The Iranian Election and Social Media – Aljazeera Interview with Social Media Expert Robin Hamman

 

Fomer BBC Senior Community Producer Robin Hamman, who’s been leading the Social Media Team at Headshift for roughly a year now, was interviewed about Iran’s online media battle by Aljazeera.
As the Iranian election is still a trending topic on Twitter, it’s definitely worth watching, especially because Robin knows what he’s talking about:

A couple of other interesting links on the Iranian election and the impact of (Social) Media:

 
 

V for Vendetta Terrorist Review

 

I wrote a 3-page paper for my university course “Understanding Terrorism” on the terrorist aspects of the movie V for Vendetta.
As I wrote about the movie review before and created a poll asking whether V was rather a terrorist or a freedom fighter, I decided to post the review to my blog.
For all those who haven’t watch the movie yet:

Watch out, this review definitely contains spoilers, so watch the movie ;-)

V for Vendetta – Reviewing and Analyzing its Terrorist Aspects

The movie “V for Vendetta”, released in 2005, is based on a comic book series of the same name, written by Alan Moore. 1
The plot of the movie, which is categorized as action, science fiction and thriller2, will be summarized, analysed and interpreted in the following.

V for Vendetta starts looking back at the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, where a conspiracy of Roman Catholics failed to blow up the Houses of Parliament when their religion was severely oppressed.3
However, the movie’s fictional government does not only oppress Roman Catholics but the whole English population.
With surveillance cameras everywhere the socio-political circumstances pretty much resemble Big Brother and the Ministry of Truth from Orwell’s novel 19844, but are also similar to “La Grande Terreur” during the French Revolution, which historians think of as “state-organized or state-backed visitation of violence on [...] dissident citizenry”.5

Citizens are not allowed to leave their homes at “post-curfew” time, which is when the female protagonist Evey goes out and is stopped by patrolling police forces, so called “finger men”.

When they try to rape her, the male protagonist V rescues her and takes her on top of a roof opposite of the Old Bailey.
Here, V has the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky played, blowing up the Old Bailey along the way.

Destroying the featured statue of justice, V demonstrates his disagreement with the government’s understanding of justice.
The graphic novel is more straightforward here because there V literally “professes his love for her, but accuses her of being a whore for the fascist government”.6

V’s main adversary High Chancellor Adam Sutler declares that V has to be found, making him understand what terror really means, implying that he’s willing to use the same means as V.
As the government is passing legislations as it pleases, it has more than “a fair bit of freedom in deciding whether to adopt an essentially legal approach or to step outside the law”7 to fight V’s terror.

Sutler’s approach is rather similar to Israel’s “policy of assassinating those it holds to be terrorist”8.
In his next coup, V walks into the headquarters of BTN TV where he threatens to blow up the building if they won’t let him speak in front of their cameras. He succeeds, telling people to remember 5 November again and denounces the government.
Even though he’s able to escape with the help of Evey, the media reports that the police have killed him in a heroic act, therefore deliberately deceiving people.
V takes Evey back to his place, the “Shadow Gallery”.
Admitting that she hasn’t eaten ordinary eggs and butter since she was a little girl, the government’s totalitarian rule is unveiled once more.

Convinced that violence can be used for good, V kills Lewis Prothero, an influential TV moderator, whom he calls “Commander” as he had been responsible for various cruelties in a detention camp before his TV career.
Needless to say that the media conceals the murder and pretends he passed away peacefully.

In addition to the “Commander”, V plans to kill a bishop who used to work in the camp, too.
Evey serves as a bait here because his holiness has an indulgence for young girls, but she changes her mind and decides to flee from V.
She finds ayslum at Gordon, a well-mannered TV moderator.
It turns out that he’s also secretly opposing the government, showing Evey all his forbidden belongings such as a copy of the Koran.

Meanwhile the police have found out that V has killed all the people who were in charge at the Larkhill detention camp except for one female doctor that he finally liquidates as well.
V’s killing spree is obviously a revenge as the government had developed a biological weapon in form of a virus in the camp, V being the only surviving test subject.
The government had deliberately used the virus against its own population and made it look like a religiously motivated terrorist attack by terrorists.
This way of deceiving the public to exploit the effects for one’s own ends resembles the “Lavon affair” from 1954, when Israeli agents intended to blow up US and British targets in Egypt with the purpose of “alienating the US and Britain from Egypt and Nasser”.9

There’s a turning point in the story now as people publicly start to protest against the government,  spraying ‘V’ graffiti all over the government’s propaganda posters.
Furthermore, Gordon exposes the former untouchable High Chancellor to ridicule on TV, which leads to Gordon’s arrest and execution.
As Evey was hiding at Gordon’s flat, she also gets caught and is brought to a camp, where she gets tortured.
However, it turns out that V was setting everything up to test how far she would go to support him.
Condemning what V has done to her, Evey has a nervous breakdown, realizing the government’s responsibility for the deaths of her family.
Thus,  she ultimately agrees that V’s actions were indeed justified.

To prevent people from revolting even more the Chancellor starts spreading false news about pandemonium all over the world to spur fear within the population, a beloved tool of politicians from the “terrorism industry” that “systematically exaggerate dangers” to “profit from their fearmongering and alarmism”.10
His actions do not prevent V from killing the head of the government’s Secret Service Mr. Creedy as well as the High Chancellor himself.

Being severely injured, V is still able to accomplish his final goal with Evey’s help, who uses a tube train to send his body together with explosives towards the Houses of Parliament.
The exploding edifice is watched by thousands of V’s supporters on their way to the seat of government.

One might wonder whether V is, in fact, a terrorist or a freedom fighter.
Drawing upon Valls (2000) who states that “violence committed by non-state actors against persons or property for political purposes” is terrorism, one can conclude that V indeed uses terrorist means.11

Internet users don’t seem to share this scientific view though:

References

1 cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_for_Vendetta
2 cf. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/
3 cf. http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/g08.pdf, p.2
4 cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four#Story
5 cf. Tilly 2004: 9
6 cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Bailey#In_popular_culture
7 cf. Townshed 2002: 125
8 cf. Townshed 2002: 125
9 cf. http://www.mideastweb.org/lavon.htm
10 cf. Mueller 2007: 4
11 cf. Valls 2000: 68

Internet Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Eighty-Four#Story

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Bailey#In_popular_culture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V_for_Vendetta

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/

http://www.mideastweb.org/lavon.htm

http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/g08.pdf, p.2

http://www.smartens.eu/blog/2009/03/30/v-from-v-for-vendetta-terrorist-or-freedom-fighter/

Literature

Mueller, John (2007): Reacting to terrorism – probabilities, consequences & the persistence of fear
Tilly, Charles (2004): Terror, terrorism, terrorists
Townshend, Charles (2002): Terrorism – a very short introduction
Valls, Andrew (2000): Can terrorism be justified’ in Andrew Valls (ed.) (2000) Ethics in
International Affairs, pp. 65-79

 
 

My Name is E: A serious Competitor for Poken from the Netherlands

 

I’ve blogged about the Do you Poken phenomenon a couple of days ago and kind of concluded:

“Due to its design, I’m not even quite sure whether they want it to go mainstream as it rather looks funny than business like.
I reckon mobile phones with an RFID chip will do the job in the future, but I’m not a technical person, so I actually don’t have a clue ;-)”

What I had missed when I visited the Next Conference in Hamburg was the startup competition, which was won by My name is E. Just check the first 10 minutes of the footage to see their slick presentation:

As you can tell from the video, they’re basically offering the same service as Poken does, but literally more seriously, which is to say more business like.
You can exchange data via any mobile phone with an internet connection or use their so called “Connectors”.

I’ve just created my public virtual business card there:

my_name_is_e

Making it public is optional, but I’d highly recommended it, also because the links to your profiles are indexed by search engines, as they’re not (yet) “nofollow”.

Looking forward to asking random people at upcoming events if their Name is E as well :-)

 
 

Save some Trees: Get Your Business Card 2.0 aka Poken

 

It’s a well-known ritual:

People meet at an event and exchange business cards.
Sometimes these people might actually have something in common, consider each other interesting or even likeable, but in most cases exchanging business cards is not about actual people, but, as the name suggests, about potential business.

Most people add the newly acquired contact in online communities such as Xing or LinkedIN and throw the cards away.
If the potential business partner is not on Xing or LinkedIN, the contact details are saved somewhere else and we secretly tag the person as web 1.0.

In the end, the tiny little cards are either thrown away or put somewhere to collect some dust.

Looking at this awkward process and its accompanying waste of paper, the obvious solution is a way of exchanging business data in a different kind of way.

This is where Poken comes into play:

These cartoon-like little fellows use an RFID chip to exchange data from common social networking sites such as Facebook as well as the above mentioned business sites Xing and LinkedIN.

All you have to do is a “High 4″, i.e. clap the Pokens’ hands as they only got 4 fingers, just like your favourite TV familiy The Simpsons.

Once you’re home all you have to do is upload your new contacts from the device to your computer and the Poken page gives you access to their social media profiles.

I guess it will still take a while until Poken goes mainstream as mostly geeks on barcamps and relevant conferences seem to have one at the moment.
Due to its design, I’m not even quite sure whether they want it to go mainstream as it rather looks funny than business like.
I reckon mobile phones with an RFID chip will do the job in the future, but I’m not a technical person, so I actually don’t have a clue ;-)

The adoption stlye seems similar to Twitter to me:

If everybody had an account / a device, life would be so much easier, but it takes a while to convince people of the added value microblogging / digital business cards provide.

While Twitter is (still) for free, Pokens cost something like 15 EUR, which is a quite reasonable price.

As I don’t have one yet, I’m hereby taking part in a lottery at gadgetgettinc.com to get one for free ;-)

I’d love to win the Elvis poken, basically for two reasons:

1. Save some trees instead of using business cards.
2. To use the power of resurrected Elvis to convince friends of mine to do the same (see 1.).

 
 

tourist-online.de pays the Blogger’s Rent in Crete

 

Just stumbled across a quite interesting promotion campaign by tourist-online.de.
The holiday home agency celebrates its 10 year anniversary by paying the rent for a stay in Crete, Greece.
A clever idea to get inbound links in cooperation with their SEO agency seoFactory.

All a blogger has to do is linking to their homepage.

The campaign will end at the end of May or after 3.653 incoming links.

It’s apparently time to forget about SEO guidelines saying that linkbuilding should be done at a slow pace to avoid penalties by Google and other major search engines. I guess they know what they’re doing.

Interesting to see that Malte Landwehr wrote the seoFactory blogpost about the tourist-online campaign.
That might explain why that SEO jack of all trades hasn’t blogged at his Online Reputation Management blog since January 2009.

If that really works out it might be fun to spend a week or two with fellow bloggers that also took part in the campaign ;)

Update:

They just emailed me the voucher in .pdf format. Now I just gotta find some cheap flights…and finish my Master’s thesis in time ;)

Big thanks to tourist-online.de – will post a review of my stay, will probably be some time in July!