In Chapter 7 of Dan Gillmor’s revolutionary book, We the Media, Gillmor discusses a subject that is of great interest to me. Under the section entitled “Evolutionary and Revolutionary,” Gillmor touches upon free speech and the Iranian Government’s attempt to control this freedom which seems to be taken for granted by many here in the United States. A young man by the name of Hossein Derakhshan (a.k.a. “Hoder”) started a revolutionary blog site in 2002, composed entirely of the Persian character set. What I found most fascinating was the incredible rate at which his site grew. While he had originally hoped that 100 people would create a blog in one year, an estimated 200,000 bloggers joined his site in just two years. Gillmor states:
“…what matters most is what the Net made possible: Iranians, who live in a repressive country with strict controls on media, were able to speak out and access a variety of news and opinions.”
This particular anecdote hit home for me since both of my parents fled Iran during the Iranian Revolution in 1979 when I was just under a year old. They wanted me and my (not born yet) younger brother to have opportunities that they didn’t have. Had they stayed in Iran, my life would have been 100% different today.
I googled “PersianBlog.com” to check out the site but obviously found the site hard to read since my Persian reading skills are not exactly tip-top! I did, however, stumble across Hoder’s personal English-written blog which, after skimming through a few entires, focuses mainly on Iranian political issues that continue to be evident in today’s world.
Gillmor also discusses the Iranian Government’s failed attempt in struggling to control modern technology amongst its citizens. He discusses Sina Motallebi’s 23-day imprisonment as a result of his blogging, but did not elaborate on the reasoning behind his arrest. After some research, I found that there was no real reason for Motallebi’s arrest apart from his own freedom of political speech. Hoder closely followed Motallebi’s incident in numerous postings on his English blog.
Even bloggers that aren’t writing anything on political issues are being banned, and it is not stopping the government from monitoring, filtering, and blocking citizen blogs:
The context in which Gillmor places blogs as a “cross-section of Iranian society” proves true and I predict that, despite the government’s continued restrictions, Iran’s controversial blogging culture will continue to grow at a tremendous rate in coming years.