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Move over, old media

POLICE OFFICER RIDE IN AN EMPTY STREET IN DOWNTOWN BOSTON WHILE BOSTON WAS IN THE LOCKDOWN THAT WAS ANNOUNCED DURING MANHUNT FOR THE SUSPECT IN THE BOMBING OF THE 117TH BOSTON MARATHON ON APRIL 15, 2013. MUCH OF THE BOSTON AREA WAS CLOSED OR IN LOCKDOWN DURING THE INVESTIGATION AND RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN ASKED TO STAY INSIDE. PUBLIC TRANSPORT WAS SUSPENDED IN THE GREATER BOSTON. PHOTO: TESS SCHEFLAN/ACTIVESTILLS.ORG

POLICE OFFICER RIDE IN AN EMPTY STREET IN DOWNTOWN BOSTON WHILE BOSTON WAS IN THE LOCKDOWN THAT WAS ANNOUNCED DURING MANHUNT FOR THE SUSPECT IN THE BOMBING OF THE 117TH BOSTON MARATHON ON APRIL 15, 2013. MUCH OF THE BOSTON AREA WAS CLOSED OR IN LOCKDOWN DURING THE INVESTIGATION AND RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN ASKED TO STAY INSIDE. PUBLIC TRANSPORT WAS SUSPENDED IN THE GREATER BOSTON. PHOTO: TESS SCHEFLAN/ACTIVESTILLS.ORG

Move over, old media

The terror attack on the Boston Marathon last week once again demonstrated the impact of both the Internet and social networks on our lives. Social networks, in which users exchange information in real time, is quickly becoming the official alternative to television, and in the not-too-distant future new media will replace old media as a primary information source.

Anyone who wanted to connect quickly to what was going down in Boston was able to receive photographs, video clips and updates directly from the scene. Even the terrorist himself used Twitter to update his followers. True, we’re still in a transition period in which old media, like television, also use the Internet to keep their viewers updated. But one day all television viewers will have Twitter and other social media accounts, and there will no longer be a need for that. A quick Twitter search, and you’ll be able to get live updates from key sources at the scene.

In addition to status updates and YouTube clips uploaded by ordinary citizens, there were CCTV cameras stationed throughout Boston that helped the primary mission of tracking down suspects (Boston police requested and received help from citizens who had snapped photographs). Videos from those cameras were even uploaded to the Internet and delivered instantaneous images of the attack to viewers around the world. Nothing like that had ever happened before. It’s important to mention that the use of cameras throughout Boston once again raised the issue of citizens’ privacy versus security needs during times of terror threats.

The chase after the terrorists at MIT and the curfew imposed on millions of Bostonians later also fueled the massive use of social networks, helping paint a picture of what was happening on the ground moment by moment.

That is how I, here in Israel, was able to obtain a “live report” from a friend by following his status updates as well as the photos he had uploaded on Instagram.

Residents under curfew were not the only source of information. Those who were interested could even get Twitter updates from the terrorist himself. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was arrested after the Boston police put the city under siege, used the handle “Jahar” on Twitter.

“Ain’t no love in the heart of the city, stay safe people,” he wrote following the bombing.

It’s not by accident that he mixed elements of African American and popular culture into his status updates, as if he were the Joker, that psychopathic clown from Batman.

Dzhokhar’s last tweet is a retweet of religious commentary by Mufti Ismail Menk of Zimbabwe: “Attitude can take away your beauty, no matter how good looking you are, or it could enhance your beauty, making you adorable.”

As the operation to capture the terrorists wound to a close, it was memorialized by citizens’ personal cameras. Very quickly, bloggers took these photos and pieced together a timeline of what had transpired.

The Internet’s great achievement is to create a flow of information that is bottom up, instead of the top-down hierarchy of old media that broadcast to a passive audience. In the new media climate, citizens are part of the fabric of information. And the social networks are the means of production of news.

This article was first published on Israel Hayom Newspaper

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Who’s afraid of 2013?

500 × 494 - Peace Award - Post 1 Give 5. REMEMBER TO AWARD 5 cc: google images

“Lack of imagination is one of the reasons for end-of-the-world prophecies.”

As the end of the year approaches, more and more people speak of the end of the world, but not of the beginning. Where is the hope? How can we create a vision for the rest of our lives? 

For a while, the entire world was preoccupied with the question of whether the world would end this year. Children and adults alike engaged in interpretations of the Mayan prophecy. All predictions about the world ending were proved wrong, so this is the best time to mention that hope is not lost. It will be 2013 soon, and our wonderful planet continues to spin.

A century ago, at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, hope flooded the world, due to many scientific discoveries. People believed that we would create a new and spectacular planet. Books were written predicting science’s ability to end the stasis and stagnation in place since the Middle Ages. Writer Jules Verne, through his science fiction novels, tried to imagine how science could feed the masses and alleviate their distress. Walt Whitman, one of the great American poets of the 19th century, who practically invented modern free verse poetry, viewed the new era as a harbinger of democracy and human freedom. Art reached new heights of creativity, from Italian cubist futurism to surrealism. Everyone discussed mankind’s great promise. Our imaginations went wild and tried to conceive of a new society of mass transport, industry and big cities.

Two world wars reduced that hope. It was let down from the flagpole and later forgotten. As the 21st century was born, we were not envisioning a renewed spirit. On the contrary, the world was buried in visions of its end and fears of mass suicide. Anxiety took hold of our children’s faces.

In our era, what connects the world’s population is the Internet. New technologies continuously appear, becoming more advanced every day. We have the ability to transfer data from one end of the world to another. Powerful connections and the ability to share through social networks have become central to our lives. The universal vision has become practical, but it has not yet been realized as we form an image of the future.

Lack of imagination is one of the reasons for end-of-the-world prophecies. Our imagination is both flawed and limited. It is so difficult for us to imagine a future. How do we create a new fantasy? What are the components necessary for a daring, progressive, forward thinking and avant-garde ideal for us to hold on to into the future? For any person who envisions possibilities for the brain, mind and human consciousness, these are pertinent questions.

One appropriate solution would be to create a broader horizon for our imaginations so we can construct a suitable vision. We need to have something to look forward to in the future, an anchor of sorts. This vision must contain all of our needs and desires in times as crazy as these. If humanity could agree on a vision, perhaps our children wouldn’t be busy learning dubious interpretations of history written long ago. A true vision would help us see the future more clearly.

This new imagination could be the beginning of a world with prophecies about the future, instead of the end of the world. But where are these prophets and prophetesses? And why don’t they occupy a more central place in our lives? Why don’t they have a loud shofar with which to sound their prayers for the future? Why is the new prophecy in the second decade of this millennium unable to excite the masses?

This article was first published on Israel Hayom

Share with me what you think about the coming 2013

 Click this pic and Share with me what you think about the coming 2013

Listen to my poems on Lyrikline

profile_5458985_75sq_1308681495Our latest poet is not only a writer but a scientist and an activist: Mati Shemoelof with translations into Arabic, English and German. Born in 1972 in Haifa, Shemoelof works as a poet, editor, journalist and teacher. Now lives in Berlin. Read his poems in Lyrikline.

Ballad of the Middle of the Twenty First Century

Sifu.Gallery. 007  Devil Woman, 16 x 20" Mixed media (Ink sketch, paper cut, Acrylic backgound, poly topcoat.)  By Elmo H. Love cc: flickr

Sifu.Gallery. 007 Devil Woman, 16 x 20″ Mixed media (Ink sketch, paper cut, Acrylic backgound, poly topcoat.) By Elmo H. Love cc: flickr

Ballad of the Middle of the Twenty First Century

(with thanks to Serge Gainsbourg and Danny Blair Shwed Jones Grossman for the inspiration)

I peek at her white body and at that other one standing beside her,

her body shrivels from him, and her spirit sings a gentle song versed by her fancy.

So, the Botticelli painting stands in my bathroom

the orange with the black stains of mold.

Her colors don’t fade,

the light shatters on her body,

only her clothes shrivel

and get wet on the old floor tiles.

I look at her and him from afar

like a grownup peeking into his childhood,

and my mind captures photos with a rare camera

that you can’t buy

despite all the advanced technology of the age.

The bathroom colors the painting

with wet orange, and that other one cowers from the holy

water, under the mold.

On the walls little angels and fairies,

dance around her only.

After washing her hair,

she’s busy drying

while that other one

chews the fat

with her shadow.

The smell of her hair knocks me down from the peeking stance,

that other comes right over to see where the racket came from

and then right in front of my eyes, from my hiding place,

his goat’s feet come into view with the terrible smell.

The movements of her towel are so gentle,

that the bathtub itself wants to get up and make love to her

without penetration, just a sequence of touch after touch

stringing together a pleasantperverse feeling.

I look at her white body and at that other one standing next to her

I get hard from her and from him.

And this is the angel of death

that is competing with me for her love

and I have no way to beat him

but to die at her feet

and wait

for her to come to me

and my arms to be weaved into hers.

This poem was published first on Scar Minimizer (Tel-Aviv: Gwanim Publishers, 2001) and then on “Märchenland: Die beteiligten Autoren setzten sich mit den Märchen der Gebrüder Grimm auseinander, brachten ihre prosaische Form auf eine lyrische Ebene und begaben sich in die mitunter ambivalenten Bereiche des kulturellen Gedächtnisses in Deutschland und Israel.”

 

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