Thursday, June 18, 2009

Telex Iran, revolutions, photography, and technology

With the tide of the street protests in Iran possibly turning against the entire Islamic theocratic system that overthrew the Shah's dictatorship 30 years ago, I thought the time was right to look back at Telex: Iran by Gilles Peres. Published in 1997, the book is a visual, personal retelling of the revolution that brought the Ayatollah's to power.

Mixed in with Telex communications with his editors, the book has immediacy that we did not really have before the age of the Internet.

What strikes me comparing Telex:Iran to the current situation is that again, those leading and participating in the protests are using cutting-edge technology, and the result is graphic and immediate. The almost-instant dissemination of photos and videos (despite government clampdowns on newsgathering at the events) is nothing less than stunning. While old-fashioned ways are also being used, we're seeing YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and other forums being used to organize rallies--and to rally world opinion.

It also strikes me that the brevity and immediacy of Peres's messages to the west are so similar in their urgency to the Tweets I've been seeing on Twitter's #iranelections feed, while the grittiness and off-kilter nature of the photos are in some ways similar to cell-phone stills and videos that are being shot and uploaded by Iranian protesters.

I just wonder...did the guys who founded YouTube and Flickr ever think they'd be caught up in a revolution?

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