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12/06/2008

The new cyberspace contest

The coming General Election will pit the TOM with Cyberspace head on and the impact is going to be startling. GEs of the past were mostly a one sided affair with the ruling party monopolising all the means of communication with the electorate. It was only in the last GE that cyberspace appeared and shifted the ground slightly. This time round it is not only going to shift the ground, it is going to be a major player to compete for the attention of the voters. And knowing how hungry voters are for alternative news and views, many will be searching in cyberspace to hear what they want to hear. What will still be available to the ruling party? The old media, newspapers, radio and TV, and a few blogs which are the off shoots of TOM. These will be the providers of the official views. You can count them in two hands. On the other side of the fence there will be at least 50 to 100 blogs and forums contesting against the official views. Some will be neutral but many will just take the views that are least reported in TOM. And many of these blogs and their visitors will find such views more interesting and refreshing. Then there are the opposition party blogs and websites that will air whatever they want, policies, agenda, plans and rebuttals. The latter is going to be very important as this is generally denied from them. Without the ability to rebut, often, or as in the past, they will look inept or incoherent. Now they are able to explain away the stuff their attackers threw at them. TOM, radio and TVs will still have the bulk of the readership and will still have the upper hand. But the sprouting up of many alternative blogs and forums will put a big dent into their armoury. And if these alternative blogs could put up well argued positions, rational and logical views, credible views, to win over the voters, the results of the next GE is not going to be so predictable. It is going to be a contest of ideas in cyberspace and the opposition parties are going to have the upper hand in numbers with each blog/forum reaching out to smaller groups of visitors. The aggregate can be quite substantial. And so far there is no answer from the other side. It is like a huge conventional army staying its ground to fight a big battle while the enemies were all over engaging in small skirmishes and guerilla warfare. It is an asymmetric electoral warfare.

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