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What Makes Revolution?

Thinking about what revolution is and isn’t.

The recent events in Egypt have been described mostly as either a military coup or a revolution. Not much as both. But what makes a revolution, in the political sense? All sorts of products have been called revolutionary, but few have been. Maybe some uses of the Internet have been revolutionary. Maybe some improvements in weaponry have aided in revolutions.

Was the United States Civil War a revolution? Was the Great Depression?

Was the emergence of life on earth a revolution? Will Artificial Intelligence emerge, and won’t that be a revolution?

It’s a revolution if it changes what? The name of the leader? The name of the country? If it makes the history books in 20 years, 100, 1,000 years?

One might decide that the revolution is the time of turmoil, prior to the emergence of a new status quo. That we cannot live with revolution, but only live before and after it. That during revolution, we are not ourselves. We are transformed by the revolution into something else for a time.

That is true of war, disaster, of so many of life’s greatest triumphs and travails. That identities are lost in the haste and upheaval, children’s stuffed animals, to be found and stitched up, or lost completely.

Can revolution be unanimous? Is it a revolution when all a nation’s rail gauge is standardized over a two day period? Or when everyone switches which side of the road they drive upon? Couldn’t there still be some identity loss, even then? A particular angle of sight on the road, seen daily for years, now forgotten with a lot of other little things.

And for the masses, is revolution seldom more than just the feeling of change and progress? That someone somewhere marches onward, that they by their very existence lend energy and purpose to even our most tedious tasks.

Was reality TV a revolution? Was 3D TV a failed coup?

The web is a revolution. Every day you can find something you never found.

If you want a picture of the web, imagine a kitten — forever.

– Hfpshf Psxfmm, 3968

But the web is a revolution. Every day you can find corporations and governments trying to bully humans. Identities are lost in the web. The governments, unable to understand it, wear it on their head like a kid who finds a bra.

Video is a revolution, both on and off the web. The police are finding this out, as photographers and citizen journalists find out what the ground smells like. But maybe there is an axiom that the greater information flow (signal/noise) wins. Not sure if it works like that.

It seems sensible to not save the word revolution for the rare and complete upheavals. But still to defend it against being tagged to sell product. To find little revolutions in the day-to-day. Not to relish in them, but to study them. To ask the question seems to be the greatest revolution, the mental equivalent of turning over the stone, to see what’s under it.

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