Sunday, December 03, 2006

Blogging vs. Dictatorship

Courtesy of Instapundit, this article from Der Spiegel nicely describes how blogging has empowered those opposing dictatorial regimes in places like Egypt, Iran and China. It also discusses the methods such regimes use to try to suppress web-based dissent:

In essence, says Dutch Internet theorist Geert Lovink, blogs are simply "relatively frequent and chronologically ordered public expressions of personal thoughts that include links to other Web sites." But in some parts of the world they serve a loftier and sometimes emancipating purpose. In societies where official censorship is rampant and freedom of speech often curbed, they transport forbidden opinions and knowledge considered taboo to people who wouldn't otherwise get access to such information. Indeed, by connecting and encouraging individual dissidents, they also become a tool of revolution.

It is this power of information that has made bloggers as feared as they are vulnerable in many countries.

Blogs are generally seen as a part of the "vague media." Since their inception in the mid-1990s, they have multiplied exponentially. Nowadays a new Internet diary is launched every second, and the number of blogs doubles every five months. Forty-one percent are in Japanese, 28 percent in English and 14 percent in Chinese. The German contribution to a many-faceted "blogosphere" uninhibited by convention lies at a mere 1 percent, leading the German blogger community to ironically and self-desparagingly refer to itself as a kind of blogging backwater.

Blogs are often used to challenge the official interpretation of events, especially in China, the Arab world, Southeast Asia and the former states of the Soviet Union. Every bit of news, every article and every television program is fair game for bloggers' critical eyes. Nor is the Web exclusively the domain of know-it-alls and crackpots: Indeed, blogging also offers the well-informed a forum in which to package and present their expertise.

(Emphasis added-DD)

The blogosphere isn't always pretty, but it is arguably the most powerful tool for free expression since the invention of the printing press.


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