Newspaper article China Post

Just as for GPS Users, Digital World Threatens Governance

Newspaper article China Post

Just as for GPS Users, Digital World Threatens Governance

Article excerpt

Senior U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman aptly described the huge changes in the past quarter-century in his farewell speech on Wednesday.

"When I started here in the Senate, a blackberry was a fruit and tweeting was something only birds did," he said to his colleagues.

Nowadays, tweeting is a regular activity among many, even the pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Under his English Twitter handle @pontifex (plus the seven affiliated accounts in other languages), Pope Benedict XVI, leader of one of the oldest organized religions in the world, fired off his long-anticipated virgin tweet Wednesday.

Using up all of the 140 allowed characters, the pope said to his million-plus microblog followers: "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."

If the message is itself somehow underwhelming, the pope compensated with theatrics and flair. A large crowd gathered in the Audience Hall to witness the moment when he, sitting on his throne, touched the tablet with his index finger in Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam"-style to send his first tweet. The whole process was streamed live to millions. The pope's tweets will all be delivered in languages including Polish, Portuguese and Arabic. No Hollywood stars, despite their tens of millions of Twitter followers, can top that.

The fact that the famously conservative leader of the conservative religion is reaching out through the world of microblogging says a lot about how the times are changing.

The popularity of social media and smart devices has reached a critical point where they are now more than niche items or services but rather vital aspects of modern life. To the Victorian State Police in southeastern Australia they have literally become a matter of life and death. The police caused a stir this week by issuing a warning that following the direction of Apple's iOS map app could lead to "life threatening" situations.

Misinforming navigation devices are themselves not new. For nearly a decade, news bulletins worldwide were populated with lighthearted stories of careless drivers relying more on their GPS systems than on their own eyes and driving themselves into rivers and ponds. …

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