Tag Archives: TIME

Obama presses the Tweet button to deal with deficit

Barack Obama is on a tweet spree. “Make a phone call, send an email, tweet,” he said in his bid to garner support to reach a compromise for taking US out of debt.

Unable to reach a consensus on the debt crisis ahead of the August 2 deadline, Obama urged people to Tweet and reach their local congressional member urging them to compromise on the debt ceiling.

The unprecedented move of the American president is a unique combination of sorts; the world most powerful man using one of most public tools to quickly pass the message.

The move also showcases how the most powerful leader acknowledges the real house of power – people.

With every message reaching out to 9,362,843 (at the time of writing) people there was no other way by which the president could reach these many people. Not only that 692,518 people also can directly reach him on his tweet handle.

As a result of the tweet spree by his Obama2012 campaign phone lines of the House were running at peak traffic volume.

The move allows Obama to reach out to the Republicans via people and make his point heard. Twitter gives the president a people’s advantage to convince or pressurise his political rivals and in turn reach Republican supports.

How effective the campaign will be remains to be seen, but the tool of social networking which led to Arab and African revolutions is being used by leaders to establish a connect with their people.

@BarackObama sets the precedent by seeking people’s support via twitter, but its usual for politicians and leaders in west to use this medium to make their stand.

Recently president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez used twitter to work from hospital; the UK Prime Minister though doesn’t have a personal twitter account No. 10 Downing Street has a tweet handle which is functional.

Few months back on news channel Al-Jazeera world leaders like Barack Obama and David Cameron in a series of world view interview were put questions collected using You tube, which they readily answered. Though not a social media tool, the drive allowed people to pose questions in person and seek response via web.

While the west is embracing social media to gauge the people’s moods, politicians in India shy away from any social media.

As the debate in the country heats up over the Lokpal Bill, could the PMO have not used social media tools to gauge what the people think? Why is it that the leaders shy away from meeting the people who matter? Why is it that it takes a huge uproar and public outcry for the PM even address the media?

When I was in India recently I asked a senior Congress leader who has a berth in the Union Cabinet and when asked about use of social media the response was: “Let it be with Shashi Tharoor Sahab, why keep unnecessary headache.”

If this is the attitude that top politicians have, they are light years behind reality.


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Twitter takes to Live reporting

Twitter changed the way we look at news.

On Tuesday when District Judge Howard Riddle allowed scribes to tweet from the courtroom without disturbing the proceedings in a matter of minutes Twitteratti took over the conventional modes of reportage and for those few hours, Breaking news was like a passé.

The 140 characters did what the 24X7 news channels couldn’t, they broke into the courtrooms and it looked like this might be the beginning of something new.

The micro-blogging site gave a blow-by-blow account of proceedings sans lengthy arguments. Even before the websites and news channels could flash the breaking news the word was already out.

Anticipation was high on Thursday as Julian Assange stepped in the courtroom, steady stream of tweets followed and newspapers, broadcasters and websites set their tweet rolls in place.

The joy was short lived as the Judge barred tweets from courtroom.

Heather Brooke @newsbrooke posted an hour before the proceedings she posted ‘hearing rumours that twitter WONT be allowed #Assange’, it was true.

What a letdown and almost immediately there was boo for this ruling on tweets. Brooke later argued on twitter, when lawyers have laptops and blackberries, why not public? In open court what is difference is typing from pen and paper she questioned.

Well no great difference, just that typing reaches out to the world and in this case possibly to over 190 million Twitter users (source Tech Crunch).

Though barred Tweets for time being changed the way we looked at news and how news reached us.

In days ahead more might be in store.

I stumbled upon a year old article in TIME which described  How Twitter will change the way we live.

Tweets tick

The 140 characters allows one to be precise and be on spot.

It is smaller than 160 character SMS and this precisely makes tweeting easy and convenient to use from simplest of the cell phones. Upgrade to a smartphone and the experience enhances.

User innovation has fuelled tweeters growth.

Many of its features and applications like shortlink, hashtag, search, tweetpic etc were developed by the users and added freshness to the social networking site.

At the time the abovementioned article was published there weren’t many news websites using twitter, but now its first on twitter and then elsewhere.

Though twitter doen’t has the kind of following Facebook enjoys, but it indeed is a very effective and popular mean of communicating news.

If it’s not on Tweet it isn’t news.




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Dishing out Wikileaks

Wikileaks US diplomatic Cables dossier is indeed one of the biggest scoops of the recent times along with previous two Wikileak exposes.

Over 250,00o cables of raw data being dished out all containing potentially secret information translates into voluminous data house.

How do you manage the dump? What you do and how you dish it to sustain the interest in the information.

It’s been a week and only around 700 cables have been made public and the interest seems to be fading.

Though five media houses the guardian in the UK, The New York Times in the US, Sipigel in Germany, el paise in Spain and L Mode in France got the shared information from the whistleblower website, it’s interesting to see how they have worked out their distinctive ways to dish out the humongous information.

Information overdose

The way in which both the English language publications the Guardian and NYT have gone about it on web is to bombard users with information. In a way that becomes a bit too much for an average reader.

They without doubt have all the refined info and have developed separate sections. The Guardian website has been opening with WIkileaks and so is NYT for the last one week.

But it is very static in layout, at times a bit too heavy.

Be selective

Interestingly the Time magazine, which is not a part of the famous five publications, has been very innovative and dynamic in their approach.

They came later but devised a good strategy of using multimedia tools and videos to maximum effect. Two days after the leak they managed to get an Skype interview with Julian Assange all for 36 minutes.

They ran a story with a teaser the conversation will follow later.

A couple of days later they came with an edition on wikileaks and gave all the related elements though not the exact leaks in a fairly engaging manner.

Juice it up

There were video bytes of the skype conversation with Assange used the hilt.

Though the guardian did host the live chat but the skype video in parts makes sense. They have kept stories sharp with elements of colour to keep the reader engaged.

Though the issue is subjective, but a call need to be taken to make the information more engaging.

As I mentioned earlier that new age media is the tool to develop a story, these examples show how it can add to  the longevity and effectiveness of the story.


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Propaganda War versus Human stories, take a call

Bringing forth the plight of Afghan women to the world at large- ploy to justify the occupation of Afghanistan?

Afghanistan’s propaganda war takes a new twist; the headline caught my attention as I remember reading the issue of TIME magazine with the picture of Bibi Aisha, an Afghan Women without nose on the cover.

It was the compelling cover picture that made me pick the issue and is almost the same that made me read through the Guardian. I was intrigued as to read how the two are linked.

After a rather long and at places interesting introduction comes the critiques view.

Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches English at Cambridge University writing on the Guardian’s website, viewed the Time cover in terms of a “cynical ploy” to justify the occupation. Gopal wrote : “Misogynist violence is unacceptable,” argued Gopal, “but we must also be concerned by the continued insistence that the complexities of war, occupation and reality itself can be reduced to bedtime stories.”

Well it took me a while to digest this one.

Hatred and violence is unacceptable. Agreed, but how one explains the complexities of war being reduced to bedtime stories.

For me on a personal account the stories of Bibi Aisha and other women in the TIME magazine at least managed to bring the plight to masses at large. Is war justified as a mean or not is another debate. But to an audience at large the story managed to capture people’s imagination and more than that got the women her nose back and is an attempt to get her life back to normal.

What I liked in the article was the way it brought Sharbat Gula, another Afghan women who caught the attention of the world as it made to the iconic cover of National Geographic in 1985, which to date remains one of the most recognisable cover pictures of all times.

Gula who was later traced back in 2002 by NGC to be living in Tora Bora Gula said that “life under the Taliban was better. At least there was peace and order.”

A statement which turns the argument of occupation of Afghanistan on its head, here was a woman who had lived all her life battered by war saying Taliban was better…

Well there can be no simple answers to this complex scenario, it’s all about perspectives and there will be grey areas.

What sounds like propaganda to one can be mission for other?

But in this all propaganda even if the life of one in this case Bibi Aisha changed for better, which by no means is a less achievement.

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Curious case of Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is on the wanted list of Interpol.

Couple of days after Assange managed to leak 250,000 state secrets much to the disliking of the US government, the Australian born former computer hacker is at some undisclosed location to escape the Interpol red notice.

What amazes me is the fact that despite offending the world superpower USA not once but thrice Assange has managed to stay away from the gunning claws.

The day Cablegate was released by WikiLeaks I posted a tweet and penned a blog seeking reply to how does this guy manage to do so with an enviable precision and consistency.

No replies were expected to this question for no one but Asange knows this.But the question of how he has managed not to come in hands of the US government stayed with me.

I was thinking about the same on my way to the University today and I read in the Metro, US Republican leader Sarah Palin demanded Assange be hunted like Osama Bin laden.

A testimony that he has managed to do to US politicians I believe with a computer what Laden has over the last decade using his militants.

Though there is no established link to the US involvement in the Interpol hunt of Assange, it will be more than willing to find him behind bars in any part of the world.

Assange is wanted for charges of “rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion” in Sweden.

What surprises me is the fact with the kind of technology available with the intelligence agencies around the world Assange has managed to deceive them all and stay connected with the world media.

TIME magazine managing editor Richard Stengel spoke with Assange for 36 minutes over Skype after the leaks were made public. The Guardian, according to New York Times website Assange along with fellow hackers and WikiLeaks enthusiasts was at a secret location outside London.

Confident of Assange’s abilities his aides according to NYT are reported to have fixed an interview with a NY based freelancer in Britain next January.

The curious case of Julian Assange becomes interesting with each passing day as he prepares for the next big leak.


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