Two very modern stories, and one slightly older one:
1) Attempting to grasp the new digital culture, the UK’s Labour party falls foul of it instead when Gordon Brown’s protege Damien McBride is caught plotting to feed bloggers malevolent disinformation.
2) Protestors, long warning of the evils of surveillance culture, suddenly find that surveillance has its uses when horrendous footage of the beating of Ian Tomlinson emerges, to be followed yesterday by more amateur phone video of another police assault on a G20 protestor.
The socio-technological earthquake continues to alter the way our culture unfolds in surprising ways. The omnipresence of continually updated digital representations of our world is altering our relationship to it in ways that are both dangerous and liberating.
Blogger Tomorrow Museum suggested something like this recently, kicking off with Momus’s idea of the 1:1 ratio of experience to writing. For the slightly Eeyore-ish artist/musician Momus, the suggestion that we now turn every act into content – a blog, a Tweet- is something of a worry. For Tomorrow Museum, though, this world in which everyone becomes a witness is a safer place. He cites the filmed beating of Rodney King – the assault that started the LA Riots – as a starting point of this info earthquake.
The paradox is that while Damien McBride’s actions are now witnessed and scrutinised, we’ve also lived through a decade in which around seven million have been killed or died in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia with barely any witness at all.
And having met Rodney King a couple of times while I was working in South Central Los Angeles, I wouldn’t envy anyone who becomes part of the info-maelstrom. The film of Rodney King’s beating became a focal point for civil rights activism, but King himself was not a man who ever asked for the attention, who felt tragically responsible for the deaths that happened in the ensuing riots, and who appeared to be just as much a victim of the all attention he had as of that original police assault.