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The free flow of information empowers people

The upheaval in Egypt and other countries of the Middle East once again reminded me of a prophetic book that I read nearly 30 years ago.

"Megatrends" by John Naisbitt opened my eyes to the power of information and the Information Age.

I am sure most people think the revolution in Egypt began with Facebook and the other social networks.

Not true. The revolution began years ago, not with social networks and blogging but with - of all things - satellite television.

Naisbitt explained in his 1982 book that the information delivered worldwide by satellite television would rapidly change the political contour of the earth. In fact, he said, neither a single dictator nor his two-bit attempts to keep people in the dark would be able to withstand the onslaught of television.

He even went so far as to predict that all political boundaries would in time crumble to dust because of TV signals being sent around the world across those boundaries.

About 10 years after the publication of that book, the first curtain fell to the TV influence. It was the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Empire.

I know, I know. Many of you still believe the Soviet Union crumbled because Ronald Reagan said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."  

Dream on.

It didn't happen that way. It happened because those living in the Soviet Union had TV satellite dishes, were watching western television, and were rapidly coming to the realization that their leaders were lying to them about what the West was really like.

In fact, the Soviet leaders and Reagan saw the handwriting on the wall long before Reagan demanded it be torn down.

The same thing has happened in the Middle East.

Young men and women watch lots of television beamed at them from free countries and have come to the realization that things are not nearly as good as their dictator leaders say they are.

Too many of them live in poverty, too many of them don't have jobs, and far too many of them have no hope things will ever be as good as the things they see on TV from America or Europe.

What set them off? Perhaps they saw a TV cartoon of Popeye saying "That's all I can stands 'cause I can't stands no more."

Information and their freedom to access it started the revolution, and information provided by the social networks has nurtured the revolution and made sure it doesn't fade.

This is exactly what Naisbitt predicted in his 1982 book.

Information and its spread via electronic means throughout the world has brought us to where we are today The free flow of information promises to cause even more changes in the way people think about themselves and what they are missing.

It not only bodes well for the desperately oppressed but for countries such as the United States.

We citizens can use information to "form a more perfect union" and cut through the political claptrap to get to the heart of what America should be about.

Peyton may be reached by e-mail at david.peyton@gmail.com.

 


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