Crowd Driven Support For A Revolution
Over the last week, the entire world has been witnessing and following the extraordinary events in Iran. On June 12th, Iran held its presidential elections between incumbent Ahmadinejad and rival Mousavi. The result, a landslide for Ahmadinejad, has led to violent riots across Iran, charges of voting fraud, and protests worldwide.I have been particularly interested in this situation not only because of what is going on but bacuse the ways in which people world wide have reacted to the incident are largley dirven by crowdsupport or collective communication.
The most obvious thing is the explosion of chatter and content, although this is to be expected it where its happening and how that makes it interesting. One of the first places to explode was Twitter - the micro blogging platform provides the perfect space for running on going commentary. The amount and value of the information coming out of Twitter even caused the US State Department to make a special request that Twitter to postpone some scheduled maintenance in order to keep the Tweets coming. But this is not the only example of people creatively using social media channels to tell their story - below are a couple of other example of technological/creative measures individuals, companies, and governments are taking in response to this crisis.
Both Facebook and Google have hastily launched support for the Persian language (Farsi) for their services. Facebook has said that the version is currently live is still being tested:
"Persian was already in translation before worldwide attention turned to the Iranian elections, but because of the sudden increase in activity we decided to launch it sooner than planned. This means that the translation isn’t perfect, but we felt it was important to help more people communicate rather than wait.” - Facebook
Apparently there are 400+ people who worked on the translation, and still are - now thats crowdsourcing! I know Google also use volunteers for their translations too - you can check out what they have to say about the addition of Farsi to their translation services here.
Videos & Photographs
The posting and sharing of videos and photos on services like Flickr and YouTube is not a new thing. However, by all other standards, the Iran situation has seen a deluge of content popping up all over these sites. Flickr is providing a constant stream of images from beatings and protests to police/military action. Most of the photos are quite disturbing, others gut wrenching. Check the photo out here and here.
The images in the above video are a good example of the non stop coverage of what is happening on the ground - The fact that this is not a video in the traditional sense but essentially a slideshow just shows how far Iranians are going to spread the word by creatively using a medium in as many ways a possible. For more videos go here or check out the Associated Press channel here.
Iv already spoken about the large amounts of information - and all of it is current- - out of Twitter. The interesting thing for me was the rapid and world wide adoption of a single hastag namely #Iranelection. The adoption by a large community of something like this in such a short space of time really demonstrates the power that a crowd has - Even more striking is that some of the first reports of the violence came from Twitter. Use the hashtag #Iranelection and key words Ahmadinejad, Mousavi, and Tehran on Twitter Search to read what people are saying.
Other Communities Climb In
This one tickled me a bit. The situation in Iran has grab so much global attention that even the Pirate Bay has climbed into the action by changing their home page to read "The Persian Bay" instead. Clicking on the logo takes you Anonymous Iran which is a forum set up to provide a secure and reliable way of communication for Iranians. The forum contains a whole load of resources including more photos and videos as well as protest advice and threads in memory of victims of the violence.
Creative action by a community that is not directly involved in the situation really makes me smile - although in some respects this action is not surprising since the Pirate Bay have had recent experience with the law - more on that on GottaQuirk here - and as a result have just got a seat in the European Union Parliament.
These are just a few examples of the support and creative ways of spreading information about this crisis that I have found - If you are really interested in the numbers invloved here check out Ben Parr's article on Mashable.
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