Friday, 19 March 2010


When the virtual meets the real world

  • Friday, 19 March 2010
  • Fouad GM
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  • FlickR reported yesterday on its blog that a Turkish FlickR-based group, dostr, organised an exhibition in Istanbul in March 2010. The blog entry briefly introduced the exhibition to FlickR members.

    The exhibition - "Ruya", or "Dream" - exhibited the work of member photographers - photos that portray faces, people, scenery and architecture. Further information on the exhibition can be found in this article (in Turkish) along with some photographs of and from the exhibition.

    I can't comment much on the content of the exhibition, nor can I say much about the group since everything is provided in Turkish. However, it caught my attention as yet another major step in taking the networks constructed in the "virtual world" to the "real" one.

    This comes almost 15 months after YouTube took the major step of organising a symphony of musicians from around the world through online, YouTube-based auditions hosted by YouTube, the London Symphony Orchestra and several other worldwide partners.

    The call for auditions extended from December 1, 2008 to January 28, 2009. Winners, mostly amateur musicians (including three children), were announced on March 2, 2009. The musicians travelled to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas in April of the same year.

    Having been internet-based, auditions were watched by some 15 million viewers worldwide. The concert itself was made available on the YouTube Symphony Orchestra channel on YouTube.

    I'm sure there are many other examples of networking on the art, research and other scenes developed from online internet-based networks to physical networks and events in "real life" bridging the gap between the virtual and real worlds and giving hope that boundaries and physical/geographical space can be trespassed by the revolution in information technology.

    Similarly, the development ushers an era where repressing artistic creativity, opinion and collaborative work is increasingly hard. This, if translated politically, has promised many social movements a much-needed space of freedom of expression and association in the "virtual realm" where they lack in the "real world" due to social or political pressures.

    Regardless of political opinion and/or representativeness of these movements, Iran's twitter-based Green Revolution in the aftermath of the 2009 presidential elections and Egypt's Facebook-borne strike on April 9, 2009.

    Question remains, how inclusive are internet-borne networks in countries where access to information technologies remain low? Do they represent a space of freedom and liberty for a people lacking it? Or do they represent a space of freedom of expression and association for a select few who are now capable of developing networks and social movements arguably detached from a much wider public? Once again, the Iranian and Egyptian cases come to mind.

    I recently posted an IDSC-produced report which gives an insight into access to information technology and the internet amongst Egyptians - which could perhaps be an indicator to the phenomenon in the developing world in general.

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