We live in interesting times indeed. And lets not think of it as the old Chinese curse, but as a view-point that must be shared with all our fellow humans. Technology has helped mankind achieve things that were considered as Science Fiction, not too long ago. And now it is helping to take down the corrupt, or at least send out messages, en masse, to the people who have absolute power.
Weve had several such examples this year, starting of course with the Egyptian Revolution. It started on 25th of Jan, following a series of demonstrations, marches, strikes and protests against the regime of the then President: Hosni Mubarak. The very next day, several Facebook groups were created and tweets (from Twitter) called for mass demonstrations. This led the government to shut down internet access for most of the country. Of course, the idea was to stem the flow of news to the people, and alienate them from the news of all the global support that was pouring in. The ban did not work for long, as a bunch of teenagers were able to set up their own little resistance group- and started to reach out to the world with the help of Technology. Web 2.0 has certainly changed the way we communicate, and this was just another example of it. We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world,” as one Egyptian activist tweeted during the protest clearly showing what Technology had enabled the people to do. The Egyptian model was later implemented by the people of Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria and Libya to demonstrate their ire against the dictators of these Middle Eastern States.
Closer home, of course, we have the example of Anna Hazares campaign against corruption. The implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill gathered so much steam, that almost every big name in the field of entertainment, sports, media and yes politics too, lent their voice to the Gandhians cause. Technology, again, helped spread the word from Jammu to Kanyakumari and from the maidans of Mumbai, to the green sheds of Aizwal. Many celebrities used Twitter and Facebook as tools to show their support to the noble cause, and of course dozens of groups showed up in various social networking sites to lend their support. These groups continue to attract people, as the word on the net will undoubtedly keep spreading till the draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill is out.
If we only look at Twitter, then some of the nos. that we came across are mind boggling. Sample this: a total of 4.4 million tweets from 8,26,000 unique users across 79 cities in India in just 3 days! These tweets, of course, had some or the other mention of Anna Hazare, and in turn his crusade against corruption. It became a trending topic on the site, in no time, and some bloggers made good use of some of the online tools to create visuals of what these tweets were throwing up. Here is an example, where a blogger took 1000 tweets about Anna Hazare, and mapped it (literally) for a visual context:
And this is just one of the several examples. The point, of course, being how Technology played its part out in the crusade. With the help of celebrities and common man the voice of the Social Activist was taken far and wide. Not just around India, but across the globe.
Another way to look at this was, the support given by Politicians to the cause. Most of the politicians appeared for TV and/or Radio Interviews and gave their support, but not many were active on the internet. This seems to be a bit of a disconnect with our bureaucrats who either shy away from using the world wide web, or are just simply ignorant about it. Compare this to, lets say, the U.S. where President Barack Obama is quite a BB addict, and always wants to know the latest in gadgets and technology. Even in the entire Anna Hazare campaign, Narendra Modi seems to be the only big name in Indian Politics to have made use of technology to show his support. He not only tweeted various times to show his unflinching support, but he also wrote a heart-felt letter and published it on his own website.
Of course, it will be a bit of a stretch to see most of our senior Indian Politicians fiddling away with their cellphones to keep track of the latest Twitter trends. But, most of the younger lot too has largely ignored the medium. Thought most of them might go on record and say they Simply dont have the time it is hard to imagine to head of the State making the maximum progress in recent times, doing all the tweeting. Though this is changing with every other young politician on the horizon having his own Facebook profile, to go along-with his Twitter page, it is still a very their social Networking sites, this is indeed a bit disheartening.
Whereas the Indian youth is lapping up Technology like never before, and there are several sites dedicated just to show the usage on various Hot Topics (e.g.: http://www.socialpulse.com/anna-hazare/tweets) the Bigwigs of Politics have mostly stayed clear. While all we can do is hope that the scenario changes fast, and that we are one day able to reach out to our corporators via Twitter or Facebook, here is another fun fact for the coverage of this cause on our Social Media:- There are more than 150 Facebook pages dedicated to Anna Hazare, which has amassed over 100,000 likes per day! Hope that gets the people in power thinking, and start using the platform which will continue to spread the word like no other form of Media can.