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The Revolution will be Televised Twittered

Written by: Bill Sherman on Sunday, 14 June 2009, 6:18 PM

On Friday, Iran held presidential elections between four state-approved candidates. According to official results, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated his three opponents with an overwhelming 62.63% of the vote.

However, over the weekend, there have been street protests by reformists raising wide-spread questions whether the vote tally was engineered to re-elect Ahmadinejad. Yet, the 24-hour US cable news channels were slow to cover the event, prompting the blogosphere and twitterverse to spring into action with their own coverage and a #CNNFail tag on their tweets. After all, which takes precedence–riots in Iran or the domestic switch from analog to digital television?

Traditionally, we looked to cable-news for immediate information, but our social media has changed that premise. The Lede, a blog of the New York Times, and Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish (of the Atlantic Monthly) have been out ahead of cable journalists.*

Similarly, it seems that the Iranian leadership wasn’t ready for a social-media led response. We saw what social networking tools were able to produce in the U.S. elections of 2008, and in 2009, we’re seeing how technology changes political participation and protest.

Mashable has produced a great guide of how social media has gotten out in front of the major media outlets–providing information through Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr. Here, the images and information appear unfiltered.**

More interestingly, reports from Iran decribe Iranians using Twitter to coordinate their protests:

Most of the contemporary coverage of the Iran protests has focused on social networking, but it’s important to consider that we’re really looking at social capital at-play. After all, social capital represents your ability to locate and mobilize resources within your network.
  • If you tweet for a street protest, march, or strike–but you lack social capital–no one will come
  • If people question wether the message is authentic (a trap), then they will hold back
So, when we look at macro-level social capital, it’s located between the relationship between the nation’s populace and its leadership. When turmoil emerges, the established order enters flux. Each individual must make choices–which social ties take precedence? which new sources of information do you trust?

* Clearly, fast-moving journalists risk becoming swept up in the moment and losing objectivity.

** Certainly, unfiltered citizen journalism can produce conflicting and inaccurate reports. These media reports can also be intentionally manufactured or slanted.

One Response to “The Revolution will be Televised Twittered”

  1. Tweeting the American Revolution | aha-moments Says:

    […] Me « The Revolution will be Televised Twittered The Facebook Landrush […]

    June 15th, 2009 2:05 pm

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