HISTORY TWEET: Connecting over cornflakes with @manal in Tahrir Square

So, there I was one morning watching TV coverage of protests in Egypt.

Across the cornflakes I’m seeing a bulletin with overnight pitched battles in Tahrir Square on the news.

This square in Cairo has been the symbolic battleground. Pro-democracy protestors hold it. The President’s men want them out.

Stones, bottles get thrown to dislodge them. Snipers too but the protestors hold on by their finger tips.

Checking Twitter the hashtag #egypt is filled with news reports, pictures and messages.

One catches my eye. A man proud that he knows one of the protestors who is there on the ground.

I retweet it thinking there may be people who follow me  interested.

Minutes later one of those whose name I retweeted thanks me and several others for this act.

Let’s get this straight.

One of the protestors in Tahrir Square who has been fighting for what he believes in sends me a tweet to say ‘thank you.’.

The historian in me can’t handle that.

The geek in me is amazed.

What would a tweet from the French Revolution look like? Would @marieantoinette RT Let them eat #cake…?

But this is the 21st century, baby.

Now, those protestors are not figures on a screen. I know one of their names and contact – fleetingly – has been made. It’s Manal Hassan. His Twitter name is @manal. He is from Cairo.

I know in years to come what I’m saying now will seem as naïve as the school teacher who marvels at the photograph from the Crimean War.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitpics are the first draft of history.

I see that.

I’m now just hoping for a peaceful outcome. And I’m hoping Manal is alright.

Pic: Twitpic http://twitpic.com/3whv3g

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  1. Hi Dan, great post!

    My feelings mirror yours in both my admiration for these brave people and my wonder in how technolgy can now carrry us right to the heart of momentous historical events, and not just as voyeurs.

    Using Twitter, FB, Flickr, YT etc we can help from thousands of miles away, distributing information, adding to the protest, giving our support and encouragement.

  2. It’s fascinating how the internet and social media has made the world a smaller place; it’s getting to the stage where issues are becoming harder to brush under the carpet.

    I think you’re very right about this being 21st century history; I’m interested to see how and who will curate it and, in the future, how it will be read in textbooks – or perhaps classrooms will all be using surface-like tools in their desks for direct access to the source matrial!

  3. Correction. @manal has tweeted again. She says thanks for the messages of solidarity. And she is a she not a he. I like that the first draft of history can make an adjustment – even in the midst of making history: )

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