We have to be careful not to project our own obsessions onto the rest of the world. As one Egyptian commentator said; "it's not about you". Technology has clearly played a role in the protests, but I'm betting that cell phones and television are a lot more influential than social networks.
Still, it's been amazing to watch how Twitter has been used to spread the word, especially to the outside world. The only trouble is that there's so many links and comments, it's almost impossible to follow any one topic amongst the volume of messages. That's where the Trunk.ly curation service comes in.
As I was chatting to the founders Tim and Alex yesterday, they pointed me at one of their users, ExiledSurfer. Since the protests began he's been collecting a massive number of links and reports from inside the country and relaying them through his Twitter stream. When people get in touch asking for information, he points them at his trunk.ly stream that give his links "with no noise". With ability to search and categorize by tags, and a simple view showing just the links and snippets of information about them, it's a much better way of documenting the material than just Twitter.
With over 5,000 links in his archive, he's turned his messages from an ephemeral stream into something more like a library of reference material, all without having to do anything more than use Twitter the way he always has. This is a case where technology has enabled a single person to become vastly more effective as a news broker than we could have imagined just a few years ago.
I've been watching the progress of Trunk.ly since before it was a glimmer in Tim's eye, thanks to his wonderful weekly blog chronicling their startup progress as it happens. With a site that's headed into the top 20,000 worldwide according to Alexa, and over seven million links collected, it feels like there's a lot of people who like their curation model. I'm looking forward to seeing how it helps us all organize our knowledge, and maybe play a small part in spreading the word in situations like Egypt.