Creating A Common Narrative
Mutual distrust between the United States and Iran runs deep. In Iran in particular, the grievances of the 1980-’88 Iran-Iraq War—when the United States sided with Saddam Hussein—remain fresh. John Tirman, executive director of the Center for International Studies, is working with HyperStudio and a team of colleagues to create a common narrative for the war—and ultimately the relationship between the United States and Iran.
Taking A Fresh Look
“An indispensible way to move toward better relations is to explore parts of the relationship that are fractious,” Tirman says. The team at HyperStudio is helping the U.S.-Iran Relations Project take a fresh look at the conflict by creating a rich online archive of documents related to the Iran-Iraq War.
Developing New Tools
“We are developing tools to enhance research,” says HyperStudio Director Kurt Fendt. HyperStudio’s site for the project features exact facsimiles of original memos, reports, and other documents from Iraq, Iran, and the United States, which scholars and policymakers alike can review, compare, and discuss. “This amount of material simply won’t be available anywhere else,” Tirman says.
Aiming for Understanding
HyperStudio is also providing full-text searching in English and Persian, faceted browsing, timelines, and other creative ways for researchers to work with the materials. “They can investigate these materials from different angles to gain a more nuanced understanding of events,” Fendt says. “The hope is that each side will realize that if they had known what the other side was thinking, things might have been different.”
Project participants—including scholars and top policymakers from both countries—will ultimately be able to load new materials, annotate documents, and discuss their views privately online.
“We’re creating a new model,” Fendt said, pointing out that HyperStudio will eventually make the technology it is developing available to the public. “This will change the way scholars do their work.”