The polymathic smartphone

During a night of mourning for the terrible tragedy in Nice, an attempt at a coup d’etat came and went in Turkey. Most people in this country this morning will be unaware of it ever happening.

The two main bridges in Istanbul were sealed and the state broadcasting studio, secret service headquarters and airfield in Ankara were occupied by the military — or, rather, by an insufficient portion of it. Within hours, the people refused to be curfewed and a loyal airforce and most of the army restored order.

What can be learned from the occasion? Unlike the wave of revolutions that hit Europe in the 1840s and ’50s, take-overs today in anything approaching a modern country are well nigh impossible. There are too many silos of power that need to be simultaneously neutralised.

Whereas it was the smartphone that played a large part in causing revolutions six years ago in north Africa — the Arab Spring — it was the agent by which the Turkish people rumbled theirs almost as soon as it started. And the lesson of this is that we probably haven’t heard anywhere near the last of the smartphone’s social and political consequences.

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