Ross Kaminsky, a recent convert to Twitter, has a nice overview for newcomers on the medium and its role in the Iranian uprising. Excerpt:
The impact of Twitter on events in Iran has been noticed by our usually dictator-compliant State Department, which risked insulting the ayatollahs by contacting Twitter to request they postpone a scheduled system maintenance down-time. Even al-Jazeera is commenting on the importance of technology, including Twitter, in what I hope is the Second Iranian Revolution.
Despite being old men with little exposure to leading-edge technology, Iran’s ruling Guardian Council understands the essential value of communication to freedom: If they can communicate freely, no people can be long enslaved.
The Iranian government has taken substantial steps to limit their citizens’ ability to use the internet. They have blocked most access to Facebook and other sites, have limited text messaging, and have cut the nation’s “bandwidth,” meaning the speed with which one can send information through the internet, but have stopped short of simply cutting of the nation’s internet connectivity (probably because they need it themselves.) However, with “tweets” of only 140 characters or less, bandwidth is a non-issue (as opposed to, for example, transmitting videos)…
…No wonder the mullahs are afraid of Twitter if it can not only help organize protests within their country but also stir up pro-freedom reactions thousands of miles away. It isn’t surprising that a CBS reporter says that all access to Twitter was blocked in Iran as of Wednesday morning. Well, until the young, tech-savvy population there finds a way around the mullah’s electronic muzzle.
I, like many others, was somewhat skeptical of Twitter but decided to get involved with it a few weeks ago after talking with conservative blogger Michelle Malkin. I asked her for her thoughts on the Twitter revolution in Iran: “I’ve tried to persuade friends for months that Twitter is much, much more than a celebrity vanity tool. The Iranian uprising has shattered that myth once and for all. In the hands of freedom-loving dissidents, the micro-blogging social network is a revolutionary samizdat — undermining the mullah-cracy’s information blockades one Tweet at a time.”