David Garcia on Wed, 8 Sep 2004 11:57:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Reviews of Books and the law of unintended consequences

Alan Sondheim wrote
> We the Media: Grassroots Journalism By the People, For the People, Dan
> Gillmor, O'Reilly, 7/94. O'Reilly's publications have always fascinated me
> - their books on linux, more recently on Macs. They have been increasingly
> presenting a phenomenology of 'porousness' - peer-to-peer, blogging, etc.
> - books dealing with, not only open source, but open knowledge, open
> knowledge management/manageriality, and here, open journalism. You could
> see this at work at the recent 'republican' convention demonstrations; you
> can see it every day on the Net. I love this book. Parts of it seem overly
> simplistic or optimistic - but it's all we have, in a way - this form of
> _breathing_ and exchange that involves webcams, camera phones, sms, blogs,
> and almost daily new forms of journalism and journalistic expertise. Do
> check out this book; it gives one both guidelines and a sense of hope in
> terms of the future of free information and information-dissemination.

I agree very much with Alan when he indicates that this book is over
optimistic. And recent events in Beslan might lead us to put it far more
strongly and say that such a one sided relentlessly upbeat vision of the
free media future is a serious distortion.

The images released last night of hostage takers videoing those with just
hours to live demonstrate one of many of the unintended consequences "of
the future of free information and information-dissemination" that has
come to pass. These terrible acts are deliberately orchestrated to be
media events. They would make little sense for their perpetrators without
the presence of real-time global dissemination of the images. The fact
that "Tactical media is one of the ways in which the weak turn the tables
on the strong" is demonstrated by the sight of both former and current
"super powers" rendered impotent. These horrors are grass roots media
activism at their most devastatingly effective.

David Garcia

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