In today’s world, dominance in the field of communication is a real success. Despite facing economic hiccups, West’s dominance over Information give it an edge over east. The overt digital media platforms and traditional media conglomerates are an asset of US and EU nations. Over 5 billion people use social media globally. All digital platforms are owned by US. Hollywood is biggest film industry, Netflix is biggest digital incubator for web-series and documentaries. New York Times, Wall Street and USA today are most viewed websites, CNN and BBC are most view television channels.
Data is new form of weapon to dominate the virtual contest for persuasion of minds. Data/ information is a commodity, and easily available in the market. Huge machines are mining data at heavy prices, data is being stolen and sold in the market. Personal data of citizen is big source of predicting their behavior and choices which helps corporate world to increase their profitability by meeting consumer needs. Information is now the world’s most consequential and contested geopolitical resource. The world’s most profitable businesses have asserted for years that data is the “new oil.” In last two elections in India and two Presidential elections in US, media manipulation has been the decisive factor in election results of both countries. Use of information is abrupt and its results are seen instantaneously.
Data is new form of weapon to dominate the virtual contest for persuasion of minds.
In Pakistan, beside other factors, social media has played pivotal role in molding public opinion. Data-driven innovation is not only disrupting economies and societies, it is reshaping relations between nations, society and even families. The information power involves ability to analyze data, create and use information and influence target audience. The dominance in information domain has caused states to rewrite their terms of engagement with markets and citizens, and to redefine national interests and strategic priorities. In short, information power is altering the nature and behavior of international relations, inter-state relations, economies, security, climate and social needs with potentially seismic consequences.
In past, converting data into information and subsequent results of analysis and development of theories was restricted to researchers and journalists. Now big machines are crashing data and scientists convert this data into meaningful information. Every Information has a distinct quality, it is not static in nature and it keeps changing its form till it reaches its ultimate destination. Information travel in open digital networks. During its journey information is colluded with few more realities, truth and lies. Human not only receive an information but interpret it in their own way and then add own knowledge into it or give it a little twist for the sake of it. Human mind cannot remain isolated when it receives an information. It either assimilate, react and bend the information but it never destroys information. This is the period which requires attention to counter propaganda and fake news. The propagandist, at this stage, enter in the information circle and add their lies and give it a twist, this process is called disinformation. After the information has been changed into disinformation, it will travel at its own due to available digital platforms and human nature to remain glued to their mobiles.
Information has its incubation period, limited cycle and then it results into something to end the circle. After it has resulted into something, it changes it form from urgency to dormant and it remains confined in its shell till it is needed for more research and better results. The priming effect of information is equally lethal in present day world.
Information is now a public property. It was once a property of few elite and powerful but it is now a property of everybody. Thus We may conclude that power, benefit and losses of information has been distributed. Information is now a two-way entity.
Global and national digital land scape is too big to take your message to small community and groups. Residents of tribal districts, border belts, far flung areas, will not be very keen to know about Anarkali or Liberty Chowk Lahore news. Similarly, a resident of North Nazimabad, Gulshan Abad, Karachi or Islamabad will not be very keen to know, what is happening in Gujranwala. KPK voter has distinct characteristic compared with voter of district Sialkot or Multan. Southern Punjab and Northern Punjab have different political culture. Main stream media cannot cover union councils and tehsil councils but community built networks can.
Community build network is very effective for political communication. It is important to understand that political communication has to dominate over all other communication for strengthening of state. Main stream media also needs a free flow of information to counter propaganda.
It has been proved that community-built digital campaigns will have a dramatic effect in political campaigns, disaster support management, development support programs, because local masses are more interested with news related to their personal and regional issues. TV bulletins and talk shows, long transmissions will have their affect only if they have free flow of information and objectivity of content. Community built networks are also very effective in countering propaganda and fake news. It is imperative for political stake holders to develop community-built networks and interact with each other for development of their area. It is important to understand that proliferating overall party narrative and getting votes in its own constituency are two different things. This is where one need to involve community based digital media networks like innovative websites, new pattern of web tv, You Tube content, new techniques of Instagram posts. Effective community built political communication can bring massive change in behavior of society and can usher a new era of development.
May be it is time that big media conglomerates start thinking extensions of their network and changing pattern and formats of their programs and news distribution. Community build networks will regain lost control over information and help to strengthen country, media, society and even economy.
Big corporations must not waste their money on big campaigns but learn, how to build small social media networks through attractive websites, web tv etc. Developing Community built digital networks is an art to be handled by professionals and it is also a way to victory, success and to rise.
The writer is PhD in International Relations from QAU and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org