ABL’s Twitter debunking link in the previous post, which was an interview with a “ordinary Egyptian”, was worth reading:
Fuck the internet! I have not seen it since Thursday and I am not missing it. I don’t need it. No one in Tahrir Square needs it. No one in Suez needs it or in Alex…Go tell Mubarak that the peoples revolution does not his damn internet!
More importantly, this guy goes on to explain that even a basic cell phone costs about 1/5 of the income of the average family of 4, and that a smartphone costs almost 4 times the average monthly income. For the average human being on earth, having a smartphone is like one of us having a private jet. It’s an unimaginable luxury.
The last numbers I found showed that smartphones were 19.3% of the mobile market in Q3 2010. This figure has been growing quickly, so the vast majority of the installed base of cellphones are models that can make calls and send texts. Judging from that report, about a billion cell phones were sold last year, so there are probably 2-3 billion in circulation. At most, a couple hundred million of those are smartphones. That’s worth remembering when deciding what color to paint your blog.
The power of the internet is not Americans getting word into Egypt, but in Egyptians getting word out to us. Anyone who doesn’t understand the repercussions of that should probably be painting their house.
“I have therefore everyone has.” Amazing how often that mistaken starting point is used.
Bin Laden doesn’t have any problem using it when it suits him.
Turning off the internet is probably the only thing that could get Americans out on the streets in large numbers.
I, Claudius? iAbacus.
I don’t have a smart phone. My name must be near the bottom of the smart phone delivery list that Obama is working on. (Didn’t he promise a smart phone in every pot?)
All closing off the internet is doing for Mubarak is to piss off those Egyptians who haven’t gone to the marches.
Thousands of revolutions have occurred successfully without cell phones, the internet, twitter, or any of that other stuff.
The Iranian revolution was pushed by cassette tapes and xeroxed hand bills. The Cuban revolution was pushed by mimeographed fliers.
The American and French revolutions were pushed hand operated printing presses. Any number of English revolutions were pushed by traveling minstrels, and so forth.
Technology simply speeds the process of revolution. To some limited extent, it allows for coordination of action, but revolutions do not occur because of it.
Yes, but! It only takes a few to take pictures or video or just describe what they see in a call out. Once its out of the country, it can show the rest of us and that means our politicians are acting with that knowledge in the back of their minds now. they don’t even have to stop and think, most of them KNOW their voters are going to see video. Indeed they themselves are also being influenced as much as us by those video’s. I think in the past it seemed more distant and happening to “other” people.
Some of those fancy costly smart phones are probably “owned” by reporters for their jobs, bought by their employers. I think the internet matters. I also think taking it down isn’t going to stop the story long. For one thing, it makes it obvious that the government has something to hide and it heightens world interest. also its a challenge to tech types, so they’ll find a way to get back in.
Add me to those who think you missed the importance of the internet in getting messages out. Hidden revolutions tend to be particularly bloody.
Without al-Jazeera English broadcasting what else would we have? It’s amazing they have been winning the cat-mouse game with Egyptian police so far.
We have a winner.
@Kirk Spencer: Or ‘all my friends have it therefore everyone has.’ It took a decade of resisting my cell phone, I’m not going ‘smart’ any time soon.
In most of the 3rd world, cellphone communication is the only electronic communication people may have access to. Land lines are non-existent outside a few areas in the biggest cities, and are much more expensive than basic cellphone services. The infrastructure of land line communication would likely never have existed.
In addition, beyond chatting and texting friends and families, cellphones become key resources for small businesses and traders, including being able to have bank accounts and conduct business by texting and receiving payments to and disbursing payments via cellphone.
Africa has about 1 billion people. There are about 350 million subscribers to cellphone accounts. That’s about 1/3rd the population of Africa, and even if you want to suggest that those subscriptions may include more than one family member or employee, you also have to recall that the population figure includes young children and the elderly
Colonial rule left shit for infrastructure in Africa as for so many other nations. What rail and road and communication networks existed were typically from the site of whatever raw material or agricultural product production to the ports. Interconnections between cities in the same country are mostly sparse.
So it isn’t like cellphones are just a luxury in so many poor countries — they’re just another valuable resource that relatively few people can afford.
Smartphones, I think not. Besides the cost of the device, there’s the signal they need for their various magicks.
Also, turning off cellphone service too widely also fucks big business. So Mubarak doesn’t entirely want to stop economic activity at all levels.
While visiting family in Bangkok recently I wondered how some people afforded smart phones. Turns out some are knock offs that can access networks somehow so maybe that would change the numbers in other countries?
While there aren’t a lot of internet subscribers in Africa, there are certainly a lot of internet users.
When I drove through Sénégal and Mauritania (Dakar through St-Louis, Sénégal to Rosso, Mauritania and back) in late 2008, even the small rural villages, where most of the residences didn’t have electricity, all had an internet café. The computer equipment was used, run down and several generations behind what we have, but it is cheap to use. It might cost a 50 to 100 CFA francs for several hours use, which is just pennies.
I was amazed at how ubiquitous the internet is in Sénégal and how fast and reliable it was. And this is in a country that is far poorer and more rural than Egypt is.
The cell phone market is much more free wheeling/competitive overseas compared to here. All the carriers more or less use the same technology so you can design and market one single phone that can use all the major carriers. For the consumer, changing carriers is as easy as swapping out the sim card. Yay for standards in technology.
In the US, we’ve got 3-4 different tech so if you want to change carriers, you usually have to get a brand-new phone to do so.
Shouldn’t “fuck the internet” be added to your rotating list of … whatever you call the items in the rotating list of pithy statements just underneath the banner? Actually, it would be great if they really did rotate.
Villago Delenda Est
“No TV and no beer make Homer something something”.
Turning off the Internet has already fucked with Egypt’s non-protestors in some pretty damaging ways. Let’s say you run any kind of business that communicates with anyone not in your country, like a bank, or a manufacturing firm.
How well do you think you’re going to be working now?
Mubarak merely succeeded in pissing off more people. The only way to win at the game he’s playing is to go all-in (i.e. Burma) and have the Army blast the protestors to hell. Since, thankfully, that doesn’t appear to be happening, I hope he’ll resign/flee in the near future.
I don’t dispute the fact that the average Egyptian does not have a cell phone or Internet access….millions of them live on the ragged edge of hunger and homelessness. However, what is important to note about the role of Technology in the protests of Egypt and in Tunisia, is the fact that the Middle and Upper Classes, who CAN afford it, were involved in the uprisings. It isn’t just the poor participating in those protests. Take a look at my blog post about the numbers of Internet subscribers in Egypt and how they got around the blockages. The involvement of the normally quiet Middle and Upper classes is different.
@El Cid: Just a footnote, because I haven’t seen this reported: Egypt has also cut off SMS shortcode providers that allow computer systems to receive texts (the thing that makes all those “text X to Y to do such-and-such” services work, the ones you can use without a smartphone). At least some of them– I know this because the place I work at has a shortcode, and we got a note from the provider saying that we wouldn’t be able to get any messages from Egyptian phone numbers.
“For the average human being on earth, having a smartphone is like one of us having a private jet.”
Wow. They must be pretty common, I mean none of my $250k middle-class neighbors jetshare a Gulfstream, but I’ve rubbed noses at the kids’ polo camp with several of the upper middle classers who do.