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Saturday, June 20, 2009

This Revolution is Brought to You by Twitter

First, here is the latest on the events today in Iran. After Ayatollah Khameni warned against protesting today, the numbers were significantly smaller than they had been. They were NOT small or insignificant. Several thousand protesters came out all over Tehran. They were met by police that used everything from tear gas, pepper spray, and clubs to beat back the protesters. Video has begun to stream out.

A person claiming to speak for the opposition leader Al Mousavi just wrote this piece in the Guardian laying out Mousavi's platform and what Mousavi would like to see from the protesters. Mousavi has pronounced in no uncertain terms that if he is arrested he is prepared to Martyr himself for this cause. He's calling on his followers to strike if he is arrested.

A BBC reporter has said that they witnessed a protester being killed. The protests have spread around the world. Washington D.C. and Paris are just two major world cities in which people from around the world are showing their solidarity with the protesters in that nation.

Finally, the president has made his strongest statement yet.

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

Folks like me will say that this sort of forceful statement should have come long ago, but it's better late than never. This is the sort of unequivocated statement of support for peaceful demonstrations, free elections, and against tyranny that we have been hoping for.


The first Gulf War was the first war broadcast in real time 24/7. The Iraq War in 2003 was the first war brought to you by cable news. This revolution will be the first one in which news and information will be broadcast primarily through social networking, Youtube, and cell phones. This is the the strongest indication yet of the power of all of the new technology only created in the last decade.

Twitter has become the single most powerful force for real time information coming from Iran. Twitter is a social networking site in which users tell everyone else about their lives in 140 characters or less at a time. It has become the outlet for those on the scene at protests to give eye witness accounts of what is going. Threads like Iran election, Mousavi, Tehran become significant sources of information. Threads are a series of messages by users on the same topic.

Twitter also has followers. That is those that read another users notes, known as tweets. So, an individual tweets something from the scene of a protest and soon they create thousands of followers. Suddenly, a citizen journalist is born. In any given ten minute period,a thousand or moe tweets are sent back and forth. That's an enormous amount of information passed back and forth and something that no other forum could probably provide.

Right now, one individual is tweeting "Fatemiyeh Hospital Tehran: 30-40 dead as of 11pm; 200 injured. Police taking names of incoming injured." meanwhile several others are urging the injured to go to European embassies to get treated because the police are interrogating and arresting those that come to the hospitals.

Meanwhile, Youtube continues to be on the forefront of the way in which information is disbursed. The two videos I embedded were two of many of protests downloaded onto You Tube just today. The most real time video coming from Iran will almost certainly gets its first viewing on You Tube.

Facebook has also become a forefront of information on the revolution. In fact, Hossein Mousavi has his own facebook page. That has become the central weigh station for all demonstrations, news and updates regarding his own movements and those of his supporters. Because Facebook is availabel all over the world, his message is able to get out all over the world instantaneously. The nature of Facebook allows users from all over the world to communicate with Mr. Mousavi through the site.

What this has created is a fusion of journalism and organization. All of these sites are not merely an avenue for information but to organize future movement. It is unlike anything we have ever witnessed before. We are living in a brave new world of technology and its power is being unleashed right in front of us in real time.


Anonymous said...

Mike, you do know that Khomeini died in 1989 and that Khamenaei is in charge now right?

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many Americans really know that Mousavi was to the 80s what Ahmadinejad is to today.

People in Iran are mad at two things: jobs and social openness.

Just wait till the lower class people join in, then the mullahs will *really* be scared.