The Smartphone: Cornerstone of Democratic Society?

Cell-phone-usage

Here at XDA, we tend to use the Portal to help you discover some of the amazing development that goes on which you may not have noticed. On this occasion, we’re going to take a quick deviation from this to bring you some thoughts on the impact that smartphones have had on wider society, outwith the confines of the development community.

Lately, no matter where you get your news from, chances are you’ve noticed an increase in the amount of photographs and videos taken from smartphones. In days gone by, journalists would use their network of contacts and associates to try to find out what was going on in the world. If nothing was happening, they’d look for news and report back to their office. However with the advent of the smartphone, things have taken an interesting turn. The public is more readily connected than ever before, able to supply footage and photographs from events around the world.

While events in Syria unfold, the first pictures available came from activists on the ground. Using smartphones to capture photographs and videos, smartphone users then made them available for the world to see via services we are all familiar with including YouTube, Picasa. and Flickr. These photos can find their way into the mainstream news within a matter of hours of being posted! In a sense, it’s much harder now to prevent the truth (in the form of photographs and video) from leaving a country, despite tight controls on the conventional press (such as in the case of Syria).

In a somewhat similar but less dramatic series of events, the mainstream media has been heavily criticised from some corners due to its reluctance to cover the recent protests in Mexico over the presidential elections. Videos have been removed from services such as YouTube at the request of governments, and the “conventional” media within Mexico and the United States appear to be unwilling to cover stories surrounding these protests. In fact, the media “blackout” has been so effective that this may well be the first that many readers will have heard of these protests.

According to an article by GlobalPost, the message coming from those protesting is that the mainstream media is less useful. Instead, the best way to communicate and stay informed is via online social media sources, where media companies have much less control over the flow of information between people.

When something we take for granted is threatened, mankind has found a solution, often through technology. Will the smartphone prove the next item to be threatened, with more and more restrictions on Internet access? Or is the smartphone beyond censure? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

[Thanks to BB for the tip.]
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