Wikimedia Foundation/Annual Report/2010-2011/Revolution
"Our revolution is like Wikipedia"
Telling the story of the Arab Spring
There have been few developments in modern times as dramatic as the series of popular uprisings known as the “Arab Spring” that erupted at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. As such, they provide one of the best case studies for understanding how people around the world today rely on Wikipedia to share the story of current events even as they are unfolding around them.
Starting in Tunisia and Egypt, and spreading all across North Africa and the Middle East during 2011, over 1200 volunteers uploaded text and images from the demonstrations directly to Wikipedia, turning to the world’s largest free knowledge resource to share the dramas they were witnessing with the rest of the world.
Many of the contributors had first-hand experience of the events themselves. In fact, Wael Ghonim, the Google employee in Egypt widely quoted by media sources as an influential leader in the uprising there, stated “Our revolution is like Wikipedia...Everyone is contributing content, [but] you don’t know the names of the people contributing the content. This is exactly what happened.”
In response to specific requests from Wikipedians, and recognizing Wikipedia’s central role in documenting the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera donated video footage of the historic events on Cairo’s streets.
In 2010, the year before the Arab Spring, the Foundation decided to make the Middle East/North Africa region a priority. During 2011 we began collaborating with our Arabic Wikipedia community and potential partners to evaluate opportunities. Our work seeks to expand our community of dedicated contributors who want to build a truly great Arabic Wikipedia for the more than 300 million people in the Arabic speaking world.
With thousands of edits and hundreds of references, the repository of articles and photos about the Arab Spring already stands as a living example of how people around the world increasingly see Wikipedia as a vital channel for telling the most important stories of our time.
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