Elections in Egypt: I’d have preferred to get it wrong

The gate-keepers of (very) old networks of power in Egypt (Luxor, copyright by eviljohnius on flickr)

Do you know this bitter-sweet feeling of saying: “Told you so…”? You are somewhat proud of having predicted something correctly but deep in you heart you wish you had gotten it wrong. That’s how I feel when hearing the news from Egypt these days. I so wished to be contradicted by the way things unfolded. But I also see how powerful an understanding of social networks can be to predict a political course of events. And so we see that twitter and facebook are not the social networks with the strongest impact on who will rule Egypt in the future (just as I predicted about a year ago). And that the two most successful networking strategies are

    • Knock on every door (Muslim Brotherhood / Mohamed Morsi) and
    • Stay close to your influential friends (Ahmed Shafik)

Which is what the two leading candidates Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafik mastered perfectly. In my post from March this year I described in detail how I see these trategies working out for the Muslim Brotherhood, the established political class and the military. And, as I said above, the satifaction of “I had it right” is rather small as compared to the disappointment of “I had it right”.

And there are a number of questions that keep bothering me: What is there to learn from this for the revolutionary masses on twitter, facebook and the freedom squares of this world? Is it realistic (and even desireable) that they fast track the real world network development that their opponents had decades to establish? Will there be a point in the future where we will learn to turns online masses into well structured movements quickly? Or would that be against the core beliefs of too many of the online activists and would you destroy the movement by trying to structure it? And, if demonstrating on the square got you a revolution, but didn’t make you win an election – is going back to the sqare alone going to get you what you want for the next step?

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