With help from Twitter and YouTube, the youth of Iran struck a cord for freedom and took on the ayatollahs. With phone lines cut and foreign journalists banished, protestors captured the words from their own signs, “Where’s my vote?” and uploaded them to the Internet. They trusted friends, family, and colleagues to spread the word to the outside world about their struggle.
That’s week-old news. But Peggy Noonan in her Wall Street Journal column this weekend (June 22) raises two interesting questions: How would modern technology have changed the past, say, the Revolution, during the Terror? What if word of the extreme violence and guillotines 1790-95 have “twittered” out? Would that have affected the French support and the world’s support for the Revolution?
The bigger and more intriquing question she raises is this: How will modern technology affect the future? Is it the enemy of tyranny? And how will leaders of other countries around the world be able to “look the other way” when human rights are being violated in other countries and pretend they do not know about it?
And not to be too flippant about such a gravely serious situations, Noonan makes one suggestion: If you intend to invent important new technology to be used in such noble and historical causes, don’t give it babyish names like Twitter, Google, Facebook, MySpace, Digg.
She has a point. Those names served their companies well in infancy—drawing a crowd to a fun and novel idea. Now that they have more noble and serious business applications, maybe they’ve outgrown their names. (Okay, before all you marketing gurus come after me, I assure you that I know the value of a catchy company name and all that changing one entails. Just food for thought here for those entrepreneurs in start-up mode.)
Check out Noonan’s complete article for a thoughtful discussion of whether U.S. leaders should or should not speak out on what’s happening in Iran.