This land might be mine. the medium* though is definitely not mine

By Suel Rousseau

“No way” seems to be too outdated and “Oh God” is simply overused whenever the latest escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is brought up throughout the last few weeks; the general public seems to be shocked, concerned, and simply confused by  another bloody strike of someone’s illegible political handwriting. Yet, ‘Operation Pillar of Defence’ wasn’t a particular milestone in the conflict progression. Certainly, it might be an escalation, if you would follow that ‘single letter of history’ being written closely – though, if you are able to read the whole sentence, it certainly reads as “I am a pendulum swinging back and forth.” It is strikingly simple, yet bothersome: Hamas confirming Netanyahu’s promises, Netanyahu in his turn cementing (in fact, in some particular cases this verb was taken literally) Gazans’ beliefs and stereotypes, ergo both rejectionist forces almost in accord, mutually reinforcing their grip on power.What I am essentially driving at is certainly cynical yet, as I would claim, painstakingly sober: yes, yet another chapter of Israeli-Palestinian conflict bible was being written before our eyes; though, people are people and they are bound to forget, especially in our age of information abundance. In fact, I would never dare to rely on people’s memory not to make the same mistakes all over again; it might as well work like maintaining truce with the russian roulette-designed weaponry. Yet, I’m not here to overstate the obvious – on the contrary, I want to drive your attention to the ‘little virtue’ of the conflicts of the last few years.

The wide-scale and almost immediate democratization of information during the conflicts has created a unique grassroots real-time effect (at times quite literally real-time) on the development of the conflict á la ‘on the fly.’ In the computer science jargon, ‘on the fly’ describes activities that develop or occur dynamically rather than as the result of something that is statically predefined. Putting it rather straightforwardly, the social media, and the mass media which is increasingly being based off the latter, have become one of those strategically important factors which had ‘on the fly’ effect in the most recent conflicts, at least in the conflict areas where there is an extensive social media use in place. This goes all the way back to almost reflexive i.e. easily affected by the real-time events than the mistakes of the past, nature of the human beings; since remembering the fire pales in comparison to actually feeling it.

So what can we, the dying breed of imaginers, conjecture from this, still incomplete paradigm shift? Yes, ‘on the fly’ social media-based conflict transformation does happen. Yet the very user experience of getting it is still far from perfect. Socio-generated media content lacks quality, accessibility and, most importantly, is still in the form of bits and pieces, thereby making it rather problematic for the average end user like ourselves, to get it, unless assisted and consequently outsourced by the professional mass media services. Nonetheless, there is some hope at the end of the tunnel: making democratization of information more accessible without a third-party mass media involvement is already in practice, at least in the Syrian case through the newly-born “Syria Deeply” startup, Ushahidi-based independent digital media project led by journalists and technologists. Implementation of these practices on a local level lies somewhere along the existing practice of the bimonthly news digests of the traditional Armenian and Azerbaijani media, initially positioned as the ‘mood-conveying’ tool for the people on the both sides of the ideological frontline who are willing to see beyond their Armenian/Azerbaijani propaganda glasses; and perhaps, it is  time to transform the existing practices into the real-time Armenian-Azerbaijani ‘conflict digest,’ which ideally would allow everyone to be on track of everything happening around the conflict, which by far has been sublimated into the all the possible kinds of mediums: local mass media, twitter arena, aggravating statements from public officials, etc. The list is endless, and at first, sublimation of the conflict may seem relatively harmless – as long as both Armenian and Azerbaijani general publics are aware of each other and of the whole picture.

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