Is Blogging A Privilege Or A Right?

I’ve been following the news lately about what has been going on in Egypt. It’s strange — I am usually not interested in politics; however, if it involves something with the regulation of technology and communications I am all ears. (No pun intended.)

Crowd Praying As Tanks Move In - Egyptian #DayOfAnger - By the Associated Press - Posted on MSNBC.com

Today I learned that Egypt has the largest and most active blogosphere in the Arab world, and their work is done at great personal risk. Some stats that I found were also fascinating:

  • Egyptian bloggers are young. The median age of their bloggers is 24.
  • They voice their concerns via websites, blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter (just like us!).
  • Egyptian bloggers report on human rights violations, political injustices, and the social condition.
  • Bloggers are routinely harassed, imprisoned, tortured or sometimes murdered depending on the severity of their “crimes.”
  • They tend to be the “children of Cairo’s intellectuals, radicals and activists.”
  • Blogger-to-blogger relationships tend to be virtual and loosely organized, but they may converse in real life late at night in shabby downtown cafes.
  • Egyptian bloggers are routinely arrested for speaking out.
  • There are currently more than 20 people serving prison sentences for “crimes” connected to cyberactivism.
  • They organize and mobilize using social media and mobile technology.
  • Egyptian women bloggers initially outnumbered men. At the start, some 70 percent of bloggers were women. Now, they are probably just over 50 percent.
  • Egyptian women make up 30 percent of all Internet users in Egypt. However, women comprise only 24% of the working population.
  • 44 percent of women are literate, compared to 67 percent of men.

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog at all you may have seen the post where I outline my upcoming ’round-the-world travels. My first planned international destination was, indeed, Cairo, only to be followed by Alexandria. I also thought that it would be nice to plan a quick jaunt to the port city of Said. So, with this recent civil unrest, it will probably be very important that I stay abreast of any breaking developments and perhaps also get to know a few bloggers there. I’ve done some research and have already added a few to my Google Reader, but if you have any suggestions, or if you are a blogger from Egypt, I’d love to connect with you. Feel free to contact me by leaving a comment or using my contact page.

And to follow up on my post from yesterday on what American bloggers can do amidst the state of this crisis, perhaps one more thing to add to the list is to find and follow an Egyptian (or otherwise international) blogger. Most of the blogging community enjoys creating information just as much as they enjoy consuming it. So, consider adding some blogs from different parts of the world to round out your blogosphere-worldview a bit. The freedom of communication is not just in creating content for others to consume, but also in following someone else’s worldview. Engage with the larger community. Do your part to keep communications a two-way process.

In the meantime I designed a small poster from a rather powerful quote I came across in my readings. It seems as though my own personal work is addressing issues as they relate to technology. What do you think about the message?

Egyptian Cyberactivist #DayOfAnger - By Amara Poolswasdi

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