23 June 2009

The revolution will be fetishised

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Now that the refrains of “Twitter Revolution” and “the first uprising powered by social media” are fading into the distant memory that is 24 hours ago, we can start debating, says Jonathan Salem Baskin, what impact, if any, it had (or is still having) on events in Iran.

“Social movements are, well, social, by their very definition; people have been agitating and acting together since the platform tools to do so were quill pens, inkwells, and whispering in one another’s ears. Nothing new there. So the first question to ask is whether new media changed the conduct or outcomes of the social event itself (i.e. in Iran).

I’m not sure it did.”

In fact, provocatively he asks: “So what if George Washington’s troops had tweeted about their suffering at Valley Forge, or the Mensheviks had similarly described the cruelty of their Bolshevik brethren. Would subsequent events have turned out differently?”

Actually his best one comes at the end: “What if it were Florida in 2000? A candidate wins the popular vote (vs. the Iranian pretender losing by 20 million or so), and then a court made up of unelected lifers decides that the other guy won. I wonder if there’d been tweets of the protesters there would have been more protests…or a greater popular uprising?”

Read article

(via FutureLab)

Another reflection on the same topic comes from an article in the International Herald Tribune:

“Iran’s sometimes faltering attempts to come to grips with this new reality are providing a laboratory for what can and cannot be done in this new media age — and providing lessons to other governments, watching with calculated interest from afar, about what they may be able to get away with should their own citizens take to the streets.”

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