The Power of Crowdsourcing: 18 Days in Egypt

Crowdsourcing is a way to connect communities, share stories, innovate, and spread ideas.  When we collaborate and work together, the problems that we solve and the stories that we tell are much stronger.  Jigar Mehta and Yasmin Elayat, co-creators of 18 Days in Egypt, recognized the power of crowdsourced storytelling and found an innovative way to document the Egyptian Revolution.

When the Egyptian Revolution began in January 2011, the story mainly unfolded through social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Flickr.  At the time, televised media channels did not have live programming of the events and the most up to date news came directly from the participants of the revolution.  Young Egyptians were not only witnessing history, they were recording it and adding their own voice as embedded citizen reporters.

Jigar and Yasmin wanted to combine the thousands of moments that young Egyptians shared through social media channels into one narrative.  A traditional documentary wasn’t the answer – there was no need or opportunity to interview people to hear their stories- the stories were already out there. Instead, the solution was 18 Days in Egypt.  The  documentary site allows individuals to contribute their stories and add context to their experiences.  Together, the individual stories and perspectives tell the narrative of the revolution.  It is the most authentic and effective form of documentation- it is the voice of the people, it is their story.

While the crowdsourced documentary is called 18 Days in Egypt (signifying the 18 days it took to overthrow the dictatorship), the project is ongoing and continues to capture the revolution.  In fact, less than a quarter of the stories are about the 18 days – most are about the before, the after, and the NOW.  There are currently over 1,000 shared stories on the site.

18 Days in Egypt is an inspiring example of the power of crowdsourcing.  The documentary platform has effectively engaged not only the Egyptian community, but the world. The work is a strong example of why Launcht believes that before long, crowdsourcing will not be an innovative solution or alternative to sharing stories, creating ideas, or funding, but rather, the norm.

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