Iran is teetering on the brink of a revolution today, thanks to the web in general and Twitter in particular. At least that's the narrative shooting around the Web 2.0-sphere right now. During the recent election campaign, the wisdom goes, opponents of the hardline Ahmadinejad regime used Twitter, Facebook and blogs to push …
I'm not a tweeter myself,
but I do applaud them for keeping the medium open for Iran. That said, the reality of revolutions is that while the medium can carry the message that puts the spark to the powder, the powder needs to be in a barrel and there needs to be a projectile on the other side of the powder. Last time I checked, it looked like the mullahs had all the guns, so things don't look hopeful or likely to change.
Praying that I'm wrong on my assessment. Iran deserves a taste of freedom.
It's not Churlish, no
It does make people like us (and I'd lump myself in with you, on this one) look increasingly like an insular bunch of cranks, who sit sullenly in the corner, resolutely NOT using a service which has clearly become so mainstream to the rest of the population, that for some of them, the idea of using it to foment civil unrest doesn't seem the least bit abnormal.
The fact that people carry on doing what they always did, but do so using a new 'medium' isn't the story, here: it's the fact that the people who built and supported the infrastructure, it runs on, now look on in baffled bewilderment at the things people use it for.
For the first half century of IT, people used to care what people like us thought they should be doing with the things we gave them: now, they couldn't give a monkey's, and many assume that anything we'd want them to do with it would be crap. Welcome to the 21st Century: you just got marginalised by your own product. Expect your ability to predict what happens, from here on in, to recede, with each passing day. What next? An online Atlas, that anyone can draw maps for? A flash application that builds a 3D model of your linked-in profile? A web-based application that allows people to rate the relative attarctiveness of Butterflies? Who knows? Just try to keep up, and build whatever mad thing, it is, they want next.
Unelected leaders clinging to power
Mahmoud Gordon Ahmadinejad should have an open and fair election and stop trying to suppress a vote on his leadership. It's not enough to *pretend* you have the backing of the people. If they don't want him then he should leave, and if he won't leave on his own, his party should eject him. The country cannot grow with an unelected leader.
Was he even truely elected in the firstplace?
Of course he may surround himself with unelected people loyal to himself above loyalty to the country, but that just confirms his detachment from the democratic process.
He can't buy votes either, his country is in debt, it can't sell any more government gilts. The oil production is in decline, he can't rely on oil money to keep him in power either. Sooner or later the money supply will crumble and his control leave with it.
Then there's the monitoring and censorship necessary to suppress dissent. It can never be sustained, you cannot make it a crime to express anger at the leadership, or attempt to monitor all internet and telecoms for dissent will backfire. People will find other ways of expressing dissent.
The attempt to suppress protests with armed guards likewise cannot be sustained for long. You can bottle them up in a tight space surrounded by paramilitary police guards and keep them there for ever.
He should just go, it's the best thing, have a proper election, and when he loses go.
provided it's done in english
I have a sneaking suspicion that the most widely redistributed stuff coming out of Iraq^Hn will all be written in english. That immediately tells you where the writers' biases lie: they'll have at least some western education and I would expect therefore a leaning towards western values, morals and expectations.
What you won't hear from are the people who don't speak or write in english (putting aside any govt. led propaganda - but we're talking about "real people" here, not institutions). I would suggest that those people would not necessarily have the same predeliction towards western ways as the english speakers, and therefore what will be most widely quoted will not be representative of the people as a whole.
It'll be the normal thing you get on the internet: a few loudly out-spoken types who's views resonate with the libertarians promoting free speech and conveniently ignoring any views they disagree with. If we really wanted to promote democracy in Iran, we'd air the views of those who voted FOR Am*******jad (wassis' name?) but who don't have a voice in the west - as well as the others, out on the streets and twitter and Youtube and the 'net .yelling for freedom, justice and the american way.
interesting point but..
whats with the 'sexy iranian photos' google link at the bottom of the page - a tad inappropriate methinks?
Leave Iran to the Iranians
I understood the item was, for better or worse, about Web 2.0. That the BBC reporting of events from Iran has all the fizz that it's reporting from Zimbabwe lacks is not necessarily entirely unrelated.
Perhaps this is the Twitter business strategy? Assist (I use the term lightly) in Iranian uprising and enjoy a little middle eastern oil revenue..
Somewhere in China...
...a Tiananmen veteran is saying "Kids these days and their Twitter! When I was their age all we had were fax machines.
And we liked it!"
Mine's the one with the clay tablet and stylus in the pocket.
Missing the point...
In every revolution, the medium used is the "new" medium of the time. Why? Because the powers that be haven't quite managed to get 'round to controlling it properly. And, more likely than not, it *will* be the "educated" portion of the populace which uses it - the plebeians have not yet cought up with it properly.
(and we'll leave alone the fact that students tend to make the bulk of the initial revolutionists...)
Wow Joe, thanks for pointing out the bleedin' obvious!
You mean that a means of communication is nothing without the message? You mean content is King? You mean you can get published in the Reg by restating the obvious?
Gimme a break, I don't think that anyone is claiming that Twitter has started a revolution. The key point that you seem to have missed is that it is one of the only remaining media channels still operating since the Iranian government clamped down on radio, TV, SMS, Webmail etc.
What's your point?
New medium is also the message
In the early 17th century, there was an explosion of pamphleteering - often scurrilous and extreme. This was possible because printing had become cheap enough for relatively-ordinary people to have their ideas committed to paper, and distributed to many.
This fuelled a ferment of political debate and conflict. The authorities of the day, accustomed to managing the flow of information and ideas, had no answer to it, save to try and supress the irrepressible. The leading 'authority' figure ended up losing his head entirely.
The medium does matter, when the context changes faster than opponents can react.
iranian goverment must be pretty crap if they cant mass block a communication network and use propaganda techniques, fashioned from western goverments, to claim its for their populations own good. Failing this just claim a war on terror and stop and search, bully, detain without trial + more anyone who disagrees with you.
Aren't our goverment openly claiming that they want the ability to mass snoop in the name of freedom?...