My opinion: Can twitter change the way India works?

IndiaTCOccasion : India TC – Kolkata

Date : 8th May 2010

Time : 1 pm to 4 pm

Location : IndiSmart Hotel, Kolkata

Attendance : 45 Twitter users

Moderator  : Simarprit Singh, CEO – Compare Infobase Ltd.

Panelists :

Abhijit Dasgupta, Deputy Editor (national), India Today Magazine

Subrata Sen, Filmmaker

Arun Agarwal, CEO – Ebiz india

Abhishek Rungta, CEO – Indus Net Tech

Aniruddha Chatterjee, Short Film Maker, TCS Employee

Topic : Can Twitter change the way India works?

If it appears that I am going to give the details of minute to minute proceeding of panel discussion of the IndiaTC and do my analysis of the discussion; I make it clear that I have no intention to do that and I had a reason for it too; as I do not consider myself eligible enough to give comments on the views expressed by the panelists.

Then, why I am spoiling my time as well as yours by writing this blog?

Answer is very simple; I want to express my independent opinion on the topic discussed during the meet up on IndiaTC.

However, before I go on with my views and opinion, I sincerely appreciate the way Simar moderate the intriguing discussion on “Can Twitter change the way India works?”; keeping tab on time and throwing the right question to the audience. I also appreciate the efforts of Simar and his team for their effort to organize the meet up.

As the line on the website of IndiaTC states IndiaTC is Official Twitter Passion and Unofficial Twitter Conference. It is an effort to bring the twitter users out of the virtual world and make them twit person to person in the real world and I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the 2nd India Twitter Conference (IndiaTC) at Kolkata.

The meet up come up with few questions during the discussion, which I think worth mentioning here as I will try to vindicate my thoughts in the light of these questions:

1. Why we are on twitter?

2. Does twitter work?

3. What we Twit actually?

4. What we’re looking on twitter?

5. Does India ready for Twitter?

6. What does India do with Twitter?

7. Can Twitter expose prevailing corruption in India?

The questions seems big enough and I am not going to answer them one by one, but it’s up to my readers to find them out in the stream of words beyond this full stop.

I see twitter nothing more than a medium to connect and communicate with few people I know and vast of people I didn’t know. It’s a medium for me to directly share my thought, opinion and emotion with them within the definite limit of 140 characters. And most importantly, it has taught me a lesson, how to say a lot within a limit of 140 characters.

Alike any other new India guy, I was also being attracted to the social networking websites Orkut and joined it in February 2006, I like the scraping system which was not familiar to chat on yahoo, which I was exposed to since 1999. I still remember the day; I had paid Rs. 360/- to an Internet café owner for spending six hours on yahoo chat with a chat friend in Malaysia.

However, my yahoo addiction, through rediffbol and msn, take a halt on gtalk, which I still use to chat with my relatives.

Orkut mania was over for me after I got this twitter, as I felt Orkut is a place where people used the social medium to mostly flirting and romancing on their profiles and scrapbooks. Meanwhile, I also get hooked to Facebook, but I never liked it interesting as it seemed to me nothing more than an alumni association, where the old friends share there Good, Bad and the Ugly.

I distinctly remember, the first time I googled the word twitter, after I read about Shashi Tharoor’s remark on India’s austerity drive and immediately I like this platform of social networking as it is giving me to connect whomsoever I wish, provided they have their twitter account. I think all of those who love and live with twitter have something similar experience alike me (barring few cases where twitter accounts were followed by males, because of the reason the DP bears a photograph of a young and beautiful lady).

And if I’m not amplifying the use of twitter, it is working for us. We are connected to others and our twits are immediately responded by our twitter buddies and the whole stream of conversation taking place on real time basis through the World Wide Web. Twitter gave us the choice to follow and un-follow the users whom we like or dislike and we are happy with it.

During the IndiaTC meet up, a valid question was asked by Simer to the audience “Does India ready for twitter?” and the voting result shows the opinion 50:50.

I voted against the motion, because I do not feel we Indians have really understood the importance of social networking medium and its impact. In support of my voting opinion I would like to quote the words of one of the panelist in 2nd IndiaTC meet up, “India does not use twitter, but plays with it.” He is absolute true in his statement. Majority of people who are using Twitter (or any other social networking media, for that matter) are hardly bother to know how powerful tools they are handling and a miniscule of us who considered using twitter seriously, assembled under one roof to discuss on topic can it change the way India work.

By the way, I am an optimist. I still believe it is the right message at the right time can start a movement that changes the world, in both big and small ways. And social media has the ability to spread that message and organize that movement in ways not possible in the recent past.

Of all the psychological triggers that lead to persuasive messages that spread, one stands above the rest when it comes to social media. In fact, this one element of influence drives the entire concept of social media. If we thought of social media, it is all about users deciding what’s worthwhile instead of relying on mass media or advertising to dictate to us.

But the real issue is that users often decide to give a message a chance based on initial indicators that have nothing to do with the actual quality of the content. Sociologists call it as herd mentality or bandwagon effect. People tend to follow the crowd without evaluating the true merits for themselves, especially when the merits are ambiguous. But in a positive sense, this can be the proverbial foot in the door. It can be the difference that leads to attention and acceptance, which turns a message into a movement.

And, here lies the point whether Twitter can be successful to change the way India works. India is a country of 80 million people and out of that only 20000+ people are having twitter account, who twits regularly. Although we are minority in numbers, but it’s the silver lining on the cloud. Let me share some global statistics about the twitter uses, quoting the data published on Zubeta.com:

• 105,779,710 registered users as on 30th April 2010.

• Total tweets 1.7 billion for the month of April.

• Tweets per day reaching up to 60 million.

These data, although global, indicates that the popularity of twitter is increasing and it is phenomenal the users in India is also increasing. The numbers of celebrities, entrepreneurs and ordinary ‘aam aadmi’ opening a twitter account is also in an increasing trend. I don’t mind of printing my twitter handle in my business card today and I am sure a day will come when all of us will have our twitter handle on our business cards.

Is it not enough to feel good that we can use twitter and many of its features, to bring change in the way India works in the coming days and use our passion of social networking to cause some good for the nation we live?

I may sound; I am taking twitter very seriously and dreaming to bring a social revolution through the use of twitter. No, I’m not living in a fool’s paradise. I am well aware twitter alone cannot bring any change to the way India works, but the users who are using this medium are capable to do so. I have had my faith on me and the twitter users like me.

We are young, we want to bring change, we are ready to connect to a good cause, and we are ready to adopt the new system of social media Twitter… Putting together all our passion and effort, I believe one day India will be ready for twitter (or any social medium) and as Obama won presidential election in US or the Britt voters created the wave in voting using the social networking medium twitter, we Indians will also be able to bring the desired change in the way India works.

But till then, as the text box on Twitter website says “What’s happening?” let use the limit of 140 characters to twit what is happening around us and share ourselves (with logic and respect for each other).

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2 thoughts on “My opinion: Can twitter change the way India works?

  1. Excellent synopsis and also followed your live-tweets on Twitter (I am bhalomanush).

    😉

    Felt like I was there attending the meeting. Bravo!

    I’m adding your blog to my Google reader list. Best wishes ~ Anirban

  2. Wow! This is mind-blowing. Great opinion and interesting synopsis. Talks a lot about you and your passion for being focused and to relate to the core. Great post, thank you so much for participating and for kind words.

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