Iran: “The First Revolution Catapulted and Transformed by Social Media”

Not my words – this is coming from Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, one of the best books I’ve read over the past year.   I’ve clipped a quote from a recent Q&A he did for TED (full link below):

What do you make of what’s going on in Iran right now?
I’m always a little reticent to draw lessons from things still unfolding, but it seems pretty clear that … this is it. The big one. This is the first revolution that has been catapulted onto a global stage and transformed by social media. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Chicago demonstrations of 1968 where they chanted “the whole world is watching.” Really, that wasn’t true then. But this time it’s true … and people throughout the world are not only listening but responding. They’re engaging with individual participants, they’re passing on their messages to their friends, and they’re even providing detailed instructions to enable web proxies allowing Internet access that the authorities can’t immediately censor. That kind of participation is reallly extraordinary.

…and also worth reposting, still from Clay:

I’ve been saying this for a while — as a medium gets faster, it gets more emotional. We feel faster than we think. But Twitter is also just a much more personal medium. Reading personal messages from individuals on the ground prompts a whole other sense of involvement. We’re seeing everyone desperate to do something to show solidarity like wear green — and suddenly the community figures out that it can actually offer secure web proxies, or persuade Twitter to delay an engineering upgrade — we can help keep the medium open.

You can read the rest of the Q&A with Clay here.

Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?  also weighed in today via his own blog, calling this the “API Revolution”:

For it’s Twitter’s architecture – which enables anyone to create applications that call and feed into it – that makes it all but impervious from blocking by tyrants’ censors. Twitter is not a site or a blog at an address. You don’t have to go to it. It can come to you (as newspapers should). Twitter is an outpost in the cloud and there can be unlimited points of access from every application and site using its API, so the crowd can always stay ahead of the people formerly known as the authorities. That, I believe, is the keystone in the architecture of the new infrastructure of unstoppable freedom of speech and democracy.

…and he later continues….

…Twitter is different because it’s live and social – the retweet is the shot heard ’round the world – and because that API lets it survive any dictator’s game of whack-a-mole.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

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