It’s difficult to believe that, only one and a half decade ago, Internet was little more than a budding trend. Off course, there were websites such as Orkut and Yahoo that had a nice level of adoption, but the population as a whole had not.
Till 2005, Facebook was still in its early stages. I was signed up for it back then, but didn’t really see the point until a few years later. Twitter appeared around that time, but we saw it as useless broadcasting toy. Video sharing sites such as YouTube and Google+ Videos other were a luxury of a chosen few as cost was a inhibiting factor in the spread of bandwidth deprived country as ours.
As we fast forward to 2014, we discover that social media has become not only a key part of the modern lifestyle, but a useful marketing channel for businesses of all sizes. Yesterday, I find a user commenting (on Facebook of course) that her primary school aged kids were astonied to know that phones were only used for conversations a few years ago! They were even confounded to know that we didn’t had cell phones with us 15-20 years ago.
This should be a cogent evidence that that everything has officially and permanently transmuted. Next generation of kids, can’t even conceptualize of a world without smart phones and internet.
As a person who spends nearly every waking hour connected to internet in some way, both personally and professionally, this really makes sense for me. Let’s look at ways that social media has affected our life experiences for most usual and unusual tasks and facets, and also a few ways that it uncovers a few of the more less-visible parts of humanity.
From silver screen to small screen to smartphone screen
It used to be in our times that we had the television only in your drawing room. It still is, in our drawing room. But the variance is, now is that, you no longer just have only a television because you also own a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, and an MP3 player. So here we have it, the birth of the second screen. The first screen is the television that you watch and the second screen is the computer or cell phone that you use to engage with other people while you watch.
It all began late last year, when TVF the creators of a highly creative YouTube channel – which is known for poking fun at everyone including netas, news-media, to everyday hypocrisy by those viral Qtiyapa and Barely Speaking With Arnub videos– released a series online called Permanent Roommates (PR) and TVF Pitchers under its new wing, TVF Play. Before that they were mostly known for their funny, light hearted, short online satires and spoofs but by TVF Plays they managed to hedge a bet by making PR into a drama in the international format of seasons with a limited number of episodes. Their success was phenomenal, as they managed to get maximum hits in a year and real celebrities are also not shying away to get in touch with them to promote their upcoming movies. High profile production houses too such as YashRaj Productions are coming up with fully webcasted series such as Bang Baaja Baaraat, generating huge responses from users and viewers from cyber world. Thus the era of entertainment series which were wholly released on TV first then webcasted their episodes via Internet, seems to have ended, and TV series wholly done via Internet is the new buzz world.
The arrival of Netflix is further going to change the movie watching experience over the net, howsoever the prospect of not-so-good bandwidth may hinder its growth; still we are hopeful that the campaign of Digital India is going to strengthen it. It has started that filmmakers are releasing movies only via web-mediums, and not via conventional means is the new thing unknown until now.
Last loksabha elections in India was contested over the Internet.
This statement of an eminent media analyst wouldn’t be considered blasphemous if we take in account the massive funding political parties had put up in their IT cells. The study by IRIS Knowledge Foundation and supported by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has indicated this fact. It was reported that BJP commissioned up a massive brand building exercise of its PM candidate in the aegis of APCO worldwide. BJP and other political stakeholders have been actively promoting themselves via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Social media will be real game changer with political leaders having millions of fans on Twitter and supporters on Facebook as well as Google+. In order to build a certain image, most of the politicians also have their own websites. In last elections all rallies of Narendra Modi were webcasted live via YouTube. Other parties too campaigned via holding massive questions and answers over Google hangouts. The public response was phenomenal to this IT managed campaign of BJP which took a heavy head start right from the beginning of the campaign which resulted in the return of a full majority government after 30 years. The power of internet is very evident in recent times as every political party be it national or regional, leaders be them acclaimed national level leaders, or petty municipality level thugs, each and every one is connected to cyber world via social media and is busy commenting, sharing and liking their views and opinions on every topic on earth. Thus this trend do not seems to die down but to reach disproportional and unmanageable levels. Politics is becoming 24 x 7 business thanks to social media and Internet. In that way, social media is a natural progression for a democracy such as India. The intent has always been such, but the tools have only come into being. With social media platforms, Indians are voicing their opinions with a vengeance.
Rise and boom of E commerce
India’s e-commerce industry likely to touch $38 billion mark in 2016- Assocham
We all can bear the testimony of growing influence of e-commerce in our day to day lives. It can be said with such ease that ecommerce is the new age shoppers without having a single mortar and brick store yet having presence in each and every nook and corner of the country. Why to forget IRCTC, the largest ecommerce platform of the nation in terms of net amount of transactions done in a year. All major electronic equipment manufacturers are promoting and selling their products via amazon or flipkart in flash sales, with products getting sold before they appear. The record sales of Moto E mobile phone via flipkart is an evident example of the fact that the reach of internet is much wider than any brick and mortar shop may ever reach. It also eliminates any need to ask your neighbor, about his reviews about the new book he has just purchased, or MP3 player, or any new tablet, as the user base of e-commerce comprises is far-widely geographically spread than anyone. We can find ready reviews of anything thus increasing our prospects of buying good products.
Empowering people and bringing Transparency
Our Railways Minister has hit headlines when he started entertaining grievances of travelers via Twitter. He made officials to address the problems of dirty coaches and toilets in running trains. Not just this he made it mandatory of DRM of all railway zones to have active official Twitter accounts, and is maintaining a hawk’s eye on each of the complaints registered through social-online-mediums. Not just this our Prime Minister has launched a web portal which is dedicated to people’ grievances only. Lacs of complaints and suggestions are booked daily via that portal and not just booked but also acknowledged for redressed properly. Government of NCT of Delhi too has started taking complains of bribery online and rapid and prompt action, as news suggests, is taking place. Taking one step further the Government of Haryana has put up a web portal which has all the maps of ALL agricultural land mapped to the names of owners in its jurisdiction; thus property disputed and corruption in revenue department may soon become a thing of past. But the best is yet to come; this year the state election commission of Gujarat has experimented with online voting for municipalities and Village panchayats. Despite all goods, everyone will agree that corruption is the biggest evil faced by people of India. The infamous statement of late Prime Minister that only 18 paise out of a rupee released reaches the masses, even if considered exaggeration speaks of the massive corruption in India. The ‘treatment’ of this ‘disease’ can be done only by bringing more transparency in the government decisions for the masses. For a nation of 1.25 billion people, the level of transparency required can be brought in only through the massive deployment of Information Technology in general and web-based information systems in particular as is clear from the examples I provided.
And the good thing is that we have already started to move in the direction of an IT enabled nation providing, changing the facets of already available services in a big way.