Monday, June 15, 2009

In Defense of Twitter

I twitter. Not well. Not in the most significant of communication experiments connecting a global community in 140 characters or less. Mostly I just use it to update my facebook status. And keep up with my internet obsessions (fiveawesomegirls, vlogbrothers and the nerdfighters) and some other tech saavy friends whom I don't see often.

But this weekend I used twitter in an entirely new way. See I joined twitter right after the big earthquake in China last April. Impressed by the role Twitter played in getting news quickly in and out of the shambles of the Chinese province, I thought that this was something important to check out. I've watched various people adopt and wonder and criticize the shallowness of the Twitter format. And you know for 99% of communication via Twitter, they aren't wrong in their assessments. But in the aftermath of the Iranian election, news media has been incomplete and therefore in most mainstream media feeds light. There are not enough solid facts. So be it. But there are eyewitness accounts and they're coming in at #iranelection.

In Tehran, twitter was used to organize rooftop chants of Allah O Akbar (sorry don't know what it means) as evidenced by Youtube (h/t Daily Dish again)

It's an imperfect media source. Eye witness accounts are mixed with lots of messages of support and encouragement and not a few sarcastic/parody tweets. (It's gone now, but there was an amusing pseudo-feed from Ahmedinejad saying things like he won because he trended higher than Mousavi on twitter and that he would celebrate by going to an off-Broadway musical.) But it gets information out there. Not the tested and confirmed information that we expect from our mainstream media, but the best we can get right now. And scrolling through the tweets broadcasting safe proxy settings and new satellite coordinates to get BBC news, that this must be vital for Iranians right now.

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