I liked this story in its own right, but it has implications that we can all think about, if we aren't doing so already. The story as published in the Swindon Advertiser (a local newspaper for the area around the English town of Swindon in Wiltshire) is that 8,000 bikers are going to ride through the town of Wootton Bassett on 'Mother's Day' (in the UK that is 14 March) as an act of respect for the service personnel who have been killed in Afghanistan, with a fund-raising angle to it too. It started as a single teenager's idea, she put it on Facebook and suddenly hundreds and then thousands of people decided to join in. The full story is at
This raises so many issues that we anthropologists could think about. The first one that occurred to me was the power of the Internet (in this case Facebook). Social networking sites are huge in passing information and ideas - in this case leading to what is going to look like mass action. This is new over the past few years: what implications does it have for human groups of any size?
The second is the ability of the media (and, in my view, therefore the people) to forget. Whether it is factually completely accuate or not (I have no idea), the newspaper cites casualties in Afghanistan as the focus of the cause. But what we British call the Falklands War was more costly in a much shorter time frame, and there are hundreds of wounded service personnel from Iraq still in need (they are the subject of separate charitable work so they are not neglected). But apparently we can only think of one thing at a time so Afghanistan it is.
So, the power of the Internet spreads the news further and faster than ever before, but the collective memory for news (at least here in the UK) appears to be getting shorter and shorter.
What do you all think?