迫爆公共交通

April 6, 2014

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看見司機為爭路張牙舞抓、行人過馬路無章可遁、交通警察為私利到處留難司機,《開羅開車開到狂》不但展示了開羅都市的交通困局,透過訪談被困在車龍中的通勤者,更讓我們了解開羅市民生活的燥動不安及他們對國家發展的期盼。

日復日、年復年,在人車爭路的混亂之中,一個有序卻不平衝的交通生態系統不經意地萌生﹕不成文的響號語言、超車爬頭的禮節、塞車時跟旁邊司機閒聊。這個有機的生態體絕處逢生,按自由意志進化,與本片的載體 — 埃及,與它不思進取的腐敗政府 — 構成懸殊的對比。

從開羅交通的這一切,我看到的不是她的雜亂無序,而是雜亂中人與人之間的距離。導演Sherief Elkatsha說,開羅雖亂,但在大街小巷裡,陌路人也會交頭接耳說過不停。反之,在香港(導演來港數天參加香港國際電影節),雖然公共交通效率高,人們都在精密的系統裡遊走,他觀察到的卻是通勤者的anonymity(匿名性),意思就是雖然成千上萬的人每天都被困在一個密閉的空間中,在地鐵巴士中向著同一個目標(商業區)進發,但大家都仿佛都活在各自的私人空間中,毫不相干。

在公共交通效率上,開羅跟香港站在兩個極端。然而,我們想要的,是一個有人情味的運輸網絡,抑或是一個乏味、無情、人人鬥過你死我活的公共交通系統?當我們每天都埋怨地鐵巴士迫爆的時候,不妨思考一下這個問題。

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落入凡間的沙粒

July 29, 2013

一心只想找一個游泳的地方

一心只想找一個可供游泳的地方

79歲的郭九,退休後想找一個地方游泳。十七年前,經過烏溪沙一個石灘,決心要把它變成一個沙灘。日復日,郭伯用一支泥把和一個膠筒,將石灘上一塊一塊的小石岩磯移走。從此,烏溪沙岸邊多了一個沙灘。現在,郭伯仍然要每天移石,以保持沙灘的面貌。

也許你會覺得,郭伯的故事是香港社會上鮮見的「好人好事」。但,當一個人,在社會裡堅持做一些十分簡單、卑微而又利己利人的事,竟然會被視為奢侈、偉大的行為,這是一個什麼的社會?我們把星期日報章副刊的「好人好事」特寫專訪翻閱過後,我們有做過什麼嗎?

影片:
港台節目: 黃金歲月 【落入凡間的沙粒】
http://podcast.rthk.hk/podcast/item_epi.php?pid=436&lang=zh-CN&id=27802

By John Darkow

Lately, the social media is celebrated as the greatest innovation that mankind has ever made. In 2006, “You” was named the TIME person of the year with the inception of YouTube and the creator of Facebook Mark Zuckerburg earned that title at the end of last year. Unlike Enron or the .com craze in beginning of the last decade, the inventors of social media websites are the real leaders in the tech revolution – they have all become billion-, and soon, zillionnaires.

The “social” part of social media is indeed revolutionary. It changed that way human being interacts with each other, it made physical distance a non-issue in communication and it has made information travels faster than ever. This is where the “media” part comes in. With social media, information, namely news and knowledge, is no longer being disseminated through centralized and top-down channels. Anyone who are plugged into to the ever-growing expanse of the world wide web is able to publish information and create knowledge. The media are no longer dominated with the views of the reporters, columnists or pundits – increasingly, viewers are able to feedback through tweets and facebook, views of the minority gets heard, neighbourhood singing talents get discovered. These are positive changes. With the ingenious invention of social media, some even say that democracy as the Greeks envisioned it could finally be realized – the view of everyone should be heard and cared for.

This has created a shock to the convention news organizations. Major news organizations cope with the shock with “citizen journalists”, aka – us. As we send in our videos, photos, tweets and facebook comments, what viewers “like” (as in the Like button of facebook) has suddenly become an indispensable factor for a news organization to decide which story to run and which not to. Columnists, once express their OWN views on certain news events, would now report to you the social media’s take on certain news events and try to explain the reason for people on facebook or twitter having such a view.

Reporters and columnists could once, using their paid analytical minds and conscience for the society, direct the public’s attention to things that matter. But as the wall between conventional and social media crumbles down, the authoritative ability for media to lead the public discourse and rhetoric, is now lost. Compartmentalized, or worst, bigoted, visions of individuals could now get published or broadcasted in the mainstream media 24/7. Some would argue that the breakdown of the conventional media infrastructure is good news for democracy because ordinary people finally get to hold their government accountable with the help of facebook comments or tweets. But I would argue otherwise. One of the vital condition for a thriving democracy is an informed public, and for that, it requires fair and trustworthy news organizations.

When the trivial-est of trivia could make headlines (Charlie Sheen, Rebecca Black, Mr. Stanley Ho, Mr. Chan Chun-chuen, “Dangerous” Japanese food with normal/safe level of radiation) in the most trusted name in news (CNN, Ming Pao, etc.), the public is obviously far from well-informed. An ill-informed public is certainly ill-equipped to hold their own government accountable or even to hold anyone accountable as their opinions are mixed with personal sentiment and confined in a tunnel vision.

I am not putting the blame on the public, nor the social media. I am not suggesting that everyone should be expressing their views in an objective, analytical and comprehensive fashion like a columnist or a reporter; and the social media can do good, and I believe, with conviction, that it could provide tremendous assistance in perfecting democracy. However, what I am disturbed about the current state of the media in the “socialization” of the mainstream media, i.e. when the conventional news organization employ an ever-increasing amount of information from facebook, hkgolden forums or youtube as their source of news, or even, source of their so-called “opinion”. It is certainty not a good sign when what I read from the news is the same as what I over heard from a conversation of people sitting at the next table in a tea restaurant. (Watch the interview of Jon Stewart by Larry King, as Jon blasts the mainstream media for their increasing use of twitter materials.)

I won’t go so far as to deny the value of ordinary people’s conversation, as Jon did. Those conversations are to be heard in the media, and they should always be the primary source of news. But I believe the media has the responsibility to filter and to analyse that information for us, to inform us with the conversations that matter, especially in the age of information flooding. What is the point of reading the news when it becomes increasingly similar to what I get from facebook, twitter, youtube or discussion boards?

The problem with the sole dependence of information from the social media is that one would only hear from like-minded people. You read the news that your friends share, the video that a friend’s friend posts, and so on, you get the idea. It is true that in the age of Web 3.0, the internet has become diverse as never before; but sadly, the vision of internet users has become narrow as never before. Like-minded people could get together easily and create a “group” that is not interested in hearing a single piece of different opinion. However biased the opinion of these “groups” might be, I believe their voices should well be heard because they are a member of our community. It is, however, irresponsible behaviour to broadcast these opinions, unfiltered and unanalysed, to the public 24/7 for they would promote a sense of fear, hatred and discrimination. It would erode the basis of a well-oiled democratic society – trust, tolerance and love.

Is socialization of the mainstream media inevitable? I don’t know. But what I know is the consequences of that. I still believe that social media can do good, at least I am still using it to make a point.


See the video here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-10-2011/arizona-shootings-reaction (Fast forward to 2:23)

The title is from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, when Jon reacted to the shooting in Tucson, Arizona in Jan 2011. It was a inspiring impromptu speech for times of human despair and hardship. It is indeed a devastating and sad moment for humanity, lives are lost, kinships are broken and cities are wiped out. However, the light amid the darkness is that humanity today stands as one grieving for all that are lost and in supporting the heroes that are working hard to save the cities from nuclear catastrophes. Watching the incredible stories of survivals and Japanese reacting to the disasters with such an orderly fashion, it is definitely not the time to retreat to cynicism and despair. It is heart-breaking for me to watch all the finger-pointing rhetoric and cynicism spawned by this tragedy. As Jon described,

“Because someone or something will shatter our world again.  And wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t take this opportunity, and the loss of these incredible people, and the pain that their loved ones are going through right now, wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t take that moment to make sure that the world that we are creating now, that will ultimately be shattered again by a moment of lunacy, wouldn’t it be a shame if that world wasn’t better than the one we’d previously lost?”

The rest of the speech.

“And again, to see good people like this hurt, it is so grievous, and it causes me such sadness, but again, I refuse to give in to that feeling of despair.  There is light in this situation.  I urge everyone, read up about those who were hurt and/or killed in this shooting.  You will be comforted by just how much anonymous goodness there really is in the world.  You read about these people, and you realize that all the people that you don’t even know, that you have never met, are leading lives of real dignity and goodness, and you hear about crazy, but it’s rarer than you think.

And I think you’ll find yourself even more impressed with Congresswoman Giffords, and amazed at how much living some of the deceased packed into lives that were cut way too short.  And if there is real solace in this, I think it’s that for all the hyperbole and the vitriol that’s become a part of our political process, when the reality of that rhetoric, when actions match the disturbing nature of words, we haven’t lost our capacity to be horrified.  And please, let us hope we never do.  Let us hope we never become numb to what real horror, what the real blood of patriots looks like when it’s spilled.

Maybe it helps us to remember to match our rhetoric with reality more often.  Because the reality of dangerous rhetoric is, I think, even those that speak hyperbolically, I think all of them tonight would absolutely recoil and say, wow, that is not the picture of what we were discussing and what we were talking about, and I have to remember that there’s a reality to that situation that we can’t approach verbally.”