PdF 2011 Day One: What we learned at the revolution

Alaa Abd el Fattah; photo credit: Esty Stein

The first day of the Personal Democracy Forum took place yesterday at New York University's Skirball Center. Below are some key takeaways from the session Disruptive people, disruptive technologies: Learning from the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

Tunisian blogger Riadh Guerfali on control: "It is not the Internet that accelerated history. It is that part of the uncontrolled Internet that accelerated history. If technology and communication tools are controlled, nothing happens."

Sahara Reporters founder Omoyele Sowore on what matters: "Internet is not revolution. There's nowhere Internet can replace putting feet on the ground to confront oppression.  It's not about slogans; it's about determination."

Egyptian activist and online organizer Alaa Abd el Fattah on reality: "What do you think is the technology I used the most while in Tahrir [Square]? Rocks. Rocks and clubs."

Journalism professor Dr. Rasha Abdulla on firsts: "Our revolution was actually the first revolution in history that was posted on Facebook with dates and times. Two weeks in advance people were hitting 'I am attending' the revolution.'"

Egyptian-American writer and speaker Mona Eltahawy on power: "Here was this young man I had never heard of before who wrote so passionately and so eloquently using the "I" and it was clear that this was what was threatening the Mubarak regime the most.  Not the Internet, not social media, but the power of the "I." Because what the "I" was doing was responding to authority and challenging it in every single way possible."

National Public Radio senior strategist and Twitter curator nonpareil Andy Carvin on career choices: "I never expected to be doing this. I just cared too much to ignore it. I just tweeted and tweeted and tweeted until it became a full-time job."

Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci on social media tools: "Tools do matter. But they do not create the courage or the dignity we are witnessing."

Image: Personal Democracy Forum

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