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Internet electioneering

March 10, 2008

Yes, I do believe that without the internet, the Malaysian election outcome would have been quite different than what we saw yesterday morning. Having information actually helps when one makes an informed decision.

To me, voting is like shopping. In this case its a life-changing product. Because of increased alternatives, I do some homework first to read up on a product and check out other people’s opinions on it before I buy. Whether that’s good or bad depends on whether you’re the buyer or seller. All this is nothing new. What’s new is the ease of how you can now do it, thanks to the internet.

Some bloggers have written about how the internet is going to determine the outcome of future elections. I agree but not in a way that people might think. See, when a group of people work loosely and live by their own rules (I’m referring to bloggers here), the internet is a natural medium to make a point, simply that culture blends well with ad hoc and unstructured mediums. But once you beome heavily centralized and structured, the picture changes. You need to toe company rules. You can’t respond to questions without clearing each statement with the ‘boss’ and the ‘boss’ is forever not in. You become slow, unresponsive, insenstitive.

Think of it as hawkers versus a big fast food chain. The hawker is the ceo, pr manager, procurement manager, janitor and salesman all rolled into one. He makes decisions in a split second and cuts right to the chase. But if you’re in a humongous hierarchy, you’re expected to get permission from like 10 different people before you can say something public. You need to toe the company line. The recent elections, to me, is like the hawker versus the big corporation. The hawker turned the corporation’s main strength – size and complexity – into its main weakness – slowness – to run circles around it. Intended or not, that’s typical guerilla warfare strategy and it worked.

I always believe that the battle for markets is not out there but in here (*points to the head*) and for this round, with the help of Youtube and blogspot, many minds were made up in front of millions of pc monitors.

Now that the internet has proven to be a factor, will big corporations jump on the bandwagon to get customers/voters? Yes but not in any gamechanging way. All big companies have websites that tout their products. That’s expected. But many of them still see an interactive blog or forum as suicidal, especially if their product has problems. Its tricky. The internet is ideal when you are an independent person with an opinion. It doesn’t seem to work so well if you are part of a giant machinery who must observe thick rulebooks.

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