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!

Social Media is dead!

Posted: October 27th, 2008 | Author: | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

Recently I was thinking about the pervalence of social media sites. I am of the opinion that they are the reality TV of the internet technology. In the sense that there’s no great innovation behind them. There’s no real renaissance that’s happening. Only a re-packaging of existing material. Reading this article on Startup North I find myself agreeing with him. The fact of the matter is that in the end social media is merely a platform for the lazy.
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