photo © 2008 Julian Burgess | more info (via: Wylio)The Internet, which was nominated but lost to Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo last year, is up for the Nobel Peace Prize again this year. This year’s 241 nominations surpassed last year’s 237 and included the controversial site WikiLeaks, Russian human rights group Memorial, the European Union, and African human rights activist Sima Samar.
Past winners, members of international parliaments and law and poli-sci professors submit the nominations, but the actual winners are decided by the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s five member panel. And while last year an Internet win may have seemed like a longshot, this year it has paid enough dues for a nod.
There’s a lot of terrible stuff generated online, granted, but in my opinion the Internet really did more good than harm this year. Any way you slice it, Twitter and Facebook are inspiring people in the Middle East and North Africa to topple decades-old dictatorships, and the wave of revolutions happening in the region looks like it’s just getting started. This era of human communication is just getting started.
In Egypt, where weeks ago former dictator Hosni Mubarak resorted to shutting down Internet connectivity to keep the opposition from organizing, the post-Mubarak cabinet has now opened an official FB page and an official Youtube channel in attempt to engage Internet savvy youth. Said one Egyptian observer, “When it comes to tech, this revolution has done to the Egyptian government what Obama’s social media campaign did to the American government.”
And while Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks also left a worldwide mark this year, I would argue that the site, with its emphasis on openness and transparency in government, falls under the umbrella of Internet too, so a win for the Internet would kill two birds with one prize.
The winner (or winners) will be announced in October, and will receive 10 million Swedish Crowns ($1.5 million dollars). Which begs the question, “So if the Internet did win, who would accept the prize?” A Cisco Router? Al Gore? Well, my pick would be that little Egyptian girl named Facebook.