On Iran’s election, twitter, and the failure of western media

Wow, have I been out of touch for the past few days. The Devteach and ALT.NET conferences kept so me busy, I had no idea that for the past two days there have been protesting, riots and violence in Iran over the apparently fraudulent Iranian election. Though I probably wasn’t the only one, since apparently all of the major news networks had no idea either until recently. The twitterverse/blagosphere however took notice.

Many of the people in the Devteach and ALT.NET communities are big twitter users. I regularly use IRC (look it up) to network and have discussions with other developers in channels like ##csharp and #alt.net, however for some twitter is appears to be replacing IRC as their medium of choice (perhaps there isn’t a good IRC app for the iPhone?). Sadly, I have caved and got a twitter account and while looking around at the main twitter page I noticed that the majority of “tweets” (twits?) were directed at #iranelection. Go check it out it is pretty interesting, I have really spent absolutely no time looking at twitter at all, but this was eye opening. Many of these are coming directly from students currently surrounded by riot police. One of them has been posting pretty regular updates.

The phenomenon of twitter in this context is interesting. It provides these protesters and students with a sense of solidarity with people far from them, at the same time though I find it slightly disturbing how people far removed (and likely with little understanding about the conflict) really feel like they are part of just just because they “tweet” about it. A reality check might be in order.

Almost as popular as #iranelection is #cnnfail (as well as #msnbcfail and #abcfail, there is a #foxfail too, but seriously, who the hell cares about Fox?) filled with twitter vitriol at CNN for taking a full 48-hours to cover anything about what was happening in Iran.

Personally, I was not planning on paying much attention to the election in Iran. Regardless of the result, the “Supreme” leader will remain unchanged, although what supreme leader doesn’t prefer having a puppet (I’m looking at you Putin…). Regardless, it appears the “dictator for life” saw fit to steal the election which, very fortunately, seems to have enraged much of the population who do believe there is hope for change without Ahmedi’Nijad. Unfortunately, totalitarian regimes don’t respond very positively to grassroots movements for change.

These events, could mark a turning point for the country Iran and, quite possibly, also in the status of global social networking as a tool for global change, or they could just be yet another troubling chapter in a long history of totalitarian regimes using brute force and violence to maintain their power and control.

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