Indonesian bloggers Hanny “beradadisini”,  Nonadita and Unspun were fortunate enough to be invited to Pakistan’s 1st Social Media Summit on June 11 in Karachi. We had a fabulous time and observed that the energy, behavior and enthusiasm of the 150 or so bloggers who attended, if they were indicative of the online community there, was reminiscent of Indonesia about five years ago – when social media use was on the verge of  a take-off.

Since those days Indonesia has seen a phenomenal growth in the use of social media,  in an era where the online community has been able to assert its influence in politics, start social movements and, for many Indonesians, see it as a source of income whether they are buzzers, endorsers, brand activators, site owners or owners of virtual outlets.

One of the things we found was also that the Pakistanis are also very articulate and eloquent. One of them, who was a key participant at the summit, is Bina Shah, a writer, columnist, author of the book Slum Child and prolific (and fun) Tweep (@BinaShah). Below she writes in an Oped piece for Dawn newspaper her observations of Pakistan’s online developments since the summit. More evidence that Pakistan’s online community is on a take-off trajectory?

 

 

Social media revolutionBy Bina Shah

AFTER the recent successful Social Media Summit in Karachi, a number of people have started paying attention to the bloggers, the Twitter users and the Facebook addicts.

The realisation’s sinking in that social media isn’t just a game or a useless pastime. Summit attendee Mohammed El Dahshan, an Egyptian blogger who was at the forefront of the recent Egyptian revolution, spoke movingly at a panel about how Egyptian bloggers reported on both technical and social matters during the days in which Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power, gaining the trust of the people who could no longer rely on the government to tell them the truth about their country.

From this we can extrapolate that in countries like Pakistan, the blogosphere, Twitter and Facebook users are the ones who

will lead the way to drastic change in Pakistani society because these people are the true revolutionaries in stagnant societies:

young, educated, progressive, eloquent and completely dissatisfied with the status quo, but still optimistic and idealistic

enough to actively foment change, rather than sinking into cynicism and passivity.

Pakistanis who use social media formulate ideas, discuss them freely with their peers, with intellectuals and with those leaders who are intelligent enough to have caught on to the zeitgeist. They argue vociferously, disseminate information and they meet, both in virtual space and real space. They make plans for action, and then they carry them out.

Twitter accelerates the energy promulgated by social activism; bloggers think, analyse and interpret the news in a deeper way than mainstream media; the Facebookers build strong social networks based on personal credibility. It all comes together in what’s been jokingly called ‘the Twitter hive mind’, or ‘crowdsourcing’, where the minds of many people work together in a virtual environment to come up with ideas bigger than what individuals can generate. This is where social media derives its power.

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