U.S. State Department to Twitter: "Stay Up"

Last Updated Jun 16, 2009 9:15 PM EDT

If there were any doubters left about the importance of social media in the ongoing rebellion occurring in Iran, today's intervention by the U.S. government, requesting that the micro-blogging service Twitter delay its scheduled maintenance shutdown, should put an end to any debate.

Let's take a deep breath here. A still-tiny open-source software company in San Francisco with <50 employees and nary a business plan yet in site is deemed so critical, presumably, to U.S. national security interests that the State Department asks it to consider changing the timing of its maintenance schedule?

Hello? This is not your grandmama's State Department, folks.

President Barack Obama had stated earlier on Tuesday that "people's voices should be heard and not suppressed" in Iran.

Whatever you may think of the Obama Administration's actions since coming to power, and opinions on that scorecard are decidedly mixed across the political spectrum, you have to grant they are paying attention to the evolution of social medium and mobile communications devices.

That the President insisted on being able to keep using his Blackberry when he took office, despite the security concerns of the Secret Service sent the message loud and clear throughout the Beltway Bureaucracy: The Times They Are A-Changin'.

(Sorry, gotta plug my favorite poet whenever possible.)
Quite seriously, if you have an hour to kill, please just try this: Go to Twitter, and check out the top "Trending Topics" in the right-hand column. For some time now, the top item has been #Iranelection. You may want to refresh the page every few moments, because the flow of information, both from within Iran and now from around the watching world, is truly mind-boggling.

Here is a current sampling:

  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.