Sunday, September 27, 2009

Plastic Flowers and The Bomb Crater-

On I discovered an image that adds to its accompanying article as well as the website as a whole by giving illustrative power to both. The article is about former Iraqi Baathists that crossed over into Syria during the Iraqi civil war and after becoming a part of the social fabric in Damascus, have now become the subject of an "escalating" dispute between the governments of Iraq and Syria which involves suicide bombers and stern claims of harboring fugitives.

The picture quite poignantly shows the huge size of a bomb crater outside a ministry building in Baghdad as well as a few citizens starting to stream plastic flowers along its massive rim. This picture adds to the website by giving it credence as a foreign news bureau and it gives the article's content immediacy and weight and also makes me want to explore the rest of the site. The obvious contrast between the fake flowers and the vestiges of the violent act is powerful in itself.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Attacking Iranian Censorship Through Social Media

With the dubious Iranian presidential election held in June and the subsequent deluge of mass protests, rioting and then arrests and gripping violence by the government to counter the swell, technology and specifically Twitter has been highlighted as an important tool to attack and scale the stark wall of totalitarian censorship.
After the fraudulently-perceived reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the loss of reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, upset supporters of Mousavi took to the streets in peacefully and in some cases violent protest. Most foreign news journalists were barred from the demonstrations in an attempt by Tehran to manage the message. But thanks to the Internet, the message escaped and we were shown the harsh realities ensconced in Ahmadinejad's Iran.

The growing influence of social media and more broadly the Internets' reach as a means to express frustrations, help people gather and to spread world news has been given sharp illustration by these protests. Iranians posted links to videos, blogs and used Twitters' supplied 140 characters to direct people to meeting places and to avoid certain areas, all in almost real time. Probably the biggest sign of Twitters growing importance in getting information out to the world from behind the wall of government censorship was the request made by the State Dept. The Washington Post reports-
"The State Department asked social-networking site Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance earlier this week to avoid disrupting communications among tech-savvy Iranian citizens."

The Internet and more specifically social networking sites like Twitter & Facebook have filled an important niche recently and the world of communication is better for it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How Do You Use The Internet?

I use the internet to accomplish myriad things in my daily life. Most importantly, I use the internet to research topics for academic assignments that I might need a better understanding of - (Online tutorials for new media tools and software, library databases such as LexisNexis etc. are convenient and helpful.) This helps to complement the information I already have and may also provide me with estoteric but useful, powerful knowledge. The internet can also free me of incorrect information and misconceptions I might have by the ability to check multiple legitimate sources quickly.

I use the internet for banking and also for fun - watching missed TV shows, listening and downloading ITunes, and sending pictures of my 7 month old son to grandma back home. I also use the internet to get most of my news, which for me falls under the "fun" catagory. I only read an actual newspaper once in a great while. Instead of trying to locate and then buy multiple newspapers and magazines, I can go online and read such informative and varied titles as "The Economist" to "The Nation" to "Wired."

My use differs from that of my parents because they only use the internet for keeping in contact with friends and family - (Face Book, e-mail.) They still get their news from the local paper and cable news and only bank in person. I would say that the biggest difference between their use and mine is that I have adopted the internet as a multifaceted tool to obtain knowledge, make my life more structured (paying all bills online,) and to also have fun with. My parents use it in a strickly utilitarian sense.