All the World’s aTwitter

Discussing logistical matters on Twitter is simply going to attract unnecessary attention of the government and other detractors. This is why most such discussions take place on secure private platforms like e-mail or instant-messaging….Thus, Iran’s regime is quite knowledgeable about social media. Perhaps we should not read too much into the government’s reluctance – or, some have argued, inability – to ban tools like Twitter. The reasons for these may be much more banal: These tools are simply too useful as sources of intelligence about what is happening in the country. Not only do they help the Iran government to follow the events closely (as well as to understand the perception of the government’s actions) in every single locality with an Internet connection, they also help it to understand the connections between various activists and their supporters in the West. From the intelligence-gathering perspective, Twitter has been a gift from heaven.

Evgeny Morozov in Boston Globe

It occurs to the Dowbrigade that our previous posting, arguing that there is nothing inherently beneficent or liberating in the digital revolution, was a bit one-sided. It argued that the internet was just a new tool that could be used to ends both enlightened and nefarious, by the full gamut of human wielders. However, as we used to say in our salad days, the mark of true intelligence is the ability to simultaneously entertain irreconcilably contradictory concepts. So let us consider the flip side.

As someone undoubtedly noted (the unattributed quote is in my head and Google won’t help) the Power of the Printing Press accrues mostly to those who own one, which used to be a pretty rarified slice of humanity.  The paradigm-busting characteristic of the digital revolution is putting that power in the hands of a significant proportion of the world’s population.

Recent events in Iran seem to argue for the status quo quashing potential of digital tools, as Twitter, blogs (Iran has the most blogs in the Muslim world) and general wiredness of the population seems to be a crucial factor in the most serious opposition to the rule of the Ayatollas since the Islamic Revolution thirty years ago. The majority of the current population of Iran never knew the Shah and grew up on the Internet. Surely that makes governing 66 million people according to a set of laws from the 9th century a bit of a challenge.

Yet, as Evgeny Morozov noted in the Globe, quoted above, the Ayatollas and Revolutionary Guard know how to use computers as well, and we are currently seeing a pretty virulent counter-attack on the ground and in cyberspace on the part of the Iranian authorities. Perhaps, rather than a stairway to freedom, the web is just another battlefield for the age old struggle between – who? The authorities and the rebels?  The ins and the outs?  The ensconced elders and the upstart youth? Good and evil?

At any rate, it appears Twitter is here to stay, for better or worse. And we finally get it.  After a couple of years of dismissing it as digital telegrams for twits, the currently vogue term “microblogging” helped me wrap my head around it.  But it’s not “micro” exactly, more like “mobile”. The distinguishing characteristic of Twitter is that it can be, and is usually, done from a cell phone.

Blogging, of course, is usually done from a computer.  It is a ruminative, contemplative occupation, best accomplished alone, in a quiet, controlled environment, like the Dowbrigades Electronic Command Center, with its multiple screens connected to all manner of digital information, rats-nest of cables which Norma Yvonne constantly threatens to cut and throw out, super-comfortable Ikea suspended chair and easy access to refrigerator, restroom and sleeping facilities.  Hence the iconic image of the unshaven, pajama-clad blogger burning the midnight oil. Many bloggers are comfortably into middle age.

Twitter, however, is a youngster’s game. It is out and around, not stogily baracaded in a basement bunker. It is done on iPhones and Blackberrys, in short frantic bursts, on the scene, furitively in crowds and meetings, on the fly, in the moment, and as such captures a different aspect of the cutting edge and a different slice of daily life than blogs. It produces different kinds of insights and thrills.

For example, this Twitter-related story came into the Dowbrigade Command Center this morning:

TORONTO (AP) – Police have charged the tour manager of the Black Eyed Peas with assault after he allegedly gave celebrity blogger Perez Hilton a black eye outside a Toronto nightclub.  Hilton, whose real name is Mario Lavandeira, complained about the incident on the microblogging site Twitter. He tweeted at 4 a.m.: “I am bleeding. Please, I need to file a police report. No joke.”

from the Associated Press

The Dowbrigade thinks he will stick to blogging. Actually leaving the Command Center is becoming increasingly dangerous. No joke.

About dowbrigade

Semi-retired academic from Harvard, Boston University, Fulbright Commission, Universidad Laica Eloy Alfaro de Manta, currently columnist for El Diario de Portoviejo and La Marea de Manta.
This entry was posted in Humor, Politics, Prose Screeds, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to All the World’s aTwitter

  1. Pingback: All the World’s aTwitter | BigB

  2. Avion says:

    Can you say all of this in 144 characters … 🙂

  3. Mark says:

    I like Twitter i think its great.

  4. yurika says:

    yea i totally agree wit avion…..

    lets be realistic its to long……….people will definitely sleep while reading………..

  5. Twitter is a hate or love relationship, some hate to love it, others love to hate it.

  6. I love it, I combined it with clickbank to make money!

  7. I too thought Twitter was mainly a young person trend but I found this post which I thought was really interesting as it proved that concept wrong. Check it out:

    “Which Demographic is Driving Twitter’s Popularity? Not senior citizens”

  8. Twitter is an amazing business tool. I use it on my iPhone everyday!

  9. Very interesting post. Twitter, as many others, have other uses than their main goal. Like, using twitter for surveys and exchange files and informations. It’s quite an interesting tool. We just have to expect that “adverts”” will not kill it.

  10. The use of twitter really works both ways, i read this article which is talking about the army releasing a report on how terrorism is enabled by the use of twitter.

    worth a quick read:


  11. Avon says:

    You are right, everybody is using these days Twitter. I think it’s like a mass controlling without people figuring it out. I have to agree the I am using it to, but mostly because of the trend… If you don’t keep up, you are being left out…

  12. Phalaenopsis says:

    I agree with this article. Twitter is getting more and more popular for everyone.

  13. good article, now twitter work for translate to spanish 🙂 I see more in

  14. I don’t Twitter because my mom does…

  15. I think Twitter will be around for a few years yet as it seems very popular. I must admit though, I dont use it.

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  16. 北京发票 says:

    I don’t twitter, it’s getting super popular though.I must admit though, I dont use it.

  17. Brin says:

    I was a twitter fan for a while but it seems very spammy now with everyone wanting you to go make easy online money.

  18. Slots says:

    Hum let’s go ! Im going to open an account for my site …

  19. Twitter is an amazing business tool.

  20. Hypnosis Mp3 says:

    I must say I don’t see the buzz about twitter.

  21. Very good point. You direct those that follow you.

  22. Twitter is full of spammers these days.

  23. I agree with Jeremy and use twitter in a similar way. If there

  24. Twitter can be good, but you must be very selective who you follow, so you don’t get over-flooded with new posts…

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  25. It is really great to know about the different type of things about the usage of twitter. It is very helpful for others to show a lot of interest in knowing about the proper things that is definitely helpful for others to do it.
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  26. hypnotherapy says:

    i don’t think twitter is really going to last. Already with Facebook we are seeing less and less numbers of people actually use it

  27. I think the novelty will definetly wear off soon.

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  29. Twitt it’s really good! My favorite blog

  30. Mike says:

    I’ve been using Twitter to keep abreast of politcal situation in Iran and elsewhere. I’ve discovered that what evolved on Twitter is a lot different than what’s reported.

  31. hei, Thanks for the article. honestly i am not a huge fan of twitter. i don’t get it why people use such a service?!

  32. This thing called twitter brainwashing general public. its a waste of time.

  33. Twitter is becoming very popular and I think it will be around for a long time to come. I think that it is one of the great ways to get the most up to date news.

  34. I recently joined, I know it’s too late, and soon had friends coming in to my tweet list. It is a quick phenomena that affects our social lives. But I also see it to last long among the top list.

  35. Jimbo says:

    i really like twitter, but its quit addictive…

  36. While it is obvious that twitter is here to stay and continues to catch on faster and with more speed… I like facebook better

  37. I love it, I combined it with clickbank to make money!

  38. Daniel says:

    I like Twitter very much. A very interesting topic. Thanks for this.

  39. Twitter is becoming very popular and I think it will be around for a long time to come thank

  40. I heard a lot about twitter but i’m not sure if there is a real potential.

  41. Twitter is a very good tool that I used everyday, really good potentiel and better than Facbook.

  42. hei, Thanks for the article. honestly i am not a huge fan of twitter. i don’t get it why people use such a service?!

  43. kari byron says:

    I thought Twitter was lame at first but literally everyone uses it now

  44. I found that things go viral on twitter in minutes. It is crazy to watch swarms of people flood the internet about any topic

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