‘Knowledge is Power’, according to Sir Francis Bacon. That was certainly true in the 17th century, but is that really the case today? With the constant marching advance of digital technology, does everybody now have the ability the influence society in a groundbreaking and irreversible way, or is this still reserved for the leaders of global governments? Lets start with the governments.
Governments have the ability to control and influence the public on a mass scale, from drumming up support in a political rally to convincing countries to go to war. For years political establishments have been manipulating the media, and trying to alter what is true. For example, North Korea have extensive control over what their public sees on the web, by creating a very tightly restricted network designed to show only what the government wants the public to see. Only the very few are allowed to access the global network with special permission, with global access being limited mainly for government use.
A good example of photo manipulation in North Korea, are these images here that clearly show how Kim Jong Un deleted his ‘traitor’ uncle from official photographs, and has attempted to effectively erase him from history. This shows how image editing can be an extremely powerful tool in the hands of governments that are committed to heavily censoring what their people can see. The opposite of this would be democratisation, information in the hands of the ‘citizen journalist’.
A good example of this would be ‘The Hudson landing’ on 15th january 2009, where Captain Chesley Sullenberger successfully landed his aircraft on the hudson river after it was damaged by a flock of geese. The first images of this landing were captured on mobile phones and posted on twitter, without any news agencies knowing about it. This is a great example of the power of citizen journalism, and how quickly news can be spread across the world. This also brings up the debate as to wether news sources like this are reliable, with many people attempting to stage internet hoaxes on a daily basis including the death of celebrities. I myself have been fooled by this style of internet hoaxing, which included Morgan Freeman and more recently Beyonce.
So it seems that these days knowledge isn’t really power at all, with the internet being such a powerful tool and almost anyone being able to share news, be it true or false.