Monday, June 15

Is Twitter Really Relevant?

My first impression when I learned of Twitter just over a year ago was something to the effect of, "Really? What would I do with something like that." I thought it was an interesting case for the ability of a dynamic language like Ruby to prove itself with some high volume transaction processing. However, until today, while I have followed a few of the software geeks I like to read from and posted some sarcastic comments of my own, @mikenishizawa has been pretty quiet and disinterested in Twitter.... until today.

Today I saw Twitter become the lifeline to the world for the pro-reform movement in Iran. Today I read about young people taking to the streets with a serious fear that they may be shot but feeling that their cause was worth the risk. Today, I have watched the #IranElection tag on TwitterFall, mesmerized by what I was watching.

Some of it was just voicing support, some of it was fellow geeks tweeting proxies to evade the Iranian governments attempt at censorship, some of it was was raw footage of what was happening on the ground by real people taking pics with cell phones. There was no Muslim and Christian. No talks of terrorism or political debate about a nuclear Iraq. These people are fighting for the basic right to have a say in their lives and how they live them... a right that we sometimes take for granted in the US, where these rights were afforded to us merely because we were born where this fight has already been fought.

It is a fascinating thing when a technology lives up to it's potential. It begs the question of why some technologies survive and some fail and why some never realize the impact they could make on the world? When you think about it, the idea of Twitter is not revolutionary at all. I've heard it called "IRC on a webpage" and I've recently complained about companies and projects who use it to broadcast updates like it's RSS. But today, "IRC on a Webpage" may just have been the thing that drew mainstream, world-wide attention to the struggle in Iran. Who knows, it may have even prevented a repressive, authoritiarian government from cracking down in an even more brutal way and censoring any chance of us seeing it in the West. People got a chance to interact with the news they were getting and got a chance to be a part of the protest even from the other side of the planet. As far as I'm concerned, Twitter's relevance was proven today.

No comments: