And now that the streets and palaces are clean -let’s talk

Today in Egypt the army is in charge and has already assured Egypt’s allies that all treaties and obligations will be honored.  The army has promised change and an election, but without specifics; people interviewed in the streets of Cairo are happy that Mubarak is gone, but most also remember there is one thing that has not changed, not in the last week, the last 30 years or indeed since 1952 – the army is in charge.  Every leader of Egypt, regardless of his title, the name of his party or his relationship with Israel, Russia or the Untied States has had one thing in common – their power base came from the army.  Without the army none of the leaders of Egypt since “His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and Sudan, Sovereign of Nubia, of Kordofan and of Darfur” was deposed could have governed.  Still there is a spirit of hope in the newly cleaned streets, not just in Cairo but around the Arab world.

A pan-Arab spirit, not quite a movement yet, but a spirit is apparently developing.  Arabs are expressing a desire for greater economic and political freedom and freedom from oppression in any form; a sentiment that dates to 1928 and the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood.  The Brotherhood was opposed to British colonialism and economic domination of Egypt – England was busily running Egypt’s finances to get its investment in the Suez Canal back and to see the Canal remained open to British shipping.  The Brotherhood advocated “home rule” (sinn fein to you of Irish descent) and full political and economic participation by all Egyptians.  The current “spirit” is not the anti-Israeli or anti-American sentiment or even a fundamental religious sentiment, the sentiments that characterized previous pan-Arab movements.  This spirit bodes something very different – if the Egyptians are successful, their actions might indeed spark the kind of movement that strikes terror into the hearts of despots the world over. We can only hope.

I got a real lesson in technology and an evolving world that is just beyond my field of vision yesterday over coffee and bagels.  The internet has been abuzz with stories of how facebook, twitter, texting and social media in general brought the people of Egypt together in the streets.  I have heard other commentators give more credit to pan-Arab news agencies Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabyia, but both agree it is new technologies that made the events possible in 2011 and highly unlikely, if not impossible, in 2000.   Both are probably true – but the converse is true also.  The lack of sophisticated in modern technology was a major factor in the ultimate downfall of the regime.  How so?  Suppose that Mubarak on the second or third day of the demonstrations had started to tweet and open a personal and intimate dialogue with the people of Egypt.

Might Mubarak, like Obama and his democratic presidential campaign have used social media to build grass roots support?  A friend of mine, my guide to all things in social media posed this question to me – actually she first posed it to her father in a discussion of how and why the events unfolded the way they did and if Mubarak could have done anything to save his job.  The idea hit me between the eyes, DAMN!  Just imagine it:  Mubarak could have sat down for a little chat with everyone in Egypt and talked about the problems, made a couple of promises, maybe even joined them in the square to celebrate their common heritage and maybe a cup of Egyptian coffee and a fulafel.   No threats, no tanks or airplanes just friendly chats about the country and its problems.  If I were in a position of power, I think that one of the first things I would want to do right now, today is to hire some social media consultants and start communicating at that level. It might just save some jobs, marriages and maybe countries from disaster; the technology is there.

In the meantime, the streets and palaces of Egypt have been cleaned – now the Egyptians and the rest of  the Arab world will be waiting and watching to see what government surfaces; I suspect much of the rest of world will also be watching, somewhere there is a lesson in this for nearly every government on the planet – and for CEOs and parents.  It just might be the communication was more of a problem than the articulated complaints were the problem.


4 Responses to “And now that the streets and palaces are clean -let’s talk”

  1. 1 Rita P Best February 12, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Mubarak’s tweet would have been heard round the world…Thanks Ken for taking the time to listen and more importantly to think…

    The point is mute, but it is my firm opinion that had Mubarak engaged through dialog the Egyptian Protesters’in the early days of their “uprising” within the social communities, where the seeds of revolution were being born he would be still in power today. In these social ecosystems, communication – is engagement. An active dialog between two or more parties.

    What if, Mubarak or assigned cabinet members had first been listening within these very communities, they would have known what was in the wind…seeds of discourse and unrest. Second, choosing to engage by respond to those promoting unrest within their specific communities, these cyber diplomats speaking on behalf of Egypt and simultaneously educating the community could have, contained the argument and debate to an online conversation. Cyber diplomats armed with authenticity, authority and a measured degree of empathy, I would argue there would have been no mass demonstrations and no revolution.

    Consider for a moment the magnitude of this missed opportunity and the cost economically…worse consider the bigger picture and again a missed opportunity….had President Mubarak’s tweeted and posted on one or several of the Facebook fan and community pages; And following his lead, President Obama, sent a tweet, or a post, that America and he stands in support of Egypt and her people…something as elementary as “We the people of American support Egypt and her people as their engage in active dialog.” I argue that President Mubarak and Obama would have changed the course of history, in moment, actually a tweet, in very profound ways.

    These social ecosystems maybe pervasive to some, BUT to most these COMMUNITIES provide opportunity to be heard, to collectively connect and gather, to find a voice and more importantly a place where one can explore new ideas, consider possibilities, find like minded souls and collaborate. As I watch, continue to learn, and actively participate; I am stuck by the analogy of a dandelion’s parachute seed ball in a windstorm – its seeds are spread far and wide. In these digital ecosystems, the strong wind is the speed by which one can share information and seeds of change are the ideas and the opportunities to collaborate.

    If history serves me, it was the introduction of the stirrup followed by the printing press, two relatively benign technologies until they found favor and traction amongst the majority. Their inventions and introduction to the general knowledge base and data flow changed the course of human history. The seeds of the 14-17th centaury Renaissance found their rooted infusion in the last days of feudalism. 300 yrs., from now, the history books will talk about the seeds of change, the 2011 shift, those early precursors, to that evolutionary leap of the human consciousness and thought. A sociological and cultural shift of monumental proportion.

    How so you may ask…The three relatively benign technologies of the 21st Century found their rooted infusion in the last days of the 20th. And are NOW finding favor and traction amongst the majority. December 1992 saw the introduction of World Wide Web and email. September 2006 the introduction of Social Networks (Facebook) with their ubiquitous “sharing” tools and collaborative communities. January 2007 saw the introduction of the “iPhone” with its revolutionary MultiTouch interface and subsequent incendiary proliferation of the MOBILE NETWORK & PLATEFORM.

    A world wide collaborative web within a web of niche communities coupled with the ability to share globally in an instant through multiple platforms, ideas, photo’s, video, thoughts and even Revolution. The consequences of the “idea” virus and its revolutionary tactics are still to play out, but by 2020, there is no doubt in my mind that our global economies, our political landscapes and our collective consciousness, will be very, very different.

  2. 2 Roger Lay February 13, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Thank you Ken for this interesting blog and thank you Rita for your added comment. This is an amazing perspective – the subtle yet profound impact social media is having on our world.

    • 3 Ken Adams February 13, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Roger thanks for taking the time to comment; I am going to write more on the subject today. I am trying to understand the events at as many levels as I can. ken

  1. 1 Tweets that mention And now that the streets and palaces are clean -let’s talk « ADAMS – GAMING BUSINESS REVIEW -- Trackback on February 13, 2011 at 9:09 am

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