Jillian C. York

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist.

Month: November 2008 (page 1 of 6)

Misplaced priorities.

174 killed in Mumbai. 200 killed in Jos, Nigeria. 8 killed in Karachi. Gaza experiencing a humanitarian crisis. Airports in Bangkok are almost entirely shut down.

And what’s in the news here in the States? Obama’s choosing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.


Will at KABOBfest already covered this one well, but I apparently cannot leave well enough alone.

Yesterday, Yazan pointed out to me that there’s a Facebook group that opposes a mysteriously Kaaba-like building in New York. Now that I’ve read it all over, I realize that the group is slightly outdated, but that leaves me no less peeved. Here’s their headline, with approximate translation:

يريد الامريكان الاوغاد بناء مكان للسكر والعربدة على شكل كعبتنا الشريفة يتمهزؤن على ديننا وعلى كعبتنا لعنهم اللة جميعا فلنجمع مليار صوت لنقول لهم لا يا ايها الاوغاد لا تهينو ديننا وكعبتنا لعنكم الله…………………………..

Dirty Americans want to build a place like the holy Kaaba for drinking and stripping. They make fun of our religion and our Kaaba. God damn them all. Let’s let our voices tell them no.

Now, a quick glance at the photo shows that the building in question does (or did) look mysteriously similar to the holy Kaaba. Look a little deeper, however, and you’ll find that these lemmings have been horribly misinformed…

The place for drinking and stripping? It’s the Fifth Avenue Apple Store! The only bar inside is the Genius Bar, and if there’s any stripping, it’s of computer parts. Oh yeah, and post-construction, it looks nothing like the Kaaba:

Like Will, I note the fact that this is cyberactivism, but agree with his statement:

By contesting symbols, they are playing for peanuts. Even victory is minor because it discredits the people who should be mobilizing for more important issues. Sure they can get Burger King to change the packaging, but what does that impress upon real politics?

Now if they were developing organizational capacity, by turning people’s sense of offense and frustration, into an institutional mechanism for playing real politics, that would be something else.

Apple Store photo credit: Gothamist

Blogging in Iran

While we await news about Hossein Derakhshan, the “Blogfather of the Iranian blogosphere,” it’s worth learning a little more about why blogging is so valued in Iran. This video, by the Vancouver Film School, demonstrates a bit about the blogging revolution happening there:

Iran: A nation of bloggers from Mr.Aaron on Vimeo.

But the video presents only one side of it. As pointed out in Antony Loewenstein’s book, The Blogging Revolution, it would be naive to assume that every Iranian blogger is against the current regime. While there’s no doubt that most of Iran’s bloggers are using the Internet to express views they cannot express elsewhere, the truth is that the Iranian blogosphere is as diverse as any other.

John Kelly‘s work in mapping the Iranian (Farsi) blogosphere demonstrates that point further:

As you can see from the map, the segment of bloggers discussing secular politics is only slightly larger than the segments entitled “religious youth” and “conservative politics.” You can read more about the Farsi-speaking Iranian blogosphere in the accompanying paper by John Kelly and Bruce Etling.

As I noted, their work covers the portion of the blogosphere writing in Farsi; there is also a significantly smaller segment of Iranian bloggers writing in English and other languages. Of course, without Hoder, none of this might have been possible…

In 2001, he started what is thought to be the first Farsi blog, using Unicode. Two years later, as Blogger increased in popularity, he wrote an open letter to Blogger, slamming them for leaving Unicode out of their system. He also wrote a guide to blogging in Farsi using Unicode, in order to assist other bloggers to do so.

Which is not to say the English-language Iranian blogosphere isn’t thriving. For those of you (us) who can’t read Farsi, check out this listing of English Iranian and Iranian diaspora blogs, also put together by Hoder.

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