I just deleted my favorite youtube video, and so can you

OK, I was tired. And it was late at night. And maybe I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been. Still, I have not yet forgiven youtube for making it soooo easy for me to delete one of my favorite youtube videos from my Second Living video channel – forever! I had a backup of the video, Tahrir Voices, on another hard drive, so I have reposted it here – but it lost all its 4,000+ views, and its historical poignancy of being posted during the Egyptian revolution. Also, since it has a new URL, anyone who clicks a link to the old video gets this ugly, unfriendly pic.

Video removal screen

Just so you know, it was not removed. It was deleted. By mistake. And despite my pleas, my desperate e-mails and calls, Google assures me it keeps no backups and cannot restore it by any means. Sob. How can a company that has a mountain of background info on anyone of us, who tracks our every move, who can offer me search hits based on what I looked up a year ago NOT have a backup of a video that retains its views? I can even see the views sitting in my Google Analytics laughing at me. I don’t believe you, Google. Not for a second. Sigh. Rant over.

Now I’m going to tell you exactly what I did so that you will never do it yourself.

It started when I was making a playlist. Simple enough. You click the big “Video Manager” button at the top of your channel, and then in the menu down the lefthand side, you click “Playlists.” So far so good.

But here’s where the road gets rocky. If at this point you click that big “Video Manager” button at the top – you do not, I repeat NOT – stay in your Playlists.

You go into your “Uploads.” These are not a playlist. These are your actual videos that you have on your channel. See that big “Uploads” title at the top? Well, I didn’t. I thought it was a playlist. So I clicked that little box to take Tahrir Voices out of the playlist, and it became history … instantly. The ironic thing is that video was history. It has clips from a video of Asmaa Mahfouz – who later became my Facebook friend and inspires my life so much – calling the world to come down to Tahrir Square on January 23, 2011, and join demonstrations that toppled the 30-year regime of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek and contributed to the domino falling of regimes across the region.But now the video itself is history. Sob. Please watch it reposted here and help it regain some of its rightful views.

No trial for Asmaa – yet

Lots of confusion this morning, as several generally credible news sources splashed across the Internet the news that Asmaa Mahfouz had been referred for military prosecution, following her questioning by the military prosecutor Sunday.

The news turned out to be false–so far–and was denied by Asmaa herself in a tweet: I contacted the military prosecution and they denied the news,” Asmaa tweeted. She added later that she had not received any notification of a court referral.

Asmaa’s tweet ran counter to reports of a military trial spurred by an early morning post on Ahram Online. The report was quickly corrected in a tweet by Asmaa – who called the prosecutor herself! – and an hour later in a post in The Daily News Egypt and an apology on the We Are All Khaled Said facebook page: I apologise for the previous post. Asmaa has denied that she has been taken to a military trial.

This episode is also a good reminder that in our lightning-fast world, first reports are not always correct, and twitter allows the source herself  to confirm or deny seconds later.

We are all Asmaa Mahfouz, and we are all watching

Update: Tuesday, August 16. 9:45 a.m. West Coast U.S. time

Lots of confusion this morning over whether Asmaa Mahfouz has been sent for military trial. Apparently not, as clarified in The Daily News Egypt about an hour ago. Also an apology on the We Are All Khaled Said facebook page an hour ago:  “I apologise for the previous post. Asmaa has denied that she has been taken to a military trial. She called the military prosecutor office after reading the news on AlAhram news site and they denied they have made this decision yet.” These denials run counter to the flurry of Internet reports of a military trial spurred by the post early this morning on Ahram Online.

Update: Sunday, August 14. 5:40 p.m. West Coast U.S. time

Asmaa finally tweets! Now I can relax. After her long ordeal today being questioned by the military prosecutor, she has tweeted to us all — in Arabic, which I have translated as best I can below. There is more to her tweets than what I could decipher, and I have asked her, or someone else, to please provide a full English translation. But her message is clear:  she is concerned about others who have been summoned for questioning and asks us to stand in solidarity with them.

“Thank you to all the people with me . . . [some names I could not translate, I have asked Asmaa to clarify] . . . we are all in solidarity with them in front of the Military Prosecution 10 o’clock.”

Update: Sunday, August 14, 4:15 p.m. West Coast U.S. time

‎”I am not scared, I will not be silenced, and I will continue to take to the streets and criticise any wrong doing that I see.” Asmaa Mahfouz after her release today.

A profile pic posted by Asmaa on Facebook

Update: Sunday, August 14, 3:40 p.m. West Coast U.S. time

Activists and presidential hopefuls condemn Asmaa Mahfouz arrest. From Almasry Alyoum, English edition.

Update: Actually, it wasn’t just a tweet that landed Asmaa in trouble. This July 23 phone-in TV interview didn’t endear her to the military much either. I’m working on an English translation, but you can hear the fire in her voice in any language.

Update: Below is the tweet that got Asmaa in trouble. Translation: “If the judiciary does not grant us our rights, don’t be angry if militant groups carry out a series of assassinations since there is neither law nor justice.”

The tweet that landed Asmaa in front of Egyptian military prosecutor

Asmaa outside "justice" facility in Nasr City, Egypt. (twitpic by NoorNoor1)

Update: Sunday morning, 8:45 a.m. West Coast time in U.S.

Asmaa released on bail, awaiting military trial. She is accused of inciting violence against the military and members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in a tweet that read (translated from the Arabic): “If the judiciary does not grant us our rights, don’t be angry if militant groups carry out a series of assassinations since there is neither law nor justice.” No date set yet for military trial. More here.

This is not virtual. I often write about virtual events on this blog, but this is about a very real event. It concerns a virtual friendship that has quite suddenly propelled itself into stark reality.

Asmaa Mahfouz, the brave young Egyptian woman who helped spark the Egypt revolution with her heroic youtube video in on January 18 of this year, has been summoned to the military prosecutor for questioning tomorrow, according to the English We Are All Khaled Said facebook page here. I am not absolutely certain whether this is Sunday or Monday, due to the time difference. (Cairo is 9 hours ahead of U.S. Pacific time.) I will update this blog as soon as I am sure.

I was so inspired by her video that I featured a part of it in my own Tahrir Voices video and we became friends on facebook. This virtual friendship has come to mean more to me than I can say. I have often struggled to translate her facebook posts from Arabic to English on Google translate to follow the dramatic Egyptian metamorphosis through her brave voice. It is amazing to witness the unfolding of a world event of this magnitude through the voice of the person who helped spark it. I have also treasured the vibrantly alive and joyful personal pictures she posts, like the one above. She has often posted personal events in her life, as well as news and personal insights on evolving Egyptian political events.

Asmaa has truly shared herself with the entire world, and it has been an incredibly brave and heroic thing to do. It is now our turn to share ourselves with her. All of us must watch, wherever we are on this globe, and not rest until Asmaa is safe and with us again.

Though I am in America and Asmaa is in Egypt, on the Internet there is no distance. Tonight we stand side by side, and I know our hearts are linked as well. Asmaa, my heart and prayers are with you. You are a beautiful and heroic voice of our times. I watch with admiration and arms open in friendship from America.

I am watching. I will continue to watch. I will not rest until you return and tell us you are safe.

Liberty’s Child, my new video, is back up

My new video Liberty’s Child explores the bewilderment that innocence experiences when encountering brutality and violence. The video contains graphic images that are not suitable for young children.There is an irony in using a children’s story to illustrate a video that isn’t suitable for children, but children live with us in our horrific times and see things that shouldn’t have to see all the time. This contradiction is the heart of this video. And I think we are all the child in this video, who cannot begin to understand the horror before our eyes.

Hubert Flattinger, the author of the brilliant and touching children’s story Stormy Night featured in this video, closed his letter granting permission for use with the words “Give Peace a Chance!”  This struck me as a poignant reminder of the goodness that exists alongside brutality in our modern world. Also, I am continually amazed and heartened by the increasing willingness of artists like Mr. Flattinger to share their work freely beyond the constraints of copyright.

Continue Reading “Liberty’s Child, my new video, is back up”

Show-and-Tell 2.0

I never get tired of watching these two videos. They are just two of many recent Internet videos in which children explain complex political situations with astounding clarity. These go far beyond the “cute kids” genre (although they are that :-)) to show the capability of children to understand and explain our world to us through the medium of video. For example, Nina is the first one who made me understand that the revolution in Egypt is fundamentally an economic one. I encourage children to start producing videos like these. Parents should supervise, of course, but making Internet videos is so technically simple these days that children in primary schools can do it. Internet videos might just become the new Show-and-Tell.

Asmaa Mahfouz friended me on Facebook!

I’m so honored to have Asmaa Mahfouz of Cairo as a friend on Facebook. She’s the one who helped sparked the Egyptian revolution with her January 18 video on Facebook which I featured in my “Tahrir Voices” video. Her vlog inspired thousands of Egyptians to abandon their fear and join her in Tahrir Square to protest the repressive regime. Her vlog also drove the Egyptian government to block Facebook, Twitter, and the AlJazeera website, and contributed to the regime’s later shutdown of the Internet altogether in Egypt.

The video was later translated and  posted to youtube on February 1 by AyahElBagdhadi, where it quickly went viral (currently 188,000 views) and became a contributing force to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak ten days later on February 11.

Asmaa continues to be a vocal advocate of Egyptian freedom, and I am glad to be able to hear her important voice via Facebook. Asmaa has 4,666 other friends on Facebook, so this is not personal, but instead is a use of Facebook as a public face. This is such an important function of Facebook. I also “like” the pages of Wael Ghonim (283,938 likes), the Google exec who authored the “We Are All Khaled” Facebook page in Arabic, another contributing force in the Egyptian revolution, which I also “like” in the English version (119,443 likes). Of course, most of this is Arabic, which is a challenge, but well worth it to be able to hear the authentic voices of Egypt’s future.

I join the Egyptian revolution

Freedom is the most important quality of my life. I generously and loudly support it everywhere and harshly criticize anyone who dares suppress it for another without a very good reason. It is with anguish that I hear that the Egyptian military are cracking down and arresting bloggers in Egypt who dare criticize them. And it is with joy that I see Egyptian bloggers are losing their fear of the military, just as they lost their fear of Mubarak earlier this year, and have chosen this day to mark their online liberation. Hashtag on Twitter is #may23. With this blog post, I join them.

Continue Reading “I join the Egyptian revolution”