Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy

Tommie Smith and John Carlos
Years before there were hyperlinks, on October 16, 1968 two SJSU students found a way to get their message across that circumvented the existing command and control structure. The photograph of the two black sprinters standing on the medal podium with their heads bowed and their fists raised during the 1968 Mexico City Olympics remains a dramatic moment in this country's civil rights movement.

Today when I visited our university's alumni association I bought a poster of that moment. It reminds me that some things are more important than our jobs and our careers and are worth taking a risk for and fighting for. Freedom of speech, freedom to link, comment and trackback and freedom to have conversations and to put those conversations on the Internet where they can spawn other conversations and new ideas is what emerging technology is all about.

This is where we cut through the haze and the smokescreens and the BS that has been and is business as usual and where we fix things and make the world a better place. You and I and all of us who partake in the global conversation; in my heart I believe we have the power to do that.

What Smith and Carlos did was a kind of a hyperlink. Their statement was a way of linking the fact that we have a wonderful country with wonderfully talented people with the fact that we have oppression here, people who are not being heard here and other issues here that need attention.

In my opinion, theirs was not an act of disloyalty, it was an act of love and passion for what they believe in. I am proud that they were such great Americans that they took that risk. I am even prouder that they were students of San Jose State University.

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