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How the internet killed Jonny Depp (for a few hours)

About 10 minutes ago I came across an article on Huffingtonpost.com that simply mentioned that famous actor Johnny Depp is not dead. Apparently a rumor of the unfortunate demise of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Edward Scissorhands" star in a road accident in Paris was a hoax. This incident though highlights something I've wanted to blog about for some time, namely the hoax was enabled by the real time communication media that we have today on the internet. All it takes are for sufficiently trusted agents online in social networks such as Facebook or Twitter to get the faulty information, for that information to spread rapidly as a "meme" through the internet and soon off the internet into the real world.

This ability for information to spread so rapidly is only recent and was born on the backs of real time social media services like Facebook and Twitter. We saw most recently the power of information spread using these tools in the U.S. election of Barak Obama. His campaign team was intuitively aware of the power behind these technologies and wielded them masterfully to shape the image of the candidate that they wished to get out. When traditional methods were employed by opposition candidates or entities to smear Obama, the electronic media was used to quickly spread information to counter the claims. The response to the claims was immediate and prevented the claims of the opposition from cementing in the minds of the people. How far will this go? The Johnny Depp rumor and rapid declaration of it as a hoax in many ways shows how the collective consciousness of all humanity connected digitally can and will react to information. No longer will information that is faulty persist for long periods to fester and trigger unfortunate consequences or delay necessary action. I think this is a great thing for humanity for the most part, as it allows us all to listen to the collective heart beat of the world as it experiences events as one global unit. I think this will have far reaching consequence for our desire and ability to address events through out the world in ways we can only imagine today, the recent earth quake in Haiti garnered an amazing amount of support and a world wide effort to secure the nation and provide assistance that would have been vastly different had we lived in the technologically devoid time of say the early 30's. For one, knowledge of the event would have taken weeks or months to reach certain corners of the globe, teams for rescue came from as far as South African and China, would there have been a public desire by the governments of these countries to lend assistance if the eyes of the world were not shining on them through the visibility made possible by the internet? I say no, the internet shines a public light on countries, regimes and rulers and if there is anything a regime or government wants to have it is a positive perception in the eyes of the world. Note the incredible response the world gave to recent events in the middle east, when Israel orchestrated a botched invasion of their northern neighbor Lebanon in a stated effort to extricate Hesbollah, unfortunately for Israel, and despite their attempts to prevent media from inspecting their activities on the ground, the eyes of the world was able to get moment by moment reports from ordinary Lebanese, held hostage in buildings, homes as they wondered why Israel felt the need to bomb civilian roads and bridges when their beef was with people that had nothing to do with their building. Similar reports of the actions of the Russian Army in Georgia quickly drew the ire of the international community and I believe severely restricted the intensity of attack that would otherwise have occurred had the world not been watching and listening from cell phones, blogs and laptops.

This hyper perception of global events may contain the key to our salvation, it could be that by listening to the global heart beat through the use of these real time media that we are learning to engage the compassion we have for our family and our countrymen to our fellow Earthlings, in so doing we are gaining a heightened ability and desire to redress wrongs, where ever they may be occurring on the planet. At a time where the poisoning of our ecosystems world wide are leading to vast changes that have not been seen in hundreds of millenia such visibility and potential for action could not have come sooner. It will be interesting to see how much more rapidly we can tap into the global heart beat, the infrastructure required is already in place and growing but what will improve is the visibility to far flung regions of the world, as yet unconnected to the global network. As these areas tap in and as it becomes more facile for individuals to engage with the global consciousness via smart phones, the ability for us to experience as a species global events will be complete. I am optimistic that this hyper awareness of the global heartbeat will allow us to avoid the looming tragedies of climate change and ideological conflict that threaten in many tenuously connected areas to the global net, here's to an increasingly connected future and the rapid quashing of rumors of Johnny Depp's demise! ;)

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