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Egypt’s bloggers and digital democracy

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2011-02-14

It’s a manifesto in the making. Activists are working on ways to exploit Internet technology to give everyone the chance to contribute ideas on how Egypt’s transitional government should be run.

The extraordinary events in Egypt have been dubbed “Revolution 2.0” because of the huge impact of social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

And on the Internet, things move quickly.

On Sunday, Egyptian artist and academic Aalam Wassef started a Google Document1 to let anyone with an Internet connection add their ideas on how Egypt’s interim government should work.

The call went out on Twitter at midday Sunday (Paris time) in response to a request by prolific Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey.

Wassef wrote on the micro-blogging site: “IMPORTANT @sandmonkey suggested creation of GoogleDoc 2 collect ideas for transition. Here it is: http://bit.ly/fv1UJz Please Spread #jan25

First idea comes unstuck

Wassef told FRANCE 24 the experiment in digital democracy had started well, but problems came to the surface almost immediately.

“Many people joined the document to give their ideas,” he said. “But one person decided to delete everything [the data was subsequently recovered]. Unfortunately, as a result, we had to change the document settings and close public access."

At 2 pm he tweeted: “GoogDoc page was filled with lovely ideas. Someone erased all. Wrking now on safe solution. Pls spread #jan25

The solution went on line forty minutes later as a thread on Google Moderator 2.

Wassef added that he was still considering a wiki3 as a better way to collate ideas.

1. Google Docs is a web-based word processor which lets authors share documents publicly or privately to be edited by multiple users.

2. Google Moderator is an online forum where ideas can be submitted and voted on but where users cannot delete other people’s submissions.

3. A wiki is a website that allows multiple users to create collaborative documents (which can be moderated) such as entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, whose contents are entirely user-generated.

Date created : 2011-02-13

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