The best technological news of my lifetime is that "1984" turned out to be wrong. The totalitarian thugs have not had control of ever-more sophisticated means of communication, with which they can keep an eye on all of us and even rewrite history to keep us in line. The information revolution hasn't strengthened the oppressors. If anything, it's helped liberate the masses. Remember way back in 1991, when the fax was cutting-edge technology? When hardliners tried to smash reforms in Russia, fax machines all over the country fired up and got tens of thousands of people out into the street to surround Boris Yeltsin and protect him. Now the thugs in Tehran and finding it difficult to keep liberating technology out of citizens' hands:
There are reports citizens in Tehran have no access to text messaging via cell phones, and opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi's Web site has been down.
But Sieberg combed Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and photo-sharing site Flickr, and found that those opposing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refusing to be silenced.
"Against all odds," says Sieberg, "they're taking their voices to the Internet and seem to be announcing, 'The revolution will be blogged." '
"Shame on them that they think they can fool us," said one post. "Where's my vote? Really, where's my vote?" asked another.
I wrote this back in 1991 during the Yeltsin incident: "You can intimidate and oppress only the ignorant. The enlightened have to be persuaded - or brutally and bloodily put down. And with the whole world watching (another component of the communications revolution), fewer and fewer totalitarian regimes feel comfortable with that option." That's truer than ever today.
Well, the "keeping an eye on us" part is truer than we should like it to be, but at least so far it's just in public places and not in our homes. But just to be on the safe side, maybe we'd better check out all of those digital, hi-def TV sets the government has been pushing us into buying.