Those of you who know me know that I have a keen interest in the Arab world. So, of course I’ve been watching the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa (“MENA”) with a mix of curiosity, terror and interest.

One of the things that has been most interesting about these revolutions is the spread of information. While Libyans are being killed for contacting outsiders, my Facebook friends were complaining that there was a dearth of information on what’s happening in MENA right now. (Cue the cries of “People are too busy ogling Justin Bieber’s new haircut to care about the massacres in Tripoli!”) But that information is there–it’s just not very well compiled. Yes, the news organizations are doing what they can, but, just as the revolutions were created on Twitter and Facebook, so are they being communicated over Twitter and Facebook. The quickest way to learn about what’s happening in Tahrir Square is to dig in with some hash tags: #egypt #tahrir and #jan25 are good places to start.

But breaking out #Gaddafi only might result in news on how he’s blaming Nescafé for the revolutions. In fact, you’re just as likely to turn up this:

Gaddafi compared himself to Queen Elizabeth. Twitter replied.

So what’s to be done?

I enlisted a few friends and classmates to help me compile as much news and commentary as possible on the MENA revolutions. We’re using to map the revolution as it happens. Intersect lets you create timelines and maps of “stories,” so I’m working on turning tweets, news articles, cartoons, videos, blog posts and more into stories. Other friends are doing the same, and I’m using Intersect to “borrow” their stories into the MENA Revolutions timelines. Here’s how (part of) our map looks right now:

We currently have 85 stories told, and more on the way! You can see the full timeline, map and all the stories at You can also follow us on Twitter. Based on preliminary praise from Facebook friends (and Facebook strangers!), it’s a pretty good way to stay abreast of the news. (Oh, and we got added on Twitter to someone’s “Arab News” list. That was nice.)

And, besides, it’s a colossal labor of love.

P.S. I worked at Intersect this summer, and I confess that part of my joy comes from the number of times I get to use the Twitter share button on stories–my friend Matthew and I wrote it!



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