2011 dominated by people rather than technology

It’s impossible to overstate how tumultuous a year 2011 has been.

Every year we seem to think that we have been shaken, twisted around, rudely awakened. Usually it’s about technology. But usually it’s about some life-changing technology, or a new ways of doing things. Refreshingly, this year there was a large human dimension to it, some of which I covered here on this blog.

It was as if we were looking through a camera and switching between two filters:  Pro-democracy and Anti-terrorism. But we also saw a share of media events, some even about the media!

  • The people’s revolutions in Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Russia, Libya…
  • In a surprising move, the US captured and killed of Osama Bin Laden — ten years after he declared war on the US.
  • Then there was Occupy Wall Street, a movement pooh-poohed by many but seemed to catch on, franchise-like, sprouting  arms, posters, and megaphones…
  • The shooting (and amazing recovery) of congresswoman Gabby Giffords dominated the early part of the year. At least here in Arizona.
  • The media scandal in the UK rocking Rupert Murdock’s empire.
  • The Kate and William extravaganza in the media -a.k.a. the royal wedding.
  • The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in April.
  • The passing away of Steve Jobs –perhaps slightly exaggerated as an ‘event’ (even on this blog!) But it made us consider how one man could have impacted so many.
  • Aung Su Kyi returned to the political arena, registering to run in upcoming elections

Hippies or hipsters protesting? Is it the seventies all over again?

‘Peace through protest’ may sound the flavor of the month, or at least the theme of 2011, considering that peaceful uprisings overturned dictators during the so-called Arab Sprint.

But it reality, this is just the old recipe, delivered to our table on new tableware.

I watched a History Channel documentary on Nixon last night, and just seeing the short powerful segments when they cut away to the anti-Vietnam movement across the country made me realize this. You could cut-and-paste the present protest on Wall Street. Except for the bandanas and peace tattoos of the seventies, the similarities are striking.

People are fed up with their politicians (81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed; confidence in Congress has dropped). They believe that the best way to send them a message is to show up on the street with hand-painted signs and chants.

OK, so we do have web sites, Twitter hash tags (#occupywallstreet) and Facebook, but it is easy to give too much credit to the mechanical tools of movements.

  • It does help when Salman Rusdie helps out with a tweet.
  • It does help when there is speculation that the Nobel peace prize this year may recognize Arab activists.
The revolution will not be televised.   But just watching the images, and the live stream makes you wonder if the hipsters have taken notes from their predecessors.
But what does this kind of speech, and technique forebode? Watch!