, although the association
with silk (which was not a major commodity until much later) gave it a brand, it
was a distraction from the route’s real historical significance. More important than
any particular commodity was the adoption of writing, which (despite low rates of
literacy) expanded the arenas of social interaction.
From 3000 BCE until the fifteenth century, writing by hand was the only means
of communication, organization, or control beyond the face-to-face community,
and written language continues to be essential in the digitalworld of the twenty-
assess other factors below), but
they do nevertheless constitute one significant aspect of the problem.
Jillian York, an active defender of freedom of electronic expres-
sion, provides a very good summary of the situation in a blog posted in
September 2010. It echoes Ben Gharbia’s:
Actors and Parameters of the Revolution | 135
Digital activism has been construed as its own movement, a new [way] of
organizing unique to the 21st century digitalworld. In fact, digital tools
are complementary to “traditional” activism, for a number of reasons: They
jihadists were aware
from the outset that a revolution in Syria would afford them
unprecedented opportunities. Preparations in the digitalworld
were already underway before the first large-scale demonstrations
the origins—part three: syria 99
in Deraa. In February 2011, al-Nur Media Foundation presented
a new essay from jihadist ideologue Abu Abdullah al-Qasimi:
“Message to the Proud People of Syria.” Al-Qasimi refers to a Syrian
“Islamic revolution jihadist,” Abu Musab al-Suri (imprisoned by the
Assad regime at the time), whose “sacrifice and courage demonstrate
Jin Wenjian 金文坚. 2014. “Rang qiaopi ziliao zai shuzi hua shijie shixian zhenzheng de
tuanju” (“Let Qiaopi Materials Realize True Unity in a DigitalizedWorld”). In Zhongguo
lishi wenxian yanjiu hui, eds., 245–52.
John, Richard R. 1995. Spreading the News: Th e American Postal System from Franklin to
Morse. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Johnson, Paula Doherty. 2007. Diaspora Philanthropy: Infl uences, Initiatives, and Issues. Bos-
ton and Cambridge: Th e Philanthropic Initiative, Inc. and the Global Equity Initiative,
Jones, Bill. 2005
was not cut off from the digitalworld—and the profound implica-
tions of that knowledge.
While Google Earth and Instagram have offered never-before-
seen images of North Korea to the world, taken by tourists and sat-
ellite images, the North remains a secretive country. Its computers
operate on the Gwangmyeong (walled garden), a national intranet
service, or private network, that is not linked to the global Internet
and is only accessible to a small percentage of the population.
What Schmidt wanted to ascertain was how the regime utilized the
Internet and to