I was at an international PD conference yesterday speaking on the "Role of global media and how strategic communication can strengthen Australia-India relations." This was at an international conference - "ganized by the Alfred Deakins Research Institute, Australia and Rajdhani College, Delhi University, India. The conference is being sponsored by the Australia India institute and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India.
During my talk, I emphasized the role of conversations in shaping perceptions today and the potential of social media. It was interesting to field lot of questions, after my talk, that bordered on cynicism towards social media and the sphere of influence of web enabled platforms. In this gathering of academics and policy wonks, what I could not help notice was that social media was broadly understood to be 'Facebook' and 'Twitter,' and, the limitations of the these two social networking platforms to influence and engage.
Conversations in social media do not necessarily happen on these two platforms. There are numerous other areas where debates are being shaped, opinions formed and perceptions created. Simplest example, that comes to mind, is the space for reader's comments on news websites. This is where people take action on news, engage in debates and express opinions. Consider the article below that generated 477 comments on the issue of violence against Indians in Australia. This is The Economist and not even a newspaper from Australia or India. This is an example of social media enabled conversation that can shape perceptions. How do we manage such conversations?