While everyone around the world was concerning themselves with the quest for freedom by the Egyptian revolutionaries, there were other matters that needed to be taken into account. There was some quiet talk about the financial fallout from the uprising by those reporters who wondered what happens to any economy when the web goes down, but the real consequences weren’t known until recently.
Now at least some of these numbers are coming in and the cost is staggering and should be a lesson to any of those depots out there who think the best way to getting their way is to repress people’s freedom of speech by shutting off their Web. Read Write Web has recently reported the money number is $90 million for the financial cost of the Egyptian Internet blackout, and they think the real tally might be much higher.
Reporting on that number does not suggest the revolution was in any way unnecessary or counterproductive. There’s no way people in North America should criticize those that need to go to extreme measures to get the basic freedoms we all enjoy. In fact, those numbers should be a lesson to all the despots around the globe that think shutting down the Internet while they line their own pockets is the way to keep their riches flowing.
The point here is that cutting yourself off from the rest of the world might seem like a good idea but everyone needs to take a more long range view of what the internet means to a modern society and that includes what social media can cost when you lose it.
It’s important to keep in mind these are people who rely on tourism, sure, but there’s more to it than that. There have been estimates that place damage to the outsourced call centers that the country relied on for part of their income that serviced overseas customers in the millions.
Forbes even made some calculations that include commerce lost on the fact that Egypt’s ecommerce industry was out millions a day. The point here is clear in that while everyone was getting excited about how the Internet was driving a new social fabric for Egypt, they forgot about how important it was going to be to the new economy when that starts to arise.
It’s worth remembering the web has worked its way into many different areas of life right across the world and while social media is the big driver for change, the tools that are emerging to change history will also be needed to help rebuild and support economies after that change is accomplished. The people of Egypt started a revolution based on their knowledge of what social media was about and they’ll be there to implement it into their financial institutions as well.