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Pakistan becomes the 27th most Popular Country on Facebook


Illustration of Facebook mobile interface

Illustration of Facebook mobile interface (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a report of the Third World Strategy website, Pakistan now has 9,000,000 users on Facebook. The demographic profile and other segregated data reveals that 70% of the Facebook users in Pakistan are under the age of 25 and around 44,000 new users join Facebook on weekly basis.

The most interesting slant in the findings is related to the gender. In almost every age group the number of male users outweighed female users. The revelations do not end here as the website also claims that Android is the most popular Smartphone OS in Pakistan. Males prefer to get their hands on Androids while females remain content with iOS. The older individuals also cling to iOS and the youth banks on Android phones.

The analysis of brands in the market depict the ‘lion’s share’ for HTC and Samsung. With regards to the operators, Ufone remains popular among women and Mobilink is being preferred by men. Dell laptops are all scattered among teens (Thanks to the Laptop scheme which made everyone a merit scholar!).

The findings also connect the rise in GPRS supported cellular phones with the penetration of Facebook. Almost 5 million users access Facebook through their cell phones. Ufone is the most widely used network for visiting social networking websites.

The noteworthy fact remains unnoticed in most of the blog posts and news releases regarding the popularity of ‘social media conglomerate’ in Pakistan. Males are taking the leverage of social media more than female members. Can this lead to the conclusion that the male gender is more comfortable in voicing it’s views over social networks?

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Exploring the Images in Arab Blogosphere


Exploring the Images in Arab Blogosphere

By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi 

Introduction and Background:

The word ‘blog’ is a contraction of two words, Weband ‘Log’. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘weblog’ as a frequently updated website consisting of personal observations, excerpts from other sources, typically run by a single person and usually with hyperlinks to other websites. It can also be referred to as an online journal or diary.

Walker.R (2008) defines ‘blogging’ as a cumulative process as the information shared is always placed in a broader context and bloggers have complete control over the content that they want to share unlike other means of communication (print, broadcast). [1]

Brans & Jacobs (2006) while discussing the ‘Uses of Blogs‘ elaborated the concept of ‘News Blogging’ as a “practice of covering the news through blogging- either by reporting originally or by providing opinion on the news that has been reported in the news sources”. [2]

Barlow (2008) explained the working dimension of blogs, he argued that the words on the screens become movers of judgement, all supposedly equal, though there are plenty of means of heightening their exposure. [3]

Pole (2010) discussed the influence of blogging networks (blogosphere) on political communication. As per his argument, blogging has altered political discourse by changing ‘how’ and ‘when’ people discuss politics. He further supports this by explaining the enhanced level of interactivity while blogging that enables dialogue among bloggers and readers leading to an exchange of ideas. The ideas can then be manifested in the form of an ‘action’, ‘policy’ or ‘mobilization’. Therefore, political communication has no boundaries with regards to ‘scope’ and ‘magnitude’ in the blogosphere. [4]

The Arab uprisings and protests starting from 2010 used blogs as an important source for disseminating information that was denied any other outlet (mainstream news media). However, some argue that the role of ‘social networks’ and ‘blogs’ in triggering the waves of protests around Middle East is overstated. Whether less or more, the impact of social media did resonate and there are no differences over this. Downing (2010) marks 2003 as the year during which Arab bloggers/citizen journalists started to gain prominence. However, it was only after 2005 that these bloggers “emerged as important leaders of social movements.” [5]

This is the reason that Murphy (2011) labels blogging as a predominant form of written protest in the Arab world and the Internet as the new “clandestine printing press.” [6]

Arab Blogosphere

Arab Blogosphere

Literature Review:

This is a concise research study which aims at revealing the images in the Arab Blogosphere, pertinent to four key issues of Middle East during 2012:

  1. Morsi as the President of Egypt
  2. Syrian Massacre
  3. Protests against anti-Islam film in the Arab World
  4. Recent conflict between Gaza and Israel

‘Three’ blogs were considered for this research study. The images that reflected the issues mentioned above were studied. ‘Image analysis’ is very significant for analyzing opinions being communicated through the web. 

Image source: Encyclopedia of Social Media Movement by John D.H.Downing (2010)

Image source: Encyclopedia of Social Media Movement by John D.H.Downing (2010)

It becomes all the more significant in the case of ‘blogs’ as readers are hooked by the images accompanying the posts. Sometimes they even get a clue of the entire post by viewing images. In case of the Arab world, there are certain blogs that share images being submitted by natives belonging to different countries in the Arab countries. In this way the blog becomes ‘a portrait of the current happenings’ in the Middle East.

It’s time to take a look at the images in the Arab Blogosphere

References:

[1] Walker. J. Rettberg (2008), Blogging.

[2] Jacobs J. & Brauns A. (2006), Uses of Blogs.

[3] Barlow A. (2008) Blogging America: The New Public Sphere

[4] Pole A. (2010) Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a networked society.

[5] Downing. J. D. H (2010) Encyclopedia of Social Media Movements

[6] Murphy. C. Emma (2011) The New Arab Media: Technology, Image, Perception

BLOG URL’s

http://lynch.foreignpolicy.com/

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/

http://tabsir.net/

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2012 in Research Hub, Slide shows

 

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Will Online Journalism Redefine Traditional Journalism?


Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web - Opportun...

Tim Berners-Lee: The World Wide Web – Opportunity, Challenge, Responsibility (Photo credit: Fräulein Schiller)

Access to information was never that easy, before the World Wide Web engulfed the globe and transcended through continents. This made our lives easier, faster and distances didn’t seem that long. Like anything else, ‘journalism’ imbibed the technological waves as its foremost requirement. There is a ‘ocean of information’ in the digital world that doesn’t accept boundaries. Internet evolved in a way, which turned out to be conducive for ‘content-generation’. Web 2.0 made ‘self-publishing’ easy and cost-effective by assigning users with the reciprocal role of ‘communicators’ and ‘audience’. The long tail phenomenon ensures unlimited shelf-life for archiving data. Social media have democratized the sources of online production and distribution. This isn’t going away for it has worked for web owners around the world from Google to Facebook.

However, analysts differ on what impact will this have on traditional print media outlets. They have a reason to diverge, technology is not the same everywhere and media literacy is a distant target for most of the developing countries. These prerequisites are essential for replacing traditional media or at least, competing with it. This is the reason that in some parts of the world social media has started to redefine old ‘media practices’.

At the Mashable media Summit of 2012, Jessica Bennett (editorial executive of Tumblr) revealed that Tumblr’s traffic is three times that of The New York Times and CNN. There are more than 80 million blogs and 170 million users, more than 50% of whom are under 30. Daniel Roth, executive director of LinkedIn argued that: ‘LinkedIn has taken out the middle man – because journalists used to interview a source, now the source can write content himself.’

In July 2012, Syed Talat Hussain a seasoned journalist and T.V anchor from Pakistan expressed his views about the burgeoning blogosphere in Pakistan. According to Talat, bloggers are not journalists as they lack journalistic traits of accountability and responsibility.

On the other hand, in Mexico, four bloggers have been murdered this year as a warning to those who want to use social media for reporting nano-crime. A Syrian blogger was burnt to death while reporting from the city of Hama (Syria), using a pseudonym. In India, two Facebook users were arrested by a hard lined rightist party, Shiv Sena for posting a status about the party’s be late leader Bal Thackeray. Whether or not they are journalists, but they have started to face the same fate. Journalists are now also reporting in the traditional mainstream media about the Tweets of politicians.

There are several examples that predict the involvement of Online Journalism and Social media in the future of media. It might be a unique marriage between the traditional and the innovative forms. Whatever mould it decides, redefinition of the media is something likely to happen, the difference will lie in the access to technology and the extent to which journalists are trained keeping in view their media literacy rates.

Online Journalism and Traditional Journalism

Online Journalism and Traditional Journalism

 

Also read: http://thevoiceofyouth.com/2012/12/03/revolution-20-or-cyber-movements/

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Random Scape

 

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Techno-politics in Pakistan During 2012


Techno-politics in Pakistan during 2012: the Role of Social ‘Information Network’ (Twitter) in Political Communication
A Comparative Study of Tweets by Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif

By Fakiha Hassan Rizvi

@CMShehbaz or @ImranKhanPTI

@CMShehbaz or @ImranKhanPTI

Introduction:

Media and politics are intertwined, especially in democratic states. Technological advancement has drastically changed the process of communication and this in turn has brought significant variations in ‘political communication’. Significance of e-connections has increased at an exponential rate in the age of ‘Internet-reliance’. The human of 21st century is submerged in an ocean of information, constantly being bombarded with packs of ‘what he/she wants to know’ and even ‘what he/she doesn’t want to know’. The later pack is a gift of the world-wide web, stirring a change in media environment, referred to as ‘new media’, ‘e-media’ or the ‘cyberculture’, according to some.

Wolsfeld (2011) has argued that the transition of ‘media’ with the advent of Internet hasn’t altered the central focus of the ‘political game’ that is ‘the need to be heard’. A larger part of the Internet industry is influenced by the ‘Social Media‘. [1]

Brown (2008) while explaining the development of ‘social media’ has described it as a requirement of the Internet users. He backs this observation by stating that “social media makers merged elements of multimedia within the concepts of social media”. The sphere of ‘social media’ is complex due to its vast and comprehensive nature. A prominent part of it revolves around the idea of ‘networking’ or connecting people together via Internet. This, today, is largely being achieved through ‘social networking websites’. [2]

Lester and Waters (2010) define the term ‘social network’ as a ‘specific type of service provided by the social media’, which is often confused with various components of social media (Blogs, Wikis, Internet Forums, Social News Sites, Photo and Video Sharing/Hosting, dating services, Bookmarking and Tagging services). They have classified the ‘social networking landscape’ as follows: [3]

1- General-Interest Networks: All – purpose/ popular/ mainstream networks. This group includes networks that share striking similarities with Facebook, hi5, Orkut, Google Buzz and My Space. Such networks give a unique mechanism for ‘connecting people’.

2- Business Networks- Professional or business-specific networks like LinkedIn, eBay Neighbours, Xing.

3- Niche Networks- Within this network users socialize through movies, music, games or they belong to a similar educational/workplace/ethnic/religious background.

Any substantial or function-based deviation from the above is not a part of the ‘social network’.

Twitter is often considered as a ‘social network’, but it is a ‘micro-blog’ (with a limitation of 140 characters). It is counted as a ‘information network’ that has a ‘macro-impact’ due to its ‘sharing-oriented’ operation.

The research study will explore the use of Twitter by two tech-savvy politicians of Pakistan (Imran Khan the President of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf-PTI) and Mian Shehbaz Sharif from Pakistan Muslim League- N-PML-N) The election campaign of 2008 inducted ‘social media’ in American politics. President Barack Obama was the first politician to ‘Tweet’. The world has already viewed ‘Tweets from Tahrir Square’ in the Arab Spring. Under the authoritarian regimes, social media was taken as an alternative form of media by the suppressed and forcefully-muted citizens. The immense role social media has played in times of crises (floods of 2010 in Pakistan) allowed it to expand its influence and penetration among the masses. Relief and rehabilitation was aided by the effective use of social media. Digital activism and other participatory activities being achieved by the Pakistani population (youth in particular) has definitely shifted the focus of every sector towards the social media, whether it be politics, traditional media outlets, non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) or the health and education sectors. Politicians of Pakistan for the first time have used social media with such exuberance and vigilance. Therefore, this is a major development in their strategies of ‘political communication’, where the use of internet is becoming vital. The researcher will discuss at length the ‘politics of virtual world – in Pakistani context’ as reflected by the ‘Tweets’ of the selected politicians from January 1, 2012 till November 15, 2012.

The research study aims to investigate:

Who is a better Techno-politician, Imran Khan or Mian Shehbaz Sharif?

The investigation will be carried out by a self-devised ‘Model of Technopolitical Communication’ by the researcher.

Significance of the Study:

The research study will be the only one of its kind that will explain technopolitics in Pakistan by analysing the use of Twitter. Instead of merely relying on the statistical data, the researcher also intends to relate the functions of Twitter with aspects of participatory politics. ‘Tweets’, ‘Retweets’, and other information shared on Twitter will be studied under the political lens.

Rationale for the selected Politicians:

The number of politically affiliated Twitter users in Pakistan is large. However, the study focuses on just two politicians, for the sake of comparison. The rationale for the choice depends on the following factors:

1- They are selected by the number of Twitter followers. @Imran Khan – 426, 655 followers, @CMShehbaz – 58,577 followers (according to what was viewed on the Twitter profiles of both these politicians by the researcher on November 18, 2012)

2- According to the Gallup-Poll-2012, Pakistan Muslim League – N (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) have been the most popular political parties of the country from 2008 till 2012. The selected politicians have the highest number of followers on Twitter among other members of their respective parties.

Theoretical Framework:

The researcherwill use a self-devised ‘Model of Technopolitical Communication’ that will relate politics of virtual world with the real politics and traditional political approaches of politicians in Pakistan. This relationship is for the sake of understanding and cannot be taken as a replacement for politics in the real world.

The relations constructing this model are as follows:

Technopolitician – Twitter user who is Politician in real world.

Tweets – the message of the technopolitician, similar to a press conference in real world or the use of other mass media by the politician to communicate with the people.

Retweets – how much flexible is the technopolitical orientation, what does he/she want to share with his constituents through other available sources. In the real world, politicians often attribute certain statements or present data/information to logically convince the public. However, Retweets move a step forward as a technopolitician can share what people have to say about him at national and international levels. The conversation on Retweets ascribed to the citizens at national level can represent what the recipient of the technopolitical message has to say.

Conversation – the number of politically active netizens (virtual substitute for citizens in the real world), supporting or resisting the technopolitical messages (Tweets/Retweets (Netizens at national level). 

Techopolitical model

As shown in the diagram, the model explains the relation between the Tweets/Retweets (Technopolitical message) and the Response or impact that can be assessed through the Retweets of Netizens at national level and the conversation that the Technopolitician has with them.The model has its limitations and cannot be considered as an alternative for how traditional political communication operates in the real world through mass media or other ways.

However, it is applicable for studying and comparing the use of ‘information network’ (Twitter) by real life politicians. The model doesn’t rely on the number of followers, but the number of those ‘interacting’ with the technopolitician (either in response to the Tweets or when the technopolitcian Retweets what the Netizens have to say about him/her or to him/her). This implies that the conversation to Tweets ratio or the conversation to Retweets (Netizens at National level) ratio accounts for the effectiveness of the technopolitical communication. Another advantage that the technopolitician gets through this technologically driven virtual political campaign’ is the ‘feedback’ that helps in constructing appealing political messages by enhancing the content that has resulted in the desired impact.

Method:All the ‘visible’ activity on the Twitter accounts of both the politicians was recorded from January 1, 2012 till November 15, 2012. The data were then tabled as follows: 


@CMShehbaz:

SHEHBAZ SHARIF CM

@ImranKhanPTI 

IMRAN KHAN PTIDiscussion:

 Tweeting Captain (Imran Khan) Versus Tweeting CM (Shehbaz Sharif)

@ImranKhanPTI has a large number of followers, but his activity on the basis of the model presented by the researcher is negligible. He can be regarded as a weak Technopolitician in comparison to @CMShehbaz. From January 1, 2012 till November 1, 2012, Imran Khan Tweeted 610 times, Retweeted 69 times, Conversations on Retweets by Pakistani Netizens were just 2 out of a total of 8 conversation during 10 months. It is also noteworthy that @ImranKhanPTI Retweeted his own party member (Shafqat Mehmood) most of the times. He exhibited a certain trend while Retweeting journalists, only Hassan Nisar and Mubashar Lucman were Retweeted by him.

On the other hand, during the same time frame, @CMShehbaz Tweeted 1050 times, Retweeted times, Conversations on Retweets by Pakistani Netizens were 60, Retweets of Pakistani citizens were 110 out of a total of 730. @CMShehbaz remained a very active technopolitician in a very positive way. He Retweeted media persons of Pakistan 99 times and no particular trend was found. There was a variety (Asma Shirazi, Maria Memon, Talat Hussain, Nadeem Malik, Hamid Mir, Sana Bucha- to mention a few) The CM not only Retweeted praiseworthy remarks, but criticism was also found on his Twitter page, few and far between. Retweets from PML-N officials or other Twitter accounts of PML-N were 111 (Khurram Dastagir was the most Retweeted party member). There were 50 Retweets by the CM from International Community and one of the citizens of Nigeria even stated that he aspired for a CM like Shehbaz Sharif in Nigeria, who uses Twitter. The interesting observation was the large number of Retweets from various other pages, The Dissenter, Revolt Today, The Economist, BBC, Overt Dictionary, Great Quotes (to name a few prominent ones), which together amounted for 360 Retweets.

Conclusion:
@ImranKhanPTI has a large number of followers on Twitter, but his Technopolitics is weak according to the findings. @CMShehbaz possesses the Technopolitical acumen. He is using the Information Network like Twitter is a very effective way.

References:
[1] Gadi Wolsfeld (2011), Making Sense of Media and Politics, five principles in Political Communication
 [2] Brown (2008), Social Media 100 success Secrets: Social Media, Web 2.0. User generated content and Virtual Communities – 100 Must Asked Mass Collaboration Questions, George Brown, JR.
 [3] Lester and Waters, 2010, The Everything guide to Social Media: All you need to know about participating in today’s most popular online communities.
 
https://twitter.com/CMShehbaz  
https://twitter.com/ImranKhanPTI
 

Please note that the researcher has no political leanings or biases. It was an interest based academic study, being a student of Communication Sciences. The researcher, therefore, doesn’t want to tarnish the repute of or disappoint the supporters of the politicians discussed in this post!

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2012 in Research Hub

 

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Social media addiction


It was yet another day when I logged in to my facebook account in order to kill my time and my eyes got fixed when I suddenly saw a facebook page titled; “when I shut down my computer I pick up my cell phone and start using facebook again”. With a faint smile on my face I finally understood that why ‘social media’ is the “buzz word” nowadays and what a great deal of contribution our tiny communication gadgets (cell phones) have made towards the promotion of this new form of media.

With the evolution of technology many new technological aspects of our life have been correlated and they reinforce the effect of each other. Therefore, they affect us (the humans) synergistically through their dual action. Teenagers are ‘tweeting’, ‘facebooking’, they are connected with their social circle 24 hours a day through their cellular phones and aren’t forgetting to update their day to day activities by utilizing tools of social media.

If the flare is gaining this pace then it is quite witty at the end of cellular phone brands to mention facebook, twitter and my space while publicising their handsets. Even the low end handsets are now ensuring the facility of GPRS and a facebook application. Realizing the importance of this latest innovation in the media world and the way it has taken to enter into the life of people a handset compatible for internet use is now emerging as a necessity. Why not? After all facebook hosts more people than those in China and India. Yes! According to an estimate facebook has more population (users) than that of China and India. Even if you think that it’s unfair to take it in that context because a single user can have more than one account then don’t forget that there are twins and triplets in the real world as well. It is also interesting to note that the United States has more facebook users than voters.

Let us take the example of the Arab Spring, the protests which initiated it were all coordinated through facebook and twitter. Therefore, political and social activism is also a consequence of social media use in a variety of ways.

This paradigm shift in media culture is spreading like a wild fire. It doesn’t matter that you are a gossip queen, a rock star, a mobile dealer or even a lay man- who doesn’t like to remain in touch with near and dear one’s through a cost effective medium? Social media does the magic and cell phones are facilitating it to do so.

Originally published in Phone World Magazine April 2012
This post is also available at the website of Phone World Magazine
http://phoneworld.com.pk/social-media-addiction/

 

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