I, like many others, get sick of hearing the (at this point) age-old quip “but I don’t care what you had for breakfast
” specifically in reference to , but also to the use of social tools and social web behaviors in general.
So, for all of you naysayers, let me paint a picture for you…
Tehran, Iran – circa June 2009
Let me explain.
There are many questions to be asked regarding the “election”, not the least of which may be whether or not it matters who is president in a supreme-power theocracy. However, it is the events surrounding the recent happenings which are intriguing – a convergence of global social behaviors, technology, now-web and modern web application development practices and theory. In short, the techy geeky “stuff” which you presume to be a fad, isn’t. It is communication now; it is communication of the future. The results are profound.
Global Social Behaviors
– We live in a global economy and society. If you don’t believe that, please crawl back under your rock. It’s not just about multi-hemisphere conglomerates and international relations anymore, though. As is the common theme these days, it’s about the individual. Social technologies have connected the Common Joes of the world and they are genuinely interested in listening, talking, sharing, teaching, helping and learning from each other. From Bengal to New Hampshire they are participating in each others’ daily lives and having trivial(?) conversations.
– It’s cheaper, more powerful, more accessible and better mastered than ever in history. We all know a computer as powerful as my iPhone used to be the size of an entire room… blah…blah…blah. The amazing capabilities of technology today, IMHO, are not so much computational, but connective combined with the ease by which they can be applied. You can connect almost anywhere. You can connect with almost anything… and that’s the point… YOU can do it.
The mobility of technology is also a key component. Mobile phones and smart-phones are of the utmost importance.
Modern Web Application Development Practices and Theory
– Non-technicals stick with me here… there are a few crucial aspects of how people and companies develop web applications these days. Namely, the primary focus is on the engine – the core functionality. Many developers build and release (SDKs), most commonly (APIs), for their applications. These tools, libraries, protocols and services allow other developers to leverage the engine in unique ways – pulling, pushing and mashing up data and interfaces. If you’ve ever seen a in it, you’re seeing the result of an API. Users and developers find new uses for applications and engines all the time. Google is releasing it’s APIs for it’s new project – – to developers around the world long before the application will be accessible to the public. The idea is that thousands of progressive and diverse minds will help to finish the product, find new uses and make it better. So, applications are being released “unfinished” and “wide open”. *Note -Ownership and monetization are another story!
Still shrugging and saying ‘so what?’, huh? -
Tehran – People are trying to mobilize, trying to tell the world what is happening, but communications are being shut down. Traditional media are being . Sites are being blocked. But remember – people around the world are watching, people around the world want to help, people around the world care. Technology is accessible, connective and collaborative and our good friends at Twitter are aligned with the API-empowered web community.
What does this mean?
This means that because Twitter has an API, Twitter.com is not the only access point to the engine. It means that there exist 1000s of 3rd party applications through which people can read and publish tweets. Tehran can’t block them all, they don’t even know about them all. Fantastic! The masses with their mobile phones can be anywhere, communicate with each other, organize, assemble, and keep the rest of the world up-to-date while foreign journalists are being “controlled” and ().
Well, what about connectivity? Internet access? If you can’t connect, you can’t tweet. Tehran certainly has control over access, right? Yes and no. Enter software engineer in Oklahoma who is interested in the situation and wants to contribute. He configures his laptop as a and whala – people in Tehran can connect to TwitterFall through his computer and communications resume. That is, until Tehran finds him, and blocks his proxy. But then, another pops up in the UK, in Florida, in Singapore… you get the picture.
So let’s summarize that. People in Iran can communicate with each other and with the rest of the world while their government is scrambling to block things as quickly as they can because they have mobile technology, the global community cares, is interested, can facilitate connectivity, and because modern web applications focus on the what, not the how/when/where.
Does it matter? I sure think so. A major geopolitical occurence was consumable in real-time and not only that… but it was MADE POSSIBLE in real time because of this convergence. Still not convinced it matters? Well, the State Department decided it did too… – a small group in a loft in – and asked them not to go offline for scheduled maintenance because… well… Twitter was contributing to democracy.
How da ya like DEM apples?