News of the Tweet: Revolutionary Means

Forums, dissidents and more cute cats.

By Seb Kemp

Last week Francis Fukuyama presented an article that asserted that even though social media tools like Facebook and Twitter may have helped mobilize and coordinate protestors to bring about the fall of the authoritarian regime in Egypt, it hasn't actually help a liberal candidate be put forward for the upcoming elections. Instead two officials from the previous regime are the main two candidates, which isn't much of a step forward.

So what is social media and the web good for? Sure, it is a quick and easy way to get people to pay attention to something (trending videos like GIRL KISSING TREE!) for a short amount of time, but what old clever clogs Francis is saying is that perhaps it doesn't engage us wholeheartedly.

"It is true that it and other social media have democratized access to information, and have made collaboration easier. These media have also helped promote short-term mobilization of crowds and demonstrators. But networking is not organization-building. For that, we need a different and more durable platform."

I think perhaps those that are mobilized by Facebook one moment, get distracted by it the next when some LOLacaust inducing picture or status update.

Talking of LOLcats (tenuous I know) but LOLcats and web censorship. Blogger, brainiac (he is a researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University), and man of good deads (he helps aid participatory media in developing countries, particularly by aggregating blogs about Africa and China), Ethan Zuckerman, has a theory he calls 'The Cute Cat Theory'.

To summarize, this theory it is that while some governments may choose to block sites and content that could be considered the work of dissidents aiming to subvert dominant governance, websites that are designed so that people could publish cute photos of their cats get around the blocking and censorship because you cant' block a site as complex as, say, Flickr because of the algorithms required to filter what could be benign content from the evil uprising of revolutionaries.

More so, blocking a whole website which on the whole is unimpeachable as Fluffy Cotton Paws the adorable kitten, doesn't really help keep the people on your side. Because of this "activists in China are using Flickr to disseminate images that contain words that get blocked by keyword filters. Now photos of Einstein at a blackboard can be annotated with arbitary text that won't be blocked by the Chinese firewall…Twitter lets Robert Scoble tell me what he's doing 200 freaking times a day but it also lets me know whether Egyptian activists have been released from the police station when they go in for questioning" – Ethan Zuckerman.

So social media and other internet share platforms allow information to be spread despite the dark hand of the regime trying to chock its voice.

So how does this relate to mountain biking? Are the predominant media powers partnered up with the corporate overlords to try and brain wash us into buying more and thinking less? Are internet forums podiums for the people voice or just the hot air outlet for the bleating of tiny minds?

Is 650b the bastard child or the still born foetus? Either way the internet commentators and forum fingerers seem to be keen to get their hairy palmed hands on them. I'm amazed that 650b has gained so much theoretical traction in the hallowed halls of the e-engineers. None of them have ridden one and so the speculation about how it is the 'best of both worlds', 'the perfect compromise', and simply 'better than 26 and 29' is mind boggling.

Talking of internerds, despite wanting to jump on the slightly smaller and unproven bandwagon of 650b (come on, less people have ridden these wheels than Miley Cyrus and yet 'they' lust after it and greet it as the great arrival), one technological innovation was less than applauded this week. SRAM announced their Spinal Tap drivetrain (it goes one higher than ten) and all the internetists had to say was how they would be happy with going back to the dark ages of SIS.

I would of thought that the forum fiddlers would be overjoyed at an innovation that makes it easier for them to pedal their fat, lazy arse's up the hill to the school they prey outside. Perhaps this is a case of e-engineering reverse logic. If it makes sense to D.U.M.B.F.U.C.K.s (Daily Users of Mountain Bike Forums who are Universally Clever and Knowledgeable) then it can't possibly make sense outside of the logic vacuum of forums and comments fields.

Fox obviously know how to woo the geeks because spy shots (well, does Twitter count as espionage?) were "leaked" of their new downhill fork that has bosses for V-Brake compatibility.

Jo Burt, the hand behind the endless Southdown ride of a certain ovine caricature, knows what's up with Strava. It is like a mates race for people with no mates.

However, why bother driving across the country to pay for races if a bunch of tape robbing cheats are going to ruin everyones fun. Gentlemen's rules must apply in Enduro. For those willing to bash through some bush for an advantage then perhaps they should start freeriding and not racing. Everyone who has ridden a trail knows where the trail ends (no pun intended) so why ruin it by riding off the trail?

And finally, in utterly unrelated news (except we start and finish with @ballersays tweet finds), Brian Lopes wants to give somewhere his exposure.

Estrogen, boobs, and loss of pubic hair? Is this what cycling does to male reproductive health or just what happens if you send too much time on posting on forums?