'Vacuous' - Twitterati hail Eric Schmidt's midnight tweet
And Schmidt saw what technology did in Egypt. And it was good
Google boss Eric Schmidt has commented on the goings on in Egypt - vaguely, very quietly, and, possibly, in the middle of the night.
Schmidt is quite frugal in his tweeting, not surprisingly, given he'd previously slapped down the service as "poor mans email."
However, at around 2.30 GMT today he wrote "Egypt: people plus technology--what an amazing force for good." It may be that Schmidt was just wrapping up his day in California, though given he's speaking at MWC today, perhaps he was just whiling away the jet lagged hours without going to the hotel bar. Or his private jet has got great cellphone coverage.
Whatever, Schmidt's pronouncement did not go down universally well with his followers on twitter …"what a vacuous generalisation. Give us a break from the platitudes" said AudreySapere. "Can't @Google design a DIY freedom software kit of anonymous, encrypted communication, gateways, dial-in etc?" asked mpawlo.
While Khalidsudi suggested, "so that might give you an idea to buy twitter. Take my advice and buy twitter."
Since handing over the day to day reins of the company Schmidt appears to be angling for some soft of policy/statesman type role, and even has what's been described as a terribly "wonky" book in the offing.
But Eric's Prague Spring moment does appear laggardly, coming over six weeks or so after dissidents in Tunisia used social networking technology to help organise protests. It's three weeks since a similar outbreak began in Egypt resulting in the ousting of 30 year strongman Hosni Mubarek last week in favour of, depending on your point of view, a caretake military government or a quiet military coup.
And Schmidt's profundity comes over a week after Egyptian authorities releasesd Wael Ghonim, a Google marketing exec who had been one of the figures behind a Facebook page credited with coordinating the protests in the country.
It would be slightly unfair to suggest events have completely passed Google by. The firm did tie-up with Twitter to enable Egyptians to get round the (previous) government's internet clampdown, which arguably buys it some radical cred after its canoodlings with the Beijing government.
But this all illustrates the problem of calling on Google and its ilk to show more support to nascent revolutions - do you really want the endorsement of any given political movement to be an item on the Google' board's agenda?
Or perhaps we've all got it wrong, and Eric's going to announce a truly revolutionary Google initiative at MWC today. How about the world's first online brokerage for political slogans. Text-based to begin with, but expect to see full colour banners at a demonstration near you soon. ®
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