15 June, 2009

Online obsession

Barack Obama and Michelle ObamaImage via Wikipedia

A computer's many good use, being one below…

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Steven Chia, stevenchia@channelnewsasia.com

THESE days, if you are not online, you are definitely out of the game - meaning, you are pretty much out of the real world. Ironic, isn't it? You'd think the world we live in is the real one and the other, virtual. But I think the lines have blurred and the real world is somewhere in-between - one that has us living partly online, partly offline.

The Internet has become our yellow pages, our encyclopedia, our dictionary ... I could go on, but in short, it's our window to the world both literally and metaphorically.

On Tuesday, we had a chat with Scott Goodstein on the show. He is one of the staff members who helped run the online aspect of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. And we all know how Obama's presence online really gave him an edge over John McCain. It was new school versus old school, and new school won big time. The difference, Scott said, was that Obama himself was the one who wanted to get "online", so instead of just a passive presence, he turned it into an active tool to engage people.

A quick check of Obama's facebook account (he has many) showed that he's got over 6 million fans on just one of them!

For a long time, I had stayed off blogging, but now that I've got the hang of it, I actually quite enjoy the experience and recognise its usefulness. I used to think you could not control what comes out on the Internet and now I know it's true.

The difference is I now understand that most people are able to discern between what is meaningful and what is rubbish. So there isn't a need to fear the medium, since rubbish doesn't get an audience. But there is a need to embrace it and to learn how to use it to your advantage.

Singapore is slowly opening up to the idea of politics online. The Government is concerned because they know there is no way to truly control it and yet they can't prevent it. But the way I see it, for the next elections here, the contender who is media savvy will have the ultimate edge.

From TODAY, Plus – Weekend, 13/14-Jun-2009

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