Wow. There is a sea change happening in the Middle East. The 2013 Iranian Election will mark the end of one cycle, and the beginning of another. What a long path to this point.
The cycle ending is the cycle of the first few revolutions/civil wars and government overthrows that happened in full view of, and in part due to social media. The one beginning is going to become the post-social media middle east. One where the power of the people, won out, country after country.
Just a brief history.
In the late spring and early summer of 2009, Iran was in the throes of pre-election frenzy. There was a moderate trying to overthrow the conservative leadership through peaceful, democratic means. But it turned bad, and turned bad fast. The Green Revolution as it was called, inspired people to great heights of hope and also tremendous depths of despair that resulted from the horrific human rights abuses, torture, death, kidnappings, rapes, that were committed by the Iranian Government and it’s religious and civil allies to prevent the Green Revolution from succeeding.
I documented this struggle of the Green Revolution on Twitter, on Facebook and on You2Gov which was the website I had started in 2008 and which we put into hiatus in 2010. Here is the twitter history. In fact it was this period with the efforts I and many others did to document the digital, social history; and to learn from it that was one of the reasons I started “Gov20LA” in the first place. People’s voices need to be heard. In a good and positive way that allows everyone, those in government and those outside to feel comfortable making changes. Changes have to come from multiple parts of society not just one. But this has to be in moderation.
Since then we have seen the Occupy movements spring up in cities around the world. We have seen Tunisia, and Egypt fall with in the same week almost in 2011. I talked about this at the opening of Gov 2.0 L.A in 2011. We actually did a “Digital Diplomacy Panel” at the 2011 Gov20LA event. In part the exploding use of social media and mobile technology was openly discussed in a live stream during that panel.
Now, we see Turkey struggling with their own version of the “Arab Spring” that many people are referring to as #OccupyGezi on Twitter and other social media. Syria and Russia are going through massive social change again, with Syria in middle of a bloody and growing civil war; and Russia moving to limit rights of protestors, and curtailing free speech more and more.
But four years after the Green Revolution, the people of Iran have delivered a surprise to the world. A moderate. With none of the bloodshed or violence of the Green Revolution from four years ago. This time around #Iranelection is a positive hashtag with huge meaning. No longer meaning death, torture.
I think it is time for Syria, Turkey, Russia to pay attention and start making changes now. Because clearly, the power of the people when amplified by social media and mobility, is world changing power. Power in the hands of the people.
Gov 2.0 L.A. 2013 is almost here.
As the founder of @Gov20la “Gov20LA” as it is referred to, I could not be more excited and proud. As the event gets ready to head into our fourth annual one; we are getting ready to make history, break some trendlines, and lead the dialog for another year.
But before discussing the amazing people who will be speaking I would like to highlight a major achievement of Gov 2.0 L.A.:
Since our first event in 2010, we have created and enabled an environment around building our speakers base as one that represents our society. So we have 50 percent female speakers and 50 percent male speakers. This is a critical achievement and comes at a critical time when this very issue is the subject of TV, Radio and written debate. Just recently there was an article by Nilofer Merchant (@nilofer) in the Harvard Business Review, with one of the salient points being made is that LESS than 20% of all conference speakers and panelists are Female. Less than 20%.
So Gov20LA is proud, as am I, to be able to say that we have beaten this particular national average and beaten it solidly. I continue to ensure that the speakers split for Gov20LA is evenly split between men and women, and did so because it is the right thing to do, not because we thought that in four years everyone would be talking about it. But that is what has now happened.
Gov20LA 2013 is going to rock! I could not be more excited about the powerful collection of women and men who will be speaking,
Thank you! We look forward to seeing you in person and in our live stream on April 20, 2013.
Alan W. Silberberg, Founder, Gov 2.0 L.A.