So, I just figured out — after how many months? — how to send photos and videos from my cell phone. I’ve signed up for TwitPic and 12Seconds, both of which send notifs to Twitter when I post a picture or video.
Now, I know perfectly well that I will post utterly mundane photos and videos of my kids, of my yard, of random events when I am bored. I know this. But I can’t help but imagine seeing Something Important and catching it on video and uploading it to Twitter So That The World Will Know.
Yeah, yeah, I know — I’ve read too many stories, seen too many movies. I’m not on the Global Frequency. I avoid going to places like the Republican National Convention protests. My life is not going to have any of those events, where I snap the right photo that brings the villains down.
But take me out of the equation for a moment. Just think on what the tech does.
Mobile Metrix are using mobiles to collect data in the Brazillian favellas. At the moment they are gathering census data and distributing information on fighting degnue. The teams go back six months later and check rates of infection of dengue. Mobile Metrix does this by training locals and giving them mobiles. Foreigners really can’t go into the favellas. Not only would they be murdered, but even if they lived they would get lost.
If you were a smart sixteen-year-old with a mobile phone that took video and you were friends with Europeans and Americans, and you saw, say, a police officer execute someone in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you eventually think of your phone as a weapon?
Brian Wood’s comic, The DMZ, explores life in a war zone as experienced by the noncombatants. It’s chief narrator is a journalist, Matty Roth. But part of the point of The DMZ is that everyone has a story to tell. As Matty gives a voice to the people who live in the war his recordings and broadcasts change national opinion. He affects things, not so much because he has vast power but because he makes people hear the voiceless.
Comics have another great journalist, of course — Warren Ellis’s Spider Jerusalem. Spider would be, I imagine alternately mad with joy and apoplectic with rage at the ability of tech to give people a voice — and how little we say with it.
Current.com is running an election special. They want to collect people’s Twitters, 12seconds, Diggs, Flickrs — all of it. Real-time mass election coverage. Election judging, harassment at the polls, parties, slogans, tears — all of it. Real-time, real-people coverage of the election as it is experienced by the nation. I know, or at least I hope, that I will never be a personal witness to A Very Important Event. I won’t single-handedly save the world. But on election day I can take videos of my polling place and send them in. I can count judges and report on my poll. I can participate in one small way in watching our watchmen — in ensuring that representative democracy, flaws and all, is being allowed to work without untoward influence.
I hope that many of you in the U.S. will check out Current.com’s election day event and participate. I, in the meantime, will try to not bore you all with twelve second videos of my break room at work.