Monday, May 24, 2010

Social Networking and Reality--Uncensored

In Iran, cyber-activism performs a key role in allowing citizens to virtually speak up against their current government. Proxy servers are Web sites that let people visit parts of the Internet that would usually be blocked. The proxy servers have been able to allow Iranians access social media sites that have been blocked by the government.

This article entitled: In Iran, Cyber-activism Without the Middle Man,, Twitter and Youtube are social networking streams used by the Iranian citizens to voice opinions that would be restricted by the Iranian government in the traditional media.

YouTube allows citizens to show video footage of what is really occurring in the streets. These things would be censored from public television. By using the web, we are not limited in what we can see in the world. Things are not hidden from us. The web tells it how it is and doesn't beat around the bush. And in this way, the citizens (in this case Iranian citizens) are telling the new stories, the new stories more coherent with their reality. Government places restrictions on what they want their citizens to be viewing and what they don't want their citizens to know. Thoreau as well as a pure democratic system of government believe that government ought to be run by the people.

Hearing, Tweeting, and Viewing the stories of citizens, of those being attacked or denied certain rights creates an appeal to unite and defy government civily.


  1. Great article! I really enjoyed it and super-duper enjoyed learning of technology's role in helping oppressed people share the "real story"...every citizen becoming a news reporter.

    As I read, it mentioned China blocking youtube. I was intrigued...why, what, when, is my life, take that away and you take away all my happiness (ok, slight exaggeration!) Doing some research on this, I have a suggestion for you. Show the power of this form of civil disobedience by showing what powerful countries such as China do to BLOCK youtube!
    This is an excellent article exploring reasons for China's ban of youtube. You could compare this to a powerful leader taking out a powerful opponent. What do the Chinese/Iran leaders have to fear if their people show what's really going on in the streets of their countries. Obviously something! If they remove a powerful source of political power (as your article proved youtube/twitter etc to be) they secure their office safely within their confines. Just some thoughts! Hope they're helpful!

  2. Your continued focus on Iran makes me think you should see "Persopolis," a really powerful animated film that came out in 2007. The story follows the coming of age of a girl during the Iranian Revolution. It won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for the Academy Award.

    Various Arab countries banned the film (including Iran) but then ended up allowing it to be seen in limited showings.

    If we're thinking of ways that Iranian people are "telling new stories," and ways the Iranian government continues to try to control this, Persopolis is a really engaging example.

    Here is some info on Persopolis from Wikipedia:

    and here is a youtube trailer for it:!v=-nRmfivlUj0&feature=related

  3. So, as I'm reading this article it says Twitter plays a major role in organizing people and information. Would you be arguing then, that Thoreau set a precedent in organizing people around the goal of civil disobedience, and that this kind of organization has just exploded due to things like Twitter. I don't know about you, but as I've been researching more and more I've gotten farther and farther away from my literary sources, so now I'm trying to pay more attention to keeping that in the back of my head.

    Along the thread of Neal's comment, you might be interested in the book "Not Without My Daughter". It's about a woman who had to escape from her husband in Iran. It was made into a movie in 1991, I think, and parts are on Youtube. Since it was made in the early 90's, you could maybe use it to compare how people used to portray oppression and try to get their messages out, compared to how that's being done now with new media.