Yesterday’s demonstrations against the rise in university tuition fees in Britain has highlighted a change in the language and mechanics of political protest. For the first time, students organised themselves via social networking sites like Facebook, and when things turned violent, police used Twitter to communicate with troublemakers. Many of the protestors themselves were filming and photographing events on their mobile phones, and YouTube will soon be awash with footage (it’s already starting to appear).
The cost increases that sparked the protests will benefit foreign students coming to the UK, by keeping their fees down, so the issue is very much a double-edged sword, but it’s interesting the way political protest, like so much in life, is taking on a whole new technological tenor. Just as the media is increasingly seen as an integral part of modern-day conflict – known as embedded jourmalism – citizen journalism is becoming a fundamental part of political protest.