As Iran cracks down on the foreign journalists and tries to stop coverage of the riots in Tehran over the election, it is finding it really hard to stop twitter and blogging without cutting down on the nation's commerce. They will try to rely on very sophisticated internet filtering and monitoring, like China. But that will raise issues that Ann Rand identified in Germany, where the more educated people you need in a technocracy don't really buy what you are selling. They will have to compromise with the moderates if the penetration of PCs per capita is above a certain point, because the people they rely on to filter the networks will have more in common with the people they are trying to stop, and the people they are trying to stop will work really hard at finding chinks in the firewall.
I was really moved by the pictures in the Boston Globe, but ironically the link came from an Iranian student's twitter page. I was playing CSNY, in particular Neil Young's song Ohio. The parallel's to Nixon and Ahm-mad-in-a-jad are strong and weird. I am reading that the Washington Post polls predicted the election outcome and that the official election outcome parallels the unchallenged outcomes, and Ahmadinajad probably won the popular vote the same way Nixon did, by promising peace and waving fear and offering competency in contrast to young and female and hippie-ish supporters for the opposition.
Iran has been an illegal place to ship used PCs and I haven't shipped there, nor do I ship to Dubai, but I know Dubai buys a ton of used and refurbished PCs and no doubt distributes them all over the gulf. I think it's a major relief that our countries restrictions on used personal computer exports don't work much better than Iran's firewall is working. Under Clinton the USA reformed a lot of the draconian bans on export of personal computers below certain mhz, I think history will give credit either to the reform or to the smugglers who ignored it.
Ok this is a recyclers blog so I have to cover the role of under $100 PCs in a country with dial up bandwidth (new computers wouldn't be any faster). But the role of the internet is just like the role of the printing press, and we want more Sam Adams's in the mideast.