Free Alaa – Egyptian blogger detained

While MK posts on the benefits of the small-web (more on that another time), we find a good example of the ‘large web’ we have all come to know. Demoblogger posts G-B4A as a Test Case in Web 2.0 Activism, highlighting the 21st century methods being employed to hasten the release of Alaa Abd El-Fatah, who has been imprisoned for his part in a peaceful, pro-democracy protest.

The web can raise awareness of these issues, but we must still focus on more traditional channels in order to effect change in this particular issue. Pickled Politics suggests that Google-bombing might not be successful, and in any case should not be an end itself.

[The] free-Alaa campaign needs to become more prominent with mentions in the national papers. But surprise surprise the press has largely ignored the story … My suggestion is: organise or join a demonstration outside the Egyptian embassy or send emails to your newspaper or broadcaster of choice and ask why haven’t they yet written about this story.

Or, of course, TheyWorkForYou.com can allow you to make your MP aware of the issue. The new Foreign Secretary might be prompted to take up the issue of free speech with the Egyptian government.

7 thoughts on “Free Alaa – Egyptian blogger detained

  1. Well, I don’t know about all this Web2.0, whatever that is. I can appreciate that newsdesks might be more interested in a new media technology story than the arrests or beating of a few democracy activists, but if the aim of all this is to protect people from injustice rather than blowing one’s own cyberactivism/web-geek trumpet, and bandying cyber-jargon around the place to make you look cool, then rob is dead right. What does google-bombing (which if it actually had anything to do with bombs would make sense, but it doesn’t, so it doesn’t) by itself actually do in practical terms to speed release of the wrongfully-arrested, or to improve human rights in countries whose goverments are opposed to it?

    “Bloody Nothing”, or something close to it. People are too busy to worry about the culpability involved in knowing and doing nothing, and some people like Tim Whatshisname seem to be opposed to guilt per se. Not to mention the fact that the internet is awash with people who are not as technically literate as they might be, don’t know what Web2.0 is, and want things to be easy for themselves, but maybe still have a social conscience of sorts. All this technowotsit is fine and fancy, but I fear it is divisive, even as it pretends to be inclusive. The people who are proficient in it actually have a duty to make protest easy for people who aren’t.

    Which is why, after peeping at the bbc website and finding it silent on both subjects, I’ve casually asked them to point me to their world-leading news coverage of the Alaa Abd El-Fatah story by going to this page here.

    Hooray for Pickled Politics.

  2. Web 2.0 is just a buzzword, that generally refers to those tools that allow a more collaborative online experience. Have a look at the Wikipedia article. Things like del.icio.us are pretty Web 2.0 I think.

    Crucially, you don’t actually need to know what Web 2.0 is to actually use it! You do already.

    The point of the post that I linked to was not that the Free Alaa Campaign could be used to promote Web 2.0, but simply noting the extent to which those technologies are being used for campaigning. This is interesting precisely because it enables people without sophisticated technical knowledge to still campaign effectively.

  3. Thanks for the clarification there Bert. I wasn’t having a go at *you* or what you said. I suppose I was just wondering, did people write self-congratulatory, self-referential newspaper articles getting all excited about how the telephone or the postal service facilitated protest? Maybe they did.

    Post hoc, I guess we do make a fuss about the printing press and the impact it had on the dissemination of Luther’s 95 Theses and what that did to the Catholic Church at the time. Maybe I am making a non-point. I guess what I’m thinking is if it’s such an exciting development then may the proof of the pudding be in the eating – anything else is premature.

  4. I guess we do make a fuss about the printing press and the impact it had on the dissemination of Luther’s 95 Theses

    I think that’s where a lot of this ‘meta-blogging’ (i.e. blogging about blogging) comes from. I think people sense the emergence of a new innovation that will chnage society, and we naturally want to chronicle that change and how it happens. I’ve often likened the Communications Revolution to the Industrial Revolution, suggesting that the use of technologies will affect a societal change.

    More links and comments in the grandly titled Internet Philosophy section, and at certain places on my blogroll, chiefly Clay shirky.

  5. Yes, I’m sure it’s all fine and good, it just seems a bit premature to me that’s all, for something that would no doubt be just as innovative if left to evolve in an organic kind of a way without being self-consciously scrutinised as we go. There are lots of things people thought would change the world, and got all excited about that just got over-hyped and flopped, and all the people who raved about it were left looking rather silly and self-aggrandising.

    For some things I do sincerely believe we *need* the perspective of hindsight to truly appreciate their impact/value, and I for one do value the insights that will be provided by the long view, even though I’m not bold enough to really imagine very clearly what they might be. Maybe people in the future will think it very twee to see all the excitement and backslapping taking up time that could have been spent using the technology to mind-bending world-changing effect, saving lives, changing minds, doing real good. The nature of such things mean that they will leave an indelible trail anyway, so there isn’t really such a great need to document how great it all is. Psychological impacts nothwithstanding. I think there should be more chronicling in that department, but I lack the brain-power…

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