Friday, 30 March 2012

The Revolution was not tweeted!

Map of the mornings tweets in Bradford and Leeds UK made with the Happ Clima.Me tool.  It shows no sign of high tweeting from Bradford.
 Yesterday a very significant and perhaps revolutionary event happened in the democracy of the United Kingdom.  Former Labour Left wing George Galloway won a massive victory in Bradford West running in the Respect Party.  This is the second time he has done this, riding the votes of leftist not happy with new Labour and Muslims to a resounding victory against the British establishment.

What is interesting of the map above showing the mornings tweets from Bradford and Leeds is the fact that there is no evidence of any heavy tweeting in Bradford.  And tracking twitter it is pretty clear most of the people posting are not from Bradford and do not like Galloway.  

And yet still Galloway was able to stage a massive victory, almost a coupe against Labour.  This is evidence (in a small scale) that not only is technology like Facebook and Twitter not necessary for 'revolts' to take place, in many areas the lack of such high cost gadgets may mean an area is ripe for revolution.  Libya and Syria, the most violent revolts of the Arab Spring happened in a void of Social Media.  

For a long time we have been seeing social networks being more dominated by reactionary concerned about the nature of change.  There is also a issue that tweeting and blogging may weaken movements for change by giving participants an illusion of participation the takes the place of real engagement that might do something.  But in Bradford West the key element must be that a lot of people who can't afford Blackberries or iPhones came out to vote for a more radical candidate. 


In fact there is something very alienating about all the twitter obsession with George Galloway today, he has been trending along with Bradford West all day on twitter, but the tweets are not coming from Bradford West, as the map above shows.  People from other parts of the UK are talking about Bradford and Galloway, while not many people are speaking from Bradford.   Perhaps this is also what happened in Egypt, with people talking about Tahrir on Twitter more than people talking with Twitter inside of Tahrir.  The danger is social media makes politics in to a spectator's sport, thus extending on the alienation from democratic processes that advanced so much under TV.  Information simply distances people from events as the people impacted are turned in to objects of media examination than subjects demanding their rights.

Today on Twitter everyone seems to have an opinion about Galloway, but no one seems interested in hearing from people who may have voted for him. 

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