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:
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.
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.