The world at your feet…
In 1162, a child named Temujin was born in a small village in the depths of the Mongolian grasslands.
It was about as far from civilization and power as you could get.
In today’s world, one would have to be born on Mars to have so distant a start.
By his death in 1227, he, and his descendents, would rule the world – from the shores of Japan to Hungary and pretty much everything in between. He would also change his name to Genghis Khan.
Europe, for The Great Khan, was more of an afterthought than anything else. His greater interest was in conquering far richer prizes in places like India, China, Persia and Japan. He had, in fact, only just started his conquest of Europe when he died. At his death, all the Mongols returned to Mongolia for the succession, and Europe was spared. The memory of the warfare he did wreak on Europe however, left deep roots. Edward Said in his book Orientalism, makes the point that a great deal of the Western fear of Islam to this day is founded in their original contact with the Mongol horde.
What made it possible for a bedouin herdsman to conquer the world in a lifetime?
The Mongol army was absolutely unbeatable. Mounted on their horses, they swept away nations, empires and armies that had stood for a thousand years in an afternoon.
When they crossed the plans of Eurasia and arrived in Poland and Hungary they were met by mounted knights in armor – the height of Medieval technology.
The Mongols had developed a key piece of technology, unknown to anyone else – it was the stirrup.
The stirrup allowed the Mongols to stand on their horses, and freed one hand for the sword as they rode.
They were fearless horsemen, now empowered with a new small piece of technology that was literally world changing.
What does this have to do with video or CTZN.TV?
Technologies, even small ones, can become the drivers of great and often unthinkable change. One can certainly imagine that the Emperors of Persia, of China, the Caliphate in Arabia and the Kings of Poland and Hungary could hardly have imagined that the seeds of their destruction lay buried in the barren grasslands of Mongolia. It was absolutely unthinkable.
Small video cameras and the web, I think, can have the same kind of impact on the ’emperors’ of our own media age. It is a technology, like the stirrup, that is small and simple. But placed in the hands of millions, it can become a lever that could move the world.
We are at the very beginning of our voyage. We are just getting started. But, as Mao said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
One Mongol horseman mounted on stirrups did not make a great impression on anyone. But add a hundred thousand, and you might have something that could change the world.
So go upload something to ctzn.tv.
You never know….