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Posts Tagged ‘revolution’

Rabid Rage: Means to Social Destruction

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Events in Egypt and, more recently, England, reveal the power in social cohesion. A popular belief exists that assumes a fragmented society whose technological goodies function largely to break down group cohesion and celebrate profound individuality. Devices that provide each person certainly do provide each user to exist in a community of speakers, but those who fail to recognize the ability for devices to link and expand ideas fails to recognize the true power of technology.

Though soft and fun for some, technology’s adaptability provides human ingenuity with devices to enact historic states of change. Alterations of technology have long existed in a culture sense- hip hop artists who used digital samplers to capture and recycle sounds created a new art form of audio collage. Extending beyond these uses, devices became less a handy gadget and quickly a tool whose unknown or hidden features provided the individual with an ability to communicate in new ways. Suddenly a hack gave way to an art form.

When utilized towards a common goal, technology can function to provide a small group with massive amounts of power. Technology with a communication element can be combined with other communication technologies to create a powerful collective. When clustered, devices can be cobbled together for profound effects. The critical variable is the intended result. Given this power, how does a group deploy the cadre of devices. Does one want to connect with friends or share items for culture? Tech can certainly allow one with this ability but if charged with more powerful desires these same gadgets give one the ability to spark revolution, create new art forms and revolutionize the ways in which a previously indifferent public responded to daily happenings.

One of the major alterations that the revolutions in the Middle East will reveal is the expanded sense of how technology can be used for revolution. While the final states of the countries remains in question, the means to justify these as-yet-uncertain ends exists as an established fact. The revolutions used technology to garner major changes and while the world watched in wonder it became apparent that new tools existed for these means. Watching on the very same devices used in the streets, tech-savy users were able to look away from their devices and see the powerful cadre at their disposal. Suddenly the angry teenager in his bedroom could see his collection of toys not as mere distractions but as weapons to a new society.

The internet has drastically altered the uses of technology. Given the ability to link communication devices, dissidents and unhappy individuals can grapple their society with affordable toys and gadgets. Recent history has revealed the power of these devices and with expanded reflection and technological development, the uses of technology to garner major change will reap major changes to the world. Chaos has a new face in the world and in its arms is likely an internet connected device with the ability to share the action on the street and inspire others to join the fight.

Old Forms/ New Forms

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Events in Egypt show us the dichotomy at play with technology and society. Historically, regimes have been the gatekeepers of communication in a society. Access to communication networks came at the expense of companies within a society; however, the government which oversaw the network or which utilized regulatory bodies to control a market had the largest amount of control. Again, Tim Wu’s The Master Switch is a great resource for this relationship.

Globalization created a global internet and lead to the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt. The internet did not cause these revolutions; instead, they broke down walls that have historically limited interested but small revolutionary factions. Social networking has played a unique role in the Egyptian revolution by functioning as a connection platform for multiple small groups. Often a revolution is driven by a sole source whose ideological foundation is implemented and used to carry through the change in power. This isn’t taking place in Egypt, it seems that multiple groups are coming together to change the leadership. Perhaps in cases where popularity is so low or the levels of abuse are so high the coordination of disparate elements becomes more likely.

There is much to learn from the events in Egypt. A technology focused reflection suggests that governments have yet to mesh with a connected society. Slow to respond and often fragmented in message, even the United States has shown a level of slow-handedness in the affair. 24/7 media have been quick to seek out perspectives and leaders have been off-message or off-key in multiple situations. Note the moment on Friday when Secretary of State Clinton, President Obama and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs presented three different outcomes. A connected environment greatly reduces or perhaps even eliminates the planning time governments have had in the past. There are no hours to consider the right message- when the media needs a sound byte it will find it. Real time news leaves little real reflection.

All major events can be viewed as “teachable moments”, to borrow a phrase from President Obama’s rhetoric, and this is not an exception. Coupled with the Wikileaks fiasco, we learn from the Egypt revolution that an informed population exists beyond government control. Disparate figures are better skilled at using modern communication networks and actively seek out (and find) holes in government networks. Governments need to accept the fact that the population has the ability to amalgamate rapidly and possess a cadre of tools to assist and expand at levels beyond historical models.

The old forms of government will either fall Egyptian style or evolve through a process of implementation. There is no room for dictators in the modern era. The internet eliminates the ability for a leader to act as gate keeper to knowledge. The modern network creates a system of universal access wherein the entire planet can focus and provide support to a population of victims. Too often we view globalization in terms of economic perspectives. Beyond the financial implications we see a drastic expansion of human rights concerns and a growing perspective of a collective human species. When Egyptians lost internet connectivity there was a slew of concerned citizens who tweeted alternative DNS connections and 56k dialup numbers. The world saw a crime being committed and responded with ease.

The old forms of government are quickly seeing a transformation via modern technology. The new form of government is one with recognition of its connected population. The new model of government recognizes a population of highly aware and highly skilled citizens whose ability to work together towards a common goal to be far simpler than in the past. In order to fulfill the roles of representation and the maintenance of society, these new governments should strengthen the now crucial social bonds and integrate the machinery of government in the network. A connected population will only support a government that works together. Representation begins with connection and the connected world is now online.

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