Twitter stories are still coming down the pipe daily, but this week we’ve seen the tiny giant move into new territory — political revolution. The questionable results of the recent Iranian presidential election and the subsequent protests have highlighted how new technologies are changing nearly every aspect of our lives.
Facebook, Twitter and mobile phones with text messaging capabilities have become the Paul Reveres of the Iranian opposition. What can’t be said on the street, in the classroom, or at the mosque can easily be posted, tweeted and texted. These new technologies have frightened the old guard so much that the sites have been routinely shut down in Iran over the past week.
And the old guard should be afraid. With a median population of just 20 year old, the Iranian youth is as capable of organizing online as their parents and grandparents were offline. It will be interesting to see how these technologies, along with others such as email, video sharing sites, blogs, etc affect the outcome of the situation.
How important exactly are these internet technologies to the movement? So much so that the United States State Department contacted Twitter to see if Twitter would delay a shutdown of the site for scheduled maintanance. Twitter routinely closes down for 1-2 hours in order to perform tests and upgrades, but the downtime was scheduled for the middle of one of the biggest protest days since the contested election took place. Calls from the State Department are not made lightly, so even the US government is taking notice of just how Twitter and other internet sites are playing a role in the events, and by now I’m sure there are many in the Iranian government who have taken note too.
So, social networking, email, video sharing, blogs, text messages and the like are helping shape our political world as well as our business world. Unless a country completely seals itself off and rejects new technologies, it is becoming impossible to keep a lid on information and opinion — a la North Korea. But as these technologies become more prevalent, even the North Koreas of the world will find them more and more difficult to control.
Power to the people!
I’d like to know:
(1) Have you followed the events in Iran using any of the social networking sites? If so, which ones?
(2) How will new technologies affect political movements in the future?
(3) We’ve seen how Twitter is influencing business and now politics, what’s next on the menu?