. Egyptian activists have had a clear understanding of this for years and this understanding played a role in strategising for mobilisations that would lead to toppling the regime. This is rooted in what Gramsci suggests is a relationship between the existing and the desired, between the experiences of oppression and the imagination of other possibilities that acts as the driver of human agency. “If the ruling class has lost its consensus, i.e., is no longer ‘leading’ but only ‘dominant’, exercising coercive force alone, this means precisely that the great masses have become detached from their traditional ideologies” (Gramsci 1971. pg276).


Narrative-making in the Egyptian revolutionary movements

In a presentation to the Personal Democracy Forum 2011 in June this year, Alaa Abd el


Fattah, a prominent activist blogger and participant in the revolution, spoke about narrativemaking in the Egyptian context in a short discussion about the role of technology in the revolution. He was quite clear that no one can know the full story of the revolution as it is the work of over 30 years of resistance, most of it unstudied. However, in relation to Gramsci's notion of counter-hegemony, what he said is enlightening. The fact that it’s a dictatorship doesn’t mean that people are, you know, complacent and silent. There has been constant resistance and also constant politics... people are highly opinionated, very ideological, we talk politics all the time... we’ve managed to win space for speech but it was always contested. It didn't hit the media until the nineties, but there was always spaces where you could do political speech... Factories and universities ... have always been the most important places where politics happened. There wasn't party politics, well there was, but that is not where the real politics was happening. There was politics, in every single institution where people have some sense of agency or some sense of ownership. [...]what technology did, it offered a perfect medium to try and build a single narrative of a revolution. [...] what the internet offered was that you start a small group somewhere, but you can make noise that is louder than the size of your group online and then connect with others. And also you are no longer dependant on saturating any institution because there's a lot of individuals who do not belong to a union, do not work in a public sector workplace and are no longer in university or have never been to university. But they can access you online or they can access your speech that is online through their own physical social networks, so even if you are 'uneducated' or don't have access to the internet it might filter through because you have heard people talking about it.” (Alaa Abd El Fattah, June 2011)

State censorship itself runs up against the limitations of its own power as an official voice. This came up during the interview with Waleed from the April 6th Movement when I asked about how relationships were built between their youth movements and workers’ movements. It was our step in our movement why people didn't trust, eh, why normal people didn't trust another political movement or political parties or something like that. They didn't trust in them because they are only hearing them through the TVs and through other journals and like that. But if they become down in the streets I think something different will be 77

there. So we did it exactly. We are telling ourselves that our movement it will be only in the streets. There is no office, there is no media there is nothing we don’t want anything we just only want to contact the people in each way on the country. ( Waleed, Interview)

So, in one sense, engaging with the mainstream media simply wasn't an option. Neither was it to be desired though, as to appear in state-sanctioned media made no sense. The fact that a large part of the population clearly distrusted mainstream media suggested that the April 6 th and other youth movements that co-ordinated the original occupation were working within a public sphere where that dissonance between the official voices and people’s lived experiences was collectively felt and understood.


Blurring boundary between mainstream media practice and radical media.

One of the striking features of the Egyptian revolution was how it was reported. From the perspective of someone following events on the ground via a network of Twitter accounts, it was the case that a combination of mobile technology – particularly phones with the ability to record video, video-hosting sites, such as YouTube and social network platforms being used as distribution networks meant that in many ways you were ahead of, or at the very least as up to date as, news reported. The dissonance between following events as tweeted and blogs and video and photographed by participants and then listening to news report on Irish state (RTE) news was shocking. How could they not see what was going on? The models of news formation are completely different of course. State TV news in Ireland, like elsewhere, tends to have seek to uphold objectivity, a rather quaint notion undermined by Gramsci's model of hegemony and counter-hegemony. Al Jazeera and, to a lesser degree, the UK-based Guardian media group began to include tweets and videos from known activists in the group in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in their live coverage, which I can only posit goes some way to legitimising it in the viewing public’s mind as a useful tool of communication. You had a curious sense that a medium was being used by activists as radical media practice, i.e. sending out information, video images etc. and these in turn were being used by large media corporations. Al Jazeera announced during 78

the uprising that it was releasing all of its recorded footage under creative commons licence for anyone to use. In some way, this became a form of feedback. On its own website, Al Jazeera says: “Through doing this we intend to make a practical contribution to the debate on one of the biggest issues facing content producers today – copyright in the internet age.” (Al Jazeera, 2011) This raises questions about understanding media and information flow? If we hold a sociopolitical binary of radical media versus corporate media, how does this relate to a sociotechnical flow of information which is much more complex? One of the main philosophies of Indymedia, one of the first ever examples of online participatory journalism as part of the alter-globalisation movement from 1998, well in advance of Web 2.0, was: “Don't hate the media, be the media”. Even though there are many nuances within that binary, as discussed by Patrick McCurdy (McCurdy. 2010) when he spoke to activists at the Dissent! G8 mobilisation in Scotland in 2005, I wonder if we need to look again at these porous boundaries to see what it means. One of the problems is that theory about movements’ media strategies develop in response to the need to have particular strategies. The lack of large scale mobilisation of an exclusively anti-capitalist bent have meant we have not had to get together to discuss these issues. Whatever about a cost-benefit analysis of the summithopping of yesteryear and large scale mobilisations of direct actions, the one thing they always provoked was debate around large scale experiences, strategies and the bigger picture. If now most of our practice and understanding of media is how it relates to singleissue campaigns or projects, however progressive they are, we still remain thinking about media as a binary rather than a very changed landscape. Working towards an understanding of the changing media ecosystem is vital if we as social movements are to best strategise about making a coherent counter-hegemonic narrative of meaningful social change.



So far I've made a case that the internet is a public space, and that social media tools, and cultures of sharing and participation has played some role is organising strategies of social movements, including the pro-democracy movements in Egypt. I've also shown how these same tools can be used for research and radical media production via case studies of my own practice. However, it would be remiss to ignore other co-existing realities. The internet itself is a site and medium of multiple struggles, involving many actors; national states, formal oppositions, dissidents, corporations and hacker collectives. These struggles for the most part remain hidden and irrelevant to most people's lives. Widespread media-fixations on technology used as the voice of dissent didn't begin with the Tunisian uprising. It has been a constant refrain particularly in the English language media as it reported the uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, and also specific manifestations of social media used closer to home – particularly what grew to become known as the 'UK riots'. The riots themselves only happened in some English cities and towns, though the #hashtags used to describe the event changed over 72 hours from the #TottenhamRiots to the #LondonRiots to finally the #UK Riots. Social media was blamed as a significant factor by at least one Member of Parliament, Louise Mench, who called for the police to be given the power to shut down Twitter. Oddly enough she made her opinions known via Twitter. This is one manifestation in an increasingly public battle unfolding about who owns the internet and how it can be used. 2011 has seen many skirmishes online, some part of genuine confrontations e.g. Egypt earlier this year; others are the battle for ideas and meaning of what the internet is and isn't as it relates to democracy. The following are examples of events and discourses that show that the internet is increasingly becoming 'less' virtual and more like a real public space, exemplified by the fact it is now a site of many divergent struggles. 7.2 Consumer pressure gets the goods

Earlier this year, I observed the complete withdrawal of advertising by companies to Rupert Murdoch's News Of The World (NOTW) British newspaper. This was a spontaneous, quickly organised public response targeting specific advertisers via email and corporate Twitter


accounts. The context of public anger was the uncovering of wide spread use of fairly dubious journalistic practices. This lead to what I consider a direct action, i.e. people seeking to make change themselves. It was not by seasoned political activists but by people acting under their own agency after being enraged by what they were seeing and hearing. This short but very intense campaign precipitated an announcement quite soon afterwards that the paper was to be closed. It has been argued by some people who worked at the paper, including a friend who worked for the NOTW, that the decision to close had be already made. Even if this is the case, the fact that the wider public can pressure corporations to withdraw advertising on moral-ethical ground with such immediate impact is significant. A corporation can ignore 10, 1000 or possibly even 10,000 emails. It can also choose to ignore 10, 1000 or 10,000 tweets. The significant difference between the two forms of communication is that ignoring the first can remain invisible to everyone. Even those who sent the emails can't see the emails that others send. They might know they where sent but it is not visible. In the public space of Twitter land, everyone who wants to have a look can see who has tweeted you (unless you set up privacy filters, which most corporations do not). When ignoring 10,000 people happens in private no justification is required, or at least the PR department has some leeway to frame a response and shape a larger narrative. When 10,000 are knocking on your online door in a very visible manner, demanding that you withdraw your advertising or else they will boycott your products too, a PR team is in a very different position. It seems intuitive that the decision of many advertisers to pull their advertising from the NOTW was not alone simply forced by the fact that so many people retweeted demands to specific companies. This does raise the question about why would the companies did not just ride out the storm? Indeed many large companies at first said they would continue to advertise. But they all gave in in the end. Why was this? I'd argue this was partly simple business sense. Even for those who stood by the NOTW, it soon became clear they where swimming against a tide.


Memes – the cultural evolution of thought

Where did the tide come from? It went from nothing to a very strong current in less than 24 hours. It wasn't driven by political organisations or any pre-existing organisational form, but


people seeing a tool at their disposal that they could use to consciously create a critical mass of expressed public opinion targeted in a very specific way. Whilst individually the specific actions of sending or resending tweets is both low risk and low cost, those involved found power acting collectively in a fairly coordinated manner and won. It is a wonderful case that immediately strikes as an example of social media tools being used within the public space of the internet, by people motivated by ethical concerns and with the specific intent on extracting a very clear demand from hundreds of corporations all at one time. Upon reflection, even in a narrative of popular direct action which appeals very much to me I also wonder if this, in part, is related to a particular Zeitgeist moment that might pass. One where the meme of the power of social media has currency currently precisely because it is a pre-packaged set of ideas and assumptions about technology use and social rupture, that exists somewhat independent from the trueness of the idea. Is it possible that this idea only has power so long as people believe it to be true? Does the specific context of the meme of social media power chime strongly with marketing departments who deploy social media strategies to encourage consumption of their high street brands? Indeed the idea of using social media to shape social behaviour is just another day in the office for most marketing departments. Given that one of the main narratives this year from the mainstream press in the west has been that when lots of ordinary citizens work together via social media networks to express discontent they have the power to make significant changes, are they contributing to a reproducing meme that is normalising social struggle itself? The objective truthfulness of this narrative, however one can seek to measure it, is sometimes less important that the fact that lots of people believe it. The true nature of this complex dynamic can be extremely difficult to understand and even more so to articulate. 7.4 Murbarak, the internet and the hidden picture

The decision by Mubarak's regime to cut off the internet on the night of the 27 th of January 2011 is recognised as a significant moment, though the nature of the significance is contested. Mohamed Abdelfattah (see Chapter 5) stated that the cutting off of the internet had a minimal impact, since most of the organising was happening in the streets. Mohamed interestingly suggested that, from the perspective of the revolutionary movements the impact of the net returning four day later was much more significant.


“When the internet got back the people saw brutal videos of the police killing peaceful unarmed civilians in the demonstrations. So what was not seen on state television they saw after the internet got back and the movements got momentum again more than ever. That is another way in which social media has helped break the information monopoly that the state media and other private media exercised.” (Mohamed Abdelfattah, 2011)

From another perspective, what is important is less the impact on the revolutionary momentum of the internet being cut off but the fact that the regime thought that cutting off the internet would be in its benefit. Certainly at the time I was following events on Twitter and Facebook, I felt this was a big deal but I had no real idea why. My first impression was that this a drastic measure of censorship was a signal of fragility within the regime. A graph visually representing the response to this decision to cut off the internet shot around the internet and was shared by thousands of people.

Image 1

This image is significant both in what it visually conveys as a representation and also in what it unintentionally disguises. It portrays drama, power and panic. The area of blue with an almost vertical drop to zero is visually compelling and contributed to a narrative increasing the significance of the internet within Egypt at that specific time from an international perspective looking in. It contributes to the depiction of a dictator hitting a kill switch or


sabotaging network hubs in a panic to hold onto power. In one sense the idea captured in that picture – a falling dictatorship grasping at straws to retain power and authority – imbues 'the internet' and social media networks used by the revolutionary youth with a significance it didn't actually have at that point in time. This image alone did not foster the discourse in the mainstream media about the links between social media networks and revolutionary movements. However, it is likely to be a contributing factor. As shown earlier in the Twitter time line in Chapter 5 those with access to tools to measure such events e.g. internet analysts such as the organisation Renesys, understood that was not an automated shut down, or a physical rupture of connections where everything was shut off at once. This point is illustrated by the image below, which displays different information on the same event. It reveals a very different perspective. All internet providers switched off connections within several minutes of each other, with the exception of one provider which ensured the Egyptian Stock Exchange stayed live until the 31 st of January. Renesys suggested at the time that it was a coordinated decision involving the state and the companies providing internet connections. The state just phoned each of the providers up one after the other and told then to shut up shop. Recent evidence confirms this initial impression was indeed correct. On the 21st October 2011, the Guardian website published a video by writer and documentary maker Jon Robson. He speaks to activists who stormed State Security (secret police) Headquarters in Cairo. They found amongst many rooms full of shredded documents, evidence that State Security leaders had met with mobile phone and internet providers to arrange a protocol for shutting down all internal telecommunication capabilities in the event of a popular uprising or revolution. When Ronson met with Khaled Hegazy, currently Director of External Affair for Vodafone Egypt, he confirmed that such a meeting had happened and that arrangements had been made between all the telecommunications companies and the State Security that in the case of a popular uprising that the internet would be shut down, on the command of the regime. So instead of a panicking dictatorship, we have the more complex reality of a panicking dictatorship working in tandem with large corporations to enact massive censorship across a whole nation. What is also of note is that developing a decisive 'kill switch' is very difficult, since a structural principle by which the internet operates is the ability to bypass outages, missing or broken connections within a larger network.


Image 2

Whilst the events discussed above highlight the role of multinational corporations in supporting, or at the very least cooperating with authoritarian regimes, one should be open to the possibility that this plan, whilst not made public, was probably expected by Egyptian activists. Certainly the level and scope of the international network of activists working to assist and provide technical routes around the state internet blockage, as seen in the Twitter time line in Chapter 5, suggests some level of prior planning on their behalf. It would not be unreasonable to assume such plans could have been leaked and that activists may have been aware of this threat. (It should also be acknowledged that people died as a result of the telecommunications blockade. Several people who were shot bled to dead as no ambulances could be contacted.) At the end of his piece for the Guardian, Ronson noted that other information retrieved from the State Security named an English corporation that provided software and hardware technology to the secret police to enable online surveillance of Egyptian population, particularly pro-democracy and revolutionary youth movements. 7.5 The internet and technology corporations

Following from the above, it has been shown that technology corporations are involved in 85

making profit from the suppression of pro-democracy movements. Evgeny Morozov (2011) has explored this “dark side” of the internet as it pertains to both to authoritarian regimes and in critiquing broader cyber-utopianism as presented by the main protagonist Clay Shirky and others. The labelling of cyber-utopianists and cyber-pessimists can be a rather clumsy representation that frames a straw-man 'debate' between supposedly coherent and distinct schools of thought that people can then subscribe to or reject wholesale. Shirky, it would not be unfair to say, argues that the internet and social media are inherently tools for democracy and progress. Such views often originate from people living in neoliberal democracies. A reflective appraisal would be that those who proffer a more optimist vision of social media and cultures of participation also have a lot to say on the use of communication networks as tools for education and citizen journalism. There is, however, a significant absence of with regards critical thinking on capitalism and power and how both relate to democracy – my main criticism of Shirky's position. Existing forms of 'democracy' under neoliberalism appear to be the suggested resolution to authoritarianism. This is not a particularly high ambition given the systemic nature of inequality and the increasingly repressive nature of state responses to dissent across neoliberal democracies. Exploring emancipatory potentials in technology is incredibly useful work that should be part of activist practise. I also recognise the importance of utopian thought; my own anti-capitalism is informed, as indeed are many social movements, by the reaching for what does not already exist by a politics of militant hope. However, it must be acknowledged that such reaching out also reaches from somewhere, the place where we are now, the system we live under. The libertarian and utopian tendencies within much of the more optimistic spectrum of views need to be cognisant of fields of critical study outside of technology itself and have an awareness of the underlying reasons for inequality and injustices in many societies.

If we are interested in examining the role of technology and social networks as tools for social justice, it is not enough to spend all effort examining the tools that venture capitalists will be happy to support. If so, we are talking about the illusion of working for social justice and democracy, cocooned within capitalism. What is offered is techno-fixes to social problems, or worse technological solutions that have no real understanding of the nature of the problem. We have to critically examine the world around us from a position that is grounded in what Eric Fromm (Illich, 1971) describes as “radical doubt”, a position that 86

questions all current assumptions and institutions. This certainly should be the beginning point of activist enquiry into the role of technology and this questioning is mostly absent in Shirky's position.

7.6 'Democracy' and social media There is a lack of recognition of the discord between the expressed claims of western states, particularly the United States (Clinton 2010) and United Kingdom, and their actions. Governments appear to be interested in spreading democracy e.g. via empowerment of Arab youth movements and technology, whilst simultaneously providing military and technological resources to authoritarian regimes that are used to suppress dissent within their borders. Even given that different policies are adopted by different federal departments, its hard to see this other than wilful hypocrisy – as mentioned in Chapter 5, the United States provided the Mubarak regime with €1.3 billion of 'military aid'.

Another problem, from a geopolitical perspective, is that internet freedom can get reframed as real freedom and autonomy by those exercising power. Hilary Clinton, as part of the Obama administration, made a speech on internet freedoms in January 2010 that equated internet freedom with democracy. Democracy, always a contested term itself, now is not to be thought of as communities and societies deliberating and deciding how to best use our resources, skills and knowledges to fulfil our individual and collective needs as human beings. Instead, according to Clinton, there is no need to address the historical and localised context of power, inequality, and resource exploitation. Simply fire up your laptop or smart phone and get connected. Whilst I don't expect Hilary Clinton to share my anarchist informed perspectives on democracy, even I am surprised at the lack of intellectual integrity displayed here. There is no acknowledgement from Clinton or internet gurus like Shirky that struggle is not just about empowerment, hope, solidarity and care in the abstract. It also involves conflict, risk, personal sacrifice and whether we like it or not, violence, injury and sadly death. It happens in a context of confrontation. There are obvious advantages for western governments to adopt such rhetoric. Applying a shallow analysis of what democracy means in foreign policy enables the continuance of a shallow domestic narrative.


It is also worth noting that this narrative is currently being ruptured from below as over 1,000 cities, towns and villages across the globe have public occupations that seek to challenge and re-frame the idea of democracy from below. The role of social media and networks in sharing the memes of Occupy Wall Street and “We are the 99%” is a rich area for further research of contemporary counter-hegemonic movements. The live stream feeds available on the internet of public assemblies from San Francisco, Portland, Sydney, Barcelona, Dublin, and Berlin share messages of discontent and disillusionment with political organisations, electoral representation and the power wielded by financial institution over the lives of most people on the planet. The rapidity of the manifestation's reach from Wall Street to most continents is striking. This is counter to the cynical use of 'democratic' movements by western governments in seeking to shore up a moral bankruptcy at the core of our institutions of power and decision making.

The expressed and practical support for movements in authoritarian regimes tick the foreign policy bureaucratic boxes, whilst military support of authoritarian regimes ensure that the geopolitical strategic interests in the Middle East remain. Is this why the slaughter of such movements in Bahrain and Syria is ignored? The re-framing of technology as democracy acts as a significant narrative fig leaf to an increasingly denuded superpower. This political two way betting was clear to the those following the Egyptian rising online, as the US government's initial response to the uprisings in Egypt was to back Mubarak, describing his government as stable and friendly (Biden 2011). It should be noted that whilst the United States rhetoric on internet freedom as akin to democracy can be criticised, those same social media tools and the internet that allowed us to watch this changing position of Mubarak and his regieme. It can also be pointed out that such tools allowed us to document and record Vice President Joe Biden offering support to Mubarak and later suggest that he step down, thus making our own history of this particular wriggling manoeuvre. It must be countered that the United States turnabout wasn't changed by an online or offline American population. It was changed by the action of revolutionary youth movements, striking workers, secular and religious organisations and millions of Egyptians who came out on the streets to say enough is enough. Their action left the United States with no choice. Yet the rhetoric of internet freedom makes it all too easy to overlook the point that the United States was always betting on both sides. 88

Shirky's form of cyber-utopianism takes no account of this reality. On the other hand, other organisations such as Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), and online activist groups like Telecommix, in different ways, place an understanding of capitalism's tendency to enclosure and private ownership within a wider philosophy of the free exchange of information, communication tools and knowledge. Jillian C York, Director of International Freedom of Expression at the EFF, working in the areas of 'free expression, politics, and the Internet, with particular focus on the Arab world, (York 2011) consistently puts human agency, at the centre of her description of the dynamics between the internet and political outcomes. She argues that only by contextualising social media and the internet used as part of an activist tool kit can we best understand the role of technology is social change. When writing about the Tunisian revolution which preceded and helped precipate the Egyptian revolution she says “to call this a 'Twitter revolution' or even a 'WikiLeaks revolution' demonstrates that we haven’t learned anything from past experiences in Moldova and Iran. Evgeny Morozov’s question –'Would this revolution have happened if there were no Facebook and Twitter?'– says it all. And in this case, yes, I – like most Tunisians to whom I’ve posed this question – believe that this would have happened without the Internet”. (York, 2011 blog)


Authoritarian regimes and the internet

Morozov's position (2011) is similar in that it is less technologically driven than Shirky's position. He illustrates many examples of authoritarian regimes using the internet to repress opposition movements within their borders and places Shirky's uncritical faith in technology as a tool for emancipation in a broader historical narrative. “The West has been slow to discover that the fight for democracy wasn’t won back in 1989. For two decades it has been resting on its laurels, expecting that Starbucks, MTV, and Google will do the rest just fine. Such a laissez-faire approach to democratization has proved rather toothless against resurgent authoritarianism, which has masterfully adapted to this new, highly globalized world. Today’s authoritarianism is of the hedonism- and consumerism-friendly variety, with Steve Jobs and Ashton Kutcher commanding far more respect than Mao or Che Guevara. No wonder the West appears at a loss.” (Morozov, 2011)


From Belarus, Morozov himself is guilty of treating the West as a homogeneous entity, and whilst speaking about grassroots movements and opposition movements within authoritarian regimes he addresses the 'West' only in the terms of governments and corporation. There are other actors, from a grassroots perspective who are involved in a struggle to shape internet and technology use as genuinely egalitarian tools, which I will briefly look at further below. Morozov does highlight a much more complex view than is noted by many western commentators. He shows for example how the Iranian government not only uses social networking sites to spy on opposition movement participants, but describes how Western trumpeting of the internet as a tool for democracy actually has the effect of authoritarian regimes closing it down. Such unintentional results are ignored. Morozov suggests that if the West wants to help opposition movements via technology that it is entirely counterproductive to vocally cheer it on, since regimes can legitimise censorship of such technologies under an anti western imperialist narrative.

Focusing of the Vietnamese state's attempt to censor dissents on the internet by using Direct Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, Morozov flags up a tool of choice used by many different actors from very different perspectives. DDoS attacks flood a particular website with so many requests that it simply makes it inaccessible. In this example, only when dissidents investigated the source of the attack that brought down dissident blogs did they discover that the state has also broken in to another site used by the Vietnamese diaspora. It swapped a popular downloaded file that enabled typing in Vietnamese languages with an almost identical one, but added a virus that allowed the state to spy on those computers, gathering data on dissident activities. Dissidents have been unable to quantify how much personal date and communications have been harvested from the virus.

This year amidst the uprising across North Africa and the Middle East, we are also witnessing an explicitly new online phenomena – the online army. This a clear example of the social media and internet not just as tools for struggle, but as a active site of public struggle itself. A recent report by the Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) mentions the Iranian Cyber Army, a group that has defaced Twitter and Iranian opposition websites. However, the report focuses on the emergence in Syria of the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) 90

in May 2011. It states “The Syrian Electronic Army claims on its website that it was founded by a team of young Syrian enthusiasts who did not want to stay passive “towards the fabrication of facts on the events in Syria.” Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) research found that the group has a connection with the Syrian Computer Society, which was headed in the 1990s by the current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before he became president.” The SEA mainly attacks pro-democracy sites within Syria and as well as western sites, though these seem to be sites that are easy to attack and not very high profile e.g. Lemington Spa town council website in the UK. However, the SEA is celebrated in government-run national newspapers and on the Minister of Information website. Currently it has a private group on Facebook and also posts videos on YouTube of some of its defacements. The report also notes the fact that the Syrian regime lifted a block on Facebook and Youtube in February 2011 which facilitates the SEA's publicity. (IWM website)

As the above illustrates any attempts to theorise the about the internet and it inherent usefulness to social justice movements, or society generally, will be rendered meaningless if they fail to take account of the ways it can be used to oppress.





One of my central aims when I began to formulate a structure from research that, for the most part was very open ended, was to dismiss a the suggestion that certain technologies were the cause of the revolution by presenting evidence to the contrary. From the evidence presented both by activists who participated in this researcher and as seen in the Twitter feed, this was not the case at all. The primary reasons for the revolution lay in a combination of the collective agency of pro-democracy movements in the face of both increasing repression and rising inequality. Certain technologies were important because of the function they served in facilitating mobilisation efforts, and making visible counter narratives that formed the back bone of the strategy of the youth movements. There was also conscious movement building efforts by April 6th Movement to create strategic links with workers movements, so that when the time came to call on workers to support the call for solidarity, they would be confident of the call being answered in the positive. Is worth saying again, as I did at the beginning. Nothing was inevitable about the outcomes. As we can see around the 2 nd and 3rd of February in particular events could have went very differently. And indeed as the picture below show, even some of the main participants where not expecting on the 25th of January that this was to be a revolutionary moment.


The tweet above was sent in by Alaa Abd El Fattah in response to a piece in the New York Times claiming Gene Sharpe, a social scientist and author of the book 'From Dictatorship to Democracy' was the architect of the revolution. Sharpe himself didn't claim this, but the paper was using Sharpe's role with the Otpur movement which played a role in toppling Milosevich in in the former Yugoslavia in 89. I myself made links between the April 6 th Movement and Otpur though sheer serendipity. During the course Laurence Cox has suggested we read George Lakey's 'Strategizing for a Living Revolutions, which was about Otpur's work. The symbols used are almost the exact same, as were some of the tactics and April 6th members including Waleed, who I interviewed, had met up with member of Otpur. I hope to very soon upload the full interview with Waleed Rashed from the April 6 th as part of an online version of this piece. However the point I wanted to make was less about Sharpe, or even about the actual links between Otpur and April 6th Movement. It is about the essence of what Alaa is saying in the tweet above, and at a meta level the fact that tens of thousand of people have read that comment within seconds of it being sent because there exists communication technologies that facilitate that. Now they might not draw out from it what I will below, but if the activist researcher is to do anything, it is to draw lessons from the other struggles so that we can assist our own. 94

Alaa seems to be simultaneously claiming ownership of their revolution on behalf of Egyptians whilst also making visible the role of self education in movement building. I came across this particular tweet very recently and I was immediately very chuffed. Not because (or not only because) if fits nicely with my use of Gramci's ideas earlier on. It warmed me because it rescues “theory” from being something some dead guy said. Something that either ticks the box of academia's way of measuring knowledges or something that makes you sound clever in a room full of lefties. It says that it is the ideas themselves and how we use them in our own contexts, in the now, that is important. It helps us move away from seeing theory and action as separate things for different people but instead see them as useful paradigms to help us better understand what is really happening around us. This brings me to my secondary aim. This was to try and make sense of the impacts that social media and social networks have in facilitating that “better understanding”. In this regard I feel myself to have failed, in the sense that I thought I might reach a point of articulating what those impacts are. And from that point this is , as was always likely the case with my over ambitious mind, this is very much unfinished lines of enquiry. Its an enquiry I would like to continue with other activists to see if there are ways we can imagine occupying the spaces in these emerging public spaces with a radical narrative of hopeful resistance to social injustice and all forms of inequality. My last aim was perhaps the easiest to fulfil but maybe the most practically useful. I wanted to impart some of the knowledge and experiences of how I used social media networks and tools to hook up with other activists in struggle and to help people in my small part of the worlds hear and possibly draw hope and other lessons from their stories. The intent is to encourage others to do the something similar on their own terms. Ten years ago I never could have imagined myself helping run an autonomous social center in Dublin. Five year ago I never could have imagined I'd be speaking to one of the organisers of a revolution that brought millions out into the street and saw tens of millions of workers out on strike. It really is a funny world. And it could suggest to you that anything indeed everything is possible if we put our head hearts and bodies together.


Right now there is a current running through our global networks, amongst people who have never met before, all speaking truth to power. Its is no longer is whispering the language of revolution and meaningful social change. Tonight there are occupations in over 1000 cities and town spread across every continent of the world. I can see images from most of them, and I can watch the daily public assemblies streaming live and moving with the time zones. These are the voices of counter power and of a new narrative from below. It remains to be seen what the outcome is, but for now I think I've done enough watching and listening online, and its maybe time to join those voices. A note on presentation This type of research is not especially suited to the traditional form of hard bound thesis. The requirements of the university in this regard are I would argue a barrier to helping develop an understanding of how technology can be used in an educational setting. I have tried to tailor my work here to make it fit better into the required format, but it is impossible to deny that, as a hand held written piece of work its is kind of ugly. This is not false modesty, as I have struggled particularly with the Twitter time line to make it more presentable looking and free flowing on paper. When presented as an online document, the embedding of links as hypertext, the inclusion of much more video, audio and images would add additional depth of research. As I've included videos as part submission the reader is in the curious position of having to use a computer to see/hear/contextualise sections of the work but refer back to main 'manual' as it were. An online version would also include links directly to the specific software tools I make reference to. I'd humbly suggest that it would make for a more engaging practise of knowledge generation within the university if it reconsidered its criteria for thesis submission to include digital/online thesis presentation. It could also enhance accessibility to the works of student researcher; an online library of theses could be made available for anyone who wanted to read them. Perhaps this is also a project that graduate students of the CEESA course could work collectively and independently on.




• •

Abramsky (2010) Sparking a Worldwide Energy Revolution: Social Struggles in the transition to a post petrol world Abaza, Academic tourists sight-seeing the Arab Spring - Opinion - Ahram Online . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011].

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Beinin (2010) Justice for all: The struggle for worker rights in Egypt. Solidarity Center Chomsky, Noam (2002) Media Control, The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. Seven Stories Press ISBN 1-58322-536-6 Chomsky, Noam (2003) Understanding power – the indispensable Chomsky. Vintage Freire (1971) Pedagogy of the Oppressed . Penguin Graeber, David (2004) Fragments of an anarchist anthropology. Prickly Paradigm Press Habermas, Jürgen (1984) Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy, Boston: Beacon Press Halbert (2005) Resisting Intellectual Property Law (Routledge/Ripe Studies in Global Political Economy) Holloway, John (2002) Change the world without taking power. Pluto Press Illich, Ivan D (1971) Celebration of awareness – a call for institutional revolution. Penguin Illich, Ivan D (1971) Deschooling society. Pelican Kingsnorth, Paul (2003) One no, many yeses. The Free Press Lievrouw, Leah A (2011) Alternative and activist new media – digital mead and society series. Polity Linebaugh and Rediker (2000) The Many Headed Hydra. Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic Lohmann, L (2006) Carbon Trading A Critical Conversation on Climate Change, Privatisation and Power


• •

Lower, S. and Fleur (eds) 1983 Milestones in Mass Communications Research: media effects Longman: New York Malone. Breaking in #Alexandria : People Storm State Security HQ | Soundmigration. 2011. Breaking in #Alexandria : People Storm State Security HQ | Soundmigration. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011].

Malone. | Soundmigration. 2011. Inside Egypt : An Interview with Mohamed Abdelfattah, Alexandria. | Soundmigration. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011].

• • McCurdy, Patrick (2010) Breaking the spiral of silence: unpacking the “media debate” within global justice movements. A case study of Dissent! and the 2005 Gleneagles G8 summit: Interface Vol2 : Issue 2 • • • Meital, Yoram (2005) Nationalism and Its Logical Foundations Evgeny Morozov, (2011). The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. Edition. PublicAffairs. Pöppel, Ernst (1978) Time Pöppel, Ernst, 1978, ‘Time Perception’, in Richard Held et al. (eds.), Handbook of Sensory Physiology, Vol. VIII: Perception, Berlin: SpringerVerlag. • • • • • • Shirky C, (2009) Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. Reprint Edition. Penguin (Non-Classics). Shukaitis Graeber & Biddle (2007) Constituent Imagination – militant investigations collective theorization. AK Press St. Laurent, A (2004) Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing: O'Reilly Media, Inc. Swanson (1998) The management of genetic resources for agriculture: Ecology and information, externalities and policies (CSERGE working paper) Wilson, Edward D (1998) Consilience, The Unity of Knowledge. Abacus Louise Mensch MP calls for Twitter and Facebook blackout during riots - Telegraph. 99

2011. Louise Mensch MP calls for Twitter and Facebook blackout during riots Telegraph. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011]. • Why I set about hitting the News of the World where it hurts – its advertising | Melissa Harrison | Comment is free | . 2011. Why I set about hitting the News of the World where it hurts – its advertising | Melissa Harrison | Comment is free | . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011]. • Remarks on Internet Freedom. 2011. Remarks on Internet Freedom. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011]. • Joe Biden: Mubarak is no dictator and should not step down [VIDEO & FULL TEXT] - International Business Times. 2011. Joe Biden: Mubarak is no dictator and should not step down [VIDEO & FULL TEXT] - International Business Times. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011]. • • • • • • • • • • •