SG Elections: New media elections

Singaporeans will be going to the polls in about six day’s time. This time, the elections have taken on a multi-dimensional approach as new media has come to the fore. During each rally each night, thousands of images, tweets and Youtube videos would be uploaded, shared, and commented on.

From Facebook fan pages for various political parties and specific politicians and activists, to YouTube videos, to live streaming of political rallies, to multiple blogs and viral images, there is no doubt that the power of new media is a force to be reckoned with.

I’ve listed below some of the many links that will help you get a handle on the politics of new media and the new media of politics!

Singapore: Social media, youth, and elections

Singapore elections: Nicole Seah and the social media effect

What Can We Expect In The 2011-2012 Singapore General Elections?

Singapore Elections 2011 – Can Social Media And Politics Mix?

Facebook, YouTube the new battlegrounds in Singapore elections

Social media: The new battleground in Singapore elections

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China Blog Helps To Trace Kidnapped Children

There’s been recent news of how a microblog set up in China has helped to reunite parents with their long-lost abducted children. Set up on China’s Sina.com by a Chinese professor,Yu Jianrong,  known for “championing the rights of China’s huge underclass”, the microblog gets people to take photos of child beggars and orphans and upload them to the site. One could easily send photos to the campaign’s email address: jiejiuqier@sina.com or use the mobile app for it.

It was just one such photo that led to the happy reunion of a father and his six-year-old boy who had been kindnapped three years earlier. Six other children have apparently been able to have happy reunions with their families, through the help of the microblog.

These have captured the attention of the Chinese government and have sparked renewed efforts by the state police to crack down on such abductions. The sad plight of kidnapped children who are often  forced into a life of slavery and hardship have been documented in various websites and blogs. One example is a project on Kickstarter that features documentary on the issue.

Unfortunately, just as the microblog has been hailed as a success in helping to rescue some of the children from their sad plight, there are others who now say that the online campaign is flawed and has put the children’s lives in greater danger. Because of the sudden interest in taking photos of the child beggars and posting them online, some say that the kidnappers will now resort to more serious ways such as disfiguring the children to prevent them from being recognised by their families.

Thankfully, efforts to rescue kidnapped children will be  more sustained. There will be a special fund set up for long-term help for a nationwide crackdown on child begging. Yang Peng, secretary-general of the One Foundation, announced on his sina.com.cn micro blog on Saturday that a dedicated fund will be established and affiliated to the charitable organisation.

Let’s hope that with sustained and concerted efforts by all, there could be a stop to this ruthless problem and the children can be protected.

The End of Char Kway Teow & Other Hawker Mysteries – alternative form of ieatishootipost

Any true-blue Singaporean would be familiar with the food blog  ieatishootipost.sg. We have no doubt drooled countless times over the amazing food pictures and delectable descriptions of tasty morsels highlighted in the blog.

Now, the founder of the local food blog, Dr Leslie Tay has turned author with the publication of his book “The End of Char Kway Teow & Other Hawker Mysteries”. Dr Leslie Tay is a doctor and also a foodie (very Singaporean!) and he set up the blog in 2006.

His wish is to recommend good hawker fare, based on his motto of “never waste your calories on yucky food”. I totally agree with the philosophy! That’s why it’s wonderful when others can do the tasting and provide us with info on what ‘s worth the calories!

Dr Leslie Tay also believes in giving back to society and proceeds from the sale of his book will go towards www.goducate.org to raise funds for building a school for displaced children in Sandakan. 

What’s also amazing about how far his blog has come! What started out as a blog on a new media platform is now being published into a book!

I’ll be attending a talk this coming Thursday by Dr Tay – looking forward to a yummy session with food for thought, or frankly, I’ll settle for just good food!

Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010 Report is out

Just a quick post to let you know that Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2010 report is now out.

According to the report, “bloggers’ use of and engagement with various social media tools is expanding, and the lines between blogs, micro-blogs, and social networks are disappearing” and “the significant growth of mobile blogging is a key trend this year”.

Read more about it at http://technorati.com/blogging/article/state-of-the-blogosphere-2010-introduction/#ixzz14J3fDIe6

New Media at the PAP Conference 2009

In a move to show that it’s embracing the use of new media, there was new media tools galore at the recent People’s Action Party (PAP) Conference 2009.

A team of young PAP bloggers were on hand to capture and update posts on the fly on the PAP website as well as on Facebook and Twitter, and netizens could also send Twitter updates and comments. At the same time, partcipants at the event could sms their comments and questions, making the whole atmosphere seem very Web 2.0 – the age of participation and engagement.

According to an article by CNA, “this is the first time new media tools have been given such a prominent spot at the PAP Convention. It is part of a broader effort to update and refresh the party image, reach out to the wider public, and hopefully bring in new members”. Young PAP has a Facebook page to reach out to the young too.

I believe this could be seen as a sincere attempt by the party to use new media to engage its members as well as the larger public. This could be a response to comments made about lip service and all.

The party also screened his political video, in a move to signal that yes, political videos are acceptable. In fact, the government has announced that political videos would be allowed for the next GE.

This is one of the videos – on Unsung Heroes:

Also, in a move to also reflect the age of participation in the live event, (not just in virtual worlds) the party invited ordinary members to make speeches and reach out to their fellow member.

We look forward to seeing how new media will be used to enhance the political climate in Singapore!

State of the Blogosphere

Technorati’s report on the State of the Blogosphere is out!

And according to the report, Technorati states that “the growth of the blogosphere’s influence on subjects ranging from business to politics to the way information travels through communities continues to flourish. In a year when revolutions and elections were organized by blogs, bloggers are blogging more than ever, and the State of the Blogosphere is strong.”

Released over a 5-day period, the report covers the following:

Definitely a must-read for those into blogging and new media! It’s interesting that the report has a section on Twitter – a testimony to the growing popularity of Twitter. In fact, Twitter’s popularity has grown so much that Google and Microsoft have been in competition to seal deals with Twitter for their serach engines to index Tweets!

Paid Bloggers to announce their commercial associations

Bloggers and the law are getting into the news these days.

First, there is news that new disclosure rules may soon be implemented in Singapore. What this means is that bloggers paid to talk about certain products would need to state upfront that they have received payment or perks for blogging about those items.

According to the article Bloggers who get gifts or money may have to own up, MDA feels that “such regulations will protect consumers by enabling them to make an informed assessment about what they read”.

This rule follows upon the recent news from the United States, that from Dec1, “bloggers will have to make ‘clear and conspicuous’ disclosures if, for example, they write a restaurant review after having been treated to a feast there…The penalty for flouting this rule in blogs or postings in Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube: A fine of US$11,000 (S$15,360).”

 With blogs now going very much beyond the personal journal-style blogs found in the days of blog infancy, and taking on a more commercial spin, many companies and individuals are using blogs for marketing and advertising purposes.

Many companies have taken advantage of the more personal appeal of blogs and have approached bloggers to test review their products. While there is nothing wrong with that, things get complicated when the bloggers are paid or presented with gifts for their postings. I mean, it’ll be hard for the bloggers to be objective in their reviews when they were being paid!

Already, a beauty products company in Sinagpore has been suspected of paying a blogger to write highly positive reviews about the products. This is tantamount to fraud as what is ostensibly a personal review is actually a form of paid advertising.

Thus, by making bloggers declare their commercial associations at the start, readers would be more mindful of that when reading the posts and recommendations, and hence make more informed decisions about those products.

Still, I would like to highlight that while there are many paid bloggers out there, and with the disclosure law kicking in, we would know who they are, there are also many passionate bloggers out there who have views and are ready to express them, sans payment from companies.

According to the article Blogger disclosure regulation – who and how to implement it in Singapore?, “the thing now is to draw a clearer line between a paid post and a genuine review or post.”

The next issue makes for interesting irony. Bloggers who give their own personal opinions are getting flak and even threats of legal action for posting their views on their blogs. Recently, some food bloggers have been threatened with law suits for their reviews of certain restaurants that the owners have found to be ‘untasteful’ and ‘unsavoury’. They were asked to take down their posts. This has sparked discussion about the freedom of speech of bloggers and the concept of personal reviews.

As we navigate new areas in cyberspace, laws would need to be adapted or crafted carefully to adapt to the dynamic online public space.

What do you think? To what extent do bloggers or should bloggers have freedom of speech?