July 03, 2009

Iran: Twitter's "Blair Witch?"

In 1999, a cheaply made, independent horror movie became a huge hit. The Blair Witch Project, which was filmed for a reported $35,000, earned about $250 million worldwide.

One of the reasons for its remarkable success was the brilliant use of the internet to promote the movie.

As usual, the idiots in the media and in the marketing world, mistook a one-off phenomenon for a "thing that would change everything."
"In fact, the Blair Witch phenomenon (is) evidence of a brand-new era, in which nimble independents using smart, low-budget, Net-centric, "viral" campaigns can run circles around their traditional rivals."
Yeah, right.

With 10 years behind us, we can see that the web has become one of the marketing tools movies use. But the record of "smart, low-budget, Net-centric, "viral" campaigns (running) circles around their traditional rivals" is what you might call a little thin on the ground.

Meanwhile, every Super Bowl is swimming in 3-million-a-pop movie trailers.

How does this relate to Iran and Twitter? In the past few weeks, the "tweeting" of turmoil in Iran has given the media a new Blair Witch.

The semi-competence and, in a few cases, cowardice of the traditional media in covering the Iranian post-election turbulence, coupled with the riveting Twitter messages coming out of Iran, have led to lots of yapping about Twitter and "citizen journalism" as a replacement for traditional reporting.

From the always-ready-with-a-cliche pen of Dan Rather...
"...citizen journalism is a way for the people to hold on to freedom of the press, even in times of oppression. In a turn of phrase that seems to be cropping up everywhere, the revolution may not be televised…but it very well could be Twittered."
Yeah, right.

Once again, the impressionable and the naive have taken a one-off and projected it as a "thing that will change everything."

Let's try and remember something here. Tyrants don't get to power by being stupid. They're watching and learning.

Technology isn't only effective at spreading information. It's also pretty good at suppressing it.

Anyone read 1984 lately?

Happy Independence Day...
...particularly to those struggling for their freedom.

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