Ten years ago a set of 95 theses were organized and put forward as a manifesto, for all businesses operating within what was then suggested to be a newly-connected marketplace. Titled ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’, it put forward an idea that the Internet was unlike the ordinary media used in mass marketing as it enables people to have “human to human” conversations, which have the potential to transform traditional business practices radically. The authors asserted that a shift would occur through substantial and pervasive changes in current company-to-consumer interaction. Communication would shift from mission statements and marketing media aimed at consumer segments to open dialogues or conversations between businesses and consumers, whilst online marketing would be more about holding conversations with people rather than broadcasting half-truths about products and services. Turns out that tens years on that now everything is a conversation.
The fastest growing alternative media to the traditional channels (3.7 million results on Google Pages from Pakistan and 367,000 blogs found), blogs in Pakistan are now being credited from everything from bringing a giant corporate to its knees over its negligence during a reality show, greater consumer awareness, putting pressure on governments and politicians for greater transparency, showcasing the new and the trendy to the point where all gadgets now MUST have a blogger’s meetup at launch followed up by reviews, media practices, latest fashions, marketing and even general venting of frustration at All Things Pakistan.
The ability for anyone to have a thought, be able to type it up and then publish it online for the world to see for free has been equated with bringing in the same revolution as the printing press did 400 years ago. So much so that every traditional broadcast media & newspaper worth their salt has started their own blogging channels to avoid missing out on this cluetrain. Just on Dawn.com alone, one is treated to a myriad of subjects ranging from Politics, Satire, Sports, Technology, Business, Culture, Food to much much more. Politics of course is the favorite subject and one is treated to the widest range of topics from ‘Couldn’t She Find A Nice Indian Boy’ to deep philosophically inclined discussions on women’s rights and the burka. One is also treated to all the content that one would never be privy too in our traditional channels especially regarding our political leaders. Sports too especially Cricket are the passion of the nation and nowhere is it more apparent than on the net with the keywords ‘Cricket Blog Pakistan’ resulting in 446,000 results from Pakistan alone.
The biggest benefactor of the blogging scene however has been the Citizen Journalism scene, everything from taking on the big bad corporate and their policies to exploit low waged workers and risk their lives in factories without proper precautions or rights, or to prison seriously injured workers in a hospital room to block them from the media and labor movements, action against exploitative advertising of baby milk or more minor issues like delays in payments has been documented and archived for generations to come. The citizen of Pakistan’s voice is finally being heard and it is loud and demanding remedial for the generations of anger, exploitation and squelching of our voices.
One of the management gurus Tom Peters said, “One of my grand theories is that, fundamentally, there’s only one source of innovation, and that’s pissed off people. I think anger is the essential motivator.” If this is the case than this is our time to change the Pakistani world the way we want it to be with the power of the word. It has been known for eons to be mightier than the sword and with digital distribution it’s a tsunami now which will shatter all that that comes in its path.