A few weeks ago, I started writing a near-future science fiction story that explores what might become of Ushahidi and crisis reports via text messaging in the years to come.
A few days ago, I started seeing parts of my story unfold before my eyes every time I refreshed my Twitter account.
I live in the United States, where it is generally safe to have opinions, even loud ones, even unpopular ones, simply because you’re a human being and here we consider that a right. It means that when I see people’s opinions being ignored, crushed, or brutally silenced, I’m angry. And I’m five feet tall and my grandma can benchpress me, so what would I do about it?
Years ago, I could travel to the location of injustice and try to help with my hands–costly and dangerous, and I could never travel everywhere. I could petition my government to get involved. I could peacefully protest to encourage my fellow citizens to help with the petition. Or I could pray, which I’m sure has its internal uses, but frankly, I’m not convinced it has any immediate external power.
But the world has shifted, while and because we’ve been building technological toys for ourselves. We’ve accomplished powerful handheld computer/phones. We can instant message friends, play Tetris, download music, take pictures and shoot video. They’re pretty fun! And with Twitter, and later with Ushahidi (mark my words! and my fiction!), they’re going to change the world.
The streams in which our daily activities flow have shifted, subtly at first, but they’re beginning to pour into rivers, and those rivers are heavy with potential, heavy enough to carve canyons into the way things were. People are connecting, networking, coordinating, and preserving, and they’re using these Tetris-playing, photo-taking toys to obtain an audience.
As long as you have a phone, there is no longer revisionist history to erase your voice, to stomp out who you are and what you stand for and what you do about it. The Internet collects your Tweets, your blog posts, your YouTube videos. The Wayback Machine saves them for sweet eternity. You are immortal. If you have a phone and you’re close enough to a cell tower, you cannot be erased. You can die, but how many of us can suffer and die from one entity before the rest of the world will feel threatened by that entity and bitchslap its in its vile face? That is where this can go. Right now, injustice can be reported in real-time; some day, we can fight it in real-time.
The terrible things man does to man will never disappear, but we’re fumbling with a new way to fight it. Activism is as simple as changing the settings on your Twitter account to say you live in Tehran. It’s as simple as sharing this link:
…and letting other people decide whether or not they want to be a part of history. I hope you do. I am.Edit: If you don't understand what's going on, velveteen wrote a great summary right here.
1. I’ve had a growing collection of cheap plastic animals since I was little. Because I’m immature, I still play with them. (You have no idea how delighted I was when I saw the first episode of Firefly.)
2. There are cool piles of rocks, gravel, and sand down by the docks, just a few blocks from my house.
3. I pretty much hate when people take pictures of their creepy Japanese dolls and post them, so I figured the Internet needed some dinosaurs to eat the creepy Japanese dolls.
When I was a kid I used to compulsively put my fingers in their gaping mouths until my finger was touching the inside of the dinosaur's anus. I DON'T KNOW.
My pet archaelogist flew up to Seattle for a couple of days. I was kind of hoping we would go solve mysteries about long-dead people like on Bones, but instead it turns out the only thing she likes more than dead people is dead pennies. We went on a search for machines that ruin U.S. currency for fun and profit, and hit something like eighteen of them in one day.
Our adventures included this hairy little friend:
We fed him two fistfuls of pennies before his owner noticed we realized he wasn’t going to smear them and stamp them with an image of a bone.
So, I constantly argue about car art with my partner. He thinks cars are beautiful when they’re sleek and subtle, with only minor aftermarket adjustments; I think they’re boring, and you should paint all over them and glue things to them, like kindergarten art projects with wheels. This van, for instance, is the coolest SF-themed vehicle I’ve seen in a long time, but he gave me the “You voted for McCain, didn’t you?” face when I showed it to him.
Whatever. I love you, space van. <3
This is my favorite photo from the trip:
I put my phone number against the glass, but it wasn’t interested. Fine, I can take a hint. I know when I’m not withered enough for the popular curiosities to want a piece. At least I’m not a fake, Head! Yeah, you heard me. You and (most) everything else in that display case. A skillful fake that fooled me even after I stood there for three hours and eventually had to be escorted out by security, but a fake all the same. Maybe I’ll make a post about shrunken heads later.
Next, we had dinner in the rotating restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. The restaurant spins around, making a full rotation once ever ~45 minutes, but the walls remain in place. We found a napkin on the windowsill with a conversation on it between two people presumably on opposite sides of the restaurant.
Check out the pantspissing gorgeous view from the observation deck.
My fear of heights isn’t crippling, which means it’s basically a psychological toy I can use to torment myself when I’ve run out of pranks to play on the people around me.
And speaking of pranks…vandalism isn’t always wrong:
That’s public art, man. I would pay extra taxes to have more signs like that.
Once, I earned the right to type that. I had some trouble with my hinder that left me lying on my belly for almost an entire summer.
I was only seventeen, so it could have been socially disastrous, but fortunately I wasn’t the kind of seventeen-year old that had friends or engagements, just locker room embarrassments and the occasional split lip. I already typed fluent HTML, tapped out in Notepad so it took five times as long but leant me a buttload more programming cred. In 1998 I took advantage of that keister malady to master the intricacies of CSS. When I attended trade school for what I already knew–web design and development–I passed with my eyes shut.
In my old age, a mere decade later, my fluency is fading. I’m hoping this new site reacquaints me with what was once my only means of indoor entertainment. There is code here to play with, and functions to adjust, and I can’t depend on anyone to do it for me. And since I barely have the time to maintain my own site at all, I’m not going to be able to do two anymore. Just as it was with my first website, you’ll now be able to find my art, writing, and personal life all in one place, separated only by WP’s convenient tags.
I don’t care what the purists say. I’m so freaking glad I’m not editing this in Notepad. So…
Hello, world!Edit: Pretend you didn't see this. I forgot the cross-posty thing was still on, and the blog on my site still needs to be formatted. Really badly. haha!