It’s Not the Tools, It’s the Movement

originally posted on Concept Hub

This week’s blog post was going to be a recap of a podcast I participated in with Michelle Batten. The podcast can be found here.

As I sat down to write this week’s blog I realized that it would be wrong for me to let this moment in history not go recognized, so I decided to change directions and reflect on what is happening in Iran.

I am not going to claim to know even a small percentage of what is going on in Iran, nor will I get into the politics of who should be doing what. But what I do realize is that this is an important footnote in history.

I call it a footnote because I do believe what we see happening right now is the beginning of a new movement, a new spirit of empowerment.

This is equivalent to the printing press. It has been said that Martin Luther’s act of rebellion was not the first act against the Church, but it became an important footnote in history because his act was furthered by the invention of the printing press.

The 95 Theses were quickly translated from Latin into German, printed, and widely copied, making the controversy one of the first in history to be aided by the printing press.[35] Within two weeks, copies of the theses had spread throughout Germany; within two months throughout Europe

When we look at our own Revolution in America we recognize that support came from the vast distribution of the  great writings of our founding fathers.

Benjamin Franklin was a strong defender of the Freedom of Press. He wrote:

ON THE FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

by: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

HILE free from Force the Press remains,
Virtue and Freedom chear our Plains,
And Learning Largesses bestows,
And keeps unlicens’d open House.
We to the Nation’s publick Mart
Our Works of Wit, and Schemes of Art,
And philosophic Goods, this Way,
Like Water carriage, cheap convey.
This Tree which Knowledge so affords,
Inquisitors with flaming swords
From Lay-Approach with Zeal defend,
Lest their own Paradise should end.The Press from her fecundous Womb
Brought forth the Arts of Greece and Rome;
Her offspring, skill’d in Logic War,
Truth’s Banner wav’d in open Air;
The Monster Superstition fled,
And hid in Shades in Gorgon Head;
And awless Pow’r, the long kept Field,
By Reason quell’d, was forc’d to yield.This Nurse of Arts, and Freedom’s Fence,
To chain, is Treason against Sense:
And Liberty, thy thousand Tongues
None silence who design no Wrongs;
For those who use the Gag’s Restraint,
First Rob, before they stop Complaint

Without going into the debate of “Old Media” vs “New Media” what we are witnessing today is that the business of media has restricted our access to a free press. Whether it is political favoritism, pressure from advertisers or the need to stay between the established lines as a means to not look biased, or to not cause trouble – our media is no longer free.

I love the work that most of our reporters are doing and I respect their art and talent and most of all their bravery to get the story to the world, but as we have seen the past few days, there are limits to what they can do.

Those limits exist because there are still those who feel they are in control of the message, much like the Church was in control of the message before the printing press.

Today, we witness people taking control of the message, using “new” media to tell their stories. What amazes me most is the tireless efforts of developers around the world working to help people in Iran to get past the media blocks.

The tools, such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are there to empower this movement, but the movement is the spirit within the people.

Perhaps Twitter will be a footnote in this moment in history just like the printing press is a footnote in the history led by Martin Luther. The Printing Press became a footnote  because of what it enabled which grew and changed all of humanity. Just like the printing press, what Twitter has enabled is just a spark, a lesson, of what we as humans are able to overcome and how much we can achieve through the freedom to communicate.