The flight had a brief layover in Amsterdam, which gave me time for a stroopwafel, before I arrived in Egypt. I didn’t book the flight through hipmunk (only because program organizers booked it for me), but I’d be talking about how my little chipmunk grew a significant following of hundreds of thousands of flight and hotel searchers in under a year based primarily on word of mouth. Build a great product online and you can start a company from your living room in San Francisco — or Cairo.
Social media have had a truly revolutionary effect, enabling film-makers and citizens to disseminate their own stories
With built-in video cameras now the norm for mobile phones, anyone can be a film-maker – a fact proven by the role social content played in TV news coverage of the recent uprisings in the Middle East. As the dust settles, however, social media is influencing documentary-makers, too.
SXSW also gives conference goers a chance to peer over the bleeding edge of documentary practice. Journalist Jigar Mehta, currently a Knight Fellow, teamed up with an Egyptian friend to create #18DaysInEgypt. The website will eventually be both an archive and a crowd-sourced documentary chronicling the grassroots movement that led to Hosni Mubarak’s downfall.
We are mention in this article by Hannah Allam of McClatchy Newspapers
And a former video journalist for the New York Times is working on a crowd-sourced documentary that also will incorporate amateur footage. Egyptians can submit their videos via Twitter, using the hashtag that bears the name of the project: “18 Days in Egypt.”
Earlier this year, as the world watched tens of thousands of protesters pour into the streets of Egypt, Jigar Mehta noticed something: Many of the people in the crowds were also holding cameras. “Holy crap, people have probably been recording something over the last few days,” he told himself. Mehta, a former New York Times video journalist, saw an untapped wealth of raw footage from the protests. He wanted to collect them and turn them into something bigger.
For nearly three weeks, Egyptians documented their revolution through tweets, texts, photos, and thousands of hours of video. As the country eases into its new freedom, this content remains scattered across the Internet. “People in Egypt have to find jobs and move on to the next part of the movement,” says Jigar Mehta. So he’s decided to take on the challenge of collecting those fragments himself.
On February 11th, I spent the better part of the morning watching the spontaneous celebrations on Tahrir Square. I instantly noticed how many of those there had some sort of device that recorded video or photos. It dawned on me that people probably had been recording the events of the previous 18 days.
That was the ah-ha moment.
Can we tell the story of the Egyptian revolution with the same tools that helped share it with the world in real time?
First thing I did was buy the domain 18daysinegypt.com. Boom! Available. Bought. Now what?
On February 11, Egyptians celebrated in Tahrir Square after Hosni Mubarak stepped down from his role as president. Jigar Mehta was watching the celebration on television, and he noticed many people in the crowd filming the celebration with their mobile phones.
“I thought, crap, if they’re recording this, they’ve probably been recording for the last 18 days,” he says about the demonstrators who began protesting January 25.
This was a particularly interesting to Mehta, who is a Knight Fellow at Stanford University and former New York Times video journalist currently working on ways to develop what he calls “participatory reporting.” After the initial celebration, he developed a project that he hopes will result in a crowdsourced interactive documentary about the 18 days of protests that led up to the revolution.
Regardless of how much you think social media aided the revolution in Egypt, one thing we know for sure is that Egyptians uploaded videos, posted pictures and tweeted hundreds of thousands of times during the 18 days between the January 25 protests that invigorated the movement and the the day Hosni Mubarak stepped down.
Somewhere in all that real-time information sharing, there are deep and important stories about how the revolution played out in the streets and hearts of Egypt.