Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The State Department's School for Revolutionary Bloggers - Newsweek

An Egyptian political activist, a Bush-appointed diplomat, and Obama campaign staffers met in New York in 2008 to talk about revolution—of the social-media kind. And now the Internet is buzzing.

In December 2008, a prominent Egyptian opposition activist walked through the crowded airport in Cairo. When packing, he had been careful not to leave any evidence of where he was going among his belongings, and in the departure hall, he walked up to a security desk and told the guard to search him. “I am on your watch list,” he said. “So please get this over with so I don’t miss my plane.”

He didn’t.

Three days later, the Egyptian sat in a room on the campus of Columbia’s Law School in Upper Manhattan, listening to presentations from three key staffers from Barack Obama’s social-media team: Joe Rospars, Scott Goodstein, and Sam Graham-Felsen. Given that the three had just helped the first black man get elected U.S. president, there was a buzz in the air. After all, the three staffers represented the revolutionary potential of new social-media tools, and, as Graham-Felsen puts it now, their speeches revolved around how to give “ordinary people the power to connect.”

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