The Egyptian (wiki) coup

I’ve found it surprising how nearly blasé the mainstream Western press has been about recent events in Egypt.  Not that the events haven’t been described as important, but rather how quickly the press has devolved to a simple ends-justify-the-means analysis (epitomized in this hugely disappointing David Brooks piece).  The ousting of a democratically-elected leader by the military – with or without huge popular support – is far from a clear-cut turn of events in the Arab world’s largest democracy.

It’s also amazing to see how much the world has changed, that major political events unfold in real time online, including on Wikipedia, where a page titled “2013 Egyptian coup d’etat” apparently went live three days before Morsi was ousted.  In a microcosm over the battle of language that’s ensuing in all circles, there’s fierce debate on that Wikipedia page about whether to call the events a “revolution” or a “coup,” and I find it more interesting still to consider whether and why it would make sense for Wiki-zens to defer to the popular press in defining the terms of debate (an argument made by some in favor of objectivity).

The Wikipedia entry is here, 135 citations and all,  and if you’ve never peaked behind the scenes of a hotly-contested Wikipedia page, now’s your chance.  A nice summary of the unfolding of Wikipedia events can be found on the Foreign Policy blog.


Reflecting on the last two days’ posts – one on the long, hard, stupid way and one on mobile gift giving, I’m left with the notion that if we’re going to bring on serious partners to solve serious problems, then we actually need some friction.

That is: Kony2012 is essentially frictionless.  It spreads like wildfire.  But the disconnect between the apparent ease of “doing something” about Kony (“buy your Kony action kit”) and what it will take to address all the complexities in Northern Uganda and beyond is….stark, to say the least.

It seems like we have three options:

  1. Confine high-velocity, frictionless stories to ideas that are pretty simple
  2. Use high-velocity, frictionless stories as the hook to get people’s attention, and then start a longer, more engaged dialogue
  3. Decide that real solutions will require embracing complexity from the get-go – so a big push to engage with an audience that craves simplicity is actually not time and money well spent.

Which do you choose?

Proactive vs reactive

In today’s ping-pong world of global teams and connections, zillions of emails, Twitter feeds and Facebook updates, just keeping from falling off the treadmill can feel like success.

It might be worth checking, every now and again, how much time you spend being reactive or proactive, meaning:


  • Reading things you’re copied on
  • Responding to email threads
  • Attending standing meetings
  • Reading something “interesting” (article, etc) someone sent you
  • Doing something your boss asked you to do
  • Anything you do on Facebook or Twitter if you’re not there for a very specific reason (e.g. communicating with your customers)


  • Initiating a conversation
  • Reaching out to a customer
  • Tweaking something to make it better
  • Taking a mundane task and doing something surprising, or even beautiful, with it
  • Sharing a crazy idea, and then get to work on it

The surprising thing isn’t that reactive outweighs proactive, the surprising thing is that we can go through a whole day doing nothing proactive at all and still feel like we’re working.

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Bonus: fun feature from The Atlantic Wire on Maria Popova’s (@brainpicker) media diet, with other links to the likes of Ann Coulter, Chris Matthews, Malcolm Gladwell, David Brooks, Chris Anderson, and many more.

All of them read like crazy, and all of them are very deliberate about delineating between what/when they read and what/when they produce.