Monday, June 15, 2009

An Amazing Day

Today was an historic day in the world. The elections in Iran sparked demonstrations by the people there insisting on their freedom. They objected to what they call a fixed election and have, in spite of everything, taken their anger to the streets in incredible numbers. And, they used the social medium of the web to help spread their message.

They posted pictures on Flickr, they tweeted messages and images on Twitpic, posted videos on Youtube and in blogs, created petitions. We were able to follow up to the minute events and see incredible images like these in the Boston Globe. There was so much of a new leak there today that the Government shut down the social media sites. Listen to the end of this video to hear how the government was trying to shut down communication to the outside world. And, when word got out that the government was cracking down on access to social media sites, the world rallied to provide them with the addresses of proxies that they could use to bypass the filters to keep the lines of communication open. Take this tweet, for example, "RT @oliverg: pass it on RT @emsenn:Iran proxies #iranelection" It was simply amazing to watch. The world was responding to the human story here, without regard to the politics between Iran and their own countries.

There was so much coverage on those sites that some folks began to criticize CNN for not being up to speed with the twitterers and bloggers, etc. And that criticism boiled over until CNN just HAD to respond. This is a perfect video to tell the story of the nature of news today. PERFECT.

When Clay Shirky writes the next edition of his book, "Here Comes Everybody" he's SURE to include many of the stories that have arisen from the events of today. And, stay tuned. This is far from over. Neither the story of the election nor the story of the coverage of the election.

This was a GREAT day to be working with teachers and trying to show them the power of social media, Twitter, specifically. In Tweetdeck I created a Search column for the word Tehran and that's how I followed the events. There was a hashtag of #iranelections too that I could have chosen to follow. But, the bottom line is that I was following up to the minute reports from the people who were living the event.

It was also interesting how some folks commented that they wondered how the Tienanmen Square incident would have been different had the technology been as it is today. Hmmm... I wonder.

This is another example just tweeted (9:31PM) by @whynot88: - real-time tweets from Iran. And this one posted by ??? (I can't find the post again!) that shows pics from today and the number of times the image was retweeted:

P.P.S. (Tuesday)
This article on BoingBoing talks about how NOT to use the social media to help your cause. Check it out, too. It falls under the heading of "Best Intentions." For example, posting the proxies wasn't the best idea, although it had the best intentions. My point for my post, however, is the same. It was AMAZING to watch this issue being covered on Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, etc. This changes everything!