Ghonim’s Revolution 2.0 tells the story of his reluctant, gradual, but dedicated and often terrifying and painful involvement in the events that, through the medium of the internet, helped lead to the overthrow of Mubarak and the beginning of what was hopefully called “the Arab Spring.”
This was a difficult book for me to read, not because of the book itself but because of the current situation in Egypt. I knew that Ghonim would survive being interrogated and that his work via the internet to organize protests and push for the ouster of Mubarak would succeed. But I also knew they would not have the lasting effect he longed to see.
The book’s final pages, so full of hope and pride, are the most depressing. After all that effort, all the fear, all the suffering, the years of sacrifices, the deaths, the torture, after even the elation of success, Egypt is a dictatorship again. Ghonim, who is a target of the Egyptian establishment, is no longer there. The power of the people is not yet greater than the people in power, though for a brief time it seemed to be so.
Ghonim is working for Google again, with Google Ventures, and trying to make his NGO work to improve the lot of Egyptians through education. But Sisi rules Egypt and Egyptians are not free – and Ghonim still has hope.
Some days I do, too. I’m hoping Ghonim and other geeks can keep using their skills to mobilize enough people everywhere to finally make the power of the people permanently greater than the people in power.