For the ppl of Iran - #iranelection RT
Twitter, generally, and also during the Iran election crisis (June 2009 and beyond), has been described as banal. The question is, could the hundreds of thousands of tweets about the Iran election crisis be made into a comprehensible account of what has been happening on the ground as well as online? "For the ppl of Iran - #iranelection RT," is such an attempt. The project, first, is a stored collection of all the tweets that have been tagged #iranelection from the first one on 10 June up to 30 June 2009, some 650,000 in all. The top three "retweeted" tweets (RTs) per day have been filtered and organized chronologically, as opposed to the reverse chronology that Twitter uses. The resulting output is a capsule account of the crisis, which also was subsequently edited, and made into sub-storylines, on arrests, violence, Neda, censorship as well as the Internet.
"For the ppl of Iran - #iranelection RT" tells the story of the day-to-day unfolding of the Iran election crisis as seen through Twitter. The top retweets show the urgency and emotion of those twenty days in June, when the tensions on the streets and the coverage in the media were at their height. The crisis unfolds on Twitter with the discovery of the value of the #iranelection hash tag, and tweeters both in and outside Iran begin using the tag to mark all tweets about the events there. Mousavi holds an emergency press conference. The voter turn-out is 80%. SMS is down; Mousavi's website and Facebook are blocked. Police are using pepper spray. Mousavi is under house arrest, and declares he is prepared for martyrdom. Neda is dead. There is a riot in Batherstan Square. First aid info is here. Bon Jovi sings "Stand by Me" in support. Ahmadinejad is confirmed the winner. Light a candle for the ppl of Iran.
The collection of tweets also shows how tweeters respond to what is happening online and on the ground. Tweets reporting blocked websites are followed up by proxy offers. Accounts of police using pepper spray are followed up by links to websites with first aid information.
"For the ppl of Iran - #iranelection RT" is an exercise in transforming the supposed banality of Twitter into a machine that recounts events on the ground and in social media.
About the #iranelection collection of tweets (10-30 June 2009), available at http://www.rettiwt.net/ (requires login from issuecrawler.net)
Tweets tagged with #iranelection - 653,883
Unique number of Twitter users using #iranelection tag - 99,811
Number of Twitter users using #iranelection with multiple tweets - 46,702
Number of Twitter users using #iranelection with greater than 20 tweets - 6,000
Number of Twitter users using #iranelection with 1 tweet - 53,109
Number of Twitter users using #iranelection who were retweeted - 36,913
Number of Twitter users using #iranelection who were retweeted multiple times - 16,336
Number of Twitter users using #iranelection who were retweeted 10 times or more - 2,829
Number of Twitter users using #iranelection who were retweeted 1 time - 20,577
Number of languages in #iranelection - 26
Number of tweets in #iranelection in English - 612,373
Number of tweets in #iranelection in Farsi - 6,248
In addition, there's a downloadable movie for your iPod (m4v, 75MB)
"For the ppl of Iran - #iranelection RT" is a production of the Digital Methods Initiative, Summer School, 2009, session on media attention formats, led by Richard Rogers. Programming by Erik Borra, design by Marieke van Dijk and editorial by Kimberley Spreeuwenberg and Esther Weltevrede. #iranelection RT is online at http://www.rettiwt.net/ (request login at issuecrawler.net). For the ppl of Iran has been shown at Cultures of Change: Social Atoms and Electronic Lives, exhibition curated by Josep Perello and Pau Alsina, Arts Santa Monica, Barcelona, 11 December 2009 - 28 February 2010. Exhibition Catalogue: Arts Santa Monica (2009). Cultures of Change: Social Atoms and Electronic Lives, Barcelona: Actar, 128 pp.