Friday, February 11, 2011

The First Internet Revolution

It came close in Iran in the summer of 2009, but brutality and murder by the government there put it down.  It succeeded today in Egypt, because the government and military were enlightened enough to listen to the people. 

The peaceful revolution in Egypt was propelled and made possible by many things, but none so prominent as the Internet.   The three pillars of new new media, of consumers becoming producers of information - Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube - kept the world in constant touch with what was happening in Egypt, and allowed Egyptian protesters to keep in touch with one another.   The Egyptian government tried early on to shut down the Internet in its country, but it wisely decided to reinstate that access.  In so doing, the Egyptian government allowed its people to pave the way to its future.

And this future is more than Egypt's.   As Dylan Ratigan just pointed out at the end of his hour on MSNBC, no longer can governments and corporations control information as easily as boarding up a newspaper office or taking over a broadcast station.   In our new world, people can be fed with the sustenance of democracy more easily and efficiently than ever before.   And that sustenance is information.

The press led to the rise of democracy in the West in the Age of Reason.  Broadcasting has been a mixed blessing for freedom, because its centralized facilities are easily controlled by a central government.  But the Internet is far more potent in dissemination of information than newspapers.   And it stimulates great reporting from broadcasters - such as the reporting of Richard Engel from Tahrir Square today, translating a multitude of jubilant Egytpians on the spot, on MSNBC.   Edward R. Murrow would have been proud of him (Engel already won the Murrow Award for "outstanding achievements in electronic journalism").  It was really something to see.

The bells of freedom around the world - including in Iran - have just begun to ring.
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