A revolution could now be unfolding in Iran. It is not your traditional revolution over taxation without representation or overthrowing a monarchy. No, this one is about protest of a people who believe that their election was hijacked by an incumbent politician. Unlike past revolutions, this one is using technology to tell the world what is going on… as it happens. On June 12, 2009, Iran held its tenth presidential election. Hours after the polls closed, it was announced that presidential incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the election with 66% of the votes cast, and that challenger and former Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi had received 33% of the votes cast. Almost immediately, protests began to form in major cities in Iran and other countries. The Iranian government shut down cell phone communication to limit the ability of people to communicate and send SMS text to each other. This severely hampered early reporting from major news outlets as it appeared to be a news blackout from within Iran to the outside world.
However, the short form messaging Internet application called Twitter has become a major source of communication for protesters and their supporters both inside and outside of Iran. The Twitter stream of messages is unregulated and unfiltered coming from people around the world. Some Twitter members have changed their profile location and timezone to match Tehran, Iran in a show of solidarity and for some. For others, it is intended to throw off any Iranian government attempt to track down in-country protesters. How effective this is, remains to be seen.
The challenge with any unfiltered message is that information and mis-information travels along the same path and can take on the same level of credibility. Understanding that, the discerning reader can at least get a sense of what people are feeling in the middle of this historic event.
To observe history in the making, use the following links for Twitter Search queries:
Additionally, one blog called Networked Culture has published a set of guidelines for people who want to help support the protests via Twitter.
Take the time to explore this new vehicle for public expression. Twitter inadvertently may just change the course of human events by engaging an audience far beyond the affected people.