Expanded from a paper delivered at Conference on the Diffusion of New Information Technology in the Middle East. Tucson, AZ. April 14-16, 2000.
A regular column featured in the now-defunct liberal Iranian newspaper, Azadegan, written by Hossein Derakhshian, focused on the Internet. It was a combination of answers to questions and reports of technological developments, but occasionally addressed social points as well. These social points included concerns over economic stagnation, language constraints, and the lack of Internet availability outside of Tehran (Azadegan, January 11, 2000:9, and January 15, 2000:9). In one column in particular, Derakhshian wrote coyly, “Have you ever thought about the connection between this Internet column and the Politics page? The less said on this topic the better….” (Azadegan, January 3, 2000) Without saying anything directly, Derakhshian was alluding to the complex politics of Internet use in contemporary Iranian society.
The politics of Internet use in Iran, and particularly the potential for the formation of a democratic public sphere through Internet use, revolve around questions of use, control, representation, and accessibility. Read the rest of this entry »