Friday, June 19, 2009

Iran, YouTube, Twitter, Technology and the Human Spirit

An 'Atlantic' blog described what's going on in Iran as a "revolution." I'm not entirely sure that the label is entirely accurate. On the other hand, I think that may very well be what's happening.

The recent presidential election was, to be polite about it, odd. Moussavi, a popular candidate, got only a third of the vote: and didn't even win in his own home town.

Although some people in Iran were chanting "death to America," an Iranian tradition since the 1979 revolution, many more were out in the streets, without being told to, protesting.

It looks like the Ayatollahs have managed to alienate a broad swath of Iran's population.

Under the circumstances, the Supreme Leader's announcement that the election results are final - particularly with the huge demonstrations where people weren't ordered to attend - strike me as the act of someone who is desperate.

Or, perhaps, of someone who doesn't quite understand the situation.

Revolution or Not in Iran: This isn't the Seventies

As I wrote earlier today, back when students occupied the American embassy in Tehran, the fax machine was pretty close to the cutting edge of information technology. Quite a lot has changed since then, in terms of technology and international politics.

I've heard, on the news, how Twitter is one of the few open lines of communication available to Iranians who aren't entirely satisfied with the Ayatollahs' government. That may be true. There certainly seems to be quite a lot of excitement, outside Iran, about Twitter and other applications of Information Age technology.

Twitter isn't Important

Not everybody seems to see it that way, though.

An executive editor with Information Week opined that Twitter isn't important: it's what the Iranian people are doing that's important. True enough, and he's also right in saying that Twitter isn't a 'magic wand' that will solve problems. (Information Week)

He also noted that Twitter had attracted the notice of America's state department. As CNN noted:
"...Apart from its careful comments, the Obama administration's most concrete public step has been in cyberspace: After noticing heavy Internet use by Iranian opposition groups, the State Department asked the managers of the Twitter networking site to reschedule some planned maintenance, to keep Twitter running during peak hours...." (CNN)
Back to Information week and Twitter not being stupid about Twitter.

The executive editor is right, in a way: Twitter won't make any changes. No technology can make changes.

It's people using technology that make changes happen.

And that seems to be what's happening:

"Khordad 30 1388 2009 گردهمایی بزرگ مقاومت ایران در"

baharmiayad, YouTube (June 12, 2009)
video 5:58

"This is a call for a great meeting in Paris to support the resistance against the theocratic regime.

"It will take place 20 june 2009 in Paris."

I found this video on "Iran's Channel, YouTube I don't understand Persian, so I don't know what's being said. From some of the comments in English, I gather that this is not an "official" Iranian YouTube account.

There is a very real possibility that change is coming.

Related posts: News and views:

A tip of the hat to therightblue, on Twitter, for the heads-up on the Daily Dish article.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.