Viewed from above, the Pyramid in Egypt looks flat, almost origami-like. And viewed from where I am sitting, the 18-day Revolution looks protean: leaderless, collaborative and spontaneous.
Although not the first to use Twitter ( Iranian post-election was), last week’s protesters showcased coordination and team work only digital natives can pull off.
First, they understood the power of organization i.e. the means (self-organized citizen patrol),
the mode (social media) and the manner (being kind to soldiers, just stop short of ” wearing some flowers in your hair”).
Second, they staged their demonstrations to appeal to Western media, their conduits to the developed world, Mubarak‘s entrenched base of support ( note the use of sound bites, and visual symbolism e.g. burned effigy).
Third, collaborative model. They built tents in the square, make-shift first-aid stations etc… like Woodstock without the mud slide.
The tipping point was when their expat counterparts flew back to join them while Westerners, American “non-essential” community, were evacuating for fear of the worst .
In The Future Arrived Yesterday, the author argued for the Protean Organization (boundary-less with a soft core). To unseat the Pharaoh who sat on top of the Pyramid takes a lot of thumbing (texting) (in 1989, they had to use electric saws to cut down the Wall).
This youth revolution, despite being leaderless, wasn’t disorganized. Its flat “org chart” was in contrast to the traditional command-control style. It accommodated many sub-cultures (tech, youth, urban, westernized, pro-democracy) and world views, secular and religious. Their future arrived not a day sooner.
In all, they managed to un-brand the leader (dictator) and throw a red carpet in front of the new flat pyramid for Nobel-prize winners from abroad and Muslims albeit Brotherhood Muslims at home, and any one in between (including a Google executive).
Even the author of the World is Flat was taken by surprise when he witnessed his ideas jump off the page into the middle of the Square, Tahrir Square.