Alaa Free

Alaa has been released, in part (we hope) due to the buzz on the blogosphere. The campaign provokes ideas of how best to use the internet as a tool for political campaigns, and whether we will see blogging ‘campaign fatigue’.

Funny how the same words, in a different order, mean vastly different things. Last month I blogged about the Free Alaa campaign, an online drive to raise awareness of the detention of Egyptian blogger and democracy activist Alaa Abd El-Fatah. I heard about his detention via blogging, and by the same methods (via Adloyada) I now hear he has been released.

Part of the campaign was a GoogleBomb, whereby bloggers attempted to fool Google into returning pages from the Free Alaa campaign site, whenever the word ‘Egypt’ was searched for. As Adloyada suggests, this particular tactic may have had minimal effect, but the wider use of the internet as a medium for campaigning is what interests me here.

We are updated regularly on the ‘explosion’ of blogging, with about a billion new blogs created daily. Many of these – arguably the more interesting ones – are likely to spring up in places where democracy and human rights are not guaranteed. I worry that examples of bloggers being detained, already a regular occurence in Iran, will increase with the popularity of blogging in general. Perhaps we will begin to see a form of campaign fatigue, whereby it is difficult to keep track of which bloggers have been detained, and where!

This is where Web 2.0 innovations such as wikis and RSS feeds can come into their own, ensuring we can keep updated and active over a lengthy period of time. Metaphorical ideas of momentum and critical mass are crucial factors in political movements. It will be interesting to see whether technology will lead to more sustained and effective campaigns, or just higher-profile, yet ultimately damp, squibs. Looks like the former in the case of Alaa, thank goodness.

3 thoughts on “Alaa Free”

  1. “Metaphorical ideas of momentum and critical mass are crucial factors in political movements”
    Yes. Have you read Tipping Point? I bought it in Edinburgh airport after visiting a relative in Edinburgh. And now I am mentioning it on an Edinburgh blog. Small world.

  2. “Funny how the same words, in a different order, mean vastly different things”

    Well, it is, and it isn’t. It’s a nice illustration of how words are not the only thing that convey meaning in our language. Information is contained in the pattern, or order, of the words as well as in the words themselves. I think it’s wonderful, when you think about it, though I’m not sure why…

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