Thursday, April 14, 2011

The flowers of the Arab spring grow from buds of free information

The message of Tahrir Square and WikiLeaks, writes Tony Benn, is that the maxim “Information is power” works as much for individuals as for governments.

Tony Benn

New Statesman

"Civilisations are remembered by the state of technology at the time. We recall the Stone Age, the Iron Age and, more recently, the ages of agriculture, industry and space. Now, we have entered the Information Age, with the computer revolution transforming the means by which we can communicate with each other. Two recent examples of this have been covered extensively in the press, but deserve further attention. First, the row over the release of US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks has shown the sensitivity of those in power to the idea that the public at large is able to read memorandums and papers that the establishment prepared for its own purposes. Similarly in Egypt at the start of the year, the masses could gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo because texting, Facebook and Twitter freed them from dependence on the official sources of information, such as state-controlled television and newspapers. WikiLeaks and the Arab world revolts remind us of the power of free-flowing information and its role in the development of society from the time of Caxton through to Google. The result in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya has been to make possible popular revolutions that would never have taken place had this information not been available....."

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