Thursday, October 4, 2007

Random Thoughts:- Dictatorships and Technology

Are you kidding me kizzie?!?!?!
Do you really think dictatorshipsare gonna go away?
Yes, I understand your concern about my surprising title but allow me to explain.
You have the right to agree or disagree but for now, let me explain my theory.

What does Iraq, Darfur,Burma,Afghanistan have in common? I know you are going to say suffering or people died. but for now, let's stick to "PEOPLE ARE AWARE OF THEM'.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are now in the digital age. We have internet, digital cameras,phones with inbuilt cameras and wireless internet, tape recorders,video-cams,e-mail and cellphones.
If Darfur, the war in Iraq happened decades ago, I'm not sure we were all going to know about them and even if we were aware of their existence, very little devices and technology means very little information.
Does the Sudanese government really think people are not going to see pictures of the plight of Darfurians? No way. I can travel to Darfur and take a picture with my cellphone and send it via bluetooth to my friend who can plug in his cellphone usb to his laptop and email it to his friends abroad or even post it to an online discussion board, blog or website.
It's not only communication, even getting there is relatively easy now.
Planes are available to take you to Bora Bora if you want. Cellphones are available so you can make international phone calls to your friends , editors and family in different parts of the world and reveal the situation you are dealing with.
You can have a conversation with a rebel or leader and record it so that the whole world can listen to them.
You can take pictures or make documentaries to spread awareness about security problems, sufferings or even hopeful situations.
You can, you can because it's the 21st century and we've come a long way baby!

How is this related to dictatorships kizzie?

In case you haven't noticed, many if not all dictatorships isolate and alienate their people from the rest of the world. They don't want them to know whats going on in other countries and they don't want the world to know whats going on in their countries!
I remember in the 1990's, during one of the most oppressive years of the dictatorial regime of the national "salvation" government, you weren't allowed to watch any another channel except Sudan TV(yes no dishes allowed!), some people had other channels because they smuggled receivers into the country but you had to keep it quite.
It was very important to avoid being exposed because dictators know their regimes are oppressive, hated and that the international community might take some serious action. That's why they sweet-talk the world, they don't allow any leakage of information or any foreign journalists inside their country. They impose severe censorship, block Internet sites and spread ignorance (ignorance makes you submissive and helpless, education enlightens and makes your voice heard, it truly frees the mind).
Since new technology was introduced , it was getting harder and harder for dictators to keep a secret.
Did Mugabe think the situation in Zimbabwe will not be exposed to the world?
There are blogs, pictures and stories all over the Internet and newspapers.

ok, back to the real world. Technology is not going to end dictatorships but alt east the world will know how people ruled by oppressive dictatorships live and survive. It helps spread awareness and ma bye..just ma bye someone somewhere is going to decide to take action.
As I'm writing this Nicholas Kristoff (NY times journalist who did alot to spread awareness about Darfur) and Samantha power( who convinced Obama to visit Darfur) and Riverbend(courageous Iraqi blogger) come to mind.


Crushed by Ingsoc said...

It does make knowledge of atrocity more widesprerad.

Notice that no one knew of the Armenian Genocide by the Turks, but two decades later the plight of German jews was on every cinema reel in the world.

Dalu said...

You raise important ideas. And I do actually agree about the role of technology in the exposure of dictatorships...I'm not sure about it's ability to deconstruct those dictatorship, but the world having an awareness certainly helps.

Very interesting.

Arvind said...

Bravo. If only life was so simple that technology could change it for the better! Dictatorships usually build upon popular sentiment (often a perceived injustice or oppression by another nation/community) and provide people with a symbolic sense of power and agency (ironically reinforcing the dictator's brutality) -- and it takes years, sometimes generations, for people to realize that they cannot better democracy - with all its failings.

Gracchi said...

I'm not sure about your optimism. Don't forget that increased awareness can provoke increased rage leading to increased wars- Iraq and its effects in mobilisng Islamic terror is a good example. We shall see though- I hope you are right!

Kizzie said...

crushed by ingsoc,
Yes I know! The Armenian genocide is not very known although we allll know about the holocaust.

I know I sounded over-optimistic but yes i know its not going to top dictatorships but atleast we ar spreading awareness and people are aware of the sufferings of other people in other parts of the world.