Alt needs to Shift


People maybe talking more online, but they all seem to be talking about the same kind of thing.

If you were to recount what has happened in the world, based entirely on your tweetosphere and Facebook timelines, you might realise that everything important seems to have happened elsewhere. It is true that we live in a widely connected viral world, where if the USA sneezes, India gets a flu, but it seems as if lately, the things that I hear and read about are generally things that happen only at a global level. More surprisingly, most of the news that trends on Twitter, gets promoted on Facebook, and discussed on Google Plus, is in sync with what is being reported in mainstream media.

Of course, the voices are different. People have found a space for their opinions. There are strong critiques and alternative viewpoints around these events which are finding space in the public domain.

Much like the salons and cafes of the 18th century, which saw a whole range of new educated classes coming into the public to discuss and shape the society they lived in, the digital commons have created new public spaces of expression and discussion. This has been, indeed, one of the visions of the social web and we have reached a point where, at least for digital natives who have grown up within digital ecosystems, there is space to produce alternative opinions in their immediate environments.

At the turn of the millennium, when the social Web was being shaped, this was one of the biggest excitements — the possibility that voices from outside of mainstream and traditional media, which often get curtailed, would find contestations and alternative visions from people's everyday experiences. And in many ways, it looks like we have achieved this dream, and found channels, communities and information strategies, which allow for conflicting views to co-exist in our knowledge spectrum. It is fascinating to realise that just a decade ago, the ways in which we talked about the key questions of our life, was so different, and was largely controlled by those in positions of power who identified only certain things as "newsworthy".

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