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Blogging Iran: Politics and Poetry
Blogging is big in Iran. We already knew that from Technorati statistics on the prevalence of Farsi language blogs on the Web. But now comes a fascinating insight into what all those bloggers are blogging about.
This is what the Iranian blogosphere looks like, according to John Kelly – a Columbia University academic who isn’t joking when he tells audiences he thinks there isn’t a human phenomenon that can’t be reduced to a series of coloured dots.
Each dot represents a blog , and the bigger the dot the greater the number of links being made to that blog.
I’m surprised by the size of the conservative politics blogosphere and of the neighbouring religious blogosphere, which are jointly around the same size as the secular and reformist blogospheres.
Most surprising, however, is the equally large poetry blogosphere in the upper left hand quadrant.
John previewed this recently published research at the Media:Republic gathering in Los Angeles last month. And it was the size of the poetry blogosphere that got participants talking — I think most of the American and British participants felt slightly awed that Iranians were using the Web to create art on such a scale.
Some suggested that poetry had a long track record of morphing into radical politics. Someone else said they knew of U.S. groups looking at funding Iranian poetry bloggers as agents of change. At the time this sounded a bit fanciful to me. But thinking about it, history is littered with poets getting their hands dirty in politics, and John Kelly’s image makes the proximity of poetry and political reform blogospheres extremely clear.