Wael Ghonim, Google exec, says Egypt’s revolution is ‘like Wikipedia’
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Wael Ghonim has been touted as one of the leaders in Egypt’s revolution and has already coined the phrase Revolution 2.0 — which he also plans to take as the name of a book he’s writing.
On Sunday, in an interview with CBS’ ‘60 Minutes,’ Ghonim spoke further on the peaceful protests in Egypt that lead to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, who led Egypt for three decades.
‘I call this Revolution 2.0,’ Ghonim said in the interview. ‘Revolution 2.0 is, is — I say that our revolution is like Wikipedia, OK? Everyone is contributing content. You don’t know the names of the people contributing the content ... This is exactly what happened. Revolution 2.0 in Egypt was exactly the same.’
‘Everyone was contributing small pieces, bits and pieces. We drew this whole picture. We drew this whole picture of a revolution. And that picture — no one is the hero in that picture.’
The 18-day period of protests in Egypt were organized by Ghonim and many others using social media sites and other tools.
Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing in the Middle East and North Africa, was one of the moderators of a Facebook page called ‘We Are All Khaled Said’ dedicated to memory of an Egyptian man who witnesses say was beaten to death in Alexandria by police officers who have not been held to account.
‘The moment we announced on the page, the locations, they shut down Facebook,’ Ghonim said.
‘But I had a backup plan. I used Google Groups to send a mass mail campaign to all these people in order to tell them here are the locations and please spread it among your friends And everyone knew eventually.’
‘So, definitely technology played a great role here. You know, it helped keeping people informed, it helped making all of us collaborate.’
During the protests, Ghonim was detained by the Egyptian government for 12 days — and kept blindfolded the entire time, he said.
Once Mubarak stepped down on Friday, and the government was dissolved, the Egyptian military took over. Egypt’s army said it will govern for the next six months or until an election is held for a new parliament and presidency.
Ghonim and the tens of thousands who took part in the historic uprising, hope that new system of government will be a democratic one and work is already being done to figure out how to get the ball rolling.
‘We just created a page using Google moderator asking people what are you dreaming about — that was a couple hours ago,’ Ghonim said Sunday. ‘So far, before the interview when I checked we had 4,000 suggestions and we had over 100,000 votes. Everyone is now dreaming. Everyone wants to do something. A lot of these ideas are amazing.’
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Top photo: Google marketing executive Wael Ghonim, weakened after nearly two weeks in custody, is helped off the stage after greeting thousands of anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square on Feb. 8 in Cairo. Credit: John Moore/Getty Images