The current protests surrounding the recent Iranian election may be one 0f the best tests yet of the global possibilities of social connection via the internet. As many people already know, the US Government asked Twitter to hold off on their regularly scheduled maintenance yesterday so that tweets from Iranian protesters could go on uninterrupted.
In spite of attempts to black out the press and the protestors (via SMS signal jamming, arrests & intimidation, and more), news is still flying out of the country on Twitter (see #iranelection and #gr88), Flickr (constructive help guidelines , there is so much activity on Flickr that the site is actually having hiccups), YouTube, Picasa, LiveLeak, Posterous, Wikipedia, Global Voices Online and more. While the Internet is helping disseminate information around the globe, it is also making a way to get support into the country. One way has been via hackers from outside Iran who are helping by targeting specific government sites. I’m not sure where all this leads, but I am fascinated by the speed and mobilization that interconnectivity of social media has provided.
For those in the West (Americans in particular), I think we should watch and help support (see Simple Ways to Help Iran), but we are not running the ship so to speak. This is not our protest or revolution. And we must not assume that our goals equal the goals of the Iranian people. I think we should pray for them and seek to reach and support when possible, but ultimately whatever happens or does not happen, should come from the people who live in that land.
While some Americans may hope these protests are the beginning of a revolution, I think are primary hope and prayer should be with and for the Iranian people. They want to make sure their vote is counted. I think we should try listening to them and supporting them in ways that we can. Some sites (Simple Ways, Boing Boing Cyber War, Iran Share Archy) have already been set up to show how we can help.