Who ever thought the simple action of sending a text message could topple an entire regime?
Patrick Butler’s article “New Technology, New Voices” discusses an incredibly significant shift in the way people all around the world are utilizing recent (and not-so-recent) technological advances to find their freedoms. From the simple sending of texts around the Philippines in 2001 to deconstruct the Estrada reign, to women in Kuwait using cell phones to mobilize and demand their right to vote, “mobile democracy” has truly given much hope to the hopeless.
I thought it was appropriate, however, that Butler practiced objectivity by providing another side to his argument. Butler also talks about how “for some, ‘mobile democracy’ is only a few letters away from ‘mob democracy.’ In other words, using mobile technology in order to spread radical ideas can also be used to spread ideas that can lead to further oppression and threaten individuals. Butler provides the example of the Al Qaida using advanced technology to “push the world back into the eighth century” and help bolster their terrorist movements.
Though certain groups and individuals will undoubtedly use technology’s liberating powers for evil, its important to recognize the power we also have to make significant change. Just think about how one upstart blog has the potential to reach millions of people and make a difference in people’s lives. Independent outlets like truthout, Democracy Now!, and Talking Points Memo are great examples of the power of blogs. The free-thinkers who founded them can disseminate their stories with much greater ease to a much wider audience than if they simply distributed news pamphlets.
Hip hip hooray for the 21st century!