It’s Revolution 3.0 in Egypt now – things are hot, and extremely uncertain! Dead and wounded are falling everywhere, much of the Sinai is in open revolt against the new (temporary?) military regime, and in general no one has much of a certain idea about what is to happen next.
At least there has been some slight technical progress, reported by the Italian Huffington Post.
“Twitter returns to Tahrir Piazza” – sorry, “Square.” But it’s a truism that social media has long been a key driving force behind the Arab Spring generally, certainly behind the revolution in Egypt whose first notable accomplishment was the toppling of the long-entrenched Mubarak regime back in February of 2011.
The problem for outside observers, of course, has been language. These folks prefer to address each other in Arabic, including via social networks. Those who are non-conversant have been limited to whatever the main social network protagonists have been willing to post in English, which too often has been merely by way of after-thought.
The point of this piece is that that has now changed. Oh, they’ll still write mostly in Arabic, but most tweets (at least) will now have an English translation provided by Microsoft’s Bing Translator. According to the HuffPoIT reporter Francesco Bisozzi, this initiative has been provided by Twitter itself, in effect using accounts affiliated with the Egyptian Revolution as a trial for this technology. OK, it’s Bing and not Google Translate – clearly, monetary and power-play considerations played a role in the choice here – and often you get the sort of funny-sounding text that such machine-translation is still known for, but it’s clearly a big step forward nonetheless.
So check out some of these Twitter-feeds that Bisozzi mentions. Warning: some are from the “bad guys” (e.g. ex-President Mohammed Morsi’s cabinet – boo!). Just be sure to click “Expand” and you’ll get Bing’s translation.
There’s Wael Ghonim, whom many considered as the catalyst of the Egyptian Revolution with his “We Are All Khaled Saeed” Facebook page: @Ghonim
Prof. Pakinam El Sharkawy, Assistant to the [former] Egyptian President for political affairs (a lady, but this gal still didn’t do such a good job, eh?): @Dr_pakinam
Ahmed Shafik, former fighter pilot, former Egyptian Prime Minister (under Mubarak), and Mohamed Morsi’s head-to-head opponent in the second round of the presidential elections in June last year: @AhmedShafikEG
And finally the star of our show, Nobel Prize winner and former International Atomic Energy Agency head Dr. Mohammed El Baradei: @ElBaradei
It’s true, Dr. El Baradei hasn’t tweeted much lately – not since 28 June, at this writing – but he’s a busy man these days. Plus, he might be headed for something even bigger:
Bonus benefit from this HuffPoIT piece: It appears that “to tweet” in Italian is twittare! Io twitto, tu twitti, eccetera . . .