Ain't technology wunnerful? I mean, it saves all that wear and tear on the VW Mini-Bus, saves the trees that would otherwise be cut down for anti-war signs, the paint, the tye-dying of shirts, the buying of sandals... heck all sorts of things and time can be saved because the World Wide Web has brought technology to leftist activism!
I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
It's also a great thing that those evil, rotten, Nazi, CONSERVATIVES have not discovered the WWW as a place to gather their forces. It's so heart warming that the left can, at long last, use technology for good instead of evil.
Or so it seems the Washington Post imagines the world has been set to rights because today a charming article has appeared in their paper letting us know that hey have found the "perfect example of how antiwar is waged in the Internet age." Or at least so says Jennifer Earl in "Where Have All the Protests Gone? Online".
The piece is all aflutter over all the downloading, uploading, people gathering, reachering outering, and general info disseminatoring going on with the good 'ol WWW. The Post has seen it... and it is good.
Amusingly, the Post's writer writes as if she has only now just discovered all this internet thingie.
However, the Internet hasn't become a venue just for facilitating the logistical details of old-fashioned protests, the place to find ride-sharing schedules and parking tips for the big day. Increasingly, the Internet has become the venue for protest -- the new Mall, so to speak -- where online-only activists deploy new technologies to challenge governments and corporations and promote causes mundane and sublime. I've done research, funded by the National Science Foundation, about the Internet and protests, and I've found that these efforts are transforming the way everyday citizens connect with and participate in activism and social movements.
Yeah, "transforming". Naturally, it only seems that our pal Jennifer, the Post's intrepid internet "expert", cannot find any space in her piece to mention the many millions of us on the right who have similarly found the effectiveness of the Web. She mentions music lovers, aging hippies and leftists, on-line gamers, MySpace users... but, not a hint that Conservatives just might have a computer or two handy.
Seems like wishful thinking on Jenny's part, eh? All those information superhighways and not a Conservative in sight. You can just feel her sighing in bliss.
Most of this thing is mere fluff written to impress 80 year-old, ex-hippies that their world has not disappeared, just gone to that great tangled mass of wires and electrical impulses they watched on Star Trek in between Nam protests ever so long ago.
But, there is a dangerous part to her piece.
But online activism is not just for cranky customers, rabid gamers or television fans. Sometimes, it can reach the highest levels of political action. In 2000, and again in 2004, so-called vote trading or "vote pairing" Web sites popped up nationwide. These sites helped voters from different states coordinate their votes to undercut what many regarded as the undemocratic effects of the electoral college on presidential elections.
These sites helped transform voting -- the icon of individualized and conventional political participation -- into a collective and highly contentious political act. These vote-swappers took on one part of the Constitution (the electoral college), while relying on another (the First Amendment). Without the Internet, it is unlikely that this movement could have emerged, or that voters could have been matched so efficiently.
She seems quite pleased with the attempt by these "vote swappers" to destroy our electoral system and frighteningly sees no problem with using one part of the Constitution to attack another.
A famous saying goes that the Constitution is not a suicide pact, but Jenny doesn't seem to mind if one hand of Lady Liberty chops off her other. And if as many users of the internet are as unmindful of the American system as little Jenny here, we have trouble indeed.
Still, it's great our miss Earl has finally realized the power of the internet, the one we here on NewsBusters use every single day, eh?
Now, be veewee qwiet. Der might be some eeevil Conservatives awound here.