I bow to Twitter #IranElection

Posted on June 16th, 2009 @ 01:05 in Uncategorized

Yes that’s right, that’s a hashtag right there in my blog post title. I’ve actually been meaning to do an entry about what I like about Twitter for ages now, but now it’s gonna be completely different to my original point.

As I said earlier (on Twitter! well yes, imagine that!):

I don’t normally use Twitter as a news source but it’s been amazing so far for following the events in Tehran. #iranelection

I’ve been absolutely fucking blown away by the way Twitter has been instrumental in spreading the news about what’s currently going on in Iran (FYI – Mashable HOW TO on following Iran events which is quite a good starting point). The way it’s been used to subvert the censorship within the country – working proxies being propagated across the service (twitter itself is blocked in Iran atm) so that Iranians may continue to let the world know what’s going on. The way everyone’s eyes seem to be riveted on Tehran. They way we’re actually getting raw news about the events (unedited by news outlets and their respective agendas).

I didn’t use Twitter at all for the Mumbai events so cannot compare. I’m also aware there is often a lot of misinformation / conjecture spread via Twitter, esp. in cases such as this. I am however pretty impressed with how sources “deemed reliable” are retweeted & spread. Also, searches such as “near:Tehran” may have a lot of unconfirmed rumours, OTOH it more or less reflects what the people over there may know at any one time.

I may be blue-eyed (?) but I am seeing here for the first time how social media on the Internet may actually contribute to changing the world.

Pre-empting the cynical voices (what, more cynical than me?) let me say this:

  • sure, the people affected need to have the necessary education & infrastructure to make their voices heard. Despite “Web 2.0” most people still don’t give a fuck about people in Burma, North Korea, Darfour, DRCongo etc.
  • but let’s see the positive. Imagine world-wide democracy! Power to the people! Think back on the roots of democracy, e.g. the Athenian model. Perhaps we could get there again? Everyone could get educated! Everyone could get a say! (provided they are educated about the issue, otherwise I’m gonna squarely say you don’t get a vote. Not gonna have ignorant idiots decide on my fate, no matter how much I support democracy)
  • sure, if we’re honest the Web is still vastly controlled by governments and big business. On the other hand I don’t think we’ve had this kind of big scale grassroots & clandestine action since the 19th century. [feel free to prove me wrong, am kinda going by gut instinct]
  • There is so much potential here, and we are (almost) all linked. While I tend to roll my eyes at the “let’s overthrow all governments, they’re all the same” commentators (FFS they’re not, don’t fucking equate Gordon Brown with Ahmadinejad, even if neither of them were “rightfully elected,”) I do appreciate the underlying energy.

Perhaps we are on the brink of something radically new, you know? And silly little Twitter may actually be one part of this. Or whatever comes next in the list of fickle social media fads.

[really I’m still bitter at having missed out on the May ’68 unrests. In order to not be a hypocrite I should totally get more involved shouldn’t I. Yes I should. *deep breath* I also work for American Express so should probably shut the fuck up to start with. *lmao*]


Tobias said on Jun 16, 2009 at 4:31 pm

It’s funny that you mention the Athenian model, which “excluded a majority of the population” (according to the Wikipedia entry).

Clarissa said on Jun 16, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Who cares about women, slaves etc.

More seriously: we’re talking about the abstract idea of democracy, right? Athens is still considered “the model” (which at that point was a completely new idea – correct me if I’m wrong, you’re the historian).

Yay, 2500yrs on we’ve recognized that women are not completely brainless fuckholes (oh wait… have we?) and that some people are not inferior to others (oh wait, when did segregation end in the US? Right).

That does not, in my mind, invalidate the original model of democracy as practised by the Athenians. I also don’t get too worked up about their idiotic religious beliefs, just as I let yours slide. 😉


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