Sounds Iranian

June 5, 2007

Iranian blogs as a part of the Public Sphere?

Filed under: crosscultural, research — soundsiranian @ 9:01 am

frogs-award.jpg

The photo is from a blog event where “The Frogomist Award” (Golden Frog) for the best Iranian blogs in various categories was given.

I have just finished my master’s thesis which focuses on the Iranian blogosphere. The purpose of the thesis is to examine how blogs become a part of the public sphere. When I talk about the public sphere in this context I primarily refer to the press. I had the chance to go to Iran in April for three weeks on a grant from the Danish Institute in Damascus, where the purpose is to encourage cultural and scholarly exchange between Denmark and the Muslim worlds.

Unfortunately I do not read Farsi but I have read a lot of examples from blogs that were translated, and have followed some of the Iranian blogs in English. My primary source of information was communication with Iranian bloggers who discussed the content of their blogs as well as their experiences and ideas about blogging. In Iran I met with ten different bloggers.
The bloggers I met had very different profiles regarding age and gender. Some of them focused on social and political matters, while others had blogs that were more personal. A lot of the bloggers I talked to were only writing in Farsi even though their English was extremely good. They said that they felt that the subjects they wrote about were mostly relevant for Farsi speaking readers inside or outside of Iran. A few even expressed that they did not want to add to the negative picture of Iran that Westerners seem to have. So they would rather keep their critique to themselves and their fellow countrymen.

On the other hand, I believe that blogs are a way of opposing prejudice. The blogosphere enables a pluralistic exchange of opinion and contributes to the eradication of prejudice. Most of the bloggers I talked to explained that they are participating in the blogosphere regardless of whether they agree or disagree with the blogs they read. This indicates that the blogosphere is not just a free-for-all for ideas, but at the same time promotes networking and allowing people to be better informed as well as more politically conscious citizens. Reading about everyday life in Iran and seeing pictures on a photo blog from Tehran might change a lot of Western idea about Iranian society. One of the Iranian bloggers I met developed a more nuanced view of the hejab after reading about women who actually wore it voluntarily.

The conclusions in my thesis have changed somewhat after my trip to Iran. Before my departure I was very optimistic about the possibility of mobilizing public opinion by means of internet and blogosphere. I am still optimistic, but perhaps a bit more realistic. Although the virtual and real worlds are interconnected, there are still important distinctions between the two. On the one hand, the internet can have a very positive effect on the people who communicate with each other, but from there to real life outside cyberspace is something else. The society-transforming potential of blogs depends on how the medium is utilized, since technological media are only instruments for social interactions. As with all other media, the social context determines how blogs function as a part of the public sphere.

I am very interested in knowing what other blog-specialists think of my conclusions? Are they too pessimistic – too optimistic?

– Caroline Nellemann

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5 Comments »

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head towards the end of your post. Blogs can be a tool used for social change, open press, etc. However, for the most part I don’t think that blogging alone can accomplish real, sustainable change. It is what it is, a tool. Optimism about what blogging can do sometimes overlooks this fact, and so many become disillusioned when they realize that it cannot take the place of real human action and interaction. I see the most successful social networking sites moving towards a more intergrated ( i.e. virtual/real) approach, and I think for blogging collectives and activist bloggers the same thing needs to happen for their goals/visions to be realized. Sometimes this is harder than it seems.

    Welcome to Sounds Iranian!

    Comment by clalexander — June 10, 2007 @ 2:02 am

  2. The society-transforming potential of blogs depends on how the medium is utilized, since technological media are only instruments for social interactions. As with all other media, the social context determines how blogs function as a part of the public sphere.

    I completely agree.

    All the excitement about blogging as a means of ‘positive’ political change (itself a subjective judgment) is best tempered by remembering that we are, after all, still human beings!

    Blogs allow for anonymity, and can defy geography and law, but they’re still just extensions of the social actors who are writing them.

    In any case, your research sounds fascinating, and I’m sure we’d all love to hear more about the trip. If you have some time, feel free to share as much info as you like about your work and time in Iran.

    Welcome!

    Comment by Jordan — June 13, 2007 @ 6:19 am

  3. Please join us @ the Angelika Film Center @ Mockingbird Station, Dallas, Texas
    Sunday November 9th 2008 at 8:30 pm to enjoy two Iranian films:
    Rough Cut
    Firouzeh Khosrovani 2007
    Categories: Short doc
    —–
    Shangol’o Mangol
    Seyyed Morteza Ahadi
    Categories: Short – Animated
    ———–
    http://dallasvideo.bside.com/2008

    Comment by Sondra — November 3, 2008 @ 12:45 am

  4. Hi,

    Alternative to “Twitter” to Communicate to and from Iran

    If you are in the USA or any other country and the Government of Iran is blocking your “Tweets” from Twitter…I have another solution, that works just like “Twitter”…but should be ‘under the radar’ of the Iranian Government (at least for now).

    Its brand new…and is almost exactly like Twitter…but really better.

    You can sign up for a FREE account…and contact your family and friends in Iran…to sign up for a free account also…this way you can communicate with them…just like you would do using Twitter.

    I hope this helps…as I know many people in Iran and here in the USA and around the world do not support the current government of Iran,

    Sign Up For Free At:

    Free SoKule Sign Up

    Peace To You All!
    Dan

    ___

    Free SoKule Sign Up

    Comment by Sokule — September 19, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  5. oh, one more thing, they were supposed to build their OWN FIRST WORLD NATION. IT’S AT THIS POINT WERE THE PHONY LIBERAL WILL ATTEMPT TO CONFABULATE SOME KIND OF A “RACIAL” THING. IN 900 AD the mayan civilization was by every astronomical, mathematical, technological and organizational measure, the most “ADVANCED” civilization of it’s day. THE REAL REASON ” ‘NOW’ THAT IS ” IS THAT TRILATERAL COMMISSION NEEDS THEM SO THAT THEY AND THEIR CHILDREN CAN BE DRAFTED FOR THE “COMING WAR” AGAINST THE 1000 FAMILIES OF PERSIA(IRAN); FOR AMERICA? NO NOT AT ALL FOR “ISRAEL”. OF COURSE BACK IN 1993 IT WAS TO PUNISH THE GHETTO AFRICAN AMERICAN FOR THEIR RIOTS IN CROWN HEIGHTS AND HOLLYWOOD, BY FLOODING THE BLACK GHETTO WITH BANDELEROS WHO BUY THEIR GUNS FROM THE SAME PEOPLE THEY BUY THEIR COCAINE FROM. AND NOW YOU KNOW WHY THE JEW MEDIA IS “NOT” IN FAVOR OF THE MEXICAN PEOPLE BUILDING “THEIR OWN” “FIRST WORLD NATION” AND INSTEAD HELPED TO CREATE “33” NEW MEXICAN BILLIONAIRES; THE CONQUISTADOR CHILDREN OF THE INQUISITION, PEOPLE WHO AT THIS POINT WILL DO WHAT EVER THEY’RE TOLD.

    if you’re truly french, then you would know(connaitre) the bilderberg as The catholic boys. not a description of how they live but a reference to how evil and corruption will “machinate” this generations end and the setting free of ALL the light from these flesh and blood prisons.
    jack | 28. Friday, March 5 2010, 15:11

    of course it IS the <<>> twenty seventh comment what else would it be

    Comment by jack — March 7, 2010 @ 1:57 pm


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