It so appeals to my subversive streak.
Just link to "Egypt" with this bit of code:
<a href= [put in inverted comma here] http://freealaa.blogspot.com/ [put in inverted comma here] >Egypt </a>.
Not only can you can help to free an imprisoned blogger in Egypt, but you can help to subvert Google so that it directs any searches on "Egypt" to the blog publicising the arrested blogger, Alaa, an Egyptian pro-democracy activist.
He got arrested, along with a bunch of 47 fellow activists at protests supporting two Egyptian judges who've been put on trial by the Egyptian government after daring to expose fraud in recent Egyptian elections.
Alaa and Manal, his wife, co-run Manal and Alaa's bit bucket, an aggregator of Egyptian blogs. That's them in the photo, though I'm not sure whether it was taken in Egypt. Alaa is also a technogeek activist who is central to work being done to create cost-free tools to enable Egyptian and other Arabic language bloggers to get easier access to an internet dominated by English.
The Google onslaught on Egypt is an example of Google bombing, a technique that has been used by different US internet activist groups of the left and right to bring up the words "miserable failure" on Google searches for George Bush and for Michael Moore.
Well, that's my inner subversive taken care of. But there's also my nerdy geek side. And just plain old insatiable curiousity.
So I've been trying to search Google on Egypt over these last few days to see if it works, because a load of bloggers I regularly read, including Egyptian bloggers, have been publicising the Egypt googlebomb for Alaa.
Sounds nice but it won't happen. The top Google-ranked links for Egypt are all Google-ranked 6 and below, and it will take something like 5,000 links to surpass that.
Don't know how Sunny knows this, but he's right.
I first googled Egypt on Wednesday. The search indicated about 345,000,000 links to Egypt. Well, I didn't check all those out, but my nerdiness led me to flip through the first 30 pages of Egypt links. There was Egypt holiday, Ancient Egypt, Egyptian pyramids, the CIA World Factbook on Egypt, the Egyptian state information service, Egypt in Wikipedia, Egypt, Egypt, Egypt, but no sign of Free Alaa.
So then I googled the exact phrase Free Alaa on Google's advanced search. That got me 57,000 links. That's a whole lot more than Sunny's 5,000. Then trying that same search on Friday, it was up to 145,000. This morning, the score is 336,000. That's quite a staggering upsurge. But apparently still not enough too make a Google search on Egypt produce "Free Alaa".
Now here's a little irony. The two top links on that search are to Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs, so reviled by the left, but scoring as the two most effective googlebomb Egypt campaigners, presumably because of their enormous readerships.
And half the people arrested with Alaa in the Egyptian demonstrations were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which aims to use the democratic system to bring about a totalitarian caliphate in Egypt... and the rest of the Islamic world. But being in bad company in demonstrating against the Egyptian government is no reason not to support the Free Alaa campaign.
So then I tried searching on George Bush and Michael Moore. Despite having seen the wikipedia screengrabs of the "miserable failure" googlebombs working, they didn't work today, though lots of anti-Bush and anti-Moore URLs came up on the respective searches.
Is the whole thing an urban legend? Or have Google found a way to circumvent googlebombing?
I still think it's worth doing. For a start, I've learned a lot more about the amazing and dignified protests of the Egyptian judges as well as the pro-democracy protest movement in Egypt. And it's good to see bloggers across the world, and across political and ideological divides joining the campaign to support this Egyptian brave blogging couple and their fellow activists.
I've never been an enthusiast for petition signing and the like, since I think they're more about making the signer feel better than about having any real impact on whoever they're directed at.
And I remember that the highly effective street protest movement to gain the release of Soviet Jewry to emigrate started with a small group of middle-aged middle-class Jewish housewives in London, and a few student activists, of whom my friend Colin was one of the leading lights.
So, yes, there's no saying what a good grass roots movement can achieve...
UPDATE: The story of the freeing of Alaa here.