Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Twitter, Transparency, and Iraq

There was an interesting article on a discussion hosted by the U.S. Department of State in Baghdad with Jack Dorsey, co-founder of the Twitter network, and others from "Web powerhouses" like Howcast, YouTube and Google - I thought Google owned YouTube, but I digress - on the "possible high-tech horizons" for Iraq. There were also execs from AT&T, Meetup, and Blue State Digital.

The article cites the importance of mobile phones in the country. Zain - one of the country's wireless companies - says that 700,000 of its Iraqi users have internet-capable cell phones. The article labels the State Department's encouragement of technologies like this to encourage political participation and to counter negative characteristics, such as corruption, as "lofty."

Also, "It's estimated just 5 percent of Iraqis have Web access at home and the connection speed can harken back to the dial-up days of the 1980s. However, users can get faster connections at Internet cafes and the Web access on their cell phones."

I am curious to know what you think of this particular spin of technology in diplomacy because it is not so much the U.S. trying to direct a message through Web 2.0 as it is the U.S. trying to improve conditions by suggesting and developing a certain approach to using technology.

I think it is a way of using technologies that are democratizing in the way that they mediatize (is this the correct verb form to discuss the concepts we discussed much, much earlier in the course?) interaction to the benefit of Iraqis. I think it would actually be excellent to push domestically in any place where the technology is widespread in its availability. I think the range of players invited to participate in a - and here comes the PD piece - "trip to Iraq's capital, sponsored by the State Department...billed as a way to assess the faint stirrings of Iraq's online culture and possibly inspire future Iraqi Web entrepreneurs."

No comments:

Post a Comment