The form of organised protest may well change in a virtual reality-influenced environment, especially as regards the possibilities of organising protest in an authoritarian, monitored society.
Maybe the combination of social media and pseudoevents points a surreal way forward for public dissent in China in the web era: organizers needn’t actually gather people, as Falun Gong supporters quietly but visibly did in the late 1990s around the capital, at the movement’s eventual peril, and as occasionally happens today, in gatherings of petitioners and others that are often promptly shut down by scores of police.
Instead, they can simply spread word about a protest via one of China’s networking sites, then wait for the police – along with the journalists, and perhaps a few sympathizers with cameras – to show up and shut down something that isn’t even there. You don’t just get a “protest”; you get a display of fear by the government. Do it again, and the number of “protests” grows, along with the number of police. Repeat. [...]
Interesting to see in what direction "social networks" on the Internet will influence "social gatherings" or "protest", or indeed "social relations" in a wider sense.
Meanwhile, yesterday's regimes continue using force on their own people whose support they have long lost...