I was very excited to attend the panel "2009 Iran Election: Women's Revolution? Twitter Revolution?" Before I headed out to SXSW, I'd read a history of modern Iran (All the Shah's Men, by Stephen Kinzer), and I'm half-Iranian. I learned that Twitter was just another way Iranian citizens have worked to incite social change, and that Iranian women have been using the Internet to their advantage for nearly a decade. Panelist Dr. David Parry, an Assistant Professor Emerging Media at UT Dallas, underscored that history by stating that the so-called "Iranian Twitter Revolution" was a revolution for Twitter - not necessarily for Iran.
Another panelist, Mona Kasra, a new media artist and educator from UT Dallas, explained briefly how the voice of Iranian women has evolved because of the Internet. In 2001, an influential Iranian blogger named Hossein Derakhshan released a document explaining how to create a blog in Farsi (two years ago he was imprisoned by the Iranian government and remains behind bars today). The Iranian blogging world exploded, and women were eager to embrace the technology. Frank and honest diary blogs, which were not meant to be inflammatory - just simple thoughts on daily events - were at first frowned upon by men, who eventually learned to tolerate their existence.
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