The shaky video clip lasts for less than one minute. A young woman falls to the ground in a pool of her own blood, bleeding from her chest, as several men rush to her side. Two men press their palms against her chest attempting to stop the massive bleeding. As the camera operator approaches, her pupils roll to one side, she seems to be looking into the camera. Another woman’s screams are heard as the men frantically shout “Neda” and plead with her to stay with us and open her eyes (Omidsaeedi, YouTube, 2009). Blood streams out of her nose and mouth into one of her eyes; she dies with her eyes open.
The woman in the video was later identified by her fiancée as Neda Agha Soltan. Neda lay dying on Kargar Ave. in Tehran, Iran Saturday June 20, 2009 during a post-election protest, allegedly shot in the chest by a member of the Basij, a voluntary militia that takes its orders from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini. Using a cell phone, an anonymous bystander digitally captured the moments just after Neda was shot. According to news reports, the author of the video then contacted a virtual friend he had met through Facebook who lived in the Netherlands, and asked him to post the footage. The virtual friend, known only by his first name, Hamed, uploaded the footage to the Internet and sent copies to the BBC and The Guardian as well as other media outlets. Within hours, two distinct clips surfaced on Facebook and YouTube. Shortly thereafter, the video was broadcast by CNN, thus making “Neda” a household name (Langendonck, NRC Handelsblad, 2009).
Today, I am here to talk about how mobile and social media fit in to the ongoing discussions about media’s influence on public life. I am going to make this argument in three parts. First, by offering a brief overview of Daniel Dayan and Elihu Katz’s concept of the “media event,” as outlined in their book of the same name, and more recent additions and amendments to this theory. I will then define what I call the “digital event” by looking at the capture, distribution and reaction to the Neda video. . . .
Read more: Digital Events: Media Rituals in the Digital Age
The people have spoken, and they have decided that “fat cat teachers,” and not greed gone wild on Wall Street and beyond, are the source of their problems. A deep disappointment. A defeat. This was my initial response to the results of the special recall election in Wisconsin.
I noticed a Facebook post blaming Obama and the Democratic Party. They betrayed the grassroots. He who engages in a crazy militaristic foreign policy killing innocents abroad was denounced. This is irrational, self-defeating and irresponsible. Politics is about alternatives, and the direction the country would go if it follows Wisconsin’s lead last night is profoundly problematic. There is a deep seeded problem in our political culture that must be addressed at the grassroots and in the Democratic Party.
Big money surely played a role, as John Nichols at the Nation quickly declared, reflecting on whether people’s power can overcome money power. But something more fundamental is at issue. How the broad public understands the problems of our times. Somehow in Wisconsin, at least last night, the Tea Party’s diagnosis of our problems made more sense than the view of those engaged in and inspired by Occupy Wall Street. This was my first reaction this morning.
This afternoon I feel a bit less alarmed, though still deeply concerned. There is considerable evidence that the campaign itself made a difference. With the 7 to 1 spending advantage of the Republicans, many Wisconsinites seemed to be critical of the idea of the recall absent major malfeasance in office. They, along with Walker’s most passionate supporters, prevailed. The Democrats were not as united as they needed to be. Their message was muddled. Yet, despite this, in fact, there was a progressive advance. The Democrats took control of the State Senate. Governor Walker won’t be able to count on the rubber-stamp approval of his proposals anymore.
And oddly polls indicate that if the election were held today, Obama would win in . . .
Read more: On Wisconsin
These reflections on a trip to a hackers’ conference reveal an emerging new culture: where the public and private are confused, identity is hidden, appearance is suspected, and surveillance is assumed. -Jeff
My arrival in Vegas has put me somewhat off my equilibrium. It’s twelve in the morning here, and through some trick of non-euclidian geometry, my cell tells me that it’s only been three hours since my flight left New York City at nine. I know that the time-difference has created the illusion that less time has passed than I perceived, but the streets of Vegas are indifferent, and beat out their manic, midnight tempo regardless.
I’m here, in search of Anonymous, that nameless, faceless organization that scares the pants off of politicians and public figures everywhere, a bogeyman, haunting the nightmares of middle-class boomers, and mid-level bureaucrats. This past Summer has seen a great uptick in the number of high-profile cyber crimes, many committed in the name of WikiLeaks, and I know that this may be my best chance to get a word with someone who knows about the splinter-group Lulsec.
Even as Jim, Frank, Karen and I make tracks across the desert highway in the rental car, fifteen-thousand hackers are making similar pilgrimages, converging on our location from all over the world. The leaders from every tribe come to DEFCON, one of the largest hacker conferences on the planet, bring the latest news and gossip from all corners of the world back to their local communities. Nobody knows quite what will happen, but whatever does will set the tone for the entire year.
First impressions, Vegas: a hooker thumbs a ride under a sign advertising six dollar prime rib. The strip is a hallucinogenic wonderland of dancing light, and architectural insanity. Each architectural monstrosity bound to its neighbors only by divergence, and difference. Each is more garish and twisted than the last. This city is a schizoid’s sandbox in the middle of the desert. The land here . . .
Read more: In Search of Anonymous: Down and Out in the Digital Age