Olympic Security and the Media

Two city buses exploded Monday morning in southwest China during the rush hour. The authorities think they can tamp down on such violent protest during the Olympics, but they've got another thing coming.

Even with a staggering 100,000 police officers deployed on the streets to keep order for the Games (that's twice the size of NYC's police force, twice the size of the Italian standing army!) -- they won't be able to prevent every single act of civil disobedience and violence.

Nor will they be able to choreograph the media coverage of these events. Much to NBC's chagrin, the Chinese authorities are curtailing the hours when press can film in Tiananmen Square, and they'll try to censor the dominant television narrative. But they won't be able to prohibit 24/7 coverage via the Internet of protests as they happen on the ground.

As the authorities learned from the Sichuan earthquake, sometimes the public's need for information can supersede the government's ability to control it. Information cascades across digital networks like water flowing over a dyke. Sticking fingers in that dyke can't stop the flow.

Hopefully, the inevitable bad press coverage will lead to greater openness and more press freedom, not less. Regardless, the authorities are in for a rude awakening.