Just in time for me to read before heading over to Europe is this week’s Carnival of the Mobilists (#93), hosted by Communities Dominate Brands. My favorite post of this week’s Carnival is probably the one about the use of cell phones in Myanmar/Burma, to record the civil unrest that has been taking place. This event is also an illustration of once again, the powerful roll that mobile phones can play as a medium to not only report news as it happens (see also this account on SmartMobs), but also to rally large groups of people for a cause. As a Reuters article from Sept 24 states (as quoted in the MobileActive Blog),
the military generals are “caught in a rare dilemma,” exacerbated by the presence of mobile phones:
They can either come down hard on the Buddhist monks leading the protests — and risk turning pockets of dissent into nationwide outrage as reports and grainy mobile phone images of revered, maroon-robed men and boys being beaten up leak out. Or they can give them a free rein to march round a few cities and towns — and risk the movement spreading across the country, and into other social groups, such as the students or civil servants, the other key players in the 1988 uprising.
More info on the issue of using mobile phones in the Burma/Myanmar protests can be found in this MobileActive post, with links to other sources as well.
Obviously, this situation is very similar to the protest in the Phillipines as described by Rheingold in Smart Mobs (see also here). Both are examples of the potential power of mobile phones as a medium to share information and take action, as described by David Cushman:
Now the media (the power to move minds) is in everyone’s hands – Literally with a mobile phone.
So, as the Burmese people shoot video of what’s happening – and share it with each other and the world – does this bring true power to the people? Knowledge is power – information shared is power growing exponentially. … The Burmese are sharing their problem with the world. But, like all communities of purpose, if we aren’t prepared to respond, in real time, then all their sharing is for nothing.Share the problem. Defeat it.
The important question for me is though, are we truly preparing our students for a world in which information is often shared virally, and actions are based on this information, actions that can have far-reaching consequences? Are students, in the words of Cushman, prepared to respond in real time?
Image Credit: Carnival of the Mobilists, Logo: