Social Media has caused a revolution in the way that people communicate via the Internet. Most people have heard of FaceBook and Twitter, but there are many more such websites and their numbers are growing all the time. Their popularity continues to increase because individuals can comment on anything that they wish. They have a voice. Businesses and individuals are making use of this type of application on the Internet in an ever increasing and interactive way.
No more evidence is needed for this than the announcements in recent weeks by the United States and British Governments that they will be making more Government information available to the public on the Internet and in a variety of ways. According to their statements they hope that new Social Media applications will be developed to encourage people to take a more active role in their own affairs.
When Mr. Kundra, the US Chief Information Officer, says that this innovation may lead to, ‘a YouTube for data’, it would seem that Social Media is expected to instigate social and political change. If more people interact with Social Media sites that are created by the release of this new information, then it would appear that some people think that this may change the way democratic politics is conducted.
In the UK there is apathy towards politics where politicians just seem to squabble and argue and nothing seems to get done. Some teenagers I was talking to a few weeks ago wanted to know why the electorate couldn’t vote on important issues on the Internet. They argued that if they could do this it would get rid of greedy MP’s and would be truly democratic. This may sound a bit like the plot of a movie but when Mr. Kundra talks of, ‘Government as a platform’ and about it being on, ‘a local, national or global scale’, where will these innovations take us?
Another article published recently in the UN Post, the United Nations News Website, quoted extensively from the Brazilian President about the need for the wealthier nations to include poorer countries and their peoples in establishing a new economic, just and democratic world order of nations.
There is no doubt that the Brazilians have improved their own country’s fortunes by making radical political changes. Changes that were brought about by involving people at every level, could Brazil’s real political solutions make a bigger difference in the world with a new platform for public opinion? Could new Social Media applications fed by more information from Government provide the impetus for people to become more involved in politics? Could the use of Social Media applications be the instruments that help to bring about these changes that Mr. Kundra talks about?
It will be very interesting to see how (or if) the new ideas surrounding Social Media activities will develop. Will the new Government data, the development of new applications from the private sector and the expected level of public participation provide the platform for people to build new communities and create new opportunities for individuals, for business and for Government? One thing is for certain, the next stages in the development of Social Media will provide all kinds of new activities that businesses and individuals need to be involved in.