The bespectacled lawyer and the Google marketing guru may not look the part of revolutionaries. But Mohamed ElBaradei and Wael Ghonim have done more than any other figures to put the political demands of Egypt's citizens on a global stage.
After a celebrated career as International Atomic Energy Agency director-general that won him the Nobel Peace Prize, ElBaradei returned to Cairo last year to offer a political alternative to the stagnant rule of President Hosni Mubarak. And though he was one of the few to believe change could come -- and quickly -- to Egypt ("I see a decaying temple, almost collapsing," he was quoted as saying in last year's Global Thinkers issue), the rapid pace of change in Egypt since has exceeded his wildest expectations. Less than a year after his return, Mubarak was ousted -- and ElBaradei had established himself as one of the most prominent voices for pushing the revolution ever further.
Ghonim became the global face of that revolution not long after it started, vaulted to fame after giving a tearful TV interview upon emerging from Mubarak's prisons (where he was thrown after helping spark the protests by creating a popular anti-Mubarak Facebook page). He has since teamed up with ElBaradei to criticize Egypt's ruling military junta for failing to lay out a clear road map for a transfer of power to civilian rule and for using military trials to silence protesters. As Egypt's Islamists continue to gain influence, the two leaders' work in pushing for a secular, democratic Egypt is more urgent than ever. Ghonim is now planning to form an Egyptian NGO focused on local innovation, while ElBaradei is running for president, harnessing the tools that Ghonim mastered -- Facebook and Twitter -- to communicate with Egyptians. It has freed him, he says, to take a fearless, big-picture view of the events in Egypt over the past year: "If all the young people feel [the revolution] is being derailed, they know a way back to the street -- but it will be ugly."
Muse: Mohamed Bouazizi.
Stimulus or austerity? Stimulus.
America or China? America.
Arab Spring or Arab Winter? Arab Spring.
Reading list: 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism, by Ha-Joon Chang; Al-Khubz Al-Hafi (For Bread Alone), by Mohamed Choukri; To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf.
Best idea of 2011: Social networking as a tool to defeat tyranny.
Worst idea of 2011: Ignoring my wife's advice to retire and spend more time with her.
HANNIBAL HANSCHKE/EPA; FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA