FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, November 07, 2005

Technology's Role in the French Riots

The recent rioting in France appears to be getting a boost from mobile and Internet technology:

In its early days, the rioting appeared to spread spontaneously, but law enforcement officials said it was also being abetted by exhortations on the Internet. Worse, said Patrick Hamon, the national police spokesman, "what we notice is that the bands of youths are, little by little, getting more organized" and are sending attack messages by mobile phone texts.

Some sites on the Internet mourned the two teenagers; others issued insults to the police or warned that the uprisings would only give the anti-immigrant far right an opportunity.

The use of technology may be resulting in less-decentralized disturbances that are harder to control. Whether and how the French authorities will respond to the rioters' use of technology will be an interesting question. If the unrest is indeed more coordinated than most people realize, it would fit in neatly with theories pointed out in the conservative Captain's Quarters blog, which notes accounts of connections with radical Islamic groups sending trained agitatiors to Europe from the Middle East.

RELATED: The futuramb blog notes how the recent disturbances are in line with the forecasts of Peter Schwartz and other futurists of immigration straining not just France, but the entire EU. Unrest, under this scenario, would lead to a reactionary rise in ultranationalism across Europe, a closing of borders, and the ultimate breakdown of the EU.

ALSO RELATED: Blogger Thomas P.M. Barnett believes the long-term solution to unrest and disenfranchisment is to encourage immigrants to create political parties that would create social connectivity and help these groups develop a voice in the government. Read the comments in the earlier-cited Captain's Quarters post for some possible implications of this.

UPDATE: Smart Mobs cites a report that three bloggers have been arrested and accused of inciting some of the French rioting.

Source: International Herald Tribune (via the New York Times), Smart Mobs