I recently watched a documentary titled ‘Never Sorry’ on the life story of the outspoken, Chinese global art star, Ai Weiwei. It was an inspiring story on how one person, despite sounding totally crazy, uses art and technology to change and ‘push the boundaries of freedom in China’.
Ai Weiwei is a political artist and he tries to dissipate China’s strict regime by presenting underground exhibitions, publishing coverless books and posting regularly on his website, until the Chinese government took it down in 2008 and limited his work by setting cameras inside his house. But that did not stop Weiwei, he turned to twitter, and has not slowed down since then.
Eli Pariser explained in his Ted talk how the Internet was initially thought to be used for ‘great things’, how it would be a gateway to connect to the world, to introduce new ideas and most importantly to help democracy drive forward. And even if the web is looked upon as devilish, it rings a completely different tune in the East. Ai Weiwei uses the social media as a vehicle to his express himself and get justice in China. Weiwei urges his countrymen to use the social media and he himself has shamed and exposed many politicians via viral videos and tweets.. The point I am trying to make is that maybe the Internet is not doomed for failure after all. If the web is serving as a platform for these activist to vocalize themselves and bring to attention the corruption-fueled Chinese government, then there is still hope that the Internet is being used for a far greater purpose.
Here is a small clip where Ai Weiwei states his feeling and applauds the web stating that ‘the Internet and social media constantly puts the (Chinese) government on trial’. In the end, it boils down to the fact that the Internet CAN be used for far greater things, but it is up to the user to make that decision.