The Peculiar Link Between Sam Bacile and Mitt Romney
In the past, I had written a series of posts (1, 2, 3, 4) on how technological changes which alter the pattern and ease of information spread have a large impact on the underlying socio-economic system. The last 2-3 weeks have provided us with two more examples of this phenomena.
1. A sarcastically named 13 minute YouTube clip ‘The Innocence of Muslims‘ has caused quite a stir in many Muslim countries, resulting in the death of the US ambassador to Libya. While many think of the reactions to this film as just another example of Muslim intolerance (which is kinda true), ask yourself- would this have been possible in a world before YouTube, inexpensive digital cameras and desktop video editing software?
While people always had the desire to make such intentionally inflammatory material, the ability to make them and distribute it required far deeper pockets than today. Now any guy with a few thousand bucks, the e-mail addresses of a few dozen extras, a half-decent digital camera and inexpensive video-editing software can have an impact that would have been unthinkable to most people even a decade ago. Also note that the countries in which this clip caused problems used to have rather poor computer and internet penetration.
However, that was the past! Today it is now both easy to create such content and distribute it to where it would have the maximum impact. Also consider the disproportionately amount of money and resources spent by governments to stop or attenuate the problems caused by this clip.
2. Moving on the secretly recorded performance of Mitt Romney at the 50,000 $/plate campaign fundraiser. Even 10 years ago, recording and disseminating such material would have taken a lot of resources. Today any person (or server) at such an event with an “unchecked” smartphone can record material that can upset the carefully obfuscated image created by spending billions of dollars on image management. Furthermore, organisations with a fraction of Romney’s campaign budget can spread it on the internet and derail an organisation that is far bigger than them. Something like this would, once again, have been barely thinkable even a decade ago.
Whether those YouTube clips or their fallout will doom the Romney-Ryan ticket remains to be seen. However it is hard to ignore that an entity of limited resources (the recording guy/girl) was able to make the much bigger entity (the Romney campaign machine) stumble, trip and bleed. As in the previous example, far more resources were used to counter the damage than to create it. I would not be surprised if more incriminating video clips of him at other fundraisers were in existence.
What do you think? comments?