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Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud


Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Tribute To The Boy King

Posted by: danish Ahmed 6:10 AM

Waking up in the morning to hear the news of legend passing away is never an easy thing to handle but it was surprising for me to be sulking about it even late in the day when i had some very important decisions to take. What was more surprising for me was the fact that Michael Jackson was not such an important part of my growing up years as it was for others. I never followed Western music, i still don't. But Michael Jackson was different, he had reached every nook and corner of the globe even before the cold war was over and globalization had begun. Much of what i know about him was from reading stuffs and not real-time participation. I did love his music and dance but i still can't claim to have listened to all of his songs. So why then was i was so affected?

Perhaps it was his charisma, his fan following, his life-style and his life-story that had us fascinated us all this time. Despite unimaginable fame and wealth his life seemed one tragic story. He was the first African-American to have reached the pinnacle of glory and that may have something to do with the controversies that dogged his later life. There was something deeply tragical that made him yearn for childhood and his unwillingness to grow up. Half of the controversies seem to have arisen from his reclusiveness, the other half may have something to do with him being sorrounded by greedy gold-diggers. But one cannot deny that the way the media, the authorities and even the people reacted to the controversaries everytime,envy , if not prejudice may have something to do with it.

One of the most distubing things that followed MJ's demise was the number of nasty jokes and criticism doing the rounds on the web. Most likely these people have no clue to what MJ has contributed or are simply sick,envious of him or worse, racially prejudiced. i don't need to enumerate the contributions of Michael Jackson to entertainment industry or the records he holds. It is there for all to see. Neither video albums nor MTV could have been as popular without MJ's mersmerizing steps, artists across the world made careers just by imitating him.

Michael Jackson's final act to silence his critics and naysayers was by his death which created so much furore that it almost took the Internet down. Shortly after the news of his cardiac arrest appeared on the Internet, there such a huge surge of online traffick that Google mistook it for an automated attack and for 25 minutes Google searches on Michael Jackson returned an error page. The official Google blog gives a first-hand account in the following post: Outpouring of searches for the late Michael Jackson.

But Google was not the only one, Twitter saw the number of tweets per second double as news of MJ's death was out and soon the site crashed from overload. The Yahoo News page reporting on MJ being rushed to hospital had a record number of 16.4 million visitors and Yahoo News overall had a record number of 175 million pageviews! Yahoo blog entry "Losing Michael Jackson" shares some insights on how it handled the situation. All popular search engines and services including Facebook, Wikipedia, Flickr, AOL had to deal with an unusual situation and had to allocate all available resources to cover the news.

In his last years Michael Jackson's had lost some of his popularity, the slated comeback tour could have salvaged some but his untimely death and the fact that the major players in web technologies including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were brought to the knees by the news only reaffirms the belief that Michael Jackson was the greatest entertainer ever.

Posted By danish Ahmed 6:10 AM

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tweeting a revolution or is it a black operation ?

For the past 24 hours #Iranelection and hash tags related to Iranian election has been trending on Twitter . What it essentially means, (for those unfamiliar with Twitter) is that the election in Iran and its fallout are the most talked about topic on Twitter. We have already seen the profound impact 1 that Twitter has had on socio-political events in the past but this could be the biggest one considering the fact that the mainstream media was late in reporting the protests and has since been lagging behind the micro-blogging service. ( Please check out, Dear CNN, Please Check Twitter For News About Iran )

However, what really intrigues me is the question, whether the protest in Iran truly reflects the aspiration of the nation as a whole or is just a partisan struggle fueled by external powers. Once again the sources of most these news are either almost anonymous twitterers or those belonging to the opposition camp. The truth perhaps lies somewhere in between, the call for probe by Ayotallah Khameini indicates it. Ironically, Ashton Kucher, who has the largest following in Twitter, has likened the issue to the controversy around G.W. Bush's electoral victory in 2000!

Either way it is Iran's internal issue, it is, after all, the only country in the region that has some sort of democracy (that has not been forced on). So why is the global social media so obsessed with Iranian election results ? I guess it has more to do with the fact that the West is not comfortable with the fact that a hardliner like Ahmadinejad came so close to defeat and still survive. Of course, i am just speculating that he survived but anyway, this was an opportunity that a lot of people would have hated to let go of. That would also explain why the opposition is on the street but euphemisms like "tweeting revolution", coming from American and West European "social media activists" seem to me part of propaganda warfare in the lines of black operations. Only this time the agenda has been outsourced to the crowd populating the social web. John Robb has in his earlier blog posts discussed various 4GW strategies and manoeuvres that the US could adopt to bring down Iran, some of the proposed ones have been black operations of these nature.

At this juncture ishould confess that i don't have much love for Ahmadinejad nor for the ruling elite of Iran, but i cannot deny the fact that he has considerable support from the Iranian electorate as the numerous pro-Ahmadinejad demonstrations indicate. So all talks of freedom and democracy by activists on web sound hollow when one considers the fact that there was hardly any murmur of protest when China banned nearly all major web sites and services on the anniversary of the Tianmen massacre. Similarly, the torch-bearers of liberty and democracy were conspicuously silent when just few weeks back the Burmese junta filed fresh case against the famous Burmese pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi just days before her 13 year old detention was about to expire! As i have already mentioned what we are witnessing might well be a crowdsourced black operation, not unlike propaganda warfare except for the fact that in this instance its far too decentralized and viral in nature. The majority of the participants may actually have no clue about the underlying agenda if at all there is one !

1. Twitter one hour maintenance downtime has been postponed as demanded by bloggers/twitterers.

Posted By danish Ahmed 4:06 AM

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Crowdsourcing Diplomacy: Leveraging Social Media In India's War Against Terrorism

Just finished posting my latest blog entry yet something doesn't feel alright. Just a few months back at around this time (its nearly 2 in the morning) i was watching on TV, a group of terrorists attack and lay siege on Mumbai. The next few days, there was a feeling of national outrage, every Indian worth his salt was angry as well as determined to do everything to make sure that incidences of these sorts are not repeated. Yet only 6 months have passed and an alleged key conspirator has been released by a Pakistani court. Apparently, India has expressed displeasure and Pakistan has pooh-poohed it.Can we do nothing except wait for the next major attack to take place?

In this era of globalization, India's greatest strength is its democracy. We are the largest democracy not just because of the numbers but also because of the level of political participation.
Well, know the power of democracy, even a small group us can force the government to reverse major decisions, we can burn trains and destroy public property and still get away. And that is not all! In the global stage too, we can vote to make the Taj Mahal, number 1 in the list of 7 wonders of the world chosen democratically. Well, the Taj deserves it but if its a matter of votes then we Indians can vote and make the nearest shanty declared the 8th wonder of the world. After all, we are the largest enfranchised group in the world and quite aware of the power that enfanchisement brings along.

Our presence in social media is as formidable. We know the power of the individual on a democratic platform, we can make hashtags of nonsensical or just too ambiguous words and use our numerical strength to tweet it until it is a trending topic on Twitter.

Twitter is the place where "everything Social Web" is taking place. Well, Obama being on Twitter is a common knowledge but he is not the only politician tweeting. There are lots of them including the newly sworn in Minister of State for External Affairs, Sashi Tharoor who is quite active on Twitter. Apparently, even the Minister of External Affairs, SM Krishna is on Twitter going by the latest MSN report!* Yet, our great Indian democratic parivar on Social Web and Twitter in particular would prefer to tweet "#wtfwednesday" or similar but desi tags as trending topics. This is the same segment that has been an important part of the group of users who have, through social media, forced companies like Facebook and Twitter itself to reverse their decisions. But, conspicuously enough, they are not as vocal or as expressive when it comes to #Mumbai terror attack trial.

In my previous post I have two simple questions the answer of which also answers questions that should suffice the Pakistani courts.If the Indian twitterati now raises this question in unison its likely to reverebate far more loudly than ever. Afterall, the President of USA, Indian Ministers of External Affairs (both Cabinet and MoS) and numerous other politicians and key decision makers from India, Pakistan, USA and rest of the world are on Twitter.

Crowdsourcing: is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. [source]

Posted By danish Ahmed 2:41 AM

Does release of a key Mumbai terror suspect surprise you ?

Posted by: danish Ahmed 1:21 AM

Hafiz Saeed, the founder and chief of Lashkar-E-Taiyyaba and a key suspect in Mumbai terror attacks on 26/11/2008 has been released by a Pakistani court because of lack of evidence. It doesn't come as a surprise, judicial decisions are based on the charges and evidences submitted by the prosecution which in this case was the Pakistani establishment.

To start with, any meaningful decision in this case has to be a political decision not a judicial one. Most, if not all , of us know the history of the Taliban, LeT and other Pakistan-based militant groups and the Pakistani state's attitude towards them. The 9/11 attacks may have changed equations and pitted Pakistani Army against the Taliban but the same cannot be said about the Pakistani militant groups operating in Kashmir. For Pakistan, Taliban ultimately was an Afghan group that they had nurtured and could now sacrifice for self-preservation but groups operating in Kashmir were their own people, people they had indoctrined,trained and helped gather support from the locals. So dismantling the India-specific terror infrastructure (please read to an earlier post of mine, "Pakistan is riding a many-headed Hydra" ) was never as easy neither was the motivation. This lack of motivation and reluctance to discontinue arming guerrillas to fight Indian forces in Kashmir can be seen in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attack.

Well, i can go on and on but the only conclusion that can come out of it, is the question whether the Pakistani political leadership is willing to act ? Neither India nor USA nor any other entity can provide Pakistan more credible and substantial evidence than it already has in its government records! I have always wanted to ask a couple simple questions to Pakistan.

What is the objective of the LeT, JeM etc?
What is their modus operandi ?

The answer to these two simple questions should provide enough evidence to Pakistan to nail the perpetrators.

Posted By danish Ahmed 1:21 AM