08/14/09 - 1:24pm
by Chas Danner

Great Idea

People recording their own mock-confessions to ridicule the “confessions” from protesters Iranian State TV likes to broadcast.

See more here:

07/17/09 - 9:43am
by Chas Danner

YouTube Chaos and Etiquette

Random vent: It’s fantastic to see everybody out in the street again today in Tehran. It’s also great to see to everybody then coming home with their 12-30 second cell phone videos, cranking up their anti-filter software, and uploading to YouTube. And it’s wonderful to see so many people on Twitter and Facebook and especially YouTube paying close attention.


When you are looking for new video like I often do on a day like today (and I’ve actually gotten exceptionally good at looking for new video) the unnecessary noise gets problematic when everybody with a YouTube channel and a downloader of some kind feels the need to rip and repost every single video they find on the site, like their 121 subscribers depend on them for all the footage they can find. Now this is not to discount the hard work that many Iran specific YouTube users put in compiling and reposting, etc. But I wish people would follow a guideline of *any* kind – for instance always copying over the source link from where you got the file, also copying over every detail included with the original video, and finally – just perhaps – maybe not ripping and reposting something that is already on YouTube with an accurate description, unless you have added to it somehow. There are now tons of videos up with no description, no context, and this makes it much much harder to tell the overall story when for all you know the video is two years old, and somebody got a little ambitious with a random link they found.

Now today I put up a compilation of seven videos in which I did not source each one in the description, so I’m a hypocrite – but I do feel like I added something to them by making it easier for one person to see seven videos of the same day and event, instead of weeding through the dozen duplicates of each of those seven videos to try and find out what happened. Or to save another blog some real estate when they want to post video from today.

People I think get a little too amped up “collecting” without context, without foresight, without an overall citizen-journalist sense of trying to present in a cohesive narrative. Cutting down the clutter makes my life and the lives of the other people trying to cover this story a lot easier too. And finally, what is also lost is that it’s easier for a video to go viral if there is only one copy of it and it rack up stats, favorites, and comments and can then climb the charts – even with news like Iran.

07/16/09 - 10:09am
by Chas Danner

Poem for The Rooftops Suite

A fourth poem has been added to the suite! It was recorded the night of June 21st and has only recently emerged. I once again had the help of some wonderful Iranian’s to help me translate, after which I titled it: “Let Us Not Forget”  And even though it has been a few weeks since it was recorded it’s still very compelling and quite relevant to what we’ve seen this week. (Read this for some more background on the other poem videos) So without further ado – I’m excited to announce that here are all four Poems for the Rooftops of Iran together for the first time – and there may even be a fifth (and definitely final this time)

Click here to jump right to the new one, or head down and browse all four in chronological order…

THERE'S MORE…..click.here…………

07/16/09 - 2:55am
by Chas Danner

The Sohrab Effect

Perhaps there are no protests in the streets during the day, or at least none that we are able to see. But where Sohrab lived people were apparently in the streets last night singing and chanting.

There are multiple reports that there as many as a hundred or more bodies still in the morgues of Tehran, which means hundreds of family members still don’t know if their loved one is alive or dead, their pressurized worry and confusion undoubtedly now close to breach. When the bodies are identified there could be hundreds of small funerals, hundreds of unforgettable speeches by livid and distraught mothers, hundreds of neighborhood blocks where candles are lit and chanting comes down from the rooftops to the street.

What started with Neda at her moment of death will now continue one by one with each hidden-away corpse, each family in a government office with a stack of gruesome photographs, each unstoppable mother in grief, each living snapshot of each dead child on a poster, a blog, a foreign newspaper…. one by one the logs of revolution are buried under the nervous eyes of plainclothes officers, yet still they are set ablaze. There is a reason genocidal killers use mass graves; it is how you remove the emotional ammunition provided by the mourning of individuals. In a place like Iran, even by word of mouth, even without the funerals themselves… each death has its consequence. Imagine hundreds of these videos exploding onto YouTube in the coming weeks….

How can they stop them all?

07/15/09 - 12:06am
by Chas Danner

New June 15th

So I have swapped out the June 15th Allah-o Akbar with a new video, one that currently has only 67 views on YouTube and is not only one of the highest resolution videos I’ve seen, but actually shows the silhouettes of the people chanting from neighboring rooftops, which is really cinematic and beautiful.
Here it is:

June 15th was a very interesting night in video for Iran, with footage emerging not just of the Allah-o Akbars but also of Basij violence seemingly in revenge for that day’s massive (and peaceful) protests. I have a number of mostly unseen videos of June 15th, and will be profiling them together soon in a sort of narrative. We might not have new protests to find video from, at least not until Friday – but I think there is still work to be done collating the less seen videos from the first wave of protests, spending some time to understand them better, and then re-releasing them in more coherent forms. Things are going viral consistently enough for this to be worthwhile, and I know for a fact the footage is trickling thru the filters to Iran which is why the work will always be important. It’s what the MSM should be doing. But they won’t. So I guess I will.

hat tip: Marc

07/13/09 - 11:00pm
by Chas Danner


Sohrab AarabiTwo videos to see regarding Sohrab Aarabi’s death. The first is a long movie I made today compiling the 5 videos I have so far seen of his funeral, as well as the prior video of his mother outside Evin Prison inquiring about his whereabouts when she had not yet learned of his death. I added some still images and some textual explanations so that the narrative makes a little more sense. You can watch it here. (download here)

This kind of compilation is something I am going to try to do more of, focusing not on adding music or anything hyper-dramatic but just combining footage together so it takes less effort for the average person to see more footage and understand it better. I will add text where it seems appropriate and do my best to confirm that anything that gets written is accurate.

In addition a video of Sohrab’s candlelit neighborhood that has emerged is here. I included this video in the July 13th entry for the Rooftop Project.

07/12/09 - 5:04am
by Chas Danner

New Footage from 6/13

Sad to say there have been no new rooftop videos from the last two nights for the Project, but I did find this remarkable video from June 13th, the first recording of Allah-o Akbar chants to be emerge from that night (the day after the election). It has very clear English narration from what sounds like an American visiting family there. It is one of the clearest “short stories” any of these videos has told. Unique and intense new footage.

Special thanks to YouTube user Videosfromiran who helped me find the original video. The other versions on YouTube have audio sync problems so I re-uploaded the corrected version

07/10/09 - 7:10pm
by Chas Danner

Poem for the Rooftops Suite

Lost in the 24 hour struggle to launch The Rooftop Project was the news that I had finished the first and final Poem for the Rooftops of Iran by YouTube user Oldouz84. I titled it Defenseless People. While it is already featured as the June 16th entry on The Rooftop Project, here it is again by itself so it gets the extra special attention it deserves. As with the June 20th video, I had the help of several Farsi speakers who’s translations I have woven together. Below the jump are the other two “Poems” so that all three are now viewable together for the first time. Also, you should know that “Oldouz84″ did not write these in advance but rather invented them spontaneously in the moment each time, something I find remarkable.

Three weeks ago I’m embarrassed to admit I could not have pointed to Tehran on a map. Now I have mastered highly focused YouTube searches in written Farsi and yesterday even got the point where I took issue with the New York Times for doubting the date of a video I had uploaded. (Like a geometry proof, I cited location, crowd makeup, and careful analysis of hundreds of other videos)

Since June 18th when I opened my YouTube account, my uploaded videos have received a combined 468,554 views. Most of these clips I found in other places and converted to YouTube so they would easier for Nico @ HuffPo to share. Almost all of them show terrible violence that I feel absolutely no pride in associating myself with. But of the footage to make it out from Iran, and I have seen almost all of it, I believe these “Poems” are the most important. Violence may have an easier time capturing our attention, but art is always more powerful at providing the resonance we need to understand and remember. These three videos capture the beating heart of this moment in Iran, and I feel truly fortunate to have been able to play any small part in making sure they are more fully seen.

7/12 UPDATE: There is a fourth video from June 22nd! Coming soon!!

THERE'S MORE…..click.here…………

06/26/09 - 8:28pm
by Chas Danner

Ethereal Grief

Tehran’s Rooftops by Day… at least for one. Looks like a beautiful city..

Green balloons were launched in rememberance of the those who have lost their lives in the demonstrations since the disputed election, people like Neda Agha Soltan.