29 May 2010

Rome and the internet

I picked up a book in Amsterdam about the Roman empire. It was a limited democracy (and then a dictatorship) that lasted hundreds of years. It held territories on three continents, its people had hot running water in their homes and enjoyed goods sourced from all over the world - well, India and China at least. After the fall of the Roman empire, it would be about 1600 years before life was as comfortable in Europe again.

The internet now is a lot like Rome was back then. It extends almost as far as people can reach, it's controlled by a small number of people who don't have many rules, and there's a degree of anonymity that allows you to say or do what you want without too many consequences.

Here are some examples:

Situation - Anger
Modern day (pre-internet) - Fume. Mutter under breath.
Rome, 2000 years ago - torture person who made you angry. Kill them. Dump body in drain.
Modern day (internet) - Release photo and phone number of person with caption - "Call for a good time. Free." (Also see 'Public Nudity')

Situation - Joy
Modern day (pre-internet) - Throw party, get smashed, fail drugs test at work next morning, get fired and beg on streets.
Rome, 2000 years ago - Throw party, get smashed, sleep it off and start again until the money runs out or the army needs you again.
Modern day (internet) - Post party information via facebook, twitter, SMS and blog. Get completely trashed. Wake up the next day whenever and work from home.

Situation -Public Nudity
Modern day (pre-internet) - Run naked onto a cricket pitch. Get arrested. If wearing Nike shoes, see advertisement starring your bum on TV for number of years and people sniggering any time you walk by.
Rome, 2000 years ago - Run naked through streets of town yelling "Eureka." Have major scientific discoveries named after you for rest of life. (ok this was ancient Greece, but I invoke comedic license)
Modern day (internet) - Females - get naked, take photos, post on websites. Get famous and be invited to act in a chat show / get on playboy etc. Males - get naked, go on chatroulette, and get infamous.

Situation - Seize political power
Modern day (pre-internet) - Get sanctions on your country, travel bans, have money abroad seized, and have various organisations plot your removal.
Rome, 2000 years ago - Your wish is everyone's command. Do whatever you want.
Modern day (internet) - Tamper with electronic voting machines and voter rolls. Get elected. Do whatever you want.


Rohini said...

Cool post :)

Beben said...

just passed...
nice to meet you ^^