I wrote about what it feels like to watch a war in real-time, to be taken to the limits of spectatorship:
War has always been something of a spectator affair, if not downright voyeuristic. On July 21, 1861, during the First Battle of Bull Run, some well-to-do Washingtonians brought their families to picnic near the battle site, anticipating a Union rout of Confederate forces. The battle turned calamitous, and the picnickers were forced to flee, along with the Union army.
During the Civil War, the invention of photography created a sense of immediacy previously unseen in war. Ordinary civilians were offered a vivid record of what war was like and the devastation it wrought. From then onwards, each new technological development—the telegraph, wireless radio, television, satellite broadcasting, the Internet—expanded the range, speed, and quality of media accounts of war. By the first Gulf War, Americans could watch a battle thousands of miles away unfold in real-time.
Read the rest here.
[Photo is of picnickers at the Battle of Bull Run]