30 July, 2008

Here Comes Everybody

I've been wondering how I could introduce this post/book review for a while and then No Impact Man provided the perfect story.

I recently read Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody about the digital/internet/Web 2.0 revolution we are currently undergoing. It's a thoroughly entertaining and interesting read, showing how blogs, Twitter, video and so on are changing the way we behave and think and socialise. For example, I will admit that I hadn't quite seen the point of Twitter until I read the book. And to be honest with you, for most people I still don't, as frankly most of our lives are just not that interesting. However, the use that Egyptian political activists are putting it to makes the whole thing worthwhile, as they can ensure that the action by the police against them is documented quickly and as it happens.

Which brings me on to the story from New York that No Impact Man brought to my attention. Because while Big Brother may be watching us, Little Brother is often to be found looking right back at them. On Friday night, a Critical Mass demonstration was taking place in New York. For those of you who aren't familiar with this group, Critical Mass stage monthly cycling demos reclaiming the streets of cities like New York and London for the cyclist. These are in my experience pretty easy going demos, with a carnival atmosphere - the main point is that there is a critical mass of cyclists making it harder for cars to get around for a bit. Last Friday, an NYPD officer decided to take things into his own hands, walked into the path of one cyclist who tried to avoid him, knocked him off, assaulted him and then arrested the cyclist and charged him attempted assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. I can say all this because a tourist recorded the events on video. It didn't take long for the video to surface on YouTube and now the officer is facing an investigation. From what the New York Times says it sounds as if the NYPD need to wise up to Web 2.0. Here Comes Everybody, indeed.

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