Controlling the Flow of Information in Libya
“Control is not simply manipulation, but rather modulation. One does not simply control a device, a situation, or a group of people; rather, “control” is what enables a relation to a device, a situation, or a group. “People are lines,” Deluze suggests. As lines, people thread together social, political, and cultural elements (The Exploit by Alexander Galloway and Eugene Thacker, p. 35)."
The first part of this quote examines how control is not manipulation, rather it is modulation and that we do not directly control an object but rather the connection we make to a particular object. We can look at how Ghadaffi, Libya's ruler, emulates this example of modulation. The internet was shutdown in Libya to control the flow of information and cool the political temperature in Libya. According to AllFacebook.com, "Gaddafi warned against the use of Facebook where groups have formed calling for economic and political reforms. Gaddfai's security forces have arrested activists who've posted online about the revolution." This is a perfect example of how the Libyan government is working on controlling the internet in Libya.
Yet despite the governments efforts, information about the events in Libya are still getting transmitted to different online venues through the internet. According to eweek.com, "there are a number of alternatives being shared on Twitter for Libyans to get online, such as a free dial-up account provided by organizations in Europe. XS4ALL, a "hacker-friendly" Internet service provider based in the Netherlands, opened up its modem lines for free during the previous curfew, but there had been no activity from Libya on the account, XS4ALL’s Niels Huijbregts told eWEEK."
So there are outside resources that are allowing the people inside Libya to connect to the internet so that information about the events in Libya can still get out on the internet.
So Ghadaffi may have stifled or caused the flow of information to be routed but has he completely shut off or disrupted the flow of information? According to some journalists it looks like cell phone access was still working several weeks ago despite the Libyan government shutting off internet access and owning the two mobile phone operators in the country. We can also see that this has still not disrupted the "lines" of communication in the network like what Ghadaffi was hoping to accomplish. He managed to shutdown the main nodes which control internet access and arrested some bloggers posting an anti Ghadaffi message online, yet he has failed to completely take down the network of conversations or people involved. This is because it is the network of people not the nodes that keep information flowing.
If Ghadaffi wanted to completely control the flow of information he would need to remove the key people involved in the networking spreading the information on the internet. The conversation then spreads through the network were other people pickup the conversation and then pass it along. The Libyan government trying to shut off access or stop the modulating signal of information is one level of control and the people in the network passing the conversation along is another form of modulation or control of the flow of information. If the information is stopped at one point or a node is destroyed, then information can still pass through other functioning nodes or networks.
No matter how or who tries to control the flow of information, there are still other ways for information to spread as long as the key ties in the network are still functioning. This is just like a virus spreading if it affects one place or person it can spread to others instantly even if part of the virus is contained. For example, if we look at @ShababLibya on Twitter this is a Libyan movement inside and outside of Libya which also has a Facebook Page associated with the movement. We can see that since predefined connections and sites have been established that the flow of information can still exist. Other resources can be used and if predefined alternative methods of communication have been established (dial-up, cellular, radio communications, etc.) then information can still get out through these alternative channels.
Can the flow of information be stopped even though one area of the network has been shut off? From what we have seen predefined channels and connections are hard to break or destroy once once they are established. In the end, even if the flow of information is interrupted or changed, this flow can be rerouted using other channels or resources.