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Demonstrators 2.0

Web 2.0 and social networking has really picked up all over the world. In areas like Africa where internet access is limited, Social Networks have been a driving force towards the adoption or Mobile Internet. Most people begin using the internet in order to use tools like Facebook of to access webmail. In terms of helping internet spread, social networking is close to pornography in the number of people it draws to the net. (Yes, don't frown. Pornography has been the biggest driving force when it comes to adoption of technology, even if society frowns upon it).

With the growth and popularity of social networks like Tweeter and Facebook, a new tend has been developing. The control and flow of information has moved from State observed(controlled/managed) News channels to people managed social networks. This has resulted in the masses having more power in themselves, with cases of demonstrations been organized and managed via social networks.

The most famous of these has been the Iranian post-election demonstrations. The demonstrations began with Iranians posting statuses on Tweeter of their opposition against the election results. This resulted in demonstrations which soon grew and spread to other areas as information was spread via Tweeter. The Iranian government was able to bar information spread and access by cracking down on the mainstream media. Despite their efforts, the situation proved hard to control as information continued flowing via Tweeter and other social networks such as YouTube. the authorities moved in to try to trace the sources of the information on social sites, but this was limited by the anonymity of such sites and the use of proxies which enable accessing of blocked sites.

Another example of social sites been used to organize demonstrations is the G20 summit. Here, mostly Facebook was used in organizing demonstrations during the last G20 summit. The British police had to deploy their forces to just sit and Facebook the whole day . I know several people who wish their job would have been equivalent to this.

Locally, a situation where a social network has been used to counter authority propaganda and organize mass protests is the Kenyatta University Demonstrations. The students at the institution were passing information regarding the stand off between the students and the university on Facebook. the students voiced their opinions about the standoff in groups, walls on Facebook.Meanwhile the Administration resorted to using memos and posters to voice their opinions. At one time, the university administration noticed the Facebook activity, and put out a memo in the effect which said that it would still maintain the program, despite the threats of strike. The effects of this were not fully seen, as other activities amounting to riots(as mentioned in the above article)preempted the organized strike.

With the Kenyan government aggressively advocating for the spread and use of IT, we wonder whether they are ready to loose the grip in information flow. Will the government be able to manage and control "negative" information flow in times like the Post election violence. is the government ready to upgrade itself to government 2.0?

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