Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Subversive Internet

Two very exciting posts (no, articles) about the Internet over at the NYT. One is about a Saudi woman who posted a video of herself driving on a public road to YouTube. As you know, that is currently illegal in Saudi Arabia. (I do not know why it is illegal, seems like straightforward old oppression of women.) The other is about the dreaded Chinese grass-mud horse.

Not bad for a mythical creature whose name, in Chinese, sounds very much like an especially vile obscenity. Which is precisely the point.

Although the large amount of spam found hourly in my spam folder (go, Google filtering!) attests, sadly, to the dimmer side of human nature (notice I did not say "to the dimmer side of the technology"), these two examples are exciting because they show some of the potential for the anti-authoritarian subversive uses of the Internet. Now of course if you are a Chinese filterer, or a Saudi official, you might disagree, but then you could go write your own blog about it. This blog is mine.

I especially like the Saudi driving, because the Internet can act as a medium to slowly introduce and maintain a conversation about the issue, bringing it into the mainstream. Even if it is disagreeable to many, just having it more widely covered is a step. Change often takes time.