[cross-posted from The Engine Room]
The cracking open of political spaces in Egypt in the wake of the 2011 uprising in Egypt, has led to a political landscape marked by a “publish, then filter” model.
The issue now isn’t whether an activist has launched the right new party, new initiative, new archive, new campaign, or new movement. The issue now is filtering through all of the initiatives, identifying those that are being most effectively managed, and trimming away the fat. The threat now is the excessive splintering of movements that will result in a lack of traction and momentum, effectively dividing the energies of Egyptians.
This phase of initiative development follows the media model of the information cascade described by Clay Shirky – that of publish-then-filter. It is easy to name an initiative, define goals, design a logo, and launch a website or Facebook page. Because of this low barrier of entry, there is a plethora of initiatives, many of which are strikingly similar, and most of which are well-intentioned and in line with the aims of the January 25th uprising.
Now the filtering process must begin. To prevent a division of energy and expertise that undermines all initiatives, Egyptians will have to choose — and quickly — which horses to bet on. If the filtering and focus doesn’t happen soon, the revolution will not effectively press for dramatic shifts in political spaces. In that case, the dominant forces and existing path dependencies will steam roll the responsive, liberal movements that may have promise, focus, and solid goals, but ultimately too few followers to generate lasting change.