August 2011. And so another regime in crisis is brought to its knees by internet social networking. And with his country in tatters, the shamed leader was understood to have fled the capital and was seen enjoying fish and chips in St. Ives. He was later spotted sorting out an ice cream cornet.
Whod have thunk it? The #Twitter/Facebook revolution (‘The Tw’ook Uprising’) just shows how the internets evolved in the past decade. Dictators are toppled and governments brought down with a few tweets. Ten years ago you thought youd re-invented the wheel if you got a woman in Arizona to get her top off on the webcam. But while Uncle Dave Cameron clings on to power in the UK, weathering the storm of petulant hoodies and aggressive bargain hunters tearing London, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham apart, in North Africa the #Facebook revolution sweeps another megalomaniacal dictator from power. First Tunisias Ben Ali, then Mubarak in Egypt and now Libyas Mad Mullah of the Regan years, Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi. Look what technology can do. Not only can you can have mutual thrapping facetime across continents, but a handful of people on Facebook or Blackberry messenger managed to do things that that CIA failed to achieve in thirty years and billions of tax dollars. With his forty year reign brought to an end, #Gaddafi has now un-friended six million people and left a petulant status update. Bad times. And experts monitoring #Facebook indicate #Gaddafi may have fled #Libya following his ‘Like’ of the group ‘Dictators 4 Diplomatic immunity’. Intelligence sources are confident that it’s only a matter of time before #Facebook addict #Gaddafi #checks-in and reveals his location. Woop! Woop!
As the revolution in Libya ebbed and flowed the Twitter-sphere and the rolling news went berserk. Shortly after the raid on Gaddafis Tripoli compound, Google updated their mapping system and changed Green Square to Martyr Square. Which made the Rebel victory in the messy conflict official. You can’t argue with Google. The Japanese signing their surrender on the USS Missouri? Sod that. Whack a one liner down on Twitter and have done with it. Watching the news on Sky, Alex Ferguson saw all the Man United shirts worn by the Rebels and appealed to the ref for ten more minutes extra time. Beyonce was posting some frantic stuff about the crisis. Keeping her billions of followers constantly updated, she posted that the African leg of her tour looked in doubt, but the gig in Pyongyang was still on. There was good news later; while the show in #Tripoli was definitely in doubt, an extra #Harare date was announced. VIP packages from $2m available. Mrs #Thatcher was said to be pleased about the demise of her 1980s nemesis and it was reported that shed had an extra rusk to celebrate. She was later quoted as saying of Colonel #Gaddafi‘s impending demise: ‘Rhubarb rhubarb gravy custard.’ And in North Africa, rumours were rife in #Tripoli that Colonel Gaddafi would enter the #Big Brother house at any moment. And, be honest, would you have really been surprised? #Gaddafi‘s welcome to #BB was to have been organized by Kerry #Katona who said she couldnt wait to join the other stars who’d played for the tyrant. With #Libya sewn up, David #Cameron was said to be celebrating the victory of democracy and the people of #Libya by buying a 9.6 litre, 750bhp petrol Hummer. And with one triumph for freedom and democracy and the downfall of a vicious dictator in the bag, #Cameron spoke to advisors regarding the situation in #Zimbabwe. He asked scientists if a Ford Focus could be run on bananas.
But what does all this mean information mean? Power to the people, maybe? William Caxtons printing press changed the world in the fifteenth Century. Suddenly people (provided you had the massive amount of money available to buy a book and could read in the first place) suddenly had access to an enormous amount of information. The Bible in English, geography, history, fiction. From being slowly handwritten and full of beautiful calligraphy over months and years, books were being knocked out at an amazing rate. But whats often forgotten about the printing revolution that followed Johannes Gutenberg and Caxton is the raft of vitriol and spite that spewed out of printing presses across Europe. For a start there was Anti-Catholic, Anti-Protestant bile by the tonne. Multiply that by every home in the country having access to its own personal printing press. Thats what the internet has done. In one way it offers the individual the opportunity to bypass the bean counters and political censors and exchange information, upload their music, stories, films, ideas, whatever. Good times. But you only have to go on a few forums to realize that there are some people logged on out there whose logic and notions are seriously bent out of shape. And while we might find the next great piece of music or a superb novel, there is no editorial control and were just as likely to encounter some illiterate Pro-Fascist homophobe racist who stalks school kids through Myspace. And regardless of the subject matter, no one monitors quality. No one says, thats shit, mate, go back and re-work it. Web sites such as Amazons create space allows anyone to publish their book without any cost implication. Digital files are uploaded and technology means that one book can be printed at a time on demand. Regardless of punctuation, spelling or content. So while dictators are being dragged from power and oppressive regimes scrubbed from the political map, we are in danger of being swillowed up by unudited crape.