Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Sunshine Revolution

“Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is do you, Mr. Jones?”
— Bob Dylan, “Ballad of a Thin Man”

History is “just one damn thing after another,” according to philosopher Jerry Fodor. This may be true, but it doesn’t stop us from trying to make some sense of each “damn thing.” There are some principles of history we may glean from events. One of these principles is that open information access — sunshine — is increasingly becoming a force for change.

Change is generally incremental. Yet there are certain times and events that can fairly be highlighted as transformational rather than incremental. The recent events in North Africa and the Middle East are transformational.

It is risky to attempt macro-level analysis this close in time to these events, but it is possible to identify key trends and make some qualified conclusions about what has happened and what is likely to continue happening. I was initially very suspicious of breathless accounts of Facebook and Twitter being key to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt because they seemed so self-serving to us in the United States who created these social media tools. However, as I’ve learned more, it seems that these early accounts were not entirely inaccurate.

Read the rest at Noozhawk.

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