Geekery & Miscellaneous
Sunday, July 23, 2006
And so a week has passed. We kicked up a ruckus, got mainstream media to back our case, appealed on television, made various government babus look like idiots, rattled their departments, extracted their precious document, made it public, set them off on a blame game, and finally, got the ISPs to restore access to our blogs.
What a week for activism! Who knew bloggers had so much power? And we won, right?
A new week dawns. After days of frenzy like an all-night festival, the blockade has been ordered lifted. Connectivity is flickering on across the country. The activists are packing up from their campaign of words, heading back to their regular lives. Tired but happy faces. The chill is thinning. Sunshine, glorious sunshine.
For those of us still standing, we can’t help but wonder. Where have the cheerleaders gone? Is this all they cared for? Their own little selves? The block may be lifted, but the ban is firmly in place. The babus successfully evaded having to explain themselves. They rose in mock anger, threatened ISPs for the mess, then excused themselves because the order after all came from another department.
We’re enraged. We feel violated. Who is this government that claims to represent and protect us, but thinks nothing of shafting us when they please? That holds us in contempt for seeking to understand why?
Why should we let you get away with this? On what basis did you conjure up that list? We looked at the sites you hid from us. We laughed at some, scratched our heads in puzzlement at others. What was so repulsive about them? The people who ran those sites came to talk to us. They were civil. They were puzzled too. We listened as they explained what they understood.
We hear of little birdies atwitter. This ban is just a smokescreen for a sinister operation, they tweet. An operation orchestrated by the government to nab terrorists! Haha, we wink. Looking stupid? Fret not! Apply polish In the Interest of National Security! So clever. So tired. The polish is peeling even as it is applied.
We may not all be standing, but we’re not all gone. You have taken comfort often in the knowledge that public memory is short, that people will move on and forget this ever happened. We won’t. Not all of us, at least. We’re watching you. We have friends. We have the tools to make you answerable. We know how to use them now, and use them we will.
You have a choice. Become accountable, or compel us to embarrass you. You don’t understand the net. You don’t understand the nature of what it is that you seek to regulate. There are billions of pages out there, and growing fast. The worst fate a page can receive is to be obscure. Blocking them is impossible. Circumventing blockades is in the nature of the medium. By seeking a ban, you brought them attention. That is counterintuitive, but that is how it works.
We can help you understand all this, but first you have to learn to be accountable. Or we’ll force it on you. Are you willing to talk?
Sunil — Jul 23, 2006 4:08:10 AM —
How you mocked the Mumbai blasts
Awww! Poor you! Someone blew up a train in your city and you didn't even get a t-shirt. Here, take some sympathy.
-- Kiran Jonnalagadda www.pobox.com/~jace
neha — Jul 23, 2006 4:31:00 AM —
Actually Sunil - That was in the context of you mocking everybody else for not having been in Mumbai - as if nobody else had suffered from violence.
You were the one trivializing the pain of those who suffered and died - by pretending you felt it - when clearly you weren't affected by it.
Patrix — Jul 23, 2006 7:57:17 AM —
out of context
Kiran's comment on the Google groups has been taken out of context here...it probably was a well-deserved response to a crackpot's attack on someone else.
This is an excellent post, Kiran. As you rightly said, the battle has been won but the war is far from over.
mahen — Jul 23, 2006 10:04:43 AM —
Well, Thanks for dropping by my blog Jace!
Nitin — Jul 23, 2006 10:39:35 AM —
The cooperation bit
Good post. But making it into an "us vs them" against a nebulous entity called government, in my mind, puts both sides solely on antagonistic paths. Government will continue to believe that this bunch is an irritating, shrill, noisy bunch that gets in the way of their jobs.
It may or may not be the case this time round, but it is reasonable to believe that terrorists can use blogs or email to trigger, signal or organise attacks. The government may be clueless how to address such threats, but that does not mean that it should not attempt to address them.
The question is, in addition to keeping them on their toes, keeping the vigil, watching the watchers and all that, can we create co-operative space between us and the government? Bloggers played a serious role during the tsunami and after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. This is not insignificant. Significant enough, I should say, for the government to acknowledge that bloggers play a useful role in crises. The government agencies are worried about information warfare and psychological operations (psy-ops). If bloggers can get the government to engage them, there may be positive payoffs for both sides.
By going about blocking blogs in the most stupid way possible (well, the second most stupid way, the most stupid would be blocking .) the government showed its ignorance of blogs, and trivialised their role. By going about taking a totally confrontational line against the government, I think bloggers too will be revealing their ignorance of the job of government, and trivialise its role. We should'nt do that.
Kiran Jonnalagadda — Jul 23, 2006 10:54:01 AM —
Nitin, I was hoping the tone indicated that we could cooperate, but first they must stop abusing our rights. Getting them to respect that is the first step in the path to cooperation.
Jacob — Jul 23, 2006 11:39:46 AM —
Jace, there is a guy named sunil posting nonsense about you on various blogs, here's what he posted on the Mutiny, mutiny.wordpress.com/2006/07/21/isps’-laziness-caused-the-indian-blog-blackout/
Sunil — Jul 23, 2006 3:41:19 PM —
On your right to defend your statement
Your comment has been mailed to all journalists, TV channels, activists, the Mumbai Police and the Western Naval Command.
They will email or call you and you will have right to defend your statement.
Also the entire thread has been posted so people see for waht it is.
PS: Bloggers are an incestous lot.
Anivar Aravind — Jul 23, 2006 1:31:41 PM —
Thanks 4 the wonderful summary jace. It really touches the issues. But it will be also good if you linked the Outlook story <a href=www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20060720&fname=blogs&sid=1>What Remained unsaid</a>
Cuckoo — Jul 23, 2006 7:56:51 PM —
Good Show !! Keep it up. I think "we" is appropriate....it depicts unity.
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