The way in which 24 hour news channels have changed the way we learn about, and witness, global events has been well documented and discussed. We saw the twin towers fall, live on TV. I think its astonishing that the image of one of these young terrorists could be pasted across my copy of the Metro, whilst he was still at large in India.
The latest terror induced crisis, in Mumbai, takes our participation in these events a stage further. These attacks, made with assault-rifles over several locations, was in many ways more confusing than Al-Qaeda’s grand gesture of 9/11. It says something about how technology has developed, that this story was relayed as much by connected individuals – the mass of citizen journalists – as by major news networks. Via Peter Bradwell at Demos, I’ve found a Twitter feed giving information on the attacks. In a mirror of the Election Twitter, which captured the global exhilaration of the Obama victory, this Mumbai twitter conveys something of the confusion caused by these attacks. As well as learning about the events, and witnessing them, it has come to the stage where we are experiencing them too. The epicentre of the attacks are in India, but we experience the reaction everywhere.
Meanwhile, high quality images are available via Flickr (including Vinu’s excellent shots, which I’ve used to illustrate this and the previous post). In this case the static, but high-resolution photos beats low resolution YouTube. Either way, social media sites have been promising to empower the citizen journalist, and to cut out the middle-man of the mainstream media. And of course, they also make it harder for government’s to force a certain narrative onto us. In 2008, with the Obama campaign and the Mumbai attacks, I would say that social media has come of age.