#18DaysInEgypt, A Crowdsourced Documentary Project

As many are familiar with the inspiring story of protests to oust now, former Egyptian leader Hosini Mubarak, a new social project has come about to document it all.

To chronicle the Egyptian revolution, the #18DaysInEgypt project is turning to a hybrid model of social media, citizen journalism and documentary film-making to tell the story of Egypt in real time. Launched by Jigar Mehta, Yasmin Elayat and Alaa Dajani, the crowd-sourced documentary project is relying on social media like Flickr, Twitter and YouTube to be the palette against which people can share their experiences as events unfold. Anyone in Egypt can participate simply by tagging media appropriately (i.e., the date on which the documented event occurred, the place at which it occurred, other distinguishing tags) to allow for search ease. The #18DaysInEgypt team is working on adding a URL uploader to include links from Twitter and other media tools, as well as working on tools that enable people to share their photos and videos via SMS and MMS.

The project is fresh and new, but novel not just for obvious reasons; its novelty has far-reaching implications. #18DaysInEgypt will change the way social media and film-making are created and distributed. There has already been a spade of articles written about how social media accelerated the events in Egypt. Yes, social media is an incredibly powerful tool and we are still learning how to stretch and manipulate it in innovative ways. How social media will inform the dialogue between the MENA region and the rest of the world is yet to be completely seen.

For historical posterity, the success of a project like #18DaysInEgypt will shape how documentarians reach their subject matter and their audience. This particular project will provide on-the-ground insight into the political and social dimensions of what a movement of this kind means for MENA countries and around the world. Beyond this though, the success of this project could shape how the social sector learns about and addresses the needs of the MENA region.

Despite the volume of footage on the Middle East, there exists a vacuum regarding how to accurately help the MENA region – and this is a challenge not just for country partners, but for people living in these countries. More than 50% of the populations living in MENA countries are under the age of 25. Unemployment rates are at approximately 40%, but literacy rates are 80%, if not higher. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2011 report, it takes an average of 20 days and 38% per-capita income to start a business in the MENA region. People living in countries like Egypt and Tunisia are capable of rebuilding their countries economically and socially. There is need for political reform, but clearly, there is another huge opportunity in these countries for social entrepreneurship to address current challenges. For the MENA region, social entrepreneurship could engage and harness the ingenuity of its young peoples to rebuild.

There is no such thing as a crystal ball: the future, and end, to unrest in MENA countries cannot be predicted. However, thought can be put into what comes next. Egypt will hold elections later this year and the people will decide on what direction leadership, and the country, should take. To support a successful new vision, who better to decide the social, environmental and political fitness of a country than its young, energetic and empowered citizens?

Here is a link to the documentary website for #18daysinegypt

Article excerpts found via BeyondProfit.com

Original story reported by Nisha Kumar Kulkarni

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