As you all know already, Twitter is all the rage these days, especially among us digital activists. Recent world events such as the presidential election in Iran and the 2008 Mumbai bombings have made many wonder aloud again if Twitter’s powerful citizen-driven info-sharing is actually activism.
Agus Sari, blogger behind The Goose, recently had musings about how the popular social media tool was used during Jakarta bombings.
From Goose Blog:
That morning, 7:51 am on July 17, 2009, my Blackberry buzzed with a new incoming Twitter (via UberTwitter) from my friend Daniel Tumiwa. It says “Bomb Marriot and Ritz-Carlton Kuningan Jakarta.” After a while, another one: “2 boms go off inside Ritz Carlton and Marriott coffee shops! Not kidding. Am here.”. Then another one: “Left location.Shocked. Lots of blood. Breakfast meetings at coffee shops while bombs went off…
…The droves of incoming twitters have something in common eventually, a “hashtag” of #indonesiaunite (”hashtag” is a tag to identify a twitter entry with similar ones so that they all can be identified together as a group). At some point, I forgot when, #indonesiaunite became the number one “trending topic.” in twitter (this means that twitter entries with #indonesiaunite hashtag had the highest number of twitter entries in the world). Even higher than Paula Abdul! What a great achievement considering the relatively small number of Twitter users in Indonesia.”
Based on the tweets, this is digital activism. Like the Mumbai incident, many of tweets were alerting followers about where bombings were happening, and thus telling where not to go. As mentioned, using an easily identifiable hashtag #idonesiaunite create a simple one-stop to finding information quickly.
What was unique about this incident were the offline connections made afterward. A local Jakarta radio station hosted a party for all the “Twitterati” who participated in the online activism to put faces to the Twitter handles and hastags, and start “a movement beyond the social network.” There is also a website now dedicated to buidling upon these relationships.
“There are many other ’causes’ that will make use of the new medium,” said Sari. “And with the internet universe being flat, the social network media will also become the democratizing means for Indonesia, and for the world. The tenet “one person one vote” will be closer to your heart, and your Blackberry.”