Posted from the US
I received an interview call this week from a producer at Japan's public TV station. They are going to do a 2hr. documentary on bloggers, the media, and how it is changing the world.
Blogging cleary changed my world - it's a funny thing to be written about in publications like the UK's Financial Times. It's not really about me - it's about a meme that I represent, but my name somehow is stuck with that meme. It's a wierd feeling when a small segment of words floating around the internet somehow represents what you are, even though what you really are about is a much more complex set of ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
I really like Japanese journalists - I've had the most pleasent experiences with them over the last year. They seem to get what blogging is becoming and there is a deep love of technology, but also a sense of respect, fear, and unease with the darker side of things. As an American over here, Japan seems very far away and over there - it's cool to be discussing how the world is changing with them.
They want to film me in superblogger mode - perhaps at some political convention, blogging away from my Blackberry (if they stay in business!) and striking fear in the hearts of corrupt and dastardly politicians in need of a good ass-whupping.
They want to catch a major blogging event live - another Easongate, catch a Senator in a lie, or a live videoblog scoop of Condie Rice signing a peace treaty between Hamas & Israel (not likely). The pressure is high - ok superblogger, let's see you leap that tall building again.
It's a bit like the old Looney Tunes cartoon about the singing frog who sings only when no one is watching - except I'm the frog. Or like The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy where one can fly only if you don't think about it at all. Blogging on a global scale, where you ride the wave - even make the wave - is like using the Force from Star Wars. You need to be in the Zone, in your Zen. You don't want it to be like the old Woody Allen movie where he is having sex on live TV with Howard Cosell calling the play by play.
Why do this tv thing? I hope that we can pick a thing - a positive thing that we want to change - and create and document a blogstorm that drives it. It will be like making rain - so we will need to do a rain dance. It will be cool to see a fixtheworld experiment work on demand - that we somehow learn how to conjure and utilize blogstorms in a way for good.
So here is what I would propose: Blogging For Peace in the Middle East. With Sharon out of Israeli politics and the election of Hamas to power by the Palestinians, a worst case scenario is brewing. The cycle of violence can soon reach an apex in that region. So what does this have to do with the Japanese? Nothing - which is why they could be a credible party to an interesting blogstorm and experiment. What is this experiment?
- Let's expand the Davos theme of open blogging and create a blogspace where Israelis and Palestinians - the people, not the leaders - face off and debate in a blog world. Direct communication without direct contact. Arguing without bombs, bullets, guns, and knives.
- Let's cajole some big players (Microsoft, Dell, telecoms) into supplying the infrastrucure fast for such a mass blogspace debate to take place - this will be a "time out - before anyone blows anyone up, give us 90 days to connect all of you through the web so that for the first time two peoples who are sworn enemies can communicate - in a bloodless way".
- It will be harder to hate when there is a person you are speaking to - not a demon or concept which is not real, but a real person dealing with you directly.
- This is not about the leadership of the two peoples - let's face it - the leadership has failed to make peace for decades. Let's bypass the leadership and take it to the people. Does everyone really want to endlessly shoot at each other, kill each other's children, and make life unbearable and miserable? Why? Please explain yourselves - not just to each other, but in an open blog dialogue the whole world can see. Why is killing each other the answer.
- Can a mass peer to peer network of communication between two peoples end a cycle of violence? Maybe - and I have a good reason why.
When I was at the University there was a Palestinian student in my writing class. We sat near each other and we developed a friendship. He also happened to be the head of the Hamas group on campus. This was in the early 90's, well before 9/11 and other events, but it was still a controversial thing. He and I disagreed very strongly with each other - and we would often get into heated debates that bled into point and counterpoint articles in the campus paper that the whole student body would follow. I opposed what he stood for, and he opposed what I stood for - there was little common ground outside of a love for writing.
The interesting thing was that on campus, words were enough to satisfy us both. One day he told me that if he and I were in the Middle East, that things would be different and we would probably be shooting at each other - even though on campus we could be civil - and perhaps we were even friends. He was right - in the Middle East we are shooting at each other - but somehow on the campus we could sit together, talk, debate - but walk away intact and live our lives.
You don't make peace with your friends - you make peace with your worst enemies. The worst news for Israel is that Hamas was elected to office - they are Israel's worst enemy. But at least the days of pretending and BS are over - it is all out in the open.
But - there is a choice - and I lived that choice. You can look this worst enemy in the eye and realize that they are human - on some level no different - we are the same. It should not be about Israel vs. Hamas - it needs to be about bringing the campus to the Middle East - create a new space where it is about one person communicating with another - and force that debate and discussion - force the two sides to realize that the other side is human - and let the world see this debate and discussion. This has to be about the everyday people - not the leaders with their agendas and power and corruption. Everyday people realizing that their hated counterparts are nothing more than everyday people too.
To my old friend and worst enemy - you were right. Over there we are shooting at each other. We could keep doing that forever if you wish. But maybe it is time for something different.