Thanks to all who have responded so far, for your insights, experiences, and candor.
The downside to the internet for many of us who live online is that we deal with issues on a more superficial basis. No one bothers to read a book or well thought out analysis anymore. It's too long. It requires too much focus. We skim headlines. We're interested in the next quick fix. With a blog post, at least there is the potential for debate. Few bother to engage in that same debate in the comments section of Facebook or engage in a back-and-forth on Twitter.
In terms of those tools changing the focus of activists from the
streets to the computer screen, I don't think the overall percentage
of Iranians actually in Iran using Facebook and Twitter are
significant enough to make a difference.
Which leads me pretty directly to my next question.
Did you ever imagine a day when a *blog* and its comments would be considered a higher, more contemplative form of public political activity? Will something come along that makes Twitter seem deep and reflective?
And to Azmat's many cogent points of this weekend, which represent both a great summary of much of what we've expressed so far, and a great preface to the next stage of our conversation, what do we think about the way the Internet so easily becomes part of the "house of mirrors" of media and abstraction? It's one thing to read newspaper reports and then engage with the real world; it's another to learn about the world through Internet sites, and then express ourselves through other Internet sites.
When we find out that an important viral video was faked, does it make us cynical about all of it? Are the reality of repression and the ethereal, unreal quality of media getting confused?
In short, how is the net biased against what we'd like to be doing with it? And how can we safeguard against these pitfalls?