Most nights in
That router enabled me to follow the effect of bombs dropping around me in real time. Locals in Rafah appealing for help, tweeting photographs of the dead in refrigerators. Doctors at Shifa hospital, recounting the night's toll of maimed and burned. Bloggers from
My social networks followed me into the war and collided with others - a reminder that warfare has become newly alive with information.
The basic suite of tools journalists use has only been around six or seven years - so
In the morning, information flows through cellphones. Not many ordinary people have smartphones but they do have handsets that double as radios. So you get a real-time, death-by-death account of what's going on over breakfast.
Radio, in this situation, comes into its own, but it's not just an information source. As we head towards the fighting, the driver switches from news to the martial music of the Palestinian resistance. Though he is not a
Each night we went to an independent TV production company to feed our video via the satellite dishes on the roof of an 18-storey tower block: here were young Gazan men who'd chosen not to fight, nor to report for a
These young journalists lived in a world totally connected to the west through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Their talk was of rival software packages and camera types, and the scholarships to western universities they always seemed to miss.
They'd found ingenious uses for digital cameras. With a sixth sense, they knew when a circling F16 had commenced its bombing run over the pitch-dark city. They would hang a DSLR out of the window on a long exposure to get a night shot of the impact and the smoke cloud - when all the naked eye could see was black. The purpose was not to produce a useable photo, but to get the scoop on what the target was.
The propaganda flow in a warzone like
But, like all wartime propaganda, it is only effective if it plausibly describes reality. Gazans are materially cut off from the world economy, just as in
All this tells you is that people's desire to believe their own side's propaganda is high, and that's the source of its effectiveness. Social media created an extra public space where a more truthful and nuanced discussion could go on - and it created an outlet for information to the world.
During the 10 days I was in
The pictures - of bodies, destroyed buildings, injured and anguished people - became the mute forms of communication between people in
If an advanced society ever gets into the kind of war
But the conflict showed the limits of social networks when you have two antagonistic societies at war. A memorable network graphic of the war's Twittersphere showed almost no connections between the "blue" internet - of Israelis, the Jewish diaspora and the US Tea party - and the "green", which included the Muslim world and the anti-war movements in the west.
In an ideologically divided world, social media's ability to dissolve spin and propaganda becomes relative. The need for truly independent, traditional media does not go away.
But the sight of those young Gazan journalists, their sleeping bags piled up on the floor of the edit suites they worked in, was a reminder of how hard it is to remain dedicated to the truth in war.
A boy in
Hispanic #1 Breaking News for Entrepreneurs, Professionals and Small Business Owners - HispanicBusiness.com
SEPTEMBER 22, 2014
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