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Friday, December 05, 2003

Where Blogging Goes From Here

This post actually concerns Marcelo more than me, but since he will probably not post this here, I will. During what must have been an extraordinarily late night for him - working on what I can only describe at this stage as a secret mission, he stumbeld up on this:

Terrorists heading towards Buenos Aires caught in La Paz?

Argentine TV news channel Crónica has just informed that around 20 "terrorists from Pakistan" have been arrested in La Paz, Bolivia. They were suspected, Crónica reports, to have intended to travel to Buenos Aires (as you might recall, there was a cautionary report about possible terrorist activities targeting Argentina).

Now, Crónica is... well, anybody who have ever watched it knows that it's not exactly self-restrained in its reports (picture big yellow or white letters over a red background with a soundtrack of -I swear- band music), and I haven't found any online mention of this. On the other hand, they are quite good at catching things early, and if this turns out to be the real thing, well, you read it online first in Southern Exposure!

BTW, I think this might have quite an effect on Argentine's foreign stance, interacting with the country's not very pro-US mood and deep feelings about the bombings a few years ago. We'll have to see how this develops.

Now here you might imagine that here there is nothing special, just a routine incident where a group of terrorists might have been planning to fly an airplane into a US target. But wait a minute, there's something else here, there's the role of blogging as an information source:

Update on the Bolivian arrests

All the information available so far seems to come from this release of ABI (the Bolivian government's press agency). It indicates that 16 Muslim people from Bangladesh -that's not the same country as Pakistan, Crónica!- have been arrested following a tip by French authorities that they could be implicated in a (presumptive) plan to hijack a plane in the La Paz-Santa Cruz-Buenos Aires route and direct it against US targets (most likely, I presume, in Buenos Aires). You can read about these reports in Reuters Alertnet (other articles, like Wired's, are just rehashings of Reuter's somewhat skeptical notice of the ABI press release).

As in most cases where (presumed) links to terrorism are present, there are more assumptions, maybes and coulds than hard data. We'll have to see how this develops.


As an aside unrelated to the story itself, let it be noted that, as far as I can tell, Southern Exposure put the story online well before Reuters did. That's (part of) what this "New Media" thing is about, not online newspapers with pop-up advertising...

So here you are: here's the real story. The power of blogging with its 24/07 connectivity, and an army of amateur journalists to rise and rival the conventional media as information sources in key moments. We aren't there yet, but it will come.

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