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New Media : the answer to The Trap (Adam Curtis 2007)!

I found Curtis’ documentary interested to watch (despite its length and old fashioned way of filming!). The way it questions the western idea of Freedom is very relevant to the global context we are living in these days.

The concept of “negative Freedom” emerged from the Cold War when people were convinced they had to protect them from the communists who tried to deprive them from their freedom. But even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the failure of communism the negative freedom did not turn into a “positive freedom”. Freedom is not promoted in itself, it is always defined as something that has to be protected from an enemy. Even after the Cold War politicians and powerful corporation are keeping people in the idea that they have an enemy. It used to be communists, now it is terrorists.

Governments maintain an atmosphere of paranoia to achieve control over people. They believe that politicians are protecting them from huge threats such as bombings etc. Therefore people will not criticize or rebel themselves against it. According to Curtis, politicians seem to have interest in creating enemies.

We could think of Curtis’ documentary as very pessimistic. And it is obviously. Yet I disagree with Alexandra’s closure “Great job complaining about all the things wrong in the world – but that’s really only half of the job”. By pinpointing what’s wrong we are lead to answers. What if the development were a way of escaping the control that politicians have gain over us. It might be the tool to retrieve a positive freedom. The role of Twitter in 2009 Iran Revolution is a great example of the hope we could in the New Media.

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Contrary to “the Invisible Hand” of economist Adam Smith, we could think of the New Media as the tool which forces people to stop focus on their personal interest and pushes them into taking into account the others. This reminds me of the movie the Lives of others, where the agent of the Stasi takes who is supposed to put a suspicious couple unde

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  1. mushon 12:18, Jan 26th, 10

    [comments were locked on this one. Assuming it's by mistake, I opened them]

    Interesting to bring Twitter in this context. On a Negative to Positive Liberty axis where would you place Twitter’s governance model?

    You might also be interested in this interesting read on another aspect of the use of new media tools in Iran.

  2. juliette b 16:04, Jan 26th, 10

    Thanks for fixing this mistake Mushon! I won’t forget next week!

    Liberty wise I would definitely place Twitter on the Negative Liberty side maybe not in itself but concerning the Iran case for sure. Indeed it gathered people (nevermind whether they were in Iran or not) to fight against the government to retreive their freedom. They were obviously trying to protect the freedom they are deprived of…

    So this tool emerged to fight a real enemy, it was not used to fight for a cause.