Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt, social media, and the human spirit unleashed

It was as far back as May 4, 2010, when a room full of people at the University of Delaware's Mitchell Hall got an inkling that there may be a major change coming to Egypt.

That was the evening that the University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication held a discussion about Political Communication and Social Networking featuring:

  • David Plouffe - Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager
  • Steven Schmidt - John McCain's 2008 chief campaign strategist
  • Jacqueline Ann Surin - writer from Southeast Asia
  • Mona Eltahawy - writer from Egypt

Fortunately, the good people of C-SPAN were also in the room and captured the evening for all of us to see how prophetic Mona Eltahawy was nearly a year ago - Click Here to watch Mona Eltahawy's comments about social media in Egypt.

What Every Power Structure Needs to Learn From Egypt:

Here's what we need to understand - Every organization must understand the new world in which we live, let me be explicit on this - if you work for, work with, or are the embodiment of a:

  • Business
  • Corporation
  • Religious Organization
  • Charity
  • Government (local and national)

- then this applies to you.

You see, the same tools that enabled the people of Egypt to stand up to a 30-year-old power structure and succeed are available and being used by your customers, contributors, collaborators, and constituents.
The political revolutions we're seeing in various part of the world are only the beginning - we are seeing a real societal revolution taking place - a revolution where authenticity is rewarded and an old-school, authoritarian "because we are the power and we say so" mentality gets ignored at best, and utterly destroyed if it doesn't take the hint.
The choice has never been more obvious - if you desire to have your business, government, or organization to be relevant in the coming years, you must engage with those you wish to be relevant to. This means listening, sharing ideas, admitting mis-steps, and celebrating community.
PLEASE NOTE: What is written here is neither new nor original - and for more comprehensive and insightful material, I highly recommend the following:
2. Dave Burris' always relevant post about how in social media, You Can't Fake the Funk
3. Erin Guttenplan's Edge of Seven post about the Women of Egypt

4. This great video from Clay Shirky:


  1. So True, Ken - so true! I hope more groups heed this advise and realize just how powerful social media is now. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ken, I was there with you and Maya Paveza at UD's Mitchell Hall. Little did any of us realize the prophetic nature of Mona Eltahawy's talk ... and here we are today with a completely revolutionized Tunisia and Egypt. More countries are struggling to emulate their example. Social media is a powerful unifier. I compare it to the the partisans of WWII who, through protected networks of people and interpersonal code, fought against the Nazis as civilians throughout France and much of Europe. Those who study history aren't doomed to repeat it; they are prepared to use the lessons to succeed against challenges in the future.