19 February 2004

Tribute to Iranian and Iraqi Bloggers

I'd like to pay tribute here to the multitude of Iranian bloggers (aka Weblogestan) many of whom will be blogging their phony elections instead of voting on February 20, thanks in no small measure to pioneer and blogfather Hossein Derakhshan (aka Hoder), born in Tehran, but resident in Toronto since December 2000.

And I'd like to pay equal tribute to the smaller but growing numbers of Iraqi bloggers, pioneered by Salam Pax before the invasion and many blogfathered by Zeyad afterwards, who have been recording the successes and failures of both the occupation and the international media.

Here's a sense of how revolutionary the message of the new medium has become in Iran, from Persianblogger's recent essay about Weblogestan:
The final example I will discuss is Hossein Derakhshan, the person who sparked off the vulgarity debate in the first place with his piece about the inherent contradictions between Islam and human rights. The work of Derakhshan, or Hoder, is a prime example of defiance against the cultural hegemony of the Iranian intellectual class. He can even be seen as trying to establish a new kind of cultural hegemony in the blogosphere; one that values self-expression, individualism, and even hedonism against any kind of traditional authority [15] . As far as language is concerned, Hoder says his blog is the "scratchpad of my mind" (2003b) and his language "is consciously messy" (2003a). He prefers to spend his time writing a new entry instead of going back over what he has already written to correct possible grammatical or spelling mistakes (ibid). Additionally, he has no qualms about coining new terms (like donbaalak for trackback, and linkdooni for linkdump – both blog-related terms) without feeling any need to consult a linguistic authority, and is especially good at putting carnivalesque twists on familiar expressions, like "aytiollaahi" [16] , which combines "IT" (information technology) and "hezbollaahi" and refers mockingly to religious conservative technocrats, and "fakhr-ol internet hazrateh muvebel taaip (saad)" [17] , which both expresses extreme devotion for MovableType (a prominent blogging tool) and pokes fun at the Prophet Muhammad (or his devotees at least) by making use of a popular phrase that is used to praise him. Interestingly enough, Hoder does not share the same attitude towards the English language as he does towards Persian. Being an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, he has bemoaned several times the difficulties of writing essays in English, and he once linked to an online resource with guidelines on writing well in English, which he described as "very useful". Hoder's approach to cultural hegemony, then, is highly differentiated between Persian and English speech communities: whereas he directly assaults authority in the former, he feels a need to assimilate in the latter.
UPDATE: Click here for English translations of live election reports from Persian blogs.

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