A Skyful of Lies

Commentary | February 24, 2011

With the spotlight on Libya, EWI Director Ikram Sehgal studies the continuing fallout in the Middle East through the lens of Nik Gowing’s report, ’Skyful of Lies’ and Black Swans.

Sehgal points out that new media – the use of internet, social media and television – has been a central actor in the unfolding revolutions.  The fact is, the use of media has allowed information to travel faster than the speed at which governments and government leaders can react, and, Sehgal writes, “the Arab regimes were not geared to cope with the blinding speed with which information dissemination acted in the upheavals.”

New media has given individuals a tremendous amount of power, allowing citizens to act as a governing entity.  Quoting Patrick Meier on Gowing, Sehgal writes that “this ’shifting of power from state to citizen is the new ‘civilian surge’ of growing digital empowerment forcing an enhanced level of accountability that is a ‘real change to democracy.’”

Sehgal says that the use of media in the recent Middle East fallout has been two-fold: the first has been the rousing of civil society; the second has been the exposure of lies within regimes.

Quoting Stephen Stern on Gowing, Sehgal writes that “the paradox at the heart of this exciting world is new technology.  We crave flexibility, connectivity, and speed, but we risk turning ourselves into busy fools, bamboozled by too much noise and information.”

Click here to read the full article in The News.