Monday, May 9, 2011

electronic service bill 2011

A good initiative by Govt of India- electronic service bill 2011
Pritam singh

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Empire strikes back !!!

The Congress Party,leader of the ruling UPA coalition in India,is striking back at Anna Hazare after giving in to his demand on the Lokpal Bill. It regretted that the agitation, which paralysed the Centre for four days, was dangerous for democracy because it was against politicians.He has been accused of political bias for praising the Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who belong to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Anna has responded by saying that "My fast was not with any prejudice against any government or individual but against corruption which has burdened the common man."
As the process of drafting of the bill starts, there would be many more such accusations and counters.But we have to what comes out in shape of an Act on a matter which has been in cold storage for half a century in Indian Parliament.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Elections in India

Very important general elections are being held in five states of India. Of these two states went to election on 13.4.2011. Tamilnadu posted 75-80% polling, Kerala 75% and Pudduchery 75%. The three states saw peaceful voting barring some stray incidents. The high turnout is unusual as is the absence of any major violent incident. Is our democracy finally coming of age? We can rejoice only after all the six phases of voting in highly contested state of West Bengal shows respectable turnout with no violence. Victory to the people of India and all the best for choosing good governments!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Anna Hazare Wins One More Time

Victory to Anna Hazare!
The Indian icon of honesty Mr. Anna Hazare is in news again. Padma Bhushan Anna Hazare born on January 15, 1940, has been a well known social worker. This time he is again victorious with the Government of India agreeing to his demands for a joint drafting committee for the proposed Lokpal Bill that will establish a mechanism to deal with corruption in high places. He will end his fast unto death in the morning of Saturday (Indian time) when an agreement between him and government will be signed. We may perceive it as victory of the people. Reports say social media and sms-ing were used intensely to mobilize people to stand by Anna Hazare. My wife has on her facebook wall, put a relevant question (reproduced below):

Gunjeet Kaur
Why is it that Anna Hazare could muster so much support and Irom Sharmila is struggling it something to do with gender or region???????”

Wikipedia tells about Irom as follows:

-Irom Sharmila Chanu (born March 14, 1972), also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, is a civil rights activist, political activist, journalist and poet from the Indian state of Manipur. Since November 4, 2000, she's been on a political fast demanding the Government of India to withdraw the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, also otherwise known as AFSPA, from Manipur and other areas of India's north east. Since it began in 2000, Irom Sharmila Chanu's fast is unparalleled in the history of political protest.-

If I am right she has not eaten a morsel of bread since her agitation started.
Any answers?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Good Debate in The Hindu

The Hindu has carried out a good editorial on the subject of controls over internet knowledge. the response to the editorial is also interesting.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Advantage Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing a outsoucing of a task to undefined group of people or community through an open call. Since this is an open call to solve the problem, only those who have some knowledge or expertise in this are attracted to suggest solutions.
The concept of crowdsoucing combined will social media tools is now becoming important medium to develop new knowledge - from detection of violence patterns in elections to recent Japan earthquake Nuclear fallout detection.
I have read an interesting article on crowdsocurcing. I think this concept can be applied in many areas in effective delivery of public services.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is MySpace closing shop?

The number of MySpace users has come down from 110 million last February to 63 million in February 2011. The rate of desertion is increasing being 10 million in last month alone. Many  great people had honeymooned with this medium. details 

Can Social Media Connect People across the Globe and Reduce Enmity between Nations?

We have seen the eruption of public anger in many countries, especially the Middle East during the last couple of weeks. Part of the "partial successes" of the uprisings has been ascribed to the connectivity provided by the social media. It can be inferred, with some reservations, that the social media have helped democratic values and have given voice to the people.
Can there be enough transparency in the handling of foreign policies so that the common people of the global social media community feel that they have a say in what their elected or otherwise Governments are doing to their brethren in other countries. It has been the case that quite often the wars have been fought on very frivolous grounds or on personal whims of the rulers ignoring the popular opinion. The same trend continues despite the fact that within decades of such wars, when the post mortem of the circumstances leading to war is carried out, more often than not, it is found that the war could be avoided and lives of soldiers and civilians spared.
What was and is needed is that the war policies and circumstances leading to war are discussed before engaging in it, and peoples' voice across the globe be heard and valued. It may not have been possible earlier but now with better communication infrastructure, it may be easy to evaluate peoples' will. If we can predict weather to a great exactitude (leaving apart earthquake generated Tsunamis), it may also be possible with the help of computing skills to simulate the post war scenarios. A peep into the future may avoid sacrifice of many innocent people.
The important thing is the transparency in Government business and foreign policies. Gopal Krishna Gandhi in his comment in the Hindustan Times quotes an incident of early 1950s. it is being reproduced here:
“The time is the early 1950s. The scene, our embassy The time is the early 1950s. The scene, our embassy in Cairo. Our ambassador sends a cable, in cipher, of course, to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who is then minister for external affairs as well, saying that a staffer in the Pakistani embassy there has `offered' to sell his embassy's cipher code to India with promise of regular supplies of their despatches. This, our ambassador explains, can enable us to access secret despatches from Pakistan's embassy in Cairo to the government of Pakistan. The ambassador seeks Pandit Nehru's instructions in the matter. The reply is as fast as it's terse: “Reject Offer. Tell Person Be Loyal To His Government“.”
Can such ethical times be back?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wiki leaks and Babel like World Events

The world witnessed triple tragedies unfolding in Japan since March 11-once in 300 years 9.2 Richter scale earthquake in eastern coast , resultant devastating Tsunami causing 10000 + deaths and unprecedented miseries of people and destruction as high as of 300 billion $, and worst of all-the huge nuclear crisis due to problems in 6 nuclear reactors of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant-raising major issues of  hazards of nuclear power.
India and specially Indian Parliament was last week rocked by publication of diplomatic cable-part of Wiki-leaks expose-in Hindu newspaper reviving the contentious “cash for vote” controversy of July 2008, when on the issue of Indo-US nuclear cooperation agreement, Left front withdrew support from United Progressive Alliance government led by PM Manmohan Singh questioning the desirability of nuclear power having potential hazards. The bribery allegations of opposition party BJP brought out by sting operation were enquired by a parliamentary committee appointed by Speaker of Loksabha concluded that allegations are not substantiated due to insufficient evidence. According to Wiki-Leaks, the then US charge d'affaires in India, Peter Burleigh, in a cable, conveyed to State department in Washington claimed that payoffs had been made to MPs to ensure a majority for the Congress-led government in the confidence vote and he referring to what is seen in India, the boast of a political nonentity Nachiketa kapur.The aftershock is still being felt, especially after the hour long interview of Julian Assange, the founder-editor of the whistle-blower website by prominent news channel NDTV.
The third relatively unnoticed event is the abrupt resignation of   P.J. Crowley, resigning   as State Department spokesman over his controversial comments he made about the Bradley Manning case. Now, who is Bradley Manning? He is the 23 year US army private, who is being held in solitary confinement in the prison of Quantico, Virginia and facing serious charges of leaking  highly classified state department cables and other data to Julian Assange of Wiki-leaks who then shared it with the world.
These three events apparently look unconnected but they ironically remind me“Babel” like narrative- one of the most intriguing film-Babel (2006) directed by Alejandro González Inaritu, acclaimed worldwide and won Golden Globe award, had three stories of a Mexican couple, a Moroccan village boy and a teen of Uptown Tokyo apparently had no interconnection but they are shown to be beautifully intertwined with each other with post 9/11 US providing a common thread.
In this case , the thread is wiki-leak and nuclear power , both getting interconnected in the Indian story, provide the intertwining thread. We studied about Wiki in our course before spring break. Wiki is a website that allows the user generated content   creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified mark up language. Is wiki leak truly a Wiki? Probably not. Users can not generate content in this websites, which has primarily become a controversial “whistle blowing” sites? The methods in which wiki leaks access classified documents is hotly debated issue. Is it the right use of social media? Is new technology becoming powerful  with stunning expose? What are the consequences on government’s approach to openness and freedom of Information acts? The issues need to be debated.

Citizen participation

I would like to share this op-ed by Professor Sunhee Kim at Maxwell School regarding citizen participation.
Please also make a short visit to Seoul's citizen participation website called Choenman-sangsang Oasis(translated as "Oasis with 10million's imagination", Seoul's population is roughly 10million) and another local government, my hometown, Daegu's citizen participation website called Sangsang-Jejagso(translated as "an imagination factory"). The mechanism of both site is just like that of city of Manor's innovation lab. Citizen's ideas and suggestions are sought, reviewed and come true into local government's policies.
I am so sorry those two sites do not support English speakers. I can translate them for you if you are interested.

Afghan Taliban threat shuts Helmand mobile network

All mobile telephone networks have been switched off in the Afghan province of Helmand after a Taliban threat. Taliban says if any mobile companies not obey their orders they will blow up their phone masts. Already two phone masts have been burnt down in Helmand belonging to mobile phone companies accused of not implementing the ban, which was announced earlier this week.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Discourse on social media and Jasmine revolution

I found this brilliant article written by Tarak  Barkawi , senior Professor  in War Studies at the Centre of International Studies in the University of Cambridge very thought provoking and intriguing. Pl read it in link provided below:
                                                                                       Anoop Kumar

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Disconnected Social Network?

Immidiately after I went back to China, I can clearly feel that the disconnection from the outside world. Facebook is blocked here, Twitter is blocked, and Youtube is also blocked. Gmail is unstable. Wikipedia is available, but with all pictures filtered out. Even this class blog is unaccessible, being a victim of the block of "". 

Yes, there are local social media tools, such as Twitter-like Sina Microbloging, Facebook-like, Youtube-like, and Wikipeida-like Baidu Baike... A consequence is that we are cut from the outside social network in this globalizatized era by building more and more social media niches. "China local network" is coming true.

Disconnection is "safe"? I don't know. But the inconvenience is real. Everyone who was back to this country from overseas is facing two options: cutting all social ties forever, or becoming a "tech-savvy" to escape. Dear class, now you know my choice.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Page on Wikipedia to share knowledge with new students

I have created a page on wikipedia to help GOI sponsored students to streamline the settling process so that the knowledge collected by us can be collected by new students. Please update your experience to make it rich.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I recently watched the much talked about movie “The Social network”- a chronicle of founding of Facebook and fictionalized biopic of Mark Zuckerberg, who at the age of 19 launched Facebook from his Harvard University Dorm room in 2004. My curiosity to watch this movie had reached to a crescendo since it had won 3 much anticipated Oscar awards (though “King’s Speech’ clinched the best film award, and even director David Fincher lost the best director award to Mark Hooper of “King’s Speech”). However, one Oscar was one by Aaron Sarokin for best writing & adapted screenplay (Scriptwriter of “Charlie Wilson’s War “and NBC TV series ´The West Wing”). I read that Aaron  is an  alumni of our own Syracuse University and has graduated in Musical Theatre from School of Fine Arts in 1983. His brilliantly written script is based on Ben Mezrich’s fascinating non-fiction book “The Accidental Billionaires”.

The film indeed was quite gripping and a profound watch. However, I was kind of left with the mixed feelings. The “social” part of Social Network appeared ironic and hallow as the film portrays Zuckerberg not as an modern age young  icon who changed the way we communicate today through social media but as a social  dud with little people skills and warmth of friendship. Mark Zuckerberg emerges in the film as quite a self obsessed but sharp nerd who is emotionally clueless and mechanistic. Another fact that struck me that it is not about redefining friendship on the virtual world, it is not really about what inspired  Facebook creator to connect people who are distant, but about the drama behind the venture – how the dynamics of friendship are fractured when big money unfolds its true colour. It was shattering  to see Mark so devoid of basic sentiments of friendship.
The film dramatically depicts  the tumultuous founding of Face book. Mark Zuckerberg is shown here   having  a peculiar kind of attention deficit disorder. It's as though he is constantly sampling the information around him, but not able to focus very long on a human being. He converses in jerks. He is scarily bright, but his emotional focus is his laptop. And when, finally, his girlfriend Erica makes it clear she is leaving him, his laptop is his refuge. Racing back to his dormitory, he uses the Harvard University email system to post a page asking friends to rate college girls by comparing them with barnyard animals. It goes viral, and the system crashes.The film flashes forward, and back again, between Zuckerberg giving pre-trial testimony in lawsuits brought not only by Saverin, but by two patrician Harvard alumni, the Winkelvoss twins, who claim they employed him to develop a comparable site, a kind of Harvard student online networking tool, but he never delivered. The case was later settled, but the courtroom cross-examination provides a handy dramatic tool for Aaron Sorkin, who also makes this film a study of insider/outsider resentment, and class prejudice. As Critic Steve Rhodes calls it “A study of an obsessive genius who is devoid of any loyalty to his friends or co-workers, the movie hits the nail on the head about the dark side of Silicon Valley culture. The movie makes you feel sorry for him more than it motivates you to attempt to achieve his success”.
The fast paced film has a crisp, characteristically superb direction by David Fincher ( of “Seven” and “Curious Case of Benjamin Button” fame) and some real great acting by Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Juckerberg, Justin Timberlake as Napster co-founder Sean Parker and Edward Garfield as a humane and vulnerable facebook  co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
Overall the film cleverly shows how Zuckerberg set the path for a new generation of passive individuals bonding through social networking site and how facebook  has become defining change in human interface  brought by web Recommended  for the entire class.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A week of cyber attacks

This week was a week of cyber attacks on important websites.
The French Finance Ministry websites continued to be attacked since December 2010, by highly professional hackers. Although French authorities are not very sure, they suspect the information was directed towards Chinese sites.
At the same time, the well-known blog website WordPress was finally able to survive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. These two-day attacks also originated from China.
Indian Home Secretary has observed that internet is being used to further terrorist objective in India. He also stated that Government was in the process of strengthening cyber security in the face of these threats. 
Cyber security is likely to become a major occupation of the governments and other businesses in times to come.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Internet Car

 A new car has been developed that can read out emails and social media messages. want to buy?  click here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don’t allow the Facebook and Twitter users to lead the society

Former President of Afghanistan and current Chairperson of the Peace Council Mr. Burahnudin Rabani warned the religious scholars, if you couldn’t play the leadership role in the society. The young Facebook and Twitter users will control the situation. Mr. Rabani had speech in Kabul and encouraged the religious leaders to take part in peace process with Taliaban and play the leadership role. Mr. Rabani in his speech said, if religious leaders not doing their responsibilities there is no doubt the young Facebook and Twitters users will lead the community and take the responsibility of development. Mr. Rabani point out on the recent changes in Egypt, Libya, Tunis, Iran and some other Medill East countries. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have millions of users around the world and recently playing the critical role in the social and political development. In many cases the media and public official unable to disseminate the reality of the society, but the Facebook and Twitter as important factors in informing people.
This is surprising news for me as student of Government 2.0 that the Facebook and Twitter revolution is going to be reached to my country’s doors. Currently we are suffering from corruption in the government and useless parliament. The rate of bribery is extremely high in the Judiciary power. The people will stand up against the government, and I hope the Facebook and Twitter will also play a key role in the political and social development of Afghanistan.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cities of the Sky

Thanks to the jet engine, Dubai has been able to transform itself from a backwater into a perfectly positioned hub for half of the planet's population. The ideal aerotropolis is an amalgam of made-to-order office parks, convention hotels, cargo complexes and even factories, which in some cases line the runways. It is a pure node in a global network whose fast-moving packets are people and goods instead of data. And it is the future of the global city.
This may come as a surprise to Americans, many of whom have had it with both flying and globalization and would prefer a life that's slower and more local.

Cities of the Sky

Thanks to the jet engine, Dubai has been able to transform itself from a backwater into a perfectly positioned hub for half of the planet's population. The ideal aerotropolis is an amalgam of made-to-order office parks, convention hotels, cargo complexes and even factories, which in some cases line the runways. It is a pure node in a global network whose fast-moving packets are people and goods instead of data. And it is the future of the global city.
This may come as a surprise to Americans, many of whom have had it with both flying and globalization and would prefer a life that's slower and more local.
i hope this be helpful to you. It is Web traffic monitoring site with rankings in the micro-blogging sites

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Indian Annual Budget

The keenly awaited Budget for FY 2011-12 will be presented by Finance Minster, Pranab Mukerjee in the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha)  within a couple of hours from now. Indian business community and the common people are looking forward to a progressive budget this year in view of high inflation in food and allied commodities. One can follow budget here.

Daniel Ellsberg, key figure in Pentagon Papers affair, to visit Newhouse School March 8

Prof. Dana Radcliffe has informed that Daniel Ellsberg will be in University on March 8. He would be participating in “From the Pentagon Papers to Wikileaks: A Conversation with Daniel Ellsberg.” Ellsberg had passed on classified information relating to the  U.S. government’s engagement  in Vietnam to the  press.complete information about the program is here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Documentary on Egypt Revolution

Can a film or a documentary be made by using crowd-sourced video recordings and procuring them through social media? Well, a young journalist from USA seems to think so. The journalist believes that various people must have recorded footage of crowds and their activites during the 18 days revolution in Egypt’s Tahrir square and elsewhere. He has therefore asked people to provide links to all such footages on the twitter or facebook so that he can make a documentary. I read this report today. The link to it is given below.

Friday, February 25, 2011 Social Networking for Governance in India

Gov 2.0 Action Plan will be discussed in a conference in India on 11th March 2011. Prominent figures will be speaking. Details. You can follow it on facebook also.

LinkedIn ban in China lifted

It is reported that Chinese authorities have lifted the ban on LinkedIn which was clamped a day earlier. Simultaneously, China has prohibited  its soldiers from blogging due to security reasons. The BBC world service carried these news.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My thoughts about the role of Social Networks

President Obama has texted me:P

Last class was about the role of Social Media with particular focus on current unrest in the Middle Eastern countries. I believe, there is no doubt that social media has had its impact on organizing and mobilizing people who opposed their governments, but there is also something that needs to be considered as contributing factor to anger of people who have been succeeded in toppling the regime in Egypt. Utilization of Technologies like Iphone, computers that are connected with the internet has reshaped the communication architecture of the contemporary world. Today, there is no place where someone can feel her/his self isolated from the rest of the world. Something which happens in one corner of the world will be straight away communicated with most of the people around the world in few seconds.

Instead of spending too much time on other original sources, I do get most of the news that I am interested on from those people who have been part of my social networks (facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and so on). Based on my area of expertise, I have strived to be connected with those people who have been experts on the subjects of my interest and concentration too.

I would like to share a personal story which I believe will last forever in my memories. It was when President Barack Obama was off to Egypt to deliver his historical speech to the Muslim World in summer 2009. Prior to that and his election as President, in 2008, I was doing my fellowship at New York State Legislature, where I got to his facebook page and was among campaigner for his election. Even though it was not part of my job nor I was officially entitled to do so, as an informed Afghan Citizen, whose country’s future is closely tighten to the policy of US administration, I found his policy and approach toward Afghanistan very promising and full of optimisms. Therefore, I was trying to talk to as money Americans as possible to share my thoughts about him and how wise his strategy was toward Afghanistan which was among major issues in his campaign. However, I got the news from his facebook web page that whoever is having cell phone will receive the key points of his speech in almost more than 12 languages, including Farsi which is one of our official languages. Nevertheless, due to my interest of learning English, I chose to receive the texts in English. I registered my cell phone number and left office earlier than usual for home. After having my late lunch with the family, I had gone on a short nap but my cell phone peeped and I straight away got up and screamed “ hu, this is President Obama”. My wife and brothers all got to me and they thought I dreamed something crazy. My older brother who is physician by profession had perceived something was going wrong with me. But I was right, the text was from his(President Obama) team and I had kept receiving texts till the end of his speech. This is something, that I was so excited to see happing for the first time in my life and I am still teased by my wife and brothers that I was expecting the text from President himself, “President Obama has texted me”. As most of the Muslim population lives in Asia, the President’s team (DOS) translated his remarks into Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and some others which I don’t recall.

However, today many of the Afghan politicians, officials and intellectuals have been active part of social networks. Social Networks for the first time were utilized during the Presidential as well as recent parliamentary election campaigns in my country. I saw bulk of comments and exchange of ideas about the policies presented by the candidates as well as criticisms were put on their web pages.

Based on the facts mentioned above about the importance of Social Networks, I believe it is very important to be part of any of them. As personally I use facebook and LinkedIn, has seen the benefits they offer. Part of my facebook, I get most of my news, information about the subjects posted by my friends as well as I am in connected with all my family members as well as relatives whom I haven’t in person in 20 years or so. Part of my professional network (LinkedIn) I in very short period of time I have been introduced and connected with some organizations and folks who I see as positional employers for my career.

Finally, I firmly believe on the importance of Social Network and it does play a critical role in bringing people together, mobilizing their expertise, knowledge and efforts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Anti poverty program and it's applicability to developing countries

Recently, I had read an article in New York Times titled "To beat back poverty, pay the poor". This article is about "bolsa familia" (family grant) program in Brazil. This conditional cash transfer program has been.successful in raising income of poor by seven times in last six years and Brazil is able to reduce it's poverty from 22% to 7% because of this program. In this program direct cash is transferred to poor household provided the conditions of sending children school, regular medical check up, attending the nutrition and disease prevention workshops are followed by members of family. In India, National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme can also be modified to incorporate success indredients from Brazil.

Revolution 2.0

The last few weeks were full with reports on how social media applications, such as Twitter and Facebook, have contributed to the fall of governments in Tunisia and Egypt. We have seen protesters holding up signs like the following:

Or this one, implying that the Egyptian revolution was carried out through Twitter and Facebook:

A prominent Google marketing executive in the region, Wael Ghonim, has drawn a lot of attention to a Facebook group he has used to organize young people in Egypt. In his interviews with several US media outlets he highlights that the revolution started on Facebook - starting in June 2010. The government itself was apparently taken by surprise. Protesters organized and coordinated their actions using the #jan25 hashtag on Twitter - keeping the online movement alive. The Egyptian government quick shut down the internet and blocked access to Twitter and Facebook.

From a government perspective, criticism is popping up that social media is fueling the protesters - ignoring that the technology itself can't spark a revolution. Instead, public managers need to be aware of what their citizens are talking about, where hot conversation topics are bubbling up, and how to make citizens feel that government is listening to their citizens' needs.

What these so-called "social media revolution" also show is, that people don't need a broadband connection to connect to each other - instead, cellphones are widely available, independent of income or education. What's common to most of the governments that were overthrown or are under attack is that their citizens are disappointed or don't feel that their government hears their wishes and complaints.

Cellphones are being recharged on Taheer Square in Kairo, Egypt

Also check out the Wallstreet Journal video discussion with Clay Shirky.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Last week Prof. Ya Li spoke about China. The Economist reported that China has now become No2 economy in terms of the size of GDP. The other behemoth shaping the world is India. Indians overtly or sub-consciously keep sizing up China on various parameters. They view China with awe when it comes to their economy and military power. They draw comfort from Westerner's admiration that India is a democracy and China is not. Perhaps, India's comparatively slower economic growth is the price that Indians pay for the cherished values of freedom, democracy etc that is driving revolutions in the Arab world through social media.
In the last couple of years, I have seen many conversations on the internet comparing India and China. One of them is by the alumni of Delhi School of Economics who despaired at India failing to catch up with China, and lamented the failure of Indian state and the bureaucracy to deliver to the Indians a quality of life comparable to that of China. In one of the conversations, a stray statement of Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate was picked up to justify certain claims about the two countries. Prof Sen promptly wrote an article clarifying his stance. The facts and views presented by him are thought provoking. Go to the link to read it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


I found this  you tube feature on role of social media in Arab uprising quite intriguing.You may see it in the link given under:

Can Social Media be used for Genuine Public Opinion like elections?

The power of social media to mobilize certain sections of people is now quite established after seeing what is happening in the Arab world. Now Imran Khan, the famous cricketer of Pakistan, has prophesied that a similar movement will take place in his country. It seems more as his wish, but that made me think. Can the social media sites be used to project a genuine public opinion on a matter? For example, can we use the facility to conduct elections? If it were possible to design a medium specific to this objective with each subscriber being genuinely identified and asked to vote, I think this could make the election process faster and more transparent and with fewer expenses, more quality results could be expected.

Friday, February 18, 2011


This is the title of a well researched new book by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Sherry Turkle, published by Basic Books in January this year, which raises some poignant soul searching issues related to overuse of social media or what she calls social technology. In this strikingly sharp critique, Prof Turkle argues that despite the advent of social networking sites and text messaging ,our intimate relationship with technology has not translated into closer personal relationships between fellow humans.
Alone Together is the result of Technology and society specialist Sherry Turkle’s nearly fifteen year exploration of human lives on the digital terrain. Based on interviews with hundreds of teenagers and adults, it describes new, unsettling relationships between friends, lovers, parents, and children, and new instabilities in how we understand privacy and community, intimacy and solitude. It is a story of emotional dislocation, of risks taken unknowingly. But it is also a story of hope, for even in the places where digital saturation is greatest, there are people—especially the young—who are asking the hard questions and concerns about sustaining direct human connection. At the threshold of what Turkle calls “the robotic moment,” our devices prompt us to recall that we have human purposes and, perhaps, to rediscover what they are.
I have come across an interesting interview of Professor Sherry Turkle, in which she has revealed her thought process, which is available at following link:
This book is more relevant for saturated societies other than emerging ones, but the issues raised point out some compelling other side pictures of social media which demand our attention.The fact is social media is a tool to facilitate human to human interactions , not replace them, by self imposed solitude or what Professor Sherry Turkle chillingly  calls “ alone together”

misuse of social media

I thought I would share it with you. "the misuse of social media"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Facebook freedom fighter

Google Executive Wael Ghonim Admits he was ElShaheeed. He was the man behind the Facebook page that sparked the revolt. He was the facebook freedom fighter.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Salaam Wael Ghonim !!!

I salute the young Google Marketing Executive Wael Ghonim, whose social-media expertise played a major role  in igniting the anti- government protests, by creating a face book page “ We all are Khaled Said” along with Amr Salma which today has more than 8,00,000 fans. I salute him for helping a new type of social capital among youth in Egypt who took  to the streets  in thousands  to protest poverty, rampant unemployment, government corruption and autocratic governance of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for 30 years-ultimately leading to the historical change in the form of stepping down of President Mubarak.
I salute him for creating a new space of activism- on line activism –which is intrinsically linked and energising the real time protests. He has brought down the distinction of digital savvy young educated class, known hitherto for being confined to its passive self obsessed lives and pursuit of comfort,  with the suffering millions of the country. Hope this could be a model for other countries too.
Roger Cohen in  NY Times(10th Feb,2011) outlines the significance of this revolution in Egypt -“This is a seismic event in a long-dormant Arab world, reflecting at last the modernizing urges of the region’s overwhelmingly young populations. They are questing, Face book- and Twitter-empowered, to become citizens rather than cowed subjects; they have learned that the utopias proposed by fanaticism are empty.

Ghonim  was arrested , kept in blind folded isolation  and tortured probably for 12 days  by Mubarak government while he was at the scene of demonstrations in central Cairo .I salute him for his words which he spoke just after the release “Please don’t turn me into a hero. I’m not a hero. The heroes are the ones who were out on the street.” This captures the ground reality and why Ghonim deserves our salutes.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I came across this very interesting write up on the role played by social media in the political revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt. After the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, there is a lesson for political leaders: Do not take people for granted. In Tunisia, it was a self immolation by a youth who lost his livelihood to arbitrary cancellation of his license by civic and police authorities that triggered an unprecedented mobilization -- through social media -- of people who empathized with that young man. In Egypt, it was a young woman -- fed up of rising prices and growing hardships -- announcing on Facebook that she was going to sit out in Tahrir square of Cairo to protest on 25th January that brought thousands of people facing similar hardships to that place. They were all there till Mubarak left!! Are we witnessing a new wave of revolution against indifferent and worthless governments?? Politicians, bureaucrats, its a wake up call.....

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Re-connecting Abducted Kids with Their Families: The New Function of Social Media in China

Professor Yu Jianrong, a high-profile scholar who is famous for his research on weak groups of China and speaking for these people, recently launched a microblog based movement to encourage citizens to take pictures of children beggars and tweet the pictured message via a specific microblog account to help rescue them and re-connect them with their parents.

The original Sina microblog account has already had nearly 200,000 followers. As of today, more than 1000 kid pictures has been tweeted, and at least 6 kids have been found by their parents.

Inspired by Professor Yu’s effort, others microblog websites have also opened their microblog accounts for same purpose. This is one of the very few microblogging efforts got the support from the government.

Please visit the Sina microblog and see the relevant news articles from Financial Times and Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

The last IP address allotted

The unthinkable has arrived. Or is it the unimaginable? The Internet has run out of IP addresses. Gosh, it seems so easy to zip through four billion, two hundred and ninety-four million, nine hundred and sixty-seven thousand, two hundred and ninety-six addresses.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Are we overhyping social media as a tool of movements for democracy?

Social media was widely recognized as a tool for popular movements demanding democratization in June 2009 when twitter feeds played a major role in eruption of street protests in Iran following the country’s fraudulent presidential elections. Then came Tunisia in December 2010 when a facebook page on the harrowing event of a 26 year old protester Mohammed Bouazizi setting himself ablaze fuelled wide scale street protests finally culminating in the overthrow of  the regime President Zine al-Abidin Ben Ali .The genesis of the present unprecedented mass upsurge could be traced to the killing of Khaled Said from Alexandria, beaten to death by Police in June 2010. Said’s death spurred the creation of widely supported Facebook group-“We all are Khaled Said”. The recent events in Tunisia and Egypt have both seen an increased use of social networking media such as Facebook and Twitter to help organize, communicate and ultimately initiate civil-disobedience campaigns and street actions.

The media observers are carried away  by the capability and outreach of social media to track events and cover diverse locations, perspectives and demographics in real time. However, some experts have a very different take on this. Experts Marko Papic and Sean Noonan observe-“A revolution is far more than what we see and hear on the Internet — it requires organization, funding and mass appeal. Social media no doubt offer advantages in disseminating messages quickly and broadly, but they also are vulnerable to government counter-protest tactics. And while the effectiveness of the tool depends on the quality of a movement’s leadership, a dependence on social media can actually prevent good leadership from developing.”(Social Media as a Tool for Protest, Marko Papic and Sean Noonan , Startfor Global Intelligence, Feb 3,2011)

They maintain that   key for any protest movement is to inspire and motivate individuals to go from the comfort of their homes to the chaos of the streets and face off against the government. Social media allow organizers to involve like-minded people in a movement at a very low cost, but they do not necessarily make these people move. Instead of attending meetings, workshops and rallies, un-committed individuals can join a Facebook group or follow a Twitter feed at home, which gives them some measure of anonymity (though authorities can easily track IP addresses) but does not necessarily motivate them to physically hit the streets and provide fuel for a revolution. At the end of the day, for a social media-driven protest movement to be successful, it has to translate social media membership into genuine and effective street action.  Evgeny Morozov, in his recently published book “The Net delusion” makes a very intersting remark-“ Supporting a cause on Facebook and Twitter is an activity that  requires something quite different from what political action demands- the willingness to risk one’s stability and comfort, not to mention the possibility of physical confrontation with the forcces of repression”.  Before getting carried away by such hype, it is time to take a pause and ponder- is it realistic to imagine revolutions by downloads?

Can Social Media Connect Our Soldiers' Families?

The readings for Social Media-II lecture were very interesting and informative. One of the problem solving applications of social media that I found particularly interesting was reported in Alexandra Samuel’s ‘Waiting for Government 2.0’ article regarding an application developed by the US Navy to enable the anxious mothers of new recruits to network with the mothers of more senior navy officers. It appears that this networking, based on social media applications, helped the mothers of new recruits to overcome some of their apprehensions and anxieties about the future of their children. Interestingly, this application appears to be totally independent of the navy’s information systems; yet it helps to solve one of the major obstacles to the navy’s recruitment of new manpower.
Is a similar application possible in India? The families of para- military forces battling insurgencies in disturbed areas could network on social media. Or, maybe, the families of soldiers deployed on borders could be networked together over social media. One problem I visualize is the absence of computers or social media enabled mobile phones in rural areas, particularly with the families of soldiers. The other problem I visualize is the language barrier. I am not very sure whether the social media can operate easily with Indian vernacular languages, like Hindi, Punjabi, Tamil or Kannada. Also, I wonder what sort of networking is possible if the networked families communicate in different languages. I would, therefore, be interested to know more about the adaptability of social media to different languages and the possibility of translation of content as is available on Google.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"I learned it by watching you, Zuck"

The other day, i read a news article regarding Facebook in Japan. It says Japan has very very low rate in using Facebook considering its widely spread Internet use, and one of reasons analyzed was its culture in which people generally do not want to expose their private lives to the public. What do you think about that?

Anyway, i would like to share this article with you concerning vulnerability of privacy in this social media age. Don't they look quiet creative like Zuck? Big Brother is not the only thing we should worry about!

Northeast India rocked by Earthquake and USGS response

Northeast India has witnessed a 6.4 Ritcher scale earthquake, which is believed to be biggest in decades.
I tried to correlate the news with the USGS - "Did you feel it" and impressed with the responses received on USGS website. . It really helps to measure the response of citizens and can help in deploying the relief resources.

Colorful India

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Delhi Police uses facebook to connect to citizens reg. traffic information

Last week, I have learnt the possible usage of social media applications by govenment agencies. The social media eg. Twitter, facebook etc can be used effectively by govenment agencies to proactively informaing people with updated information. In some government department have started using it also eg. Delhi Police is using this to address the traffic problems . This application has got an overwheming response from public and become a medium of conveying traffic related issues to the goverment. The success of this initative lies in prope responses to citizens posting on the facebook site as well as regular traffic updates.


The arrest of India’s former Communication &IT Minister Mr Andimuthu  Raja   and former Telecom Secretary Sidharth  Behuria by Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) on 2nd February, 2011 is a landmark event signifying the power of the  movement against corruption and demand for transparency by civil society and citizen through social media.  When traditional mass media like Press and TV News Channels got embroiled in the infamous “Neera Radia Tapes” scandal- a shameful episode exposing the  close nexus of media with the corporate lobbyists. With the discredited media loosing the public faith, social media like face book, twitter, my space, blogs and other social networking sites have played a significant role in mobilizing growing demand for higher transparency in public life.
Fast expansion of Internet and mobile telecommunications in India has been accompanied by a series of scandals that are a consequence of poor regulatory oversight and deliberate manipulation of policies to favour a select group of companies. The biggest and most brazen of these scandals relate to the blatant irregularities in the allocation of 3 G Spectrum- electromagnetic spectrum or radio frequencies, under Mr A  Raja. According to a report of the Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) of India tabled in Parliament on 16 November,2010, the total “presumptive loss ” to the national exchequer on account of undervaluation of spectrum was in excess of Rs. 1.7 lakh crore or nearly $40 billion at current exchange rates, making it the biggest scandal of its kind in the country. Rules and guidelines were bent in an arbitrary manner in this scam. The enormity of the scandal was acknowledged only after the Supreme Court started asking pointed questions of government agencies and the CAG came out with a scathing indictment of DoT policies and practices. Raja was forced to resign his post and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) made to expedite its investigations that had begun in October 2009 with the lodging of a First Information Report (FIR).Social media and networking sites kept close tab on the development and steered the demand for tough action.
One most significant fillip to the social media would be success in its demand for freeing CBI from political control and to target the corrupt politicians. This unprecedented arrest may bring some deterrent effect among political and bureaucratic class and bring down rate of corruption in high places eventually.

G2 to 2G

Those who are interested in the 2G scam in India, can see the following link:

This has come about after a long process. The effort also used the Right to Information Act, to retrieve detailed documents from the telecom dept. I think, this would be the biggest success story of RTI  in India.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gov 2,0-a silent revolution in the making

The use of social networking sites by Government is silently ushering in a revolution across the globe. It is being said that social networking sites like Twitter , facebook , youtube have been responsible for the recent Tunisian uprising, Some Governments are cashing in on the power of social media by posting their actions/proposals in the social media

Monday, January 31, 2011

"The Tweets must flow"

While blocked in Egypt, twitter posted its opinion or position in regard with freedom of expression and its own policy of restriction on use of twitter on its blog. As the title “The Tweets must flow” implies, they are saying the freedom of expression should be protected and at the same time it should carry responsibilities and limits.

Social Media banned in Egypt

Continuing unrest against the Hoshni Mubarak had led to the authorities banning facebook in Egypt. Access to twitter is also getting difficult from Egypt. It looks like social media has been playing a major role in the upraising. However it is interesting to see that Government does not seem to agree that they have banned social media. The traffic in twitter and face book have gone down considerably in the last two weeks. A Blackberry official confirmed that their internet services have been affected.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fine Line between Government Ambassador and Lobbyist

An article in the New York Times yesterday described the work of Adam Sharp--a Twitter employee who spends the majority of his time meeting with Congressmen. Sharp helps Congressmen understand how to utilize Twitter to reach constituents and receive feedback.

Sharp's role raises an interesting question: Is Adam Sharp a lobbyist for Twitter given the frequency of his meeting with Congressmen? Should he be treated as an asset to democracy or as a private interest?

In the United States, the Internal Revenue Service makes a distinction between lobbying and advocacy, defining lobbying as "asking policymakers to take a specific position on a specific piece of legislation". Given this definition, Sharp is not 'lobbying' the Congressmen, but his work sets an interesting precedent. If the Twitter employee mentions net neutrality in the meeting, would he be lobbying? At what point should that employee be required to register as a lobbyist?

Twitter has helped further democracy and improve efficiencies for many Congressmen with the help of Sharp. But does Twitter now have an unfair advantage and disproportionate access to Congressmen? Will they in the future?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Republic Day Celebrations


You can see the magnificence of India's Republic Day Celebrations here


My blog

Dear friends,
I invite you to visit my blog at
and share your views.
Pritam Singh

Ines A. Mergel has won the 2010 Best PA Times Article

Prof. Mergel has won the Best PA Time Article Award for 2010.  Her article entitled "Gov 2.0 revisited: Social media strategies in the public sector,” can be found at:

USGS asks citizen scientists "What's happening?"

Yesterday, Kara Capelli, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Geological Survey, joined my "Government 2.0" at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University via Skype video call. Kara shared her insights on the use of social media applications at USGS and specifically on the very innovative use of their Twitter accounts.

USGS's social media strategy includes the use of Twitter, YouTube, RSS feeds and blogs, podcasts, photosharing on Flickr and Facebook accounts.

One account among the long list of social media accounts is especially remarkable: The USGSted account - Twitter Earthquake Detector (TED) - asks so-called "citizen scientists" what is happening in their geographic location. USGS automatically searches tweets for hashtags such as #earthquake and compiles the tweets on a Google Map mashup - geotagging tweets to understand where in the world citizens feel the earth shaking. The large number of tweets then makes it worthwhile to pay attention to specific geographic locations around the world where earthquake activities might happen. One example is the recent earthquake in Pakistan.

At USGS, the tweets are obviously not used as a scientific method - and will certainly never replace science. Instead, they are used as a way to collect citizen feedback, sentiments or indicators of potential damages. Going forward, the tool might have the potential to help emergency responders to find affected citizens, as a method to create social awareness among neighborhood networks, to understand how resilient citizens are or even as a tool for neighborhood responsiveness.

The USGSted account was recently selected as Twitter's only government showcase (URL was removed from Twitter's homepage this week, will update as soon as it is back online).

Additional press coverage:

Government Computer News: Earthquakes are something to tweet about
Business Insider: Twitter-based Earthquake Detection System in Development
Christian Science Monitor: Earthquake alerts: shake, rattle, and Twitter

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Revolution 2.0 Live! The First Real Twitter Revolation is happening!

Succeeding to the Tunisians, the Egyptians are using social media to say NO to President Mubarak. It is happening. Searching Tweets message with hashtags such as #Cairo, #jan25 and #Suez you can see the real-time progress. The newest tweets showed that the Internet is totally down in all of Egypt.

Social Networking, a Powerful Device

This is the century of Information Technology. Last decade has seen unimaginable integration of electronic sciences - computing and telecommunication to be precise. Social networking has been one of the most powerful tools falling in the hands of the masses. It is proving to be of immense use in dispensing knowledge and sharing of news and views. One feels very empowered as a member of a social group. The voice of the common man is getting heard.
Something that started as a plaything among the teenagers has attracted serious attention of all organizations including traditional media. Even if as a compulsion, now, the Governments have started paying attention to what the people are blogging about.
But it is proving to be a double edged sword and any careless handling of this by the concerned can be of serious repercussions. Like the arms race, Governments may soon have to be one up in handling the huge volumes of blogging and social messaging. The States, be they Nations or only local Governments, will have to attend to this sea of information in a skilful way or they may soon find themselves in utter difficulties.
And if you still think I am kidding, google for "what happened in Tunisia" and see the results- what most people feel is that it was a twitter revolution. As if that was not enough- people keep guessing what is behind the events of Egypt.
That is why some Governments have, already, geared up to have this ammunition on their side instead of letting it fall in the hands of the adversaries.
Pritam Singh

Why I took Gov 2.0 course

My first exposure to social media was when I saw my son fiddling with facebook on his computer. I asked him what it was, and he told me that all his friends were there on it and it was a great way to connect with them. I sampled a few messages and all of them looked like teenager inanities with an overload of weird looking fonts conveying personal status and messages. I never imagined that this medium would go beyond teenagers. But then I also joined facebook, because many others like me were also joining. I discovered many of my friends with whom I had lost contact. It was a great feeling to connect with them all over again. I enjoyed facebook, but to me social media remained essentially a social networking tool, nothing more. Its massive power on the political stage was first witnessed after the Mumbai terror attacks.
After the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, a massive protest rally took place, where people assembled in large numbers not by the effort of any political party, but by the word of mouth publicity through the social media. Politicians were rattled, as they thought it is only they who could mobilize people for rallies and protest marches. This generated a huge interest in the subject. Social media was a tool for mobilization; a tool for espousing causes; a tool for sharing information; and a tool for networking and much more. Hence I was looking for opportunities to learn more about it. That is why I joined this course. There is lot to learn about this emerging field, and I look forward to the sessions, readings and assignments in this course.

Baltimore Social Media

In the IBM Center for the Business of Government’s report on The Blogging Revolution, David Wyld suggests that social media and Government 2.0 can be an integral piece of citizen engagement. The City of Baltimore recently announced the release of Open Baltimore, an interactive open government portal that is designed to do just that. Baltimore government agencies have been told to provide lists of their data sets within the next 30 days and identify what is currently available to the public.

This process is a progressive first step by a local government to make government more interactive and data more accessible. It was also cost effective. However, the city is still struggling with identifying which information is appropriate to release and which information must remain secure—a tension that will undoubtedly continue. Agencies may also struggle to provide accurate information within the 30-day mandate.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sharing Social Media Responsibility in Government Organizations

As described in a blog on Government Technology recently, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has found an interesting way to ensure that social media content is frequently updated and relevant. The agency rotates the responsibility for their Facebook account among six staffers on a weekly basis.

This model of rotating social media responsibility creates three major advantages:
1. Access to diverse content from across the organization
2. Helps avoid newspaper-like social media posts that are drafted only by the public relations department
3. Social media posts become less routine and burdensome