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Egypt: Web Videos Spur Facebook Revolt February 12, 2011

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, Convergence, Journalism, News, Social Media, Trends, Web Video, YouTube.
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Amid euphoric scenes on the streets of Egypt, it is clear that the Web is a potent catalyst of political change. As befits a revolution galvanized by social networking, the feeling on the streets is one of individual and collective empowerment as citizen videos show the historic moment, when Mubarak’s resignation as President of Egypt was announced at the hour of evening prayer.

This video shared by YouTube’s Citizen Tube through Twitter shows people at prayer in Tahrir Square holding off the celebration until it is finished before breaking into cheers.

Even though Mubarak has stepped down, the story of Egypt is not over, and neither is the work of cyber-activists. With the military now running the country, it is uncertain what level of digital freedom or online surveillance lies ahead.

Asmaa Mahfouz, a 26-year old Egyptian woman who began online political activism in 2008, is now credited for launching the video call that sparked the revolution. Mahfouz recorded the video below on January 18th, uploaded it to YouTube, and shared it on her Facebook. Within days, the video went viral:

Young people forwarded it on mobile phones – a communications tool that some 65 million Egyptians use. Soon after, the government blocked all mobile phone networks. This was not the first time a young activist used the Internet to mobilize, but it departed from the convenient anonymity of online activism.

Mahfouz is one of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, a group of young, Internet-savvy activists. Time will judge whether it is accurate to credit this one video and young woman with catalyzing the Egypt revolt. At the very least, her video advocacy captures the zeigeist of an important moment in history:

If Asmaa Mahfouz’s Web video captures the spirit of the political times, Egypt’s anti-Mubarak street movement found a hero to rally around in Wael Ghonim. The 30-year old Google marketing executive created an anonymous Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Said” named in honor of a blogger beaten to death by police last summer.

The page, launched over six months ago, became a rallying point for demonstrations. What started as a campaign against police brutality grew into an online hub for young Egyptians to share their frustrations over the abuses of the Mubarak regime. Ghonim was detained for 10 days after starting the Facebook page.

The online organizing through Facebook, e-mail list serves and Google Docs that sprung out of it catalyzed cyber activists to collaborate on a kind of movement wiki that is being continually re-edited and improved upon by an expanding Web of contributors.

This is the revolution of the youth of the internet, which became the revolution of the youth of Egypt, then the revolution of Egypt itself.

Wael Ghonim

The Facebook page that Ghonim ran sounded the call for the initial protest on Jan. 25. As the page’s following approached 400,000 people, and word of the event spread, it hosted a constant stream of news, photos, and videos, downloadable fliers, and emotional entreaties for all Egyptians to join the push.

The active early participants in the “We Are All Khaled Said” community were young activists and dissident bloggers, many of whom knew one another and had been organizing against Mubarak’s policies for years. Emboldened by their cyber-purpose, activists took their collective confidence to the streets, giving each other the sense that they just might bend history on the ground.


.me .tv .to domain names anyone? January 10, 2010

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Advertising, Convergence, News, Social Media, Trends.
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When it comes to top level domain names, some countries are luckier than others. Take the Pacific Ocean island of Tuvalu, for instance, which offers the attractive .tv for the broadcast media.

Or Tonga, whose .to domain has spawned sites such as go.to and how.to. Perhaps most fortunate of all in the name game is Montenegro.

After separating from Serbia in 2006, the country gained .me – the perfect domain for the social media generation.

“From the beginning it was clear that .me would have its share in the market,” said Predrag Lesic, executive director of the .me registry in Montenegro.

That share is now huge. Since going live in 2008, more than 320,000 names have been registered, making it the fastest selling debut top level domain ever.

“It’s short, personal and popular – with names like youand.me and whatabout.me.

“It’s being used more than ever as a call-to-action domain, for example notify.me.”

The domain’s popularity is partly down to its versatility across different languages, as the word “me” has a similar meaning in a number of languages.

Even before the domain’s launch, Montenegro’s registrars were inundated with requests for names. “There have been three development phases,” said Mr Lesic. “Sunrise, landrush and go-live.

“In the sunrise period we were receiving applications for the trademark names only.

“Companies like Microsoft and Samsung rushed to register their .me name.”

The landrush phase allowed people to register an interest in a domain, while the go-live phase – which started on 17 July 2008 – opened up the registry to customers worldwide.

“On the first day of the go-live period, we had 50,000 registrations.”

One buyer of the .me domain was Matt Mansell, who purchased willshemarry.me. Turns out she did marry him – and the site was used as a way of informing guests how to get to the wedding, even allowing them to vote for songs to be played at the disco.

But, aside from his new wife, the domain name may prove to be Mr Mansell’s greatest gain from his wedding.

“I’ve had an awful lot of people who want to buy the idea, I’ve had people who want to buy the domain.

“I think as domains go, it will be one that I never let go unless the offer’s right.

“A lot of the .me names are actually selling post-purchase at auction for figures like $10,000-$15,000.”

Despite being a very lucrative market, technology commentator Bill Thompson is not convinced with the value attached to a memorable domain name.

This post is excerpted from a report by BBC Online.

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