Getting the Message

Yesterday’s dawn of a new political reality in Egypt grew in no small part from the ingenuity of its people. When President Hosni Mubarak sealed off channels of transmitting communications out of the country, he thought he had contained the growing tide of rebellion against him. Through innovation, determination, and courageousness, the enraged Egyptian people were able to dodge the digital blockades put in place by their repressive government. Sharing opinions, preparing plans, executing action, they forced the world to take notice. Right?

How many populations of repressed people were able to follow what was happening in Tahrir Square? Do farmers in China know they have the same power to overthrow their leaders? What about workers in North Korean? Or Buddhists in Burma? Knowledge is like a conversation; it’s a two-way street. For someone to share what they’ve learned, someone else must be listening.

I’d like to go on and on about how Twitter, and other evolving information networks, will eventually bring freedom and the end of oppression to nations across the globe. But if ruling regimes are censoring what knowledge their people have access to, how will these populations discover what else is possible? And without this knowledge, how can they put any of it to use?

I am ecstatic about the gains the people of Egypt and Tunisia have carved out for themselves. But my enthusiasm is tempered by the realization that not everyone was free to see these steady strides to sovereignty. Despite the best efforts of these recently deposed dictators, information leaked out. Now, we need to find a way for information to leak in. It’s a new dimension to this inspiring story that I’ll keep in mind as I see you on the ‘morrow, on the Web.
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Author  Stephen R. Fox