Iranian internet a glasshouse?
In ‘Experience and Poverty’, Benjamin embraces glass architecture as a revolutionary change of collective experience. Glass architecture, he states, dissolves the distinction between interior and exterior and annuls the possibility of the secret, of a hermetically closed self-assuring worldview. ‘Glass is generally the enemy of secrets’, writes Benjamin in his 1933 text, ‘and the new glass-milieu will transform humanity utterly’. Whereas Benjamin’s utopian dream was mainly inspired by the new architectural constructions like Le Corbusier’s and the Parisian passages, one can state that the internet nowadays is the most radical fulfilment of this dream. Isn’t the internet the locus par excellence without interior (as it’s name – inter-net – already suggests) of free exchange, and ongoing transformation, the locus of both the flaneur and the revolutionary?
Today’s proof of this glass house potential is without any doubt Iran, where the revolutionary powers Benjamin is talking about seem to be located in the flood of information coming from Twitter, Facebook and other social media sources, despite the efforts of the authorities to imprison their people within their hermetically closed lie. Nevertheless, today’s Iran also seems to show the shadow side of the glasshouse construction: glass appears to be not only the enemy of secrets but also the friend of the enemy, that is, the means by which Big Brother is watching you in your self constructed glass prison. At this moment more than 80 Iranian journalists and bloggers are behind bars, which makes Iran the largest prison for journalists and bloggers in the world.