Cyrus on: PRI’s The World (Dec. 31, 2009)

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my piece on how Internet tactics have changed by both the Iranian government and the opposition, particularly since Sunday’s Ashura protests, will be airing today.

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams):

NYC – 3 pm Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM –
Washington, DC – 8 pm Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM –
Los Angeles – 12 pm Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 4 pm Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM –
San Francisco – 2 pm Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM –

You can also likely find it on your local public radio station, and The World’s site later in the day and also on my site if you miss the broadcast.

Also, don’t forget about The World’s Tech Podcast, hosted by my boss, Clark Boyd. It comes out every Friday.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Happy New Year to all!


Media Appearances: Radio Free Asia, CNN, Brian Lehrer show

In the last 24 hours, I’ve been quoted in three major news outlets.

The first was Radio Free Asia:

伊朗的用户本身也对此行动表示振奋,在美国的伊朗问题专家和新闻人Cyrus Farivar 表示,“我在推特上搜索关于伊朗消息时,可以看到许许多多中国网民推出的贴上了#cn4iran 标签的话题。他说中国和伊朗的情况有很多相似之处,他认为,中国人也和伊朗人民一样,热烈地珍惜渴望一个自由表达的环境。但他认为官方对互联网的控制要比伊朗严格许多,这也是中国网民的不幸之处

I can’t read this, but here’s what Google makes of it:

Iran’s actions by the users themselves have also inspired, in the United States, Iran experts and journalists Cyrus Farivar said, “I was pushing special news search on Iran, you can see many Chinese netizens launched labeled # cn4iran label topic. He said China and Iran, there are many similarities between the situation, he believed that the Chinese people and the Iranian people, like a warm desire to cherish the freedom of expression environment. but he believes the official control of the Internet than in Iran strict many, this is unfortunate with Chinese netizens.

On CNN, here’s what I said:

“It’s clear the government has been definitely restricting the Internet in a much more controlled way,” said Cyrus Farivar, an Iranian-American freelance journalist who writes about technology issues. “They’re definitely paying attention and, at the very least, trying to intimidate people.”

“There’s this kind of global attention being paid across different countries and cultures and languages,” said Farivar, who noted the emergence of a Twitter hashtag — #CN4Iran — THAT appears to have been started by Chinese supporters of the Iranian protesters.

Despite their best efforts and good intentions, supporters outside the country won’t decide the outcome of the most recent round of protests, Farivar said. The actions of Iranians on the ground will.

“I think it’s naive to think that just because you’re changing your location to Tehran [on a Twitter profile] that you’re confusing the Iranian authorities,” he said. “That would make them seem less intelligent than they are.”

and finally, on today’s Brian Lehrer Show, where I was on with WSJ reporter extraordinaire Farnaz Fassihi.

Turmoil in Tehran

Update (January 1, 2010 6:20 pm Pacific Time): I’ve just finished a new post to include news of the last 72 hours.

In case you’ve been hiding out in a post/continuing holiday stupor, Iran is going nuts.

Like a lot of people, I’ve been glued to Twitter and various websites, trying to get a handle on what’s going on in Iran. I’ve been interviewed by Radio Free Asia and CNN in the last 24 hours to provide my thoughts. And I’ve been twittering up a storm myself, passing along useful links when possible.

So, here’s what’s been going on:

Dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri passed away in Qom on December 19, 2009.

The important seventh day of mourning for Montazeri coincided with the annual Shi’ite holy commemoration of Ashura, December 27, 2009. As a result, many dissidents, reformists and other anti-government protesters took to Iranian streets in a renewed and continued uprising against the June 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Around 10 people have been reported killed during the chaos, including Seyyed Ali Mousavi Habibi, the nephew of reformist presidential candidate Mir-Hussein Mousavi. Opponents of the government have called it an “ordered murder,” while Tehran police have described it as a “terrorist incident” and Keyhan, the state newspaper, has suggested that Mousavi himself orchestrated the killing. The government is apparently keeping his body for “further investigation.

The other leading opposition candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, was reportedly attacked after leaving a Tehran mosque on December 28, 2009.

Hundreds have been reported arrested, including the sister of Nobel laureate and human rights attorney Shirin Ebadi, as well as Ebrahim Yazdi (whom The Daily Show interviewed in June 2009), and many journalists and leaders of the reformist movement.

In addition, Reza al-Basha, a 27-year-old Syrian working for Dubai TV has also been confirmed arrested. The Agence France Presse is also reporting the arrest of a British citizen.

Tehran has accused the US and the UK of “interfering” in Iranian affairs, and summoned British envoy Simon Gass to the Foreign Ministry office in Tehran. The government also turned out thousands of supporters of its own in cities across Iran.

The Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Larijani, called for “the harshest punishment” against the Ashura protesters.

Yesterday, President Barack Obama said: “Along with all free nations the United States stands with those who seek their universal rights. We call upon the Iranian government to abide by the international obligations that it has to respect the rights of its own people. We call for the immediate release of all who have been unjustly detained within Iran. We will continue to bear witness to the extraordinary events that are taking place there. And I’m confident that history will be on the side of those who seek justice.”

Some Iran watchers view these protests as a key turning point. Prof. Abbas Milani of Stanford University described this moment as the “hour of reckoning” for the reform movement.

Despite the fact that there’s been a new wave of attention towards Iran online — including Chinese netizens using #cn4iran — and protests worldwide, I agree with The Telegraph‘s (UK) Will Heaven, when he writes: “There has been no revolution in Iran,” adding “There’s nothing wrong with spreading awareness outside Iran, but it’s horribly naive to think that supporting illegal activity in a foreign country has no ethical dimension. It’s equally foolish, of course, to kid yourself that you’re on the front line.”

So, what’s next?

Well, if there are any seventh-day mourning ceremonies for those who were killed on Ashura, then that will fall on January 3, 2010. Further, January 16, 2010 is the 31st anniversary of the day the the Shah fled Iran, and January 29, 2010 will mark the 40th day of mourning for Ayatollah Montazeri. Further, the 40th day anniversary for Ashura will be February 5, 2010, exactly during the celebration of the “Ten Days of Dawn,” marking the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran in 1979.

AP: Iran forms unit to go after opposition on Internet

The Associated Press, November 14 2009:

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has formed a special unit to monitor Web sites and fight Internet crimes, in a clear attack on an opposition that relies almost exclusively on online means to broadcast its message, local newspapers reported Saturday.

Police Col. Mehrdad Omidi, who heads the Internet crime unit, said the committee will fight “insults and the spreading of lies,” terms widely used by the judiciary to describe opposition activities.

“Given the spread of Internet use, police must confront crimes taking place in the Web atmosphere,” he said. “A special committee has been set up to monitor the Internet and deal with crimes … such as fraud, … insults and the spreading of lies.”

Omidi specifically said the 12-member unit will intervene in “political matters on the Internet should there be an illegal act.” The official said the unit will operate under the direction of the prosecution office.

Iranian authorities have banned most Web sites linked to Iran’s opposition or those containing articles supporting the reform movement. The opposition has continued to set up new Web sites within days of the old ones being blocked.

September 14: Cyrus on PRI’s The World

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my radio piece on the new Iraqi law to censor the Internet is airing today.

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams):

NYC – 3 pm Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM –
Washington, DC – 8 pm Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM –
Los Angeles – 12 pm Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 4 pm Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM –
San Francisco – 2 pm Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM –

You can also find it on The World’s site later in the day and on my site if you miss the broadcast.

Also, don’t forget about The World’s Tech Podcast, hosted by my boss, Clark Boyd. It comes out every Friday.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Update: Audio is here.

PC World: How Will the $7.2 Billion Allotted for Broadband Stimulus Be Spent?

PC World, February 20 2009:

by Cyrus Farivar

In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, recently enacted by Congress, many details regarding the allocation of funds for high-tech projects remain blurry. Nevertheless, the nation’s tech community appears to be encouraged by the $7.2 billion provision for broadband in the near $789 billion economic stimulus package signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this week. Many observers believe that the allocation is a clear first step toward establishing a nationwide broadband strategy.

Officially known as “Title VI–Broadband Technology Opportunities Program,” the $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus money accounts for less than 1 percent (and only five pages) of the entire package. Its purpose is to spur broadband growth in underserved areas of the country.

OPEC 2.0

Tim Wu’s Op-Ed in The New York Times:

Wired connections to the home — cable and telephone lines — are the major way that Americans move information. In the United States and in most of the world, a monopoly or duopoly controls the pipes that supply homes with information. These companies, primarily phone and cable companies, have a natural interest in controlling supply to maintain price levels and extract maximum profit from their investments — similar to how OPEC sets production quotas to guarantee high prices.

But just as with oil, there are alternatives. Amsterdam and some cities in Utah have deployed their own fiber to carry bandwidth as a public utility. A future possibility is to buy your own fiber, the way you might buy a solar panel for your home.

Encouraging competition is another path, though not an easy one: most of the much-hyped competitors from earlier this decade, like businesses that would provide broadband Internet over power lines, are dead or moribund. But alternatives are important. Relying on monopoly producers for the transmission of information is a dangerous path.

Google Thinks RSS is a Bikini Model

So exactly what are “startups championing RSS”? Isn’t that a bit like championing TCP/IP, or HTML? Someone please show me what exactly a company based around RSS is?

Hoping to catch the next wave on the Internet, a group of investors has set up a venture capital fund focused on RSS, the technology that allows users to pull selected content from the Web.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., RSS Investors, which was formed last week, seeks to raise $100 million to support startups championing RSS technology. The technology makes it easier for users to automatically receive feeds from different Web sites, including news services, blogs and search engines.

And why that pic, you ask? Searching Google Images for RSS, that’s the first pic that comes up. I think if Dave Winer started using this woman as the face of RSS, people might get a little bit more excited.


Slate vs. Salon


I mentioned my corporate Slate vs. indie Salon analogy, where Slate is a woman who’s gone right from her father’s house to her husband’s, but Salon is a strong, independent woman who’s been raised by wolves.

Ummm, except that Slate has a graduate education and is upwardly mobile, while Salon is still floundering in the forest.

I’m sorry, Jack Shafer, Chris Suellentrop and Christopher Hitchens vs. Eric Boehlert, Farhad Manjoo and Mark Benjamin.