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Putin, Web 2.0 and the ghost of Giordano Bruno

I found this excellent piece in the Washington Post yesterday, on how The Kremlin is extending its reach into cyberspace, rather troubling (via Bloggers Blog). It almost seems as if Russia is edging back, step by step, towards totalitarianism. Here's an excerpt, but do check out the full article:

After ignoring the Internet for years to focus on controlling traditional media such as television and newspapers, the Kremlin and its allies are turning their attention to cyberspace, which remains a haven for critical reporting and vibrant discussion in Russia's dwindling public sphere.

The article reminded me of two things. Firstly, and unfortunately, it was a sharp reminder of how, as Julien Pain, described so well in this article, dictators, too, have entered the world of Web 2.0:

These days, "subversive" or "counter-revolutionary" material goes on the Internet and political dissidents and journalists have become "cyberdissidents" and "online journalists."...New technology allows them to receive and share news out of sight of the authorities.... The Web makes networking much easier, for political activists as well as teenagers. Unfortunately, this progress and use of new tools by activists is now being matched by the efforts of dictatorships to fight them.

Secondly, the dark tidings from Russia reminded me of one of my favourite works of art, "Giordano Bruno" by Jöran Flo. I'm so lucky that I actually have this lithography, as well as many others by the same artist, but unfortunately I've got most of my art locked away in storage. The picture is dedicated to Taslima Nasrin and the international PEN association, and I don't think it would be too far-fetched to suggest it's a tribute to everyone, everywhere, who is being persecuted for their beliefs:


Detail from "Giordano Bruno" by Jöran Flo


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