Saturday, January 29, 2011

The power of social networks: technology at the rescue

Just as good to summon a flash mob, a rave party or any other more or less disorderly gathering, the power of Twitter and Facebook is becoming a reality in the political scene. Ask Hosni Mubarak, Egyptian president who, applying the basic instructions for the control of the state, shut down Internet and mobile phone communications trying to stave off the current riot in Cairo and other major Egyptian cities.

It’s in the manual. Leon Trotsky mentioned in his military writings, and Curzio Malaparte in his “Coup D'etat: The Technique of revolution” instructed that it was crucial to take control of the communications nodes and networks way back in the 1930’s, when not even an inkling of what the Internet was going to be. (Funny thing that many discoveries had been imagined by science fiction writers from Jules Verne to Isaac Asimov. To my—poor—knowledge no one predicted such a thing as the Internet.) I’ve always looked to popular revolutions with sympathy even though many lead to utterly horrendous bloodshed, deaths and misery in their wake. In my usual optimistic view I come to think that these new revolutions, managed over mobile phones and social networks give the masses an enormous power, yet pacific. It seems like if someone watches over, atrocities are less likely to occur. The social networks feeding on the site news to information agencies and the press may prevent large scale violence.
I trust the developing events in Egypt will not disprove me.

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