What to make of this freshet of posts raining down on us on Iran? Here in America, we are naturally excited by any peoples taking to the street in the face of stolen elections, repression, state murder. Furthermore, to see technology level brutality and class the way it has flattened major incumbent industries like music and journalism is downright heady.
Now Twitter, for one, an almost so-yesterday communications channel has suddenly been pressed into the service of freedom. Just a few weeks back Ashton Kutcher was turning the mini blog into a joke. Then this week, the U.S. State Department convinced Twitter to delay a scheduled maintenance downtime, to keep the Iranian movement of packets and pixels from shutting down. The CIA is likely stepping up efforts to recruit social-media gurus with the urgency of the Yankees seeking a starting pitcher in late July. Name your price.
Maybe YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are the newest class of drones. Maybe the people of the world are the new army. And no one saw this coming. Even the relatively progressive CNN was left clueless in the rush, failing to compete with the reportage from the electronic front over the weekend. The Grey Lady, too, has had scant front-page real estate devoted to these events, handling them instead in The Lede, their news blog (which is itself well done).
As a pr guy, I read the journal Ragan.com daily. For months Twitter has dominated the headlines. Yes, because it is a useful tool, but more because it made for trendy headlines. So, where are they now? Today’s e-mail newsletter contains no Twitter coverage. I suppose they don’t do revolution.
Now for an over view of today’s coverage:
HuffPost’s Nico Pitney is leading the field, tirelessly collecting and analyzing coverage from all media and social-media quarters. Late this afternoon he posted a heated debate between American Enterprise Institute’s Danielle Pletka, the Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan and a Twitterer named khoobehi. It all started with Pletka’s op-ed piece in the New York Times that minimized the five-day-old Iranian uprising as “little more than a symbolic protest” that was “crushed by the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.” Sullivan uncovered her neocon pedigree and suspect motives, while this khoobehi character managed via tweets to get Pletka to backpedal a tad.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports on the social media phenom:
A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. One feed, mousavi1388 (1388 is the year in the Persian calendar), is filled with news of protests and exhortations to keep up the fight, in Persian and in English. It has more than 7,000 followers.
BTW, mousavi1388 doubled his followers since the Times’ citation this morning.
Update: the Twitter maintenance occurred early this evening.