Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Pavan Kumar, Darren Anstee, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Article

BlogMobs – The Attack of the Fifth Estate

Throughout history, the Estates of the Realm have come under various attacks

The events in Egypt over the past few days made me think about an article I was compelled to write back in late June 2006. It pondered the question, “Can any traditionally organized government withstand the ideological forces of a technologically empowered proletariat?” Call them blogmobs, txtmobs, tweetmobs or simply publishers, everyone in Egypt has a voice – and no matter how the government tries to silence them, in the Information Age, information will find a way. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about:

Throughout history, the Estates of the Realm have come under various attacks. In the past, the asymmetry of wealth usually struck the decisive winning blow for the first or second estate, and all was set right with the world. Truth be told, the fourth estate (the press) has been under the complete control of the first (clergy) and second (nobility) estates throughout most of history, so the control of information and the control of knowledge was pretty well guarded and defensible.



It is our freedom from that control (freedom of religion, freedom of the press, etc.) that makes America such a grand political experiment. To exercise and express our freedoms, we have been using technology, which heretofore almost exclusively emanated from a central point. Be it a leader or an associated bureaucracy, there was almost always a yellow brick road leading to a physical edifice. This is no longer the case. Information is the true currency of our age and it has transcended its bounds.

Far from being in the control of the realm, information now displays many of the characteristics we attribute to living things. It is born, it evolves, it eats, it excretes, it mutates–but, interestingly, it can no longer die. This was true on a small scale even before the “great unwashed” learned to blog. However, this is the first time in history that an idea (good or bad, true or false) can travel worldwide instantaneously and live on with a permanent, un-erasable, record of itself. Burn all the books you like, the knowledge lives on in the ether.

One of the underlying principles of a democracy is that the majority rules, but the rights of the minority are always protected by assuring them the right to speak and to vote. This principle is closely tied to another convention of democracy that requires all citizens to abide by the majority rule even if they did not vote with the majority. We have the right to disagree with our leadership, and our laws give us a way to show them our displeasure with their performance–we can vote them out of office.

Through wars, depression, recession, boom and bust, America has survived and ultimately thrived these past 230 years. But, it has never had to deal with a decentralized, self-organizing, cogent, antagonistic Fifth Estate until now. BlogMobs form like regular mobs. They can be constructive or destructive, patriots or rebels–but unlike their flesh-and-blood counterparts, their ideas can have immense, virtually instantaneous impact on a worldwide platform.

The most interesting attribute of BlogMobs is the way they self-assemble. These swarms of ideas evolve into points-of-view and then metamorphose and mutate into the next phase of their existence–gaining or losing the power to influence their audience. It is a fascinating twist on our ability to communicate and, for organizations that rely on central control (like governments and corporations), it is not necessarily a good thing.

Is The New York Times guilty of treason, or are its editors exercising their right of free speech and championing the proletariat’s right to know? (Author’s note: Back in June 2006, a story in the New York Times revealed details of a secret government program to monitor the financial transactions of many thousands of American citizens. It led to calls for the paper to be prosecuted for treason. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who chairs the House of Representatives’ homeland security committee, asked the attorney general to prosecute “the reporters and the editors and the publisher” of the Times.)

The blogosphere is replete with compelling arguments for and against. No gatekeepers, no pundits, no leadership, just passionate points of view. Perhaps the legacy of RSS (Really Simple Syndication–the specification which enables blogging) will be the empowerment of a true Fifth Estate with a collective mind of its own and the ability to amplify the voice of the people above all others. Which begs the question: “Can any traditionally organized government withstand an ideological force of this magnitude?”

This post appeared originally here and is reproduced by kind permission of the author.

More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of Fox Television’s "Shelly Palmer Digital Living" television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...