Monday, June 15, 2009

Power to the Twitter.


Yes, I know I am spoiled, coming from an European country where world news are a fundamental and significant part of every day news cycle, on television, radio and newspapers. Even so, I always relied on the Internet sources to complement information and always paid close attention to what the blogosphere and other social networks were saying about it. Now that I live in the United States, what I already knew became certain: there is extremely little information on every day world news and very poor coverage of on going international events. The latest DC gossip or political pseudo-scandal takes on whole news cycles, leaving little room for anything else. And on weekends, just forget it - endless repetitions of old reports and prerecorded programs, hardly any space for live news. Well guess what happened this weekend...

The world had it's eyes on the Iranian elections and was expecting a dramatic turn of events; Ahmadinejad faced some real competition from Mousavi and the turnout was fantastic. Then, two hours after over 40 million votes were cast, came the official announcement that Ahmadinejad won with more than 60% of the votes. Knowing the votes were on paper and had to be manually counted, this alone indicated something had gone terribly wrong. Pretty soon, Iranians took to the street, shouting "Fraud!" in indignation. The blogosphere exploded and accessing information from Tehran became more and more difficult; phones, electricity and web servers were being shut down. The main television networks with dedicated news channels in the States, CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, were in weekend automatic pilot and kept on happily transmitting old news or prerecorded shows. At the height of tension, as police searched door to door for satellite dishes and students were trapped inside their campus, Larry King was interviewing a biker on CNN (prerecorded, of course). Without the Internet, knowing about the events taking place in Iran would be impossible. The reporters from all networks in Iran were (and still are) having a very hard time doing their job and very little was known about what was happening... Then, the Iranian people took upon themselves to let the world know what was going on. With all conventional channels severed or censored by the Iranian government, one new communication platform proved efficient in dodging the communications black out, resisting still countless attempts to shut it down. Twitter.

Iranians with a Twitter account, which they have already used to organize the electoral campaign, started pouring out information, organizing threads and collective accounts and telling the world in real time what they were going through. The rest of us picked it up very fast and the information flow in the main threads, or Trending Topics, was huge. Of course the sources are many and many are unreliable and even compromised, but for people used to parsing web flows it's relatively easy to figure out who's real and who's not.
Threads like #iranelection became the main source of news from Tehran and from all over the world, with real time updates on what was happening on the ground and what was being confirmed by reliable sources; from the student in a Tehran rooftop to the latest Al Arabiya breaking news we were watching history unfold before our eyes like never before and, what is more important, we were participating in it actively, by posting our own findings or relaying (retwitting - RT) important information or adding a personal note, a message or a comment.

Here is a sample of what's on Twitter as I write this post:

@persiankiwi confirmed - there is shooting in Azadi sq. protesters wounded and shot, no numbers yet, still hearing gunfire. #Iranelection
MarjonRostami: Thanks to everyone updating #IranElection. You are making a difference. Time to focus on work. I'll update as I get calls from Iran.
iran09 RT @PouyanA: CONF! there is #shooting in #Azadi sq. protesters wounded and shot, no numbers yet, still hearing gunfire. #Iranelection
jimsciuttoABC #iranelection sev reports of pro-govt militia firing on protesters, AP photog reports one protester dead
dailydish More Video Of The Crowds: CNN gets some video, finally. But then you hear a simple statement from the anchor tha.. http://tinyurl.com/l6tvrw
RuiSemblano RT @LaraABCNews: Iranian State TV reports gun shots at Mousavi rally; AP photog sees govt militia fire at protesters #Iranelection

Last tweet (twitter post) was mine... Government militia shooting protesters in Azadi Square, Tehran. One of the tweets this weekend reflected a sentiment that's been around for a long time, that should an American journalist be killed in Tehran we would have 24 hours news coverage. This is a cynical world. Today we have our eyes set on Iran, but for how long? Well, lets make the most of it while it lasts and make sure the Iranians get the support they need - not sending tanks and bombs, but sending word that they are not alone and letting their voices be heard.
Mousavi is no Obama, that's for sure. His past shows clearly what he stands for as far as foreign relations are concerned, but his views on what should change in Iranian society would make a great difference and, perhaps, be a decisive step towards a better life for Iranians and a more honest approach to the world at large. Iran will change at his own pace and from within, just as Iraq would have. If we'd let it. The only way democracy comes to be in a country is through the will and sacrifice of it's people. Maybe the "democracy export" apologizers should learn this fact today, only I don't believe they will for the simple reason they are quite aware of what they are defending and why - and it is surely not the exportation of democracy. Like the nice looking country club that is nothing more than a brothel, the front must remain intact for public relations purposes so the real business can go on inside.

What I came to realize this weekend, is that there is hope for those who love freedom and fear the ever growing control of society by interest groups and governments alike, especially communication and information control. There is always a way to let the truth be known and in today's world a tool emerged that shows how inevitable that is, even through the thickest darkness. So lets Twitter on and get it out there.


[simulpost001/09: here in portuguese (in A Sombra)]


post(erior) note:
The power of twitters:

[quote]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Down Time Rescheduled

A critical network upgrade must be performed to ensure continued operation of Twitter. In coordination with Twitter, our network host had planned this upgrade for tonight. However, our network partners at NTT America recognize the role Twitter is currently playing as an important communication tool in Iran. Tonight's planned maintenance has been rescheduled to tomorrow between 2-3p PST (1:30a in Iran).

Our partners are taking a huge risk not just for Twitter but also the other services they support worldwide—we commend them for being flexible in what is essentially an inflexible situation. We chose NTT America Enterprise Hosting Services early last year specifically because of their impeccable history of reliability and global perspective. Today's decision and actions continue to prove why NTT America is such a powerful partner for Twitter.
posted by @Biz at 4:17 PM


[unquote]

from Twitter

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