The Internet is a black hole. You can do anything on the Internet, from gambling, to TV, to reading. You can find anything on the Internet, from groceries, to cars, to guns. You can also write anything on the Internet. With so many mediums to express written word, the Internet is an incubator for all people (good and evil). Forums and blogs allow for people from all walks of life to write about and discuss topics of personal interest and importance; may that be something relating to food, or something related to the annihilation of millions of Jews. The Internet is a place with virtually no laws, and no rules. The only conceivable practice of governance is physically preventing one user from seeing the content of another user, and this is by no means an easy task. With the rise of IP blinding schemes, and other various algorithms that increase online privacy and anonymity, there is no way to identify who writes what, and for what purpose. There are even black market social engineers who are paid exorbitant fees to try and sway voters in political elections.
Khalid Ali is a famous political cartoonist who was a pillar in the Arab Spring. Ali gave one of the most informative, personal, and engaging lectures/panels I have ever heard. He spoke with knowledge, experience, and passion. For Ali, the Internet was a visa to various countries that he would normally be unable to visit. Through chat rooms, he met people who shared similar social and political ideals. Governments with a strong stance on censorship and anti-freedom of speech reviewed and redacted all literature and press, frequently viewing it as propaganda. Ali even said that the governments try to bankrupt newspapers and magazines by censoring after materials have been printed. In other words, money and time is wasted on pieces of writing and art that are deemed unfit for the public. The internet was the way around this. The uninformed government didn’t censor these chat rooms, and this, according to Ali was their mistake.
Facebook became the face of a rapidly growing revolutionary movement. Millions of people could share stories and views that were uncensored and unprosecutable. Cartoons, Ali’s cartoons, became the face of a movement. Even though Ali was not currently present during a time of protest and struggle, his art was there. Pieces he posted on Facebook, hours later would be converted into life size graffiti on walls. “People take my work and use it for change,” Ali says. Cartoons were a way for people to visualize change without having to understand context. Grafitti was the expression. Ali ended his talk by speaking about how collective online groups allow for the most rapid and impactful change. He also said that anyone can start a revolution, which was inspiring.