Tag Archives: democratization

Paying for the Anomalous 20th Century

Egyptians protest Cairo
Egyptians protest in central Cairo. Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA via Guardian UK

20th Century Greatness

I’ve had a nascent theory in the back of my mind– maybe more so a gut instinct or fear — that the concentrated collection of destructive events in the last 10-20 years are a result of the pendulum swinging back after the glorious 20th century. It was simply too much, too fast, too good. I’m no historian, but I think the concentration of war and terrorism and environmental disaster from, say, 1985-2005 has been the universe somehow regaining equilibrium.

I recently researched the bubonic plague. The three iterations of the plague killed ~75 million people. Although it was arguably a deadlier and more destructive historic event as a stand-alone, if you add up several more recent terrors (a non-exhaustive list, at that): 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti earthquake, 2007 tsunami, Iraq/Afghanistan wars, SARS/bird flu other biomedical scares — these seem implicitly worse, and eerily more so on a trajectory.

For lack of a better term, the universe may be putting society back in its place; reminding us that Mother Earth’s tsunamis and hurricanes are greater than we; the smoggy planet is angry after our Industrial Revolution. Further, and more importantly for the global marketplace, we are angry at one another after the catapult into a globalized economy. Rapid idea and information dissemination has — despite the trend of political correctness and increasing tolerance for diversity — perhaps increased our animosity toward one another. (Here, I mainly allude to segments of Middle Eastern/developing nations’ rising awareness, jealousy,  and resentment of Western values, lifestyle, and politics.) As such, I posit the following: Would Islamic fundamentalists have been inflamed enough to commit 9/11 if the previous century had been less an anomaly of transformative, progressive innovation and invention?

We talk about social media empowering consumers like never before. I love Twitter because it’s the ultimate democratization of information. It’s grittier than meticulous, revised blog entries and methodical Facebook posts.

Facsimile to Egypt

Egyptians protest Cairo
Egyptians protest in central Cairo. Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA via Guardian UK

Instantaneous access to news didn’t exist 15-20 years ago. Recall that the fall of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Block was mainly due the ability to send fax messages. The Solidarity Movement in Poland primarily communicated via fax because their phones were tapped. Technology has at least lubricated and arguably enabled the new social change.

This January, tens of thousands of protesters mobilized in Egypt to demand an end to authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30 year reign. The protests were organized in part through Twitter and Facebook. TechCrunch reported that Egypt blocked Twitter.com (website and mobile site) in an attempt to subdue the demonstrations.

Selected Egypt tweets from guardian.co.uk: Continue reading Paying for the Anomalous 20th Century