Four Factors Needed To Make Technology A 'Liberation' Technology

from the understanding-activism dept

There's been something of a silly debate going on for a while now, about whether or not various technologies and social media tools "help" or "hurt" democratic or populist uprisings. Of course, technology is just a tool, and it can be used for good reasons, bad reasons and perfectly neutral reasons. Technology itself is not the impetus behind any of this stuff... but as a tool, it can be used to accelerate, enhance or emphasize certain aspects of what's going on. So while the general debate is silly, it is important to understand the factors that make technology useful in these scenarios. Mathew Ingram points us to an interesting attempt by Mary Joyce to break down what factors really need to be present to make a technology useful for "liberation" as opposed to "repression." You can read all of the details at the link above, but the headline version is:
  1. It must transmit political information
  2. It must be accessible to a large segment of the population
  3. It must allow for effective utilization
  4. It must allow for protection of privacy
The article also argues that "repression technologies" requires the reverse. I'm not sure I completely believe that. For example, something that is available to a large segment of the population can certainly be used for repression as well. Still, it is an interesting framework for thinking about how these technology tools are used (or not) in various political conflicts.

Filed Under: liberation, repression, technology

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  1. identicon
    Jack Jersawitz, 8 Feb 2011 @ 8:33pm

    Revolutions and technology

    You all seem to have your heads in those screens otherwise you would look for the answers as to revolutions in the histories of the same.

    For starters look to the Haitian revolution against French imperialism, the first and only successful slave revolution ever carried out with no technology at all.

    Or the great French Revolution that ultimately brought the French bourgeoisie to power; all they had was some guns and a few cannon.

    Or the Russian Revolution which you can read about in Leon Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution available on line in The Marx - Engels Internet Archive. Be prepared for something like a thousand pages on social movement and revolution. What startled me was reading the other day a comment in the NY Times pointing out that The Soviets taught children in school the elements of successful revolution, elements those heroic but uneducated in revolution folks in Tahir Square would greatly benefit from.

    Or how about the Afghan revolution against U.S. imperialism and their puppet government? All the anti-imperialist fighters have are a few guns and some explosives.

    Revolution is not about technology. Deficiencies in that department can be overcome. What is essential is a population unable any longer to live in the old way, a conscious leadership whose aims coincide with the needs and wishes of the mass of society, and deliberate and effective action to take control of the centers of communication (Drums, telephone, or internet), and the government.

    The Bolsheviks made their revolution by seizing the Petrograd phone exchange, and with the help of a battleship manned by revolutionary sailors bombarding the Winter Palace from a battleship on the Nevsky River, seized the palace and the government meeting therein but helpless because as I heard Kerensky say many years later at Occidental College in California, "If only I had one loyal regiment."

    Technology is secondary. Primary is a resolute leadership that has done the hard and arduous work of winning the support of the masses, the military rank and file (Or at least neutralizing them so they reject the orders of their commanders and remain in barracks) and resolute action seizing as I said the centers of government and communications. Kerensky had no loyal regiment because they all sided with the Bolsheviks who represented land, bread, freedom, and an end to the war.

    Jack Jersawitz

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