Thinking out of box in using tools and technologies is not necessarily a multi-complex task and does not essentially require high levels of expertise. Most of the really interesting uses of online tools and platforms were not imagined by the designers of that service but by the users. Thinking out of box is simply asking ourselves: what do I need? And also comes out of bridging between applications and tools to get a desired outcome which have never been seen before. The Twitter’s case in Iran’s Green Movement would be a good example.
In June 2009, the social movement which started with the fraud presidential election in Iran lead to a technological surprise. The surprise was caused by the “out-of-box” use of web 2.0 technologies. The so called “Green movement” started months before the Iran’s elections with the campaign of a reformist candidate. Students and the middle class supporters of the reformist candidate harnessed social media as the main platform of communication. On the election day, when the government realized that it has lost the election, it decided not to give up the power and claimed its own candidate victory! Consequently, to control the following street protests and demonstrations, the authorities arrested thousands of activists, limited the access to Internet and communication infrastructure (e.g. SMS), deported all the international reporters and journalists from the country, filtered many websites such as Youtube and Facebook and aggressively tried to suppress the peaceful demonstrations. In such condition, the surprise took place and, later, nicknamed as “Twitter revolution”.
In spite of all the limitations and thanks to anti-filters, thousands of videos were uploaded on Youtube and the news from the “citizen journalists” were massively shared and reached the media. What was the surprise then? Twitter was a micro-blogging service targeted the needs of business people and those who wanted to use their mobiles to broadcast short messages. Before the Green movement, the platform was not meant to be used by citizen journalists or people organizing demonstrations or broadcasting news from the streets. Why Iranian’s chose Twitter? Simply, the Twitter website was not filtered at that moment and it could satisfy the need of the mass which was sending out the news. It took a bit of time for the government to react and that was enough for Iranians to catch the attention of media!
In the Iran’s case, the availability of information was made possible by the technology but the speed of spread was caused by people’s performance. Therefore, it was not only the technology but the social networks on top of the technological networks who moved the information so fast. Users are the ones who give meaning to the technologies and define new applications for the tools.
So, if you were looking for an online space to brainstorm with five of your friends and you couldn’t find the “right” platform/tool for it, would be no problem to join a free poker table in Yahoo games or Zynga and use the facilities for your own activity!