Why democracy and technology go hand-in-hand.

Throughout this week, the world’s eyes have laid on Iran and the extraordinary scenes which are unfolding across the nation’s cities. Only 30 years ago, similar scenes of revolution were powerful enough to overthrow the Shah, a leader who’s ancestors had ruled over the nation for centuries. This began the so called ‘Fundementalist Revolution’ among many Muslim states and turned Iran into the powerhouse of the Middle East. Yet at the moment it seems to be a nation on its knees with citizens running wild in the streets and the very authority of the nation’s government brought into serious question.

It would be wrong to make an assumption that foul play definately occured in the Iranian elections earlier this month, yet the reaction of many of the nation’s citizens does suggest that Mr Ahmadinejad may have not achieved his decisive 23% majority over his cheif rival Mr Mousavi.

The key difficultly in implementing censorship upon its population for the existing Iranian regime is the fact that many Iranians have become familiar with Western technologies. Through social networking and ‘the new media’ there are hundreds of thousands of educated ‘citizen journalists’. The state may be able to restrict the access of foreign journalists, their own media coverage and the use of it’s people’s mobile phones, but they cannot seem to prevent salient information about the election protests from leaking out via Facebook, Twitter and Blogs. By contrast, nations such as Bruma or North Korea which have banned virtually all Western websites and new technological advances in social networking – find it far more feasible to restrict the information which their people recieve and the information which is recieved by other nations. Yet Iran seems to be caught in a Catch 22 situation supplemented by an odd paradox. The supreme leadership of Ayatollah’s suggests a nation which should follow a doctrine of autarky, yet they have their own elected Presidential governments (although this constitutional element is in serious dispute). They are a nation which strives to restrict Western influence and promote strict Islamic values, but at they same time they have embraced certain aspects of Western technonlogical developments and this has allowed influence from the Western World to penetrate their population.

This is why we see the scenes of violence and disorder on the streets of Tehran. Iranian citizens do not blindly follow the abject rule of their government. When a few citizens question the validity of a government, they have the means of discussing it and publishing their views outside of government control. The next few weeks will be extremely interesting, we shall observe whether the state can implement enough control and authority to restore order, or if citizens long dissatisfied with Ahmadinejad’s governence will be able to exert enough influence to force another election.

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~ by nicksmiffy on June 20, 2009.

5 Responses to “Why democracy and technology go hand-in-hand.”

  1. […] Nick Smith, an MA Broadcast student from University of Sheffield: […]

  2. Nick,MA Broadcast student from University of Sheffield, do you think technology is changing how news is delivered? As the domonstrations with Iran unfolded I relied on twitter for the most up to date and timely coverage. elizzy

  3. Oh most definitely. Citizen journalism is probably going to be the most important journalistic development in the next decade. Iran gives a perfect example of a ‘citizen’s eye view’ of a political crisis. There were similar style ‘tweets’ during the G20 protests in London during April.

  4. Nick,MA Broadcast student from University of Sheffield, would you consider the Micheal Jackson evolving as an example of another type of “new” journalism, that used the same vehicle as the citizen journalists. The twitter feeds on MJ events were running about 45 minutes before conventional news source outlets like CNN. Is fast and uncorroborated a moder?

  5. Last word in my comment should have been modern.

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