Failure of Social Media Apparent With Recent Iran Unrest

Posted: June 19th, 2009 | Author: | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

The recent elections in Iran have reminded me of something I was pondering for a while.

I listened to an interview with Ethan Zuckerman about
the multilingual web and put it in the back of my mind. But now that the events in Iran are escalating the need for a multilingual web becomes even more important. In the first two days of uprising (June 13 and June 14) there was a lot of news reports coming in from people on the streets. They were filing them on social media (twitter and friendfeed) but mostly in Farsi. The at that point the rest of the world wasn’t able to make the most of these reports. There was even a meme created on twitter about how CNN missed reporting this election: #cnnfail. Slowly as the reports came in English, other sites tried to aggregate the torrent of news. I especially liked what twazzup did with their Iran Unrest site. They were smart enough to notice that more content can be added by search for Farsi keywords and capitalize on this gap.

I now fully agree with Ethan Zuckerman, and think we need the web to become inclusive of all languages. If we can easily and quickly translate between languages on the web, news and information can flow more freely. Of course there are inherent problems in translating various languages, and I think currently without human intervention that can’t be done easily. Case in point is that the site balatarin started to ask for volunteers to translate important Farsi language blog posts.

However, things like this will not take off until the big players get involved. And today I heard that google has entered the game by adding Farsi translation services. It still has a long way to go, but it’s a good start!

Elections in Iran

Posted: June 11th, 2009 | Author: | Tags: , , | No Comments »

In a few hours people will be going to the polls in Iran. I think this will be a historic election, not because of the involvement of people. The people have woken up, and this wave is going to be hard to stop. Whoever gets elected will have to start listening to the populous. Iran has entered the 21st century and I am very excited for it!

And a song that shows an interesting parallel. The song was popular during the 1971 1979 revolution and is now the song of the front runner candidate (not that he’s in any way affiliated with the original movement that represented the song).

Montreal's Bixi Bikes

Posted: June 5th, 2009 | Author: | Tags: , | 7 Comments »

I tried out the Bixi bike rental system last weekend. Many people have already written about them so I thought I would add my cents as well.

empty Bixi standBixi stand


  • Convenient locations around downtown
  • Cheap prices if you get a yearly subscription and use less than 30 minutes each time
  • You can rent friggin’ bikes!
  • Promotes biking in the city


  • Requires one credit card per bike rented
  • Puts a hold on $250 in your credit card each time you use it
  • Instructions for some things (like the 24-hr access) not very clear
  • Lack of billboard with info on nearby rental stations.

Another side-effect of the design of the system: When I tried to get a bike to go back home, the first station had no bikes, but luckily the one where I had returned my bike still had one left.
Oh, and here’s an official video from Bixi explaining how the 24-hr access works.

BIXI – 24-hour access from BIXI on Vimeo.


Posted: June 3rd, 2009 | Author: | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Links: Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Imagine Peace