The Online Journey of Paul Revere

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The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
The Online Journey of Paul Revere
With apologies to the original
by Kelly O'Keefe, January 21, 2010

Listen my millennials and you shall hear
Of the new media capabilities of Paul Revere,
In 2010, when citizen activists began to thrive;
Hardly a Facebook user is now alive
Who doesn’t remember that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the Daily Kos tweet
By Mac or Blackberry from the convention to-night,
Update your status in the belfry arch
Of Bloggers Row as a trending topic,--
One if by land, and two if it’s going to go viral;
And I on the opposite shore will spiral,
Ready to re-tweet and spread the alarm
Through every free-market village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.

Then he said "I’m signing off!" and it hurt to his core
To know he’d be unreachable for a few hours or more,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
The whole virtual community had something to say
The Right Online, American man-of-war;
Search optimization, with each click and tweet
Soon there’d be tea partiers rallying on the street,
And a huge mobilization effort that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through LinkedIn and Facebook,
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of investigative journalists at the barrack door,
The sound of status updates, and the tramp of online identity management,
And the measured tread of the blogosphere,
Marching down to their web traffic calculators.

Then he climbed the tower of the World Wide Web,
By the wooden stairs, also known as a dial-up connection,
To the belfry chamber with DSL overhead,
And startled the leftists from their protected-IP address perches
On the collectivist rafters, that round him made
The mainstream media throw a parade,--
Friend requests, steep and tall,
Twitter feeds all the way to the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the high speed internet of the town
And the cyber connectivity flowing over all.

John Singleton Copley portrait of Paul Revere

Beneath, in Windows Vista, lay the dead,
In their AOL 2.0 gear on the Hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like Howard Dean’s howl,
The popular YouTube video, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
As he logs in he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the empty Outlook calendars
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his tweets are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the bandwidth widens to meet the consumers needs,--
A line of black that operates at all different speeds
On the rising internet revolution like a new iPhone app.

Meanwhile, impatient to sign on and promote,
Booted and spurred, with a bit of carpal tunnel
On the opposite shore walked Center for American Progress.
Now he logged in to his website,
Now he gazed at number of hits and the unique clicks,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his Google Analytics;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The headlines of the Drudge Report,
As it rose above the graves of websites past,
Websites with dead links, the ones that couldn’t last.
And lo! as he looks, on the new media of the right
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the web, the login he clicks,
But lingers and gazes, checking his email
An outdated friend request in the inbox burns.

A hurry of surfers on an interactive website,
A tweet in the moonlight, a viral video in the dark,
And beneath, from the students, in passing, a spark
Struck out by Google, texting fearless and free;
That was all! Good search results just came in, full of glee
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by Ballotpedia, in its flight,
Kindled the internet into a flame of micro-donations with its heat.
He has left Word Press and mounted the steep,
And Blogger as well, what tranquil interface,
Then the IT department, meeting the help desk tides;
And under the constraints that management imposed,
Now soft on the blog, now loud on the news site,
Is heard the tramp of his online presence as he rides.

It was 2010 by the village clock
When he crossed the threshold into better communications.
He heard the crowing of the pro-liberty movement,
And the typing of the farmer's dog,
And felt the need to write a status update about the social fog,
That rises after everyone checks their PDA.

It was still 2010 by the village clock,
When he galloped into a training seminar.
He saw the gilded youth
Posting up links and blog rolls of truth,
And the town hall windows decree “free Wi-Fi,”
Gazing at him with a digital glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the online work they would look upon.

It was mid-term elections by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in a swing state town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
Transparency floated in the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow of accountability.
And the Constitution was safe and asleep in his bed
Who on the ballot would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by what the online community had said.

First publication of "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" in The Atlantic Monthly in 1861

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the big government spenders fired and fled,---
How the freedom loving bloggers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each FOIA request and each Facebook wall,
Chasing the apologists down the lane,
Exposing corruption to end government’s reign
Under the URL at the turn of the road,
Only pausing to recharge and reload.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every American village and un-subsidized farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of rent-seeking or fear,
A voice in the darkness, when the Teleprompter is knocked to the floor,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of typewriters Past,
Through all our technological history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurried typing of that truth-seeking steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

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