I had the pleasure of attending a very thought-provoking dinner in the Bay Area a few weeks ago. The topic was the use of innovation in promoting the United States’ statehood goals around the world. The guest of honor was Alec Ross, the new Director of Innovation for the State Department. It was a great evening with very smart people and lively conversation.
I made the point that night that “citizen journalism” was happening through the use of new social media technologies. This citizen journalism was changing the nature of journalism in the U.S, but it had even more potential abroad, where control of journalism is one of the prime tools used by “bad guy” regimes around the world.
Well, little did I know then, but the election in Iran is a prime example. Iranian demonstrators have used the service to tell the world, and each other, what is happening in Iran, to post photos, to organize future events in near real time. Twitter has proven to be so important to the resistance movement that the U.S. State Department asked Twitter to delay its planned downtime to facilitate the resistance movement.
It is an incredible example of the use of mobile phones, the Web, and social network technology to report news and to organize real-world speeches and protests. The latest eye-opener was a move by Western Twitterers to change their time zone to Tehran to confuse the Iranian government censors. Brilliant.
A day after this was posted, Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the UK, said in an exclusive interview with the Guardian that
” technological advances and the democratisation of information mean “foreign policy can no longer be the province of just a few elites”.
“You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken.
“Foreign policy can no longer be the province of just a few elites.”