Jul 14, 2009

Nothing was Forever: on Yeltsin, IRC, Tweeter and Iran

Gia sas!

This is where I begin my blogs. I have been contemplating this for a while but it wasn't until I started using Twitter in thirst of direct news during the Iranian election crisis last June that I decided to bring my thoughts online. The grim Tweets reminded me of a time about twenty years ago.

The attempted coup in Moscow by soviet generals in 1991 was the first time I was able to follow major change occuring online. With BBC World and CNN behind my back and far behind the net I knew a social tsunami was about to start forming. I was then, as I was this summer by Twitter, astounded by the way the early IRC at Helsinki University was able to deliver. On a green-on-black screen I could read entries from close to the site where Boris Yeltsin rose atop a tank and changed the course of history.

For a 23-year old braught up during president Kekkonen's Soviet policy (a stagnate time when we were taught that Soviet Union is forever and we'll just have to cope with that) it was a land mine bursting everyhing in my life. To me it was comparable to the tearing down of the Berlin wall. Nothing was forever.

Later I got fed up of the way the ever so masculinely geeky and growing internet society abandoned all social manners in online discussion groups and slowly hung up. Since then it all has obviously changed, so have I and so has Finland.

The title Gnomon, for those who don't know, is an ancient babylonian device used by greeks to measure distance. It is familiar to us as the centerpiece of a sundial, the stick or triangle casting a shadow that indicates time.

The late historian and president of Estonia Lennart Meri speculates that the greek voyager Pytheas used a 2,22 meter gnomon to define a point whereby he could start measuring the distance between Massilia (Marseille) and Cornwall, thus beginning a new era in not only geography but in seafaring. The same Pytheas, Meri speculates, traveled all the way to Finland and Estonia looking for Thule.

I don't wish to imply my blog is the gnomon, but i do see parallels: we need constantly and with and increasing pace to define time and history all over.

Hence the title. I am looking for shadows to show me points of no return. For me Yeltsin through IRC was in 1991, and the IranElection on Twitter this summer. From here we start measuring. Luckily, in these times, we are all our own Pytheai.

BTW, FYI, I work as a transmedia developer at YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, in Helsinki

1 comment:

  1. Great blog title! Onnea uudelle blogille, panen heti tilaukseen!