I've observed myself as I've observed things happening and I've been amazed and fascinated by the impact of the various internet mediums (if that's the term) and how they enabled me, and probably millions of others, to get real time information and feedback on the state of play in Sri Lanka on a minute by minute basis from all those thousands of miles away.
There were four main platforms I used, the obvious ones; Facebook, Twitter, the mainstream press (on the net) and the blogs, mostly fed to me from Kottu or the ones I link to from here.
In the days preceding the election the blogs and press were the clear winners in terms of getting across their message. For months each Sri Lankan newspaper had told us of the virtues and benefits of its chosen candidate, the majority had gone for MR but some still extolled the virtues of the retired General. In the run up each paper had time to produce nice wordy and well thought out articles, as well as a lot of rubbish.
There were also emails going around, the usual sort of "fan" thing, as well as people putting things up on Facebook, though usually copy and paste jobs or links to blogs.
The blogs did their thing too. There were people like Sittingnut and Voice In Colombo on one side, others on the opposing side and many who, to me at least, didn't really appear to be on the side of either of the main contenders, but on the side of change. By that I mean that there were people who weren't really pro SF but were going to vote for him because they'd had enough. Had I been a voter I would have bunged myself in that category.
Then, when we got to the 26th (election day) and the 27th (results day), the situation in terms of the coverage changed dramatically. The online newspapers, all except the Daily Mirror, though that's more like a forum these days anyhow, couldn't react quickly enough to act as "real time" information providers, so other platforms rose to the occasion, a word I always have trouble spelling.
Most bloggers, those that had kept their allegiance a bit quiet before at least, came out and showed their colours. There were some suprises. Indi's support for SF surprised me more than I could believe. With many of his posts seeming quite pro MR recently I'd thought that the incumbent prez had managed to seduce Indi somehow. How wrong I was.
On the 27th, as the results started to filter through and the Cinammon Lakeside got more publicity and TV footage than Yasmin Cader could ever dream of, it was Twitter that came into its own, with the blogs taking a firm second place. Facebook seemed to fade away and only acted as an outlet for people tell us that they'd written a blog post or that they had a gig the next weekend and we're all invited.
I was surprised that Facebook became a bit pedestrian in that sense but, with hindsight I probably shouldn't have been. After all it is a social networking site first and foremost. The chat thing was something I used, to talk to a few people to see what their take on this was, but that was more because it was there than anything else.
Twitter became like one of those old fashion newsroom machines, the ones that churn out all the news on ticker tape. Everyone was telling everyone what was going on, then everyone else was retweeting things in case we missed it the first time around. Tweets were coming through at a rate so fast that even
Those people who had a little more time somehow managed to dash off quick but informative blog posts giving better detail than possible on Twitter. Indi and Groundviews were particularly prolific in this sense and I genuinely thank them for the updates. In the middle of all of this the Daily Mirror site went down, I don't know if it was sheer volume of traffic or what, but it was as much use as a clown's outfit to a fish, one that doesn't want to work in a circus at all.
I came across some blogs that I've hardly ever read before, one of which was this Telshane one. As with all the information sources it was vital to try to apply one's own filtering mechanisms to things. People were forwarding rumours, heresay, Chinese as well as Taiwanese whispers and things they'd heard from their driver who had heard it from the cousin brother of his friend's sister.
As I read posts like this one I wondered first what they've done to the pool at the Cinnamon Lakeside, as it looks as though one end now has a sort of barrier. Secondly and rather more importantly I felt incredibly involved with the goings on. It was like an out of body experience. I was at my desk, in between meetings on a pretty busy day yet only seconds away from events as they unfolded.
So that's my take on things, or how things were revealed. It was a lesson to me, a very positive one about how the world is so small and accessible. It's not about journey times and physical distances, it's all about broadband speeds, Blackberries and HD video, Tweets and blogs.
The post of the day?
This one. It made me laugh.
Have a good weekend all.