Smoke Signals and the Town Crier

Yesterday, driving down to the lovely Greenville, SC, I heard an NPR correspondent, reporting from Egypt, say something like this: ” Thousands and thousands of people are congregating in the square, which is hard to believe they knew it would be happening since all social media sites, a great deal of internet and much cell phone coverage has been cut off.”

I just have two words for this reporter: Paul Revere. Oh wait. Two more. Smoke signals. Here’s another two: Town crier. Feel free to play along.

So, if TV were to be no more, no more advertising, I guess. Oh yeah. There would still be radio. Like before TV. Print may be a different matter, but perhaps the events in Egypt this week show the value of putting words on paper. That remains to be seen but I’m pulling for print. We need it.

Let’s be clear. I love communication technology. Look! I’m using it right here. And Chuck makes the point that people will always be looking for ways to communicate, and one way to communicate won’t negate another. We’ll just add it on.

And in the case of those wishing to protest in Egypt, or anywhere for that matter, it’s a beautiful thing. No one can shut us up without shutting us up literally, especially in numbers. Almost all of us learn to say “mama” before we learn to key it in. We learn to hug before we learn to text. We learn to walk before we know about blogging. Usually.

Depending on how long the earth keeps spinning, evolution could change some of that, but probably not before I download my last mobile app.

And this is not a rant against “the media.” I think we have the best journalists in the world as a whole. They keep some of us informed and some of us honest. They tell us about things we don’t really need to to know and things that truly impact our lives, our world, and our history. I wouldn’t be listening to NPR in the car if I didn’t think there wouldn’t be something of value said that I needed to know.

But we have to keep “new media” in perspective. It’s another couple hundred communication tools in the tool box, or should I say, talk box, and I think it’s incredibly interesting to see them globally embraced and how that plays out. I also know, however, that people will communicate, make their will known, congregate, commit brave acts of civil disobedience and evil acts of hate, no matter what means are at their disposal. Even if it’s just their vocal chords. Just ask Paul Revere.


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