Tag Archives: arab spring

Voice Recognition & Internet Democracy

16 Feb

OK, so this juxtaposition or mash-up is a case of one thing having nothing to do with the other except that both issues were raised in today’s ETS New Media Faculty Seminar at Cal. (Maybe you’ll see a way that these two things speak more directly to each other.)

The first is a link to a NY Times essay, “How to Speak a Book,” by the novelist Richard Powers in which he describes how at the time (2007), despite writing prolifically, he “[hadn’t touched a keyboard for years]” and instead used voice recognition software:


The second link below will take you to a short, well-made video (both visually and textually) that one of my students pointed me toward a few weeks ago. I was reminded of this video when James Rule (it was you, right James?) was saying today in the seminar that the Internet might have developed differently (or not at all?) if the Soviets had won the Cold War and the web’s development hadn’t been fostered in particular ways by our market-based economy.

So:  In the wake of recent Internet-era movements like the Arab Spring, it’s been repeated as a kind of truism that because of the more open flow of information in Web 2.0 social media, people in oppressed societies have greater opportunities to express themselves and work towards freedom. This video complicates that notion:


Here endeth today’s verbiage.