Monday, June 22, 2009

The Triumph of Everyday Communication

The Italian embassy is now taking wounded.
As the Iranian government has rushed to close off avenues of communication to the outside world, internet-savvy Iranians have countered the isolation by appropriating channels used for the most mundane information. Twitter, so often a font of regret to politicians too willing to share their every thought, has come into its own as a way of telling the world about the atrocities the Iranian government is perpetrating up its citizens.

So much so that Noam Cohen wrote yesterday in praise of the usefulness of Twitter and Blogger and other such online tools -- not because they are specialized, but because they are general. When the election in Kenya in 2007 resulted in riots and death, the Kenyan blogging community got the news out to the world.

It turned out, he said, that “Kenya has the second-most bloggers in Africa and that mostly they are not writing about politics; many are writing about rugby.” There was, he said, “a fascinating latent capacity — people who knew how to use the tools, knew how to write well, to tell a story with words and pictures.”

Now the same thing is happening in Iran. And the people covering it are the Iranian bloggers and twitterers who had to find their own ways of getting in touch with the world. And the ones who shared recipes and LOLcats and stories of someone almost getting abducted at the nearby mall, who were cutting their teeth on the mundane, were suddenly prepared for the extraordinary.

Does this mean that The Last Starfighter is in some way prophetic? No, that's too awful to think about. Let's just take pride in the human spirit, urge our fellow beings on, and not worry about bad science fiction. Tomorrow we can go back to making fun of Pete Hoekstra's abominable twitters -- today we celebrate the desire of everyone to be free.

No comments: