Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What the hell is going on in Iran?

I have, like many of you, been watching the news from Iran. It's so hard to tell what's going on. The major media outlets are being intimidated and prevented from reporting by the Iranian government. So what are we relying on for news?

I've never really understood the whole concept of Twitter or how it was so fascinating. I will admit that I checked out Twitter yesterday to see for myself what was going on. There's lots of rumor and re-posts (or retweets) of items. It's hard to tell what's substantial and what's not.

While it may be easy for the Iranian hardliners to quash outlets like CNN by intimidating their staff what they cannot do is effectively stop the people.

Despite efforts to shut down sites like Facebook and Twitter, Iranians are still getting reports out. There are pictures and YouTube videos and emails and tweets and on and on. The government has tried to limit access to the Internet by decreasing bandwidth, but still the information gets out. People in other countries host proxies to provide a clearinghouse of sorts for Twitter. The US State Department asked Twitter to forgo its regularly scheduled maintenance in order to keep the flow of information active. Twitter as a political tool. Who would have ever thought this would happen?

The Iranian government's ability to effectively shut down communications is limited. Shut it down completely and you're without communication abilities. Limit it and what can trickle out is enough to damn you. In this day and age, it's impossible to completely stop the flow of information. The only way to police the Internet is completely control and limit its access. Essentially, once a nation opens that particular door and lets the Internet genie out of the bottle, it can't put it back. Not unless they want to find every person with a cellphone or a computer and physically stop them from using the technology.

And let us not forget the blogosphere. News from Iran is all over. From Andrew Sullivan's in depth coverage to bloggers in Iran and others around the world. Indeed, in many ways its been the blogs and social network sites that have provided the most in-depth coverage of this event. Far better in many ways than the mainstream media. There is a caveat, however. Much of what is out there is unsubstanitated. Getting verifiable intel is what's hamstringing the MSM. If they're being restricted to their hotel rooms then they can't really get out there and cover the demonstrations.

So read the Twitter updates. Check out the blogs. Watch CNN and the rest. Don't forget ABC, PBS and AP. And remember, much of what you see will be unfiltered, unsubstaniated and unforgettable.

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1 comment:

Ole Blue The Heretic said...

What is going on in Iran is the pot was simmering but now is at a full boil.

Iran has been unstable for years. The really old people remember life before the religious regime came to power and the younger generation yearns for a western type of life.