These days, people are regularly involved in the political arena through “new media” to make their presence felt and influence politicians and the political process. Technology has made it easy for anyone and everyone with an internet connection to engage in chair politics – with or without intelligence or understanding of the problem at hand. However, criticism of this development is that the internet and related technology means giving people a feeling of being politically active while not active in the sense of the word “real”. When you search for the term “technology review” on the web, you get so many reviews about technology and you will find people sharing their experiences of how technology is impacting politics today.
The problem that arises from this thinking is political involvement. The problem in most Asian countries is that the population does not feel investment or ownership in the political process. In addition, these are the same concerns that form the basis of anxiety about whether political noise and growing online anger are positive developments. The concern is that e-literate, English-speaking urban populations may not be too keen to vote in elections, but they can and do criticize governments, politicians and systems in general from the comfort of their computer chairs, bask in the warm light of their computers and think that they have done their part.
The other side of the discussion points to the fact that technology allows some demographics to be included in the discussion. They now have the means by which they can express themselves and be involved in the process. People will benefit quickly by seeing how new media technologies – both the current generation and previous technologies related to the internet – have been used in politics in other contexts, with the clearest and most accessible.
Likewise, on the operational side, political parties and movements have used the internet and other information technologies very effectively and widely. In this case, another information technology is equally important to mention, if not more than that. Data collection, organization, and analysis can be one of the most important parts of running a campaign.
From demographic data to organizational records and planning documents, information technology is a big advantage in this digital world. All sorts of political organizations and activists have used it. Gone are the days when political leaders went around with paper notebooks, tracing contacts in every constituency in the country. The most successful organizations currently have the most sophisticated IT infrastructure, from political parties to militant organizations.
This brings one to what is part of real-world politics – fundraising. The Obama campaign in the US has proven that the use of information and communication technology can be what Americans call game-changers. If used properly, this technology can be used to challenge and overwhelm established political systems and structures. The network of people – reached by the Obama campaign and its involvement helped them overcome the institutional superiority that the Hillary Clinton campaign said was owned.
Not because they reach individuals and groups through the internet, but the internet gives them a way through which they gather volunteers and resources which are then used to reach a wider circle. This includes people who are on the other side of what is often referred to as the digital divide.
It was a missing puzzle piece that made a new tool. For this reason, information technology is the latest tool available for anyone to use, effective or useless. In addition, the extent to which the strengths and weaknesses of the tools are understood by those who use them and how well they can utilize their strengths to increase their effectiveness and reach are crucial for success.