Wine From Outer Space

Wine From Outer Space is intoxicating, unearthly and surprising. It's also where I write about whatever I choose, and that's nice.

16 June 2009

Internet Revolution

Watching the events in Iran play out over the days following the election has been exciting to say the least. This may sound monstrous in light of at least seven known deaths and many more injuries, as supporters of Mir Hossein Moussavi take to the streets in protest of the "re-election" of president Ahmadinejad.

While major media outlets have reporters in Tehran and throughout Iran to cover the story, the star reporter so far has been the heretofore maligned, a messaging and social networking site and technology that, up until this point, has been more or less a "distraction of the moment," a kind of electronic water cooler around which friends or complete strangers can discuss thoughts on anything. A sampling of the most popular twitter users, based on followers (from, suggests the main purpose of twitter is to stay in close contact with celebrities:

1. ashton kutcher (aplusk)
2. Ellen DeGeneres (TheEllenShow)
3. Britney Spears (britneyspears)
4. CNN Breaking News (cnnbrk)
5. Oprah Winfrey (oprah)
6. Twitter (twitter)
7. Barack Obama (BarackObama)
8. John Mayer (johncmayer)
9. Ryan Seacrest (RyanSeacrest)

It bears mentioning that twitterholic defends its accuracy in statistical analysis and media tracking as follows: "WE"R IN UR TWTTR PAGES, READN UR STATZ."

Twitter, like most sites, must undergo routine maintenance outages. Twitter's importance in both keeping Moussavi's supporters connected with one another and informed as to what is currently taking place in Tehran, as well as broadcasting on-the-ground reports from Iranian citizens to others outside that nation, cannot be understated. It has so quickly become such a valued tool in the days following the election there that the US State Department requested that Twitter delay its scheduled maintenance, which would normally occur during peak hours in Iran, so as to allow the demonstrators there the ability to continue to communicate with one another and to parties outside of Iran. Twitter, happily, complied with the request.

Today, Iranian officials continued to cut off electronic avenues of communication, including the slowing of internet speeds and cutting off access to certain sites. Helpfully, people have been posting "how to" guides for Iranians to circumvent the sort of security protocols that are being implemented.

Even, a file sharing site which exists to make available pirated copies of just about any software, music CD or DVD available, changed its home page to express solidarity with Moussavi's supporters in Iran (temproarily renamed "The Persian Bay" and colored pro-Moussavi green), including a separate page of forums and information to help keep information flowing out of Iran.

We may be witnessing the best use yet of Internet technology: recent internet phenomena that come to mind include online Viagra, tiresome memes, YouTube crowd pleasers, Nigerian bank scams, and the next doomsday worm, trojan or virus. This sort of activity, however, is undertaken by many people spread around the world to serve what is perceived to be a common good: that the members of a society are governed in a manner of their own choosing.


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