Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The smartphone as a weapon to defeat the Empire's propaganda

Tonight I was watching the latest video footage of the bloodbath in Egypt - this time infantry fighting vehicles using their guns to shoot at demonstrators.  What caught my attention was that in the corner of the video you could see two Egyptian men standing with smartphones making their own video recording of the massacre taking place under their window.  See for yourself:

And I thought to myself "at least this massacre will be well documented!"

These smartphones are truly a powerful counter-propaganda tool.  Not only can they make rather decent videos by just pressing a button, but they can also instantly upload them to the web, or send the footage to friends, or even stream it live.  And they are literally *everywhere*.  This kind of distributed video-capability is practically impossible to defeat because it is simply too ubiquitous.  I have read that even in the DPRK more and more people are using (highly illegal) smartphones.

Of course, a military junta can shut down the Internet (locally, at least), search for smartphones, jam their signals, etc.  A techno-savvy regime like the one in the USA or Israel could do something even far more effective: it could remotely disable the video camera on all smartphones in a specific areas or even remotely destroy all smartphones. But that would be very *very* conspicuous and, besides, it would also be a PR disaster.  So I don't mean to suggest that the "smartphone threat" cannot be successfully tackled by a sophisticated regime, but in most cases this would be a difficult task, at least in most countries out there.

And then, there is the relative blessing of having the truly sicko thugs, like the Wahabi crazies in Chechnia and Syria, who love to film their own atrocities.  The footage of the horrors committed and video-recorded by the Chechen Wahabis truly mobilized the Russian public opinion behind Putin's 2nd war to smash the insurgency.  Likewise, in Syria, thanks to all the bloodcurdling atrocities filmed by the Wahabis themselves, the public opinion gradually shifted against the insurgency.

Bottom line: CNN, al-Jazeera, the BBC and the rest of them can continue to spew their lies, millions of people with cheap smartphones in their pockets can now prove that they are lying and show the facts on the ground if not on TV then, at least, on the Internet.

The Internet plus the smartphone are a fantastic combination of technologies which have political repercussions which their creators (DARPA, IT corporations) never saw coming.  Sure, the bad guys are now very *very* busy trying to get all that back under their control, but, hopefully, the good guys - us - will remain a step ahead of them.

The Saker