Newmedia on Wed, 23 Feb 2011 16:18:12 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Twitter does not cause revolution, people do

Thank you for your reply and for raising these important questions.
As you know, it still remains to be seen what will CHANGE in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Jordan, Sudan, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia et al.
What we know is that some people's behaviors have changed and that the media they rely on to "structure" their lives have changed.  I believe that these changes will lead to permanent changes in their societies, although it will probably not be immediate.
In the late 1970's, I was brought in by the Saudi government to help with the standardized computer coding of Arabic (i.e. the equivalent to ASCII).  This was because I had invented an Arabic language word processor (based on WordStar, which I called The Diplomat) and was one of the few in the Western computer business who understood how the character set was being used.
I believe that the widespread adoption of Arabic in computers and communication has contributed to change in the Middle East but, to be sure, this has taken a long time.
Most of the institutions of the West have been built under the dominant influence of television.  This is a medium that compels you to SIT BACK, get the equivalent of an eyeball MASSAGE and to go out and buy things that you don't really need.  The result -- in FORMAL CAUSAL terms -- is a passive, drug-addicted, consumerist society. 
As anyone can tell, there are no PEOPLE on television.  Yes, you are right.  In this sort of SIMULACRUM of reality, CHANGE is not going to happen.
But, for the past 20 years, television has been being replaced by the Internet -- which causes you to LEAN FORWARD, get BUSY and, increasingly, to SOCIALIZE with other PEOPLE.
The New Yorker cartoon was wrong.  On the Internet, you can actually tell if you are talking to a DOG.
New media CAUSES changes in people's behaviors and attitudes.  All I'm suggesting is that we do our best to understand how this happens. 
And, yes, I suspect that those in Tahrir square could write a really important book about their experiences -- if anyone really wants to read an obsolete 15-19th century medium anymore. <g>
Mark Stahlman
Brooklyn NY
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