Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Revolution, 21st Century Style

photo: net.effect
"Revolution happens 140 characters at a time."

This is what I recently sent out as my daily "Tweet" into the vast electronica of the Internets. This story holds much interest for me, as Moldova was once part of my Mother Country (and is also my father's birthplace) before it became independent with the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.

Recent events in Chisinau, the capital of this small, forgotten "new" country in the Balkans, have made the front page of The New York Times, but not necessarily for the cause of the still peaceful, massive student protests against the Communist Party, which is back at the helm of government. This is the first full-on revolution aided by the instantaneous use of technology---mainly Twitter. And the news outlets are buzzing all about it.

For quite some time now I've been explaining to friends that Twitter is best used as a tool for disseminating information, not for banal friend status updates as part of the popular social network it's recently become. Twitter's initial purpose was to keep northern California firefighters informed of rapid-moving wildfires in the region.

I've been following the barrage of information being sent and shared by the Moldovan people right there at the scene---involved in the scene---and it's been an incredibly fascinating experience. Instructions are being given out on where to organize, which buildings to try to occupy (TV, of course), which services have been cut, which rail lines are inoperable, where troops are amassing, etc. I am witnessing live entities (crowds) move about this small country in real time, in real experiences, from real vantage points, sometimes as detailed as certain alleys on certain streets. It's mind boggling. I feel a mix of revolt and interest and desire to join the masses, if I could only board a flight out tonight.

If I could only...


I wonder if the comfort of an ocean and a few thousand miles' buffer zone don't give me the bravado displayed in the paragraph above. I wonder if all of us Americans would be bothered to emulate the Moldovans if unfairly-elected governments came to power amid shenanigans at the polls (2001). Or would we be afraid of missing the next installment of "Lost" ?

I am first to say that I'm a master at doling out excuses of inconvenience. Am I the only one good at running in the opposite direction of the Revolution?

One day I'm gonna...

(update Tweet from one of the protesters: "the people's focus is too much on HOW students got to meet in #Moldova and not why?" )

(More developing events)

(Read an opposing opinion on the role of Twitter in this situation)


the beige one said...

Excellent post and great questions posed at the end there...I fear that my view of our society prevents me from thinking that should the call come, many would rather stay at home with the Tivo.

(S)wine said...

Thanks. Now Romania is being pulled into being so closely-related to Moldova. The Moldovan Communist gov't is blaming Romania for inciting the "violent riots." I never thought I'd live to see a Communist government complaining that the Romanians are stirring up Democratic sentiment. Wow!

Deni said...

It is fairly annoying that the media does seem to focus on the Twitter aspect of this rather than the actual protests and the reasons for it. It doesn't really matter how the word got out, the fact is someone yelled "our government is fucking us and we need to do something about it" and people responded.

Those protestors are my new heroes.