Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Twitterstorms effect on politics

After reflecting for about a week over our discussions on the various twitter storms (Dominos, Amazon, Time Warner), it has become increasingly apparent to me just how empowering and democratic the internet can be. Thinking back fifteen or twenty years ago there is no way that so many citizens could have such an overwhelming and instant impact on the way that massive corporations do business. In the case of the Time Warner twitterstorm people were able to override a juggernaut business's choice to charge people for how much internet they would be using. Of course this did not sit well with heavy internet consumers, such as Time Warner's clients on Twitter. In this way, these Twitter users who were also Time Warner clients were able to lambaste the corporation for its profiteering choice and in effect given the power to veto Time Warner's choice. Concurrently, this make me wonder if this is the reason that the Chinese government is perhaps afraid of the power that the internet gives to the individual. This idea that the internet and social networking websites inherently make people more democratic, and gives power to the individual's voice whereby dismantling the most core value of Chinese society which is unity and giving up oneself towards the whole. It is my opinion that while these values are important they often leave out the sounds of the minority and thus the internet's ability to give the power to the people is fundamentally productive towards creating a world harmony.


  1. The internet and technology in general really have come a long way in the past decade. As a child, I never imagined that there would be wireless internet (I had grown so accustomed to the old AOL dial-up tone) and certainly never thought I would be able to check my e-mail from a small handheld device that doubles as a phone.

    What an amazing advancement it is that technology now allows citizens to actively participate (or at least voice their opinion) more in matters of large corporations and businesses - and actually get responses to their messages, as you mentioned Twitter allowing consumers to voice themselves in the Time Warner case.

    This creates a large responsibility on the business side. It seems that in order to be most effective, and to generate positive publicity, companies with a social media presence must not only create accounts on social networking sites, but also build relationships with the citizens that they engage with on these sites – something I imagine for large corporations takes a tremendous amount of time and effort.

    Now, not only are there businesses engaged in social networking sites like Twitter, but also influential leaders. In fact, there are even politically involved officials on social networking sites. For example, I follow Austin City Councilmember, Brewster McCracken on Twitter (@bmccracken). Lee Leffingwell even has a Facebook group.

    I think you are absolutely right about China. In a country that considers allowing citizens the opportunity to form groups a dangerous matter, internet freedom is a threat to them. The ability to hop on the internet and tweet about your cable company charging unusually high fees I think is something we take for granted in the United States (not necessarily the tweeting part, but the freedom part). The ability to follow what your city’s mayor is working on to benefit your society, the opportunity to engage in conversation with people from other states and countries, etc. Can you imagine what life would be like if all of a sudden we were all unable to access our Facebook pages? If the government forbid us from blogging about any opinions that didn’t suit them? If we knew that when we googled things, we were restricted to only viewing a very limited number of the potential results?

  2. I think that there would certainly be an upheaval if U.S. citizens were restricted or banned from online forums and social communities. In my opinion people's number one relational desire is that of communication. The internet and social networking websites gives everyone in the world an opportunity to communicate with their friends, family, business partners, and, as you said, politicians.

    I can not envision a way in which people or our high-tech society could function without the use of the internet. Some critics may say that people have become spoiled with our ability to IM, blog, and connect and that the internet is a privilege but I disagree. I believe that the internet has become a necessary tool for proper democracy.