Is Social Media making Nations Sates irrelevant ? The rise of Blogistan

Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was one of the longest ruling dictators in modern history. A ruthless Secret Police, huge military, billions of dollars in cash and the might of the US Military and Diplomatic power allowed Hosni Mubarak to suppress his people for 32 years. But then a revolution was enabled by new technology that nothing could stop.
In a mere 11 days Hosni Mubarak was ousted. The revolution was called Social Media

Delhi had a mild earthquake on the 5th of March at 1.11.00 pm. By 1.12 pm Twitter was trending all over India with news of the Earthquake.  TV news Channels did not get on the act till 11.20 pm asking for twitter feeds, by which time it was no longer news.  By the time their OB vans got to the sites and started to broadcast it was 1.30 pm. Newspapers not till the next day.

Twitter is the biggest News Channel in the world now.  Social Media is revolutionising the way we perceive the world. It does not need to pay huge license or broadcast fees.  It does not need huge corporate overheads. It does not need an Editorial. It does not need need an anchor.

Social Media takes away the power of the Gatekeepers, be they Editorial or the Censor. Or the Government. It takes away the Power (and prejudices) of the Media from a few Gatekeepers that decide what content gets distributed, who produces  it, and how it gets distributed.  As technology allows contents creators and consumers to share ideas and content with each other, Social Media puts decisions  firmly in the hands of the Community.

Social Media has created a new word.  Crowdsourcing . News and opinion is crowd sourced.  As millions of people talk (or tweet) between themselves incessantly, billions of arguments and counter arguments going back and forth, a crowdsourced opinion and crowdsourced ideas emerges. Ideas rise like waves in a sea, most die, but the ones that capture a million or billion collective imaginations, become Tsunami’s.  Its the most democratic exploration and explosion of ideas we have seen.

Like ideas, Social Media will give rise to Communities  that will rise and fall around ideas, while some will grow massively. No longer limited by Geography or language, fiercely loyal communities that will go beyond commitment to Nation States and form around ideals.

Thats true Democracy.

As Newspaper and Media empires fade, ‘Gatekeepers’ as we know them, are being replaced by Platformers that enable communities to share ideas, thoughts, knowledge, news, between themselves at an unprecedented speeds, letting them transact  and exchange even real goods and services between themselves. Communities will now reject Gate Keepers that thrive on a system that tries to control that flow.

Is it a good thing ?  Of course it is.  We have seen Gatekeepers survive by throttling or choking the system for their own profit on the theory that they are providing a service. Undeniably many many do bring within Gatekeeping good viewpoints. Great and responsible editorials. But they cannot now replace the euphoria of free exchange of thought and ideas. Free exchange of information. Free exchange of even education. The singular editorial will be replaced by the crowdsourced one.

Is this chaos and anarchy ?

As media companies, educational institutions and Governments cry out in panic as they try and stem the growth of a free and dominant Social Media ? Experience has shown it is neither. Not unless Hosni Mubarak saw the Arab spring as anarchic and chaotic.  As Social Media is growing at an unprecedented pace the assumption that free exchange of thought and ideas is anarchic and chaotic is proving to be untrue.

The Khan Academy, with over 3000 Video’s on youtube is revolutionising education in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Health Sciences, and a host of other relevant topics.  Started by a young Bangladeshi graduate of MIT trying to teach his niece in Bangladesh mathematics through home made video’s on Youtube , it is mushrooming into the greatest educational revolution of all time. And its free ! The future of education is on Social Media. No Land Grabs in the name of Institutes of learnings.  No capitation fees from the Gatekeepers of Education.  No political control over what should be or what should not be included in text books. And hey ! its fun.

There is no bit of information, no source of information, no idea, no opinion, no idea that is not available through Social Media. People say that we are unable as individuals to disseminate good information and opinion from bad. That’s an insult.  I follow people on twitter who lead me to the best written articles, the most interesting and provocative ideas written. And most of them do not appear in Magazines. They appear in Blogs written by brilliant minds.  And those that follow me on twitter do the same. I have never had a selection process as exciting informative and provocative as Social Media.

Social Media is not an alternative. Social Media is a new way to exist. It is a new perception of the world as we know it, and it affects almost every aspects of our lives. It is the greatest challenge to the structures we have built and got used to, but it is also the greatest business opportunity ever presented if embraced.

In 7 years Facebook built a valuation of $ 100 billion as a Social Media platform.  Other Social Media companies are building up even faster. In this decade we will see more Social Media companies that will 10x Facebook valuations in a shorter space of time. What is happening? Are Social Media companies becoming the most valuable companies in the world, or is Social Media making valuations meaningless now. Has Social Media completely skewed the Old World so we are forced to re look at how we measure the world around us?

Our expectations of normal behaviour is that productive young people (college educated, early 20’s, highly employable and responsible) would aspire to make a good living, take holidays, have healthy bank accounts and investments, buy bigger homes etc. So they can contribute to mortgages, life insurances, taxes, consumption etc. But what are many of them doing spending 7/8 hours of productive time on a completely non productive activity on Facebook? Is Social Media provoking far greater, far more fundamental changes in our behaviour patterns?

I think they are. I call it the new ‘influence economy’. Where individuals see ever increasing communities they belong to as their ‘real estate’,  and their own circle of influence within that community their wealth. And are willing to trade traditional forms of wealth for spending hours in front of a computer screen increasing their influence within their chosen community.  The valuation of Facebook also reflects that new ‘influence economy’.

The world is no longer flat or vertical. Its no longer about the vertical relationships between producer and consumer.  It is no longer top down. Social Media is making it round. Circular. The word Consumer is being replaced by the word Community.

And as loyalties move away from geographical boundaries to amorphous communities that form around ideas,  are we going to see the fall of Nation States and rise of Blogistan ?

21 Responses to “Is Social Media making Nations Sates irrelevant ? The rise of Blogistan”

  1. Ganesh says:

    Information diarrhea,

    (too much information)

    where do people have time to communicate with the freshness of the leaves, chirping of the sparrows, the crows cawing, the feel of the breeze, and its kissing with the leaves…

    that is information, which gives peace, all else is just Information diarrhea! you just don’t want it!

    I prefer to be a layman!

    Regards
    Ganesh

  2. Shuvankar Mukherjee says:

    IMAGINE, John Lennon comes to mind, he would have tweeted 24×7! Wrote blogs to shake kingdoms and presidencies!

    In social media, we are all the same! Knowledge gets enriched by sharing, this ideology was tested in marketplace by opensource technology, now social media brings it to everyday life of ordinary and extra-ordinary folks.

    Knowledge was always power, that’s why advent of media in 20th century gave rise to propaganda and cheap corporate malice-spreading spin. Even progress of science stalled in many stream by only corporate sponsored research by turn of century.

    We may say how come the Facebook or Twitter are worth that much, Well Johannes Gutenberg’s work on the printing press or Edison’s work would have been worth that much too, if that happened today.

    Now everyone can communicate easily, the stars with fans and producers with consumers; and vice versa.

    We won’t like all of social media contents, just like we don’t like all printed or spoken words. We have to judge them (but not with prejudice) and if liked share and spread them. Information blockade in now a page from history, and hope it stays that way.

  3. Harb says:

    Also, Social Media is going to make time non-linear!

    As per my four forces theory of evolution (based on my book Self Designed Universe) we are slowly going beyond the age of reason/imprisonment of minds to the openness of the age of intuition and eventually towards Satya Yuga.

  4. abhishek says:

    “The world is no longer flat or vertical Social Media is making it round” – shekhar kapur’s blog
    i say its making it a multidimensional sphere which doesn’t chain us like other culture but provide an universal interlink where everything is transparent and accessible. In RUMI’s words NO boundaries.

    i remember a scene from the movie ‘GOOD WILL HUNTING’ where the genius Will Hunting paid by MATT DAMON says to a MIT student that “you drop 150 grands on your fuc#ing education which you can get in a dollar and half in a public library.” he was talking about the overpriced education these days which is only for those who can afford it.
    But now due to the arrival(Popularity) of social media that notion is changing. the greedy people (The Gatekeepers) who have institutionalized education can no longer be tolerated and due to this power, this new PUBLIC LIBRARY, the internet has make people aware and will totally outcast the gatekeepers who had commoditized the education.
    we can read, listen and watch tutorials and and even full lectures of highly talented professors from top universities all over the world.
    This virtual freedom of expression and sharing is changing the world.
    A revolution, which will transmogrifies from the virtual world to the real physical world
    and we have the essence of true conscious freedom.
    THE FALL OF POLITICALLY CHAINED NATION
    AND THE RISE OF A EMANCIPATED MUTUALLY AFFECTIONATE INTERLINKED WORLD
    JAI BLOGISTAN!

  5. RajuK says:

    You may locate your old friends on facebook or linkedin, you may buy and sell on ebay or amazon.com. You may confirm rumours on bbc.co.uk. You may video communicate with anyone on skype, you may seach anyone or anything on google..

    I am dropping names here on purpose. The names are as powerful or more powerful than the politicians of nation states. The round world that you talk about could be controlled by these big names. As long as these big names remain autonomous, and not required to police what gets posted on their sites, we could enjoy more freedom. What do you think? (Kahiye sreemanji, aap ka kya khayaal hai?).

  6. So very true !! Social Media is defying the boundaries set by traditional media. Its strength lies in its randomness, its unpredictable nature. Lack of gatekeepers make it hard for power centers to gag differing voices. Internet facilitates access, share and dissemination of information and is undoubtedly the most powerful tool of citizen’s empowerment.
    Having said that, we should also keep a close eye on Indian Govt’s attempts to selectively filter blogs and contents (often critical of its policies) under the guise of security and communal harmony. It is well known that Mr Sibal had made requests to Google, Youtube and Facebook to remove certain content when neither fell under “pornography”, “security threat” or “hateful content” . The content objected to by the govt were merely scathing in criticism of the its policies/ruling party leadership.

  7. A big thanks to Shekhar for highlighting Khan Academy in his blog!! It is a pity that many in India do not know this Salman Khan, a hero without match ( not to be confused with the movie star). Khan Academy is a freely available treasure of knowledge. Whether Khan Academy can be a substitute for traditional schooling system can be debated, however, there is little doubt that it beautifully supplements school education from elementary to graduate level. Another cheers for internet and this noble man !!

  8. Namaste Shekhar Saab,

    This is wonderful potshot written by you. The best thing is the way you narrated your story of this potshot. I liked it. I am sharing it.

    With regards,

    Phadke S. N.

  9. Good article. I myself have several blogs but now mainly focus on one. Yes, we need to grasp the importance of Social Media and utilize it as we can to raise consciousness about the urgency of global liberation. Plus, we need to work on local community literacy from wherever we are in our lives. I live iin Sacramento, California. I shared this on Twitter and Facebook. Without Internet Power I never would of been able to go that. Keep up the good work Brother Shekhark. ~ Peter S. Lopez AKA @Peta_de_Aztlan

  10. John Yeo (@Corvid2) says:

    Thanks for this very clear overview of the effects and implications of the Social Media revolution, Shekhar Khan. I am sharing this valuable blog post, courtesy of Nita, a friend on Facebook. I think you have highlighted what is obviously an unstoppable force for good and peace, very well. Peace and good fortune to you my friend.乂◕‿◕乂

  11. Bibhas Kumar Srivastav says:

    People innovate(technology) to make life easy and meaningful and innovations shape people’s lifestyle. Innovation of wheel revolutionised the lifestyle of human beings so the fire. Every bit of technology has effect of the lives of human beings. No matter what is the literacy status of the community. You toss any phone including iPhone on the roads any person, irrespective of literacy status, will be able to operate it. Nobody asked farmers with folded hands you grow High Yielding Varieties in sixties. Farmers accepted and adopted all those seeds and India became self sufficient in foodgrain production. Nobody can be gatekeeper to technology adoption.

  12. lovita morang says:

    Blogging nahi hotey to, brain block hotey;
    God has gifted jungle to grow and go wild and free-i see glorified democracy here…
    Man has made zoo in the jungle,
    And life becomes zoo in the jungle…
    Liberty to write and express at will through social media is a sign of relief,with sole spirit to feel(only in mind)a sense of freedom in the zoo.
    Regards
    Social animal

  13. shekhar says:

    tahnk u

  14. noname says:

    Crowdsourcing’s effectiveness depends on the participants knowing the difference between facts and hearsays.

  15. Rajesh Kundargi says:

    For a revolution to precipitate we require a convergence of ideas and thoughts.It presupposes a underlying homogeneity which should ultimately results in show down like the one which happened in Egypt. But the problem in our nation is we lack that vital change at the level of consciousness and there is just too much of diversity in us to precipitate a revolution.

  16. abhishek says:

    i again read this blog since i am totally vella, a khaali admi. :D
    its very interesting to know that there is nothing wrong in repeating something infact i’d observed that i always find something new which i’d missed on the first time. same is the case in this article. i discovered that in the very midst of this blog there was a question which i think is very important and intense which i didn’t notice the first time.
    “Is this chaos and anarchy ?”
    why do people always think anarchy and chaos as bad and dark idiom?
    i think the aristocracy(now bureaucracy and corporatocracy: a new branch) and political system had made these words outlawed and illicit.
    anarchy and chaos both signifies change which is need of time. and yes change require anarchy and chaos to thrive.
    so yes social media blasphemy about ads, political policies, bureaucratic squatting is anarchy and will bring chaos but only in these false and flawed systems which these treacherous institutions dreaded the most.
    and surely the change which occur as a result of this will definitely form a better world.
    so hail BLOGISTAN which is effecting the chained stately world to change into a free and mutual nation.
    P.S: do read the articles and blog second time you always find something new and interesting
    ‘-)

  17. KUMAR IYER says:

    Bengalis have a term called “Adda”. A place where people gather and talk endlessly on topics ranging from potato to politics. Even the Greeks had something similar to Adda. There great minds like aristotle, Plato, Socretes along with their contemporaries discussed things of great import. Twitter, FB and other social networking sites have on the one hand as sheker rightly points out allows free exchange of ideas on local/global topics without the “gatekeepers’ and thus result in “Crowd Sourcing” . The bleaker side of this is that it has made many a million youngsters a compulsive “Junkie” who has to communicate. Take his mobile or his laptop for a day he will have withdrawals. Simple things in life we are missing in the bargain

  18. Harshal says:

    Interesting article there. The pace of technology is mind boggling, and above all its free. This makes even the man on the grass-root level be powerful enough to make his voice heard. That is truly a democracy.

    Having said that, there must be a reason, why a certain set of newspapers thrived, and many failed. There must be a reason why certain blogs are read and followed and many fail. The divide will continue to exist, now based on meritocracy. At first we love that, eventually it will grow beyond us.

    Considering the change which we see these days, Sudden uprising of FB and many such platforms, death of Nokia and Blackberry. It just scares you. The world around us has become too dynamic, too unstable.

    Our only peace remains is to hope for a stability and growth

  19. [...] do take out time and blog? Well this was one of the first reasons why I checked out this blog post from the famous director, Shekhar Kapur. We do know what an amazing storyteller he is and in this [...]

  20. Simply a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding design and style. “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler.” by Albert Einstein.

  21. Shameer says:

    This blog is well written and the arguments well taken. But i’am a bit skeptical of it all. Had there not been social media, mubarak regime would have fallen and arab spring happened. Egyptians had had too much of mubarak. Social media is also a space for traditional, apolitical oligarchs to settle and spread their ideological baggage. Millions of poor farmers, sexually harassed adivasi women, can’t still tweet their plight. Social media are the tools of the educated middle class with a ‘healthy’ bank account. In the case of arab spring, what was initiated by the middle class revolutionaries was taken forward by people as a whole. That was a struggle against despotism. What remain to be questioned are the so called democracies which authorise many undemocratic practices. But social media can’t radically question them. The facade of democracy does not unsettle the middle class.

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