In this interview, ICNC speaks with Egyptian activist, Ahmed Salah – one of the co-founders of the 6th of April Youth Movement […] Salah talks about the various strategies that were learned, developed, and implemented by activists and civil society groups in the years leading up to the Jan 25 protests, which after 18 days of nonviolent mass action, led to the ouster of Egypt’s former President, Hosni Mubarak.
“In repressive countries that belong to the so-called ‘soft dictatorships,’ or dictatorships that are very harsh but still want to portray themselves as democrats (like in Egypt), there is a possibility to use the internet but there is no possibility to convene. The rights of assembly and free speech do not exist, so the internet was extremely important. You had to have a platform for convening, deciding, voting, and sharing ideas, since you cannot have real meetings on the ground. That’s why the internet played a very important role in spreading around certain ideas.”
Which was interesting to contrast with something Malcolm Gladwell wrote a few years ago.
[Advocates of digital activism ask] “what happens next?”—no doubt imagining future waves of digital protesters. … What happens next is more of the same. A networked, weak-tie world is good at things like helping Wall Streeters get phones back from teen-age girls.