|Cathedral Park was the center of operations for the Greenpeace activists.|
Today despite the crushing heat I took a bike ride to the St. Johns bridge to see the flotilla of kayactivists and dangling protesters. They were trying to prevent the icebreaker Fennica from heading down the river and up to Alaska to help explore for oil.
I showed up and marveled at how the climbers could pass gear and supplies to one another and that this was their second day up in the air. The temperature peaked at 103 degrees and as I watched the sun felt like a blast furnace.
What I found particularly exciting was that even though I was physically at this event and could see some of the activity, I could also stream the live TV feed on my phone and see the bridge, climbers, and kayakers from the view of the circling helicopter.
|Screen shot from my phone.|
I was also able to check Twitter and read reports from hundreds of people concerned about the event seconds after they wrote them. Sure, plenty of stupid comments, but also the observations of serious people and real journalists as well.
And, of course, all the dangling activists had smart phones, too, one giving a Facetime video interview about her set up. A kayactivist shared comments from the water.
My mind brought me back to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. I don't equate the importance of these two events, but the vast difference in how media worked then and now stands out. In 1995 I had been at the square where he was shot. I was at the back and didn't know what had happened until a few hours later when a friend called me.
I then turned on the TV. All the cable networks and the Israeli television had the same video feed and all the same clips kept recycling. Pundits and celebrities drifted in and out of the picture while I phoned friends and family to process what happened.
Today at the park there was the news helicopter, three local news trucks with reporters and cameramen, a quad-copter drone, and half a dozen citizens with fancy gear on tripods all loading video footage into the on-line universe. Hundreds of people had phones and were taking pictures and reacting to events in real-time.
The flow of information, images, and media noise was overwhelming and exhilarating.
I rode back and when I got home I again checked the torrent of information to learn that the police and coastguard had cleared out the kayakers and a few of the climbers had come down, creating a gap for the ship to sail through.
A valiant stand! The message was delivered loud and clear.