[Air-l] FC: How anti-Iraq war protesters employed technology, from NYT

Steve Jones sjones at uic.edu
Sun Feb 23 06:45:48 PST 2003

To be the devil's advocate (or at least a media historian) is what we 
are describing a difference in kind or in scale? Most of us on air-l 
are probably aware of the use of the phone (landline, then mobile) 
and fax for organizing...and I recall reading about examples of the 
use of audio cassettes and letters for organizing (though obviously 
on a different timeline). So as I see it there are three fairly 
obvious things the internet brings that are different than media 
before it in this regard: One is the internet's relative 
instantaneity, another its reach to so many people, and another is 
the inherent "copy-ability" of internet communication (e.g., the ease 
of forwarding, posting). Which of these matters most, or are they all 
equal? And what I'd like to know more than that: Is there something 
else, something about the internet as a medium, that makes it more 
than a faster/broader medium in comparison to what has come before it?


At 6:28 AM -0500 2/23/03, Michael Gurstein wrote:
>Pace Gina and others... I think the article below provides some extremely
>useful insight into the role that the Internet played, is playing and will
>play in the variety of political transformations that are taking place.
>The demonstrations were, we should note, occuring on day 1.5 of a war that
>hadn't yet happened and yet according to CNN who referred us to their
>website for confirmation, there were significant "anti" activities in some
>603 (not sure where the 3 came from) communities across the globe.
>Some observations:
>	* pre-Internet, we would probably not have known (certainly 
>not in a timely
>fashion) about 90% of those activities as they occurred mostly in places
>where AP/Reuters and the traditional national/international media never
>	* pre-Internet, almost certainly 90% of those activities 
>might never have
>happened since the people in those communities would not have expected that
>their activities in Peoria and Penticton would register on any sort of
>international demo chart and thus they would have been invisible to all but
>the direct participants
>	* pre-Internet, at day 1.5 of a war that hadn't happened yet, 
>the turnout
>would have been in the thousands rather than the millions and would have
>represented the success of organizing efforts among the league of the
>committed (the usual cast of fringe political parties and a few politically
>active unions) rather than the infinitely larger and much more diverse (and
>ultimately much more powerful) league of the conscious and concerned.
>I think the results that Gina presented are an indication of the limitations
>of attempting to study phenomena which are emergent, systemic and
>tranformative with purely (and dare I say, narrowly) empirical methodology
>and tools that are meant to study phenomena that are incremental and
>Mike Gurstein

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