Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Twitter and the Global Village

Right now, on Twitter, I live in Tehran.

Since I joined Twitter a couple of weeks ago, I have thought of it as a mostly useless tool. But following the tweets on #IranElection and #GR88 has changed my mind. With all of the journalists and photographers banned from Tehran, the only way to get any news out, has been through social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Even the US State Department asked Twitter to delay their planned service outage to preserve the link of communication that we have with people in Iran. Granted there have been many posts made that were not made by "people on the ground", but enough is getting out to make it a viable news source. Viable enough that the Iranian Government is now monitoring and shutting it down. CNN has been asked repeatedly to stop broadcasting the Twitter ID's of their sources because it is so dangerous.

I always think that communication technology is amazing. I am totally blown away by a fax machine. Seriously, it is so cool to me that I can put a piece of paper in on this end and send it to Japan and it comes out as a copy of what I still have in my hand.

Twitter is even more mind-blowing to me. In 140 characters a shot (or less), some brave souls are trying to bring change to their world. And the rest of the Twitter world is not just watching but is able to help, from wherever they are. You would not believe some of the things people are able to do. Hackers have paralyzed all of the state-run news outlets' web sites with the promise that they'll give them back when the cell-phone and internet communications have been restored in Iran. By changing their time zone in their profile, to +3:30 GMT, thousands of Tweeters have complicated the search for information leaks and saved people's lives (or so we are told).

I maybe be sitting in Columbus at this moment, but I am tweeting from Tehran.

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