Digital Journalism Literacy and Community
The Revolution of Digital Democracy VS. Authority
by Richard C. Close Servant CEO, Chrysalis Campaign, Inc.
Chrysalis Campaign, Inc. is teaming up with Mojatu Foundation to provide a UNESCO PPN seeded platform to bypass international media and empower youth (ages 13 to 35) to tell their life stories on “I am Africa. This is my story…” and have their own social network. You can join this group at: http://i-am-the-story.ning.com . Free downloadable education curriculum is a available on the site.
Revolution is in the air around the world… why? Every generation claims it is different than the next.
There is always that pattern of rebellion as youth are seeking of ways to defind their individual mark on the world. However, this generation is taking an evolutionary leap way beyond any one in history. Collaborative Internet applications have shifted our youth’s identity from the local town/culture into an identity of global relationships. We are now a collective. History has launched massive oppressive empires through military might in contrast to youth having created a global technology digital democracy that pressures authority to be servants to the global populace. As it was once referred to in Star Trek about the Borg’s collaborative technology invasion, “Resistance is futile.”
The globalization of youth (an business) via cell and Web technology are transcending all the boundaries of media, political and economic authority. No longer is there only one local bank, company, school or church to control local youth or people. For centuries, colonialism and dictatorships have relied on the isolation and oppression of people through physical and cultural boundaries.
Now the Web is bypassing the many barriers of society. We now have dictatorships on top of fully empowered digital democracies. From Los Angeles to Egypt, political leaders are suddenly awakening to the fact that they cannot hide social injustice or run from public outcry like they have for thousands of years. Businesses are having a more difficult time abusing workers who can find jobs anywhere in the world or hiding images of burning sweat shops on the Internet for all of their consumers to see. African students can take classes in U.S. online and American students can learn new forms of African music from Kenya. There was no war over digital democracy, it just silently slipped into the back door of the king’s palace and happened.
In the last U.S. election, the old U.S. extreme right guard put out false political ads and had them instantly shot down as lies on Twitter. Police beating a black man named Rodney King in Los Angeles sparked riots. Then, just as fast the victim statement to LA, “Why don’t we get along?” goes viral; it causes the riots to shut down. One person with a camera and Internet access causes politicians to react and brings people to the streets.
Whereas, many feared the marketing power of the Internet could manipulate the masses the same way traditional authority could through TV for years. We are now discovering the reverse is true. Unlike one way TV, the Internet talks back with a powerful voice. Even a local bank is subject to the needs of the local customer, because the entire account can be moved to any bank in the world electronically. Who could have forecasted that we could talk back to the TV or argue with the editors of the New York Times online. Yet, we now accept it as a way of life, live on CNN with Twitter. Anyone can now be held accountable by the public. This remarkable global view of today’s youth also forces transparency on anyone who chooses to rule or market to us.
Where corporate or government leaders use to be able to hide behind stalling and the legal systems to do dirty deeds, Internet cultures demand mediate responses. The social and economic power of a collective populace demands not only instant answers but public ones as well. One’s failure to respond quickly and honestly to the public’s outcry can have very expensive consequences for a company or lose elections for politicians. Never before have the youth of this world had the power to invade the boardroom or country leadership’s bedroom, but they do now. This historic change is so dramatic that every movie star, political leader and business must maintain a Twitter account to respond quickly to global reactions to their behavior. Internet collaboration is impacting us with even the smallest details. Beijing leaders protested that the Beijing U.S. Embassy’s air pollution detection system was broadcasting via Twitter that the air quality index that was many times higher than the official China statements. It was embarrassing. This generation not only demands honest truth, they want it in real time.
This brings us to the point of the two most important cultural changes that the Internet forces us to deal with. Global collaboration forces authority (business and political) to be transparent and honest. With billions of cell phones that can instantly share thoughts along with phone cameras to document activities, it is rapidly becoming harder to hide corruption. Mitt Romney, in the U.S. presidential election can run a TV ad saying Obama will ship all Jeep manufacturing to China and then minutes later Jeep executives can go on Twitter and say it’s not true. This is immediately followed by an avalanche of public outcry, followed by news media editorials, costing Romney the election in Ohio.
This democratic demand for honesty and transparency, because of Web and Cell collaboration, plays out even in a local settings. My Honda Odyssey had to go for a state pollution test when the yellow engine light was on. Looking for an honest dealership, I asked for a recommendation from a Christian friend, thinking that would do it. Taking my car to dealership that was changing hands from father to son, I paid 100 USD for an estimate to fix the car. Also, I told him money was tight for us. The dealer wanted to replace the catalytic converter and the entire pollution control system for 3,800 USD. I pulled my car out and searched online to discover from consumer reviews that this car has a pollution valve that clogs. A simple kit for 176 USD would do the job. Affronted, I returned to the dealer asking for my 100 USD back, because he was going to cheat me. He mocked me, and said I could take him to court for the 100 USD. I calmly came back at him. “If you do not admit to me right now you were going to cheat me and give me the 100USD now, I will Facebook you to the town and your church cyber communities by posting your estimate.” Infuriated he gave back the 100 USD. Had he not refunded me the hundred, his dealership’s reputation and personal reputation would have been greatly damaged. Later, his father talked to me and thanked me for his son’s lesson.
In the 60s, U.S. youth demanded that our government, schools and parents be honest about the Vietnam War, racism and sexism.For the first time, the world saw what real live war was like and the brutality of African American beatings for civil rights on TV, creating a generation that knew injustice could no longer hide. Ironically, this is the same generation that birthed the Internet and a cultural of a global collaborative. So this generation has moved us from the spiritual belief that we are one family into the technological fact that we are becoming one social collaborative. The question for this digital generation is, “What will we do with that kind of unlimited power?” In our next article, we will explore how learning via the Internet is bypassing colonial industrial teaching methods. We will discuss how we can learn and enrich our local cultures at the same time.
Richard C. Close is the CEO-Servant of the Chrysalis Campaign, Inc., which manages the ‘I am Africa. This is my story . . . ,’ a UNESCO Power of Peace Network-sponsored digital storytelling portal. A developer of the Global Learning Framework, he also builds learning centers and is an author, blogger, and international speaker on IT collaboration and poverty. He has twenty years of experience advising corporations, educational institutions, and non-governmental organizations about learning strategies. His next projects are “Community Development through Digital Literacy” workshops and Community Learning Centers. Richard can be reached at http://globallearningframework.ning.com.