A timely reality check
Twitter is a great vehicle for letting people know where the rally will be held on Thursday, but it can’t tell dissidents how to replace a corrupt dictatorship with stable democratic institutions. When those “chain-smoking intellectuals’’ got together in their cramped apartments in Moscow or Prague, Gedmin says, it was to do some serious thinking about why communist rule was wrong, how it could be overthrown, and how it could be replaced with something decent and durable. “That was intellectual and conceptual heavy lifting — not Internet chatter or quick blogging.’’
Democratic revolutions require such deliberation and philosophical nourishment — more than can be delivered in 140-character bites. The Internet is a medium like none the world has ever known. But the medium isn’t the message. And in the struggle for liberty, the message matters most.