The First 80 Days of Covid-19
The first case of the coronavirus disease, Covid-19, was officially reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019 (World Health Organization).
The coronavirus disease had initially been compared with an ordinary flu, and Dr. Li Wenliang, who raised the alarm in the early days of the outbreak, was investigated by the Chinese police and the Public Security Bureau for ‘spreading rumours’. Yet it soon became obvious that Covid-19 is far more dangerous than the flu, and Dr. Li Wenliang, aged 33, died of the infection on 7 February 2020 (Hegarty 2020). In spite of their harsh initial reactions to Dr. Li Wenliang’s alleged whistleblowing, Chinese authorities soon exhibited remarkable determination in containing the virus. By late January, they quarantined the city of Wuhan (11 million inhabitants) and several other areas affecting over 60 million of people. ‘Since February 18, China has reported the number of recovered cases is vastly outpacing the number of new confirmed cases each day.’ (Roper 2020). In the meantime, the coronavirus has crossed the borders of China, and Western countries have been much slower in their response. On 11 March, the World Health Organization ‘declared COVID-19 a pandemic, pointing to the over 118,000 cases of the coronavirus illness in over 110 countries and territories around the world and the sustained risk of further global spread’ (Ducharme 2020) and on 13 March, ‘[i] nternational health officials said Friday that Europe has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, as the continent is now producing more new cases each day than China did at the height of its crisis’ (Coote and Jacobson 2020).
In popular media, the Covid-19 pandemic has started an infodemic of unprecedented scale; fake news and bullshit flourish alongside credible information from sources such as the World Health Organization. In the context of research, the Covid-19 pandemic has initiated historically unprecedented levels of collaboration and openness, prompting some authors to suggest that ‘[w]hen the story of the coronavirus (2019-nCOV) is finally written, it might well become a template for the utopian dream of open science — where research data is shared freely, unrestrained by competition, paywalls and patents’ (Crowe 2020).
Worldwide closures of schools and universities have pushed millions of students and teachers online, bringing decades of experience in the field under the public eye (Bates 2020). Commentators compare Chinese and Western responses to the crisis, often under bombastic titles such as ‘Coronavirus and the Clash of Civilizations’ (Maçães 2020). Political scientists discuss whether the pandemic is an argument for total dismissal of capitalism or just a passing aberration in its functioning (Roberts 2020). Economists advise us to prepare the new recession (Elliott 2020). Sociologists see worldwide border closures as an anti-globalization experiment (Peters et al. 2020), and philosophers go back to questions pertaining to human nature. Worldwide governments are responding in radically different ways—the government of Montenegro has closed down the whole country before it registered the first patient within its borders (World Health Organization 2020b), while the UK has opted for a laissez faire approach which is hoped to result in herd immunity (Dunn and Kahn 2020). From official news to social networks, everyone and anyone has something to contribute to these debates, creating an infodemic which will be analysed long after Covid-19 is gone.
Wearing my academic researcher hat, I am not ashamed of naivety of this paper—it honestly represents my current thoughts and feelings about the Covid-19 pandemic on 16 March 2020. These thoughts are likely to be overridden by new developments, but they will nevertheless serve as a testimony of this historical moment. Wearing my academic editor hat, I am not afraid of publishing papers that might be proven wrong or even retracted—messy and unpredictable postdigital challenges pertaining to viral modernity require messy and unpredictable attempts at answering. Wearing my Daddy hat, I am admittedly a bit ashamed of withdrawing into the world of research while my son lives through some of the most challenging times in his 6-year-old life. Yet beneath all these hats, there is a head; in this head, there is a mind; and in this mind, there is a tiny, persistent voice that whispers: knowledge and solidarity are the key to long-term survival and flourishing of the human race. I invite all postdigital scholars to take this voice seriously, get out of our comfort zones, and explore all imaginable aspects of this large social experiment that the Covid-19 pandemic has lain down in front of us. In the midst of the pandemic, many of these efforts may seem useless. Yet paraphrasing John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1966), those who dare to fail miserably are also those who might change the course of history.
O digital já tem muitas décadas:
(aquele Maçães que surge ali citado meio como escrevendo disparates é esse mesmo, o que chegou a um cargo no governo cá, nos tempos da troika. Afinal, não sou o único a achá-lo um bocado para o idiota)