For the past few months, the world has witnessed the political and social revolutions of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia. These revolutions have contained many similar aspects of regime change, except for one key aspect: they were fueled (in most part) by the Internet.
The force of this communication was so effective that each corrupt government at play in these revolutions cut off citizens’ access to the Internet in feeble attempts to contain movement. Today, “Anonymous” — a movement on a mission to basically “keep information free and flowing on the Internet” — announced, via Twitter, the Anonymous Revolution Survival Guide. This guide is a collaborative document on TypeWith.me with “text from the old Anonymous Guide from before the revolutions in Egypt and Libya… provided to help the Tunisian people.”
As a live, dynamic, document collaboration platform, TypeWith.me is designed for content that needs to be both shared and edited by teams with a common goal. It was registered, in part, by Chris Pirillo, as an easy way to quickly collaborate on a document without needing to go through a laborious process of creating accounts, validating accounts, and constantly logging in and out. Collaborative document platforms have since emerged as a popular communication mechanism in recent years. TypeWith.me is actually based on open source code, which can be freely downloaded from EtherPad.org (a community endeavor that sprang out of the former EtherPad.com, whose team was acquired by Google).
The use of TypeWith.me to support a social and political revolution is indicative of, perhaps, a revolution in the way these types of platforms will be used in the future. The need for a simple, free, and publicly “anonymous” way to share and collaborate on information for the benefit of society is clearly needed and necessary — especially for people who are under stricter regimes that perhaps you and I can’t even imagine. As a collaborative platform, TypeWith.me brings with it an ability to communicate with freedom for people who need just that.
Even more fascinating than the use of collaborative tools to add fuel to these revolutionary fires is the fact that, by using the Internet to create change, people of these revolutions are bringing more awareness to their causes.
Regime change is nothing new, but the use of the Internet during the revolutions in Libya and Egypt has only made the rest of the world more aware and connected to their revolutions. In turn, the communication and collaboration tools we use every day are being utilized and promoted to help them. Perhaps the more we know how we (as outsiders with knowledge) can help, the more we can develop tools to help.
Which may, in the end, help the rest of us, too.