Friday New Tools Feature: A Different Kind of "Green Tech Revolution"

It's been a very busy week on the new tools front. On Monday, I wrote about "Social Media and the Iran Protests." On Tuesday, I wrote about how internet users around the world were hacking Iranian government sites, providing mirror proxies for Iranian activists, and even changing their locations to "Tehran" in a move straight out of "Sparticus."

Since then, the new-media blitz in Iran has only continued to accelerate. As foreign reporters leave the country in droves, citizen journalists there are taking matters into their own hands, uploading videos of beatings and shootings to YouTube and giving real-time first-hand accounts and organizing directions on Twitter.

These services, realizing how politically consequential they have now become, responded well to the situation. Twitter, heeding the pleas of many of its users and even the State Department, put off a critical scheduled update that would have interrupted service. YouTube made exceptions to its policy of banning violent material. From the New York Times:

“In general, we do not allow graphic or gratuitous violence on YouTube,” the company said in a statement. “However, we make exceptions for videos that have educational, documentary, or scientific value. The limitations being placed on mainstream media reporting from within Iran make it even more important that citizens in Iran be able to use YouTube to capture their experiences for the world to see.” 

Google, which owns YouTube, also just added Farsi (Persian) to its translator service, stating that they "hope that this tool will improve access to information in Iran and outside." Over half of Google's employees were born in other countries, which may help to explain their particular sensitivity on this issue. Finally, although the Iranian government has blocked Facebook, the social networking service added a Persian version today.

On Twitter, people around the world continue their outpouring of support - #iranelection is still the top topic, and a great deal of Twitter users (myself included) have made their icons green in a show of solidarity. For those that are not photoshop-inclined, you can even change it automatically by visiting, which turns your existing icon green (the "friendly web-geek" creator of this app is running this off of his own server at his own expense).

We will see where all of this leads. As I said myself, I don't think that the use of these new tools in and of itself constitutes a "revolution," as some have asserted. But it is very clear that, as the techniques and technologies of power multiply and evolve, so too do the methods of resistance. This organic, horizontal, distributed, and deeply democratic process stands in stark contrast to the autocratic theocracy that is the Iranian government.