Mobile Communications – today’s political horticulture

2012-05-15 14:06

Are you sowing and growing your truth vehicle?

“Defining the term Horticulture is a key factor in effective communication of the importance of plants, their cultivation and their use for sustainable human existence. It is evident that limiting the term horticulture to the popularist understanding of just a gardening activity fails to encompass the enormity of the impact that horticulture has on individuals, communities and society. Describing its impact on the physiological, psychological and social activities of people is key to expanding an understanding of horticulture.” (Source: Wikipedia.com).

The advent of the mobile phone (cellular communications) can be viewed in much the same vein as horticulture.  The enormity of the impact of this invention on individuals, communities and society at large is exponential - especially when considering how the use of the mobile phone has, and will continue to, radically change political landscapes.

The United Nations last year declared access to the internet as a basic human right.  So, while you don’t need the internet to snap a photo of a political uprising, an event or a community gathering, when conveyed on a camera phone and shared via the web to all one’s friends and the local news station, that photograph now has power.  It might even start to shift a political landscape – for example in the case of how the Arab Spring spread virally.  Even without a camera phone, a simple text message was also powerful in conveying what is happening.  In essence, the mobile phone is a truth vehicle.

Citizen journalism has emerged because voice messages and pictures are immediate.  Political destiny can be affected simply by the forwarding of instant news.  ‘Next generation’ communication is here and now and actively happening all around us.  This new social awareness ensures that ‘stuff’ that might previously have been hidden is now out in the open and makes way for freedom for ordinary people and those who are being affected.  You can run but you can’t hide!

We have seen this in numerous uprisings over the past two years or more.  Other examples, other than the well documented interaction of social media in the cause and effect of the Arab Spring last year are China, where social and mobile communications have emerged and ‘mobilised’ communities at grassroots levels, as well as energizing ongoing impetus for civil society movements to affect political horticulture.

Providing the general populous with the means to convey this news to assist in changing not only regimes but affording people in the remotest of areas access to information is one of the key reasons why I decided to get involved in next generation communication.  Being part of Yeigo and Telfree has afforded me the opportunity to meet some of the most inspiring international leaders and change makers, such as at my recent visit to Davos.  One such interaction was with David Kirkpatrick, the author of The Facebook Effect, who has an acute appreciation of the cosmic shift that happens when the average person gets greater access to information and an avenue for self-expression. A passage in his reads, ‘In a more open and transparent world, people will be held to the consequences of their actions and be more likely to behave responsibly’.

This new era in open communication is a direct challenge to traditional communication and propaganda machines.  The disenfranchised who are customarily subjected to collective messaging now have the ability to question and think for themselves and challenge the status quo.  Although, it should also be noted that as much as the mobile phone can be a vehicle for good, it can also be used to manipulate the truth and do damage.

Recent events in South Africa such as the videoing of the group rape of a mentally challenged teenager which was spread from cellphone to cellphone, while abhorrent and totally distasteful, also led to the arrest of the perpetrators.  The rape of this young woman had happened previously and no-one in the greater community knew about it or if they did, were not prepared to do anything about it.  Conveying it via mobile caused it to create a ‘movement’ and provoked people to ‘act and combat the problem rather than ignoring it.

The rise of the ‘truth vehicle’ which affords effective and accessible communication is, without doubt, the key for future sustainable human life as much as food and water.

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