The Revolution Will Be Tweeted – Saturday May Bring Change to Iran

June 19, 2009

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As we sleep tonight in America, there is history afoot. Never before has the social web been used to such an extent within a country to attempt to remove a leader and coordinate a political revolution. Tomorrow, Saturday, will be an important day in the history of Iran.

For the sake of this post and citizen journalistic integrity, I’ll try to be as objective as I can here as few of us outside of Iran can know enough to truly know what is accurate. This noted, the consensus of the digerati has been made known and it is clear. In the world of Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube–the crowdsourced view is behind the ‘Green Uprising.’

A tipping point may be reached after today’s day of prayer and Ayatollah Khameni’s speech which may only inflame protesters. The momentum behind a movement has begun and it won’t easily taper.

As I browse Twitter tonight, I see tweets like the following:

I am seeing Facebook Statuses tonight like this one:

  • Shervin Pishevar – please pray for Iran and the brave Iranian people. In 5 hours we meet our destiny. I will not be able to sleep.

The informative Green Brief is coming out nightly from an Afghan man named NiteOwl, sourced entirely from Tweets from inside Iran. There are instructions on “Anonymous Iran” on how to surf in Iran using proxies so one can access the social web. There is a tremendous set of Flickr photos of the protests on the Fhashemi Flickr account. There are 180 posters from protesters shown at Design for Iran.

In two days, hundreds of thousands of Twitter members have turned their avatar green in support of the Iranian protesters using a tool at

Here are some videos seemingly showing violent oppression of the protests:

There are so many ethical issues here that we must tread carefully on. We must be careful in the West to so naturally and quickly support this uprising simply because we tend to lean toward the beliefs and views of the more moderate candidate Mousavi. Here is a good article supporting Ahmadinejad’s win. There are folks on the Ahmadinejad/Khameni side who are claiming that the support for the “American led coup in Iran” is causing unneccessary blodshed. Here is an example:

  • @JimJones45 – 99% of tweets are from US backing a BLOODY revolution. People are dying. STOP destabilizing the Iranian state! #IranElection

This noted, others on Twitter seem to suggest these twitter accounts, most of which have no history before yesterday, are agents of the Iranian government.

To me, this doesn’t seem to be a Western-led coup. The pictures and videos of the hundreds of thousands of people in the street lay doubt to this claim.

Here is an excerpt of an email posted on Iran Fax Blog the that seemingly comes from an Iranian citizen:

Tomorrow, people will gather again in Valiasr Square for another peaceful march toward the IRIB building which controls all the media and which spreads filthy lies. The day before Yesterday, Ahmadinejad had hold his victory ceremony. Government buses had transported all his supporters from nearby cities. There was full coverage of that ceremony where fruit juice and cake was plenty. A maximum of 100,000 had gathered to hear his speech. These included all the militia and the soldiers and all supporters he could gather by the use of free TV publicity. Today, at least 2 million came only relying on word of mouth while reformists have no newspaper, no radio, no TV. All their internet sites are filtered as well as social networks such as facebook. Text messaging and mobile communication was also cut off during the demonstration. Since yesterday, the Iranian TV was announcing that there is no license for any gathering and riot police will severely punish anybody who may demonstrates. Ahmadinejad called the opposition as a bunch of insignificant dirt who try to make the taste of victory bitter to the nation. He also called the western leaders as a bunch of “filthy homosexuals”. All these disgusting remarks was today answered by that largest demonstration ever. Older people compared the demonstration of today with the Ashura Demonstration of 1979 which marks the downfall of the Shah regime and even said that it outnumbered that event. The militia burnt a house themselves to find the excuse to commit violence. People neutralized their tactic to a large degree by their solidarity, their wisdom and their denial to enage in any violent act. I feel sad for the loss of those young girls and boys. It is said that they also killed 3 students last night in their attack at Tehran University residence halls. I heard that a number of professors of Sharif University and AmirKabir University (Tehran Polytechnic) have resigned. Democracy is a long way ahead. I may not be alive to see that day. With eyes full of tear in these early hours of Tuesday 16th June 2009, I glorify the courage and bravery of those martyrs and I hope that their blood will make every one of us more committed to freedom, to democracy and to human rights. Viva Freedom, Viva Democracy, Viva Iran

On balance, to me the evidence seems to show that a reasonable person could come to the conclusion that this election may have been rigged. To avoid a revolution and further bloodshed, a new fair election must be held.

In an age of instant communication you cannot deceive your population for long. If you throw an election, it will get out. In an age of transparency, the days of leaders who don’t serve their people are numbered.

If you’re on Twitter, you can connect with me via @ryanallis.

The revolution will be Tweeted.

P.S. – Here is an interesting article on how protests were organized before the days of social media.

What We Did in Berlin Today

April 23, 2008

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Today in Berlin we met up at 3pm for a walking tour of the city, then ended up at 5pm at the British Council office at Alexanderplatz 1 in East Berlin next to the Fernsehturm television tower that was a major symbol of the GDR in the communist era.

We began at 5:30 with a brilliantly led introduction and ‘The Great Transatlantic Debate.’ We lined up in order of height, grouped into teams of 5, and then separated into planning rooms.

Each of the six teams (we were team 3) had a provided thesis they had to prepare to prove in the upcoming debate. Our team was tasked to prove that ‘the relationship between America and the E.U is strong and getting stronger.’

In our five minutes, Peter Macleod from Canada played the American husband and Angela Brunete from Spain played the European wife. Peter allegorically referred to the EU/US relationship as a marriage in which there were ups and downs but at the end of the day we would always be together. Angela accused Peter of cheating on her with India, and Peter accused Angela of cheating on him with China. But they reconciled as Rabah Ghezali from France shared the cultural and historical ties including the core values of liberal democracies and the Marshall Plan, Dragos Pislaru from Romania shared the strategic and military ties including our recent learnings of what can happen when we don’t truly work together in global conflict, and I shared the economic ties including trade and FDI growth. Team Four proceeded to present the other side of the argument for five minutes, followed by a one minute rebuttal.

Following the debates, we discussed issues including the identity challenge, citizen media, technology and mobility, E.U. enlargement, the relative stasis of the U.S., whether there were 4, 5, or 7 continents in the world (Europeans learn 5), red blue and purple America, the Stockholm consensus, lateral relationships between the U.S. and Eurozone countries, whether the West or East would most define the 21st century, demography, and our shared history.

After the group discussion we held a reception and dinner and followed on with about three hours of networking in the lounge of the British Council’s office. Around 10, Jeff Johnson and I worked to persuade the group to go to ‘Weekend‘ the dance club across the street in the Sharp Aquos building until we found out that GMF was not name of the Sunday night DJ but rather meant that Sunday night was Gay Night–so we headed to Bar Wave at the Novotel instead.

We’re all building some tremendously valuable connections that will help our businesses, non-profits, and public service organizations for many decades to come while broadening our understanding of global challenges and global entrepreneurial opportunites.

I’m off to get back to work on my Sunday night email catchup.

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