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  • I was going to title this piece, the story behind the scene. But I think the medium and the message is a better metaphor for what I am about to express.
    And I am going to get to the message but please bear with me, through the medium of the words that follow.

    It so happened that this lady had been at the Fair my husband and I had gone to. I was looking at some stalls, while my husband was clicking some photos. She appeared suddenly and she started to request Siddhartha to take some photos of her, she was even taking her breast out to feed her baby saying, many foreigners like to take her photo with her feeding her baby. Siddhartha said no, he won’t take her photo but she insisted and so he clicked this. But then…she started to ask for money. So that’s why she was so keen to get her photo taken! He had been inadvertently forced into an act of poverty tourism. So what really does this photo say about her? that she is very poor of course, yes, that she is Rajasthani, yes, that she is a mother, yes, but that she is a clever and blackmailing sort of woman? No, of course not!

    So if an image is equal to a thousand words, how can you know if those thousands of words speak the whole truth, for there may be truths that may be hidden deep beneath. These would ultimately change the story somewhat.

    Got me thinking about the world and where we get our sense of truth from the stories we are told: when we are children, it’s from our parents; when we are adolescents it’s from our friends; at university it’s our professors and when we are working it’s from our bosses and colleagues. All the while we are fed truths by the Media. But the Media we soon discover is owned by corporations hand in glove with big government. Then there comes a point where we search for the truth within ourselves. (This is not necessarily in chronological order-everyone’s got a different mix, but you get my point)

    One thing we become sure of, is that we can’t be sure of the truth that is out there. Then comes the Internet. The multitude of truths and lies exploding throughout cyberspace, competing for our attention. It becomes easier for all of us to become investigators of the truth. And one very big difference with this medium is that you can change that truth, you can challenge it; you can put your truth out there in relation to it. You are not merely a consumer of “truth”, you are also a producer and a creator. You can tell your story the way you want, it’s your voice, your truth and you can gather people together, you can champion a cause. And yes, the impact can be so huge that it can bring governments down, shut corporations.

    Now your power is such a mighty threat that a clear battle is raging on as to who will control this medium, and thus the message of it. And it is happening in most countries. Will corporations control it to lull people into an illusion of choice that will force feed them empty truths. Or will governments censor and punish those deviant truths that challenge power. Most likely both colluding together to extend surveillance to produce a single outcome. Control and ownership of the truth, over your identity, over the stories of Life. And although it’s not such a silent battle, it is clearly less highlighted than the others.

    So in the spirit of this community and to all our stories; our truths, to answer Burt’s call-I would say, here is where lies our arena, where we roar for the Internet to remain free at every opportunity we get. The gladiators are out and they have weapons; but they forget our numbers at times. And like this lady in the photo, they often mistake our supposed dis-empowered and frayed demeanour, which may well be a guise for our hidden power. Because clearly without all of us; the medium would be dead; we are its raison d’être-we are the nodes that give structure to the web. We are the medium and the message of the truth after all.

    Image credit: Siddhartha
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