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Saturday, 13 August 2011


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[x-posted in the LGM comments as well, but I took out a mysterious colon here]
Charlie Stross often comments on the difficulty this phenomenon makes for his near-future SF, first during the writing of Halting Stateand now Rule 34. I think he mentioned at one point shelving or drastically rewriting a novel because the present outpaced his imagined future.

Rich Puchalsky

Rambling blog post about the riots here. Feel free to comment etc.

For the specifics about Twitter and acephalous organization, I suspect that what's going on is just more visible to people far away than it previously was. Both rioters and the police try to use available technology. (CR links to a mobile police billboard with can-you-identify-these-people pictures.) It remains to be seen whether tech advances like this will make a real difference.


It remains to be seen whether tech advances like this will make a real difference.

Hmmm... I assure you, these riots wouldn't have taken the shape that they did without "social media." The student protests certainly wouldn't have. And I feel safe extrapolating that lots of the other stuff in the world going on right now wouldn't have either. There's a reason why the UK government is actually discussing stopping these media during times of "crisis" right now...

Guess it depends on what you mean by a "real difference".... Turn the world on its head? Have no idea... But cause quite a lot of civil disorder of a sort that many of us might have thought was gone for good - yes, certainly....


(I just explained how little credit I deserve for any student protest events over at Rich's blog, but I will take credit for one little thing. Could have been anyone else, this, but happened to be me... One day, early into the occupation at my university and on a day of student protest in London, I took a break from hanging out with the students to go get a pint at a nearby pub. On my way there, I passed a bunch of cops who were monitoring the situation just off campus, and overheard one of them ask another: "What's it's say on their twitter - are they coming this way?" Obviously I went back and informed the "media table" of the situation... I think this was the first time, at least at the occupation that I was involved with (which was one of the most important, if not the most, and thus likely the first the cops were monitoring) that we / they knew that the twitter feeds were actually being monitored by the police. And monitored on iPhones, just beyond the university gates. Seems very obvious now that that would happen - now it's old hat and totally expected - but at the moment it felt like finding out that one of our blogs was being monitored by the CIA or something for anti-Iraq War posts. And thus the tenor / informational quality of tweets dropped, other means were devised, etc etc....)


I came here for the "continual conservative bashing," and leave disappointed ;-)

Its long been conventional wisdom that the next war is always fought using the last war's technology and that the superior side is the one who employs the latest information.

The attacks of 9-11 were prime examples of a foe turning a war on its ear and beating a foe in battle. The London rioters used the tools available knowing that the police would be ill-equipped to fight back, short of mass murder (which I guess went out in Anglo societies back in the Draft Riots in NYC).

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