(K. McCaffrey) — As a partner in a firm that deals mostly with web promotion on social media, the Egyptian affair has been fascinating to watch. As Mohamed Haykal, a Nasser confidante, said in a British interview, “The effect of mobiles, computers, satellites—there is a generation coming that is outside the traditional controls. Normally, generations recreate themselves. But something else is happening.”

Something else is happening and those with power now know what communication can do thanks to platforms like social media, that allow anyone to broadcast their experiences. The concern of some foreign leaders is warranted and they’re acting fast against a beating tide. For instance, the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, has recently spoken to the Wall Street Journal, promising legislative reforms aimed at initiating municipal elections, granting more power to nongovernmental organizations and establishing a new media law.

“Syria is stable. Why?” Mr. Assad said. “Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people. This is the core issue. When there is divergence…you will have this vacuum that creates disturbances.”

Yet as Syria finds more ways to become connected to the web, I suspect we’ll see a call for change there as well. Also, China, a country that has seen most of its inhabitants fed state-run jargon, has had to clamp down on its web censorship to include the word “Egypt.” Try as they will, I suspect the more accessible the internet and different sources of news and information become, the more free the world will work to become. (“Coersion, after all, merely captures man. Freedom captivates him.” – Reagan)

To see the difference between traditional controls and the modernized versions of unrest, one has to look no further than Yemen, which has a faction of unrest brewing. Yet Yemen has not been able to raid the capital and earn similar attention as Tunisia likely because “Nine out of ten Tunisians have cell phones, but only one out of three Yemenis do. A third of Tunisians have access to the Internet, but only one out of ten Yemenis do, and their service is much less stable.”


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