Sunday, 30 December 2012

Social Media - Uniting people for a cause

Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube – did they send out people onto the streets? Certainly not! Were they responsible for spreading the message and accelerating the process of protest? Absolutely! Both Twitter and Facebook played a key means of communication for protesters in the ‘occupy wall street’, Egypt’s Revolution, Anna Hazare’s movement in India and many more such incidents.

Social media is playing a major role in creating awareness among youngsters, in developing countries like India. The recent outrage on the ‘Delhi Rape’ case garnered public attention more than ever before. It is not that such incidents had not happened before but the awareness that was created by the Social media such Facebook and Youtube ( was unprecedented.  Though many parents have complaints that most youngsters spend their time on social media – Facebook or Youtube, they have to realize that these media also helped in creating social awareness among youngsters. Social media has become a channel for expressing their frustrations, their emotions and their anger against the ‘bad’ elements of the society and even the government. During the Delhi protest, social networking sites have emerged as the rallying points for youths to arrange protests at India Gate. The hashtag 'Delhi Gangrape' was one of the top trends on Twitter during this time. The recent ‘Delhi rape’ protest to express anguish and anger in a peaceful protest march for a most just cause, turned violent. Pictures of the police beating the innocents, both men and women, went viral on the social media network causing serious damage to the Indian government image.

Similarly, Anna Hazare’s( and Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-corruption movement ( The movement is moving towards giving a political alternative to the country as directed by people's mandate. Anna Hazare began his protest against corruption in which the Indian government is sunken knee deep.  He began his protest with a few protestors, but the campaign gained momentum within a few days, social media being a huge contributor. His demand for the Jan Lokpal Bill to fight corruption was acknowledged by many Indians, and the youth, who are more active on social media, became more aware of the situation plaguing India, and extended their support to his campaign in hordes. Arvind Kejriwal is working full time towards exposing all the corrupt elements existing in the Indian government. He is using the social media to instantly load images and other vital information to increase public awareness of the present scenario. He is using the social media to unite people to fight against the corruption that is eroding the Indian values and crippling India by not allowing her to develop and prosper as she truly deserves.

Facebook and twitter are the measures of the Anna Hazare movement in India. Anna Hazare supporters use Twitter and Facebook to mobilize society in the ‘India against Corruption’ campaign. With more than 593,000 ‘likes’ on the Anna Hazare Facebook page and 107,000 ‘likes’ on the India Against Corruption Facebook page and thousands of others lending online support via twitter and their website, Anna Hazare has become a symbol of shining light to many an Indian.
Even Indian ‘police’ are using social media. The Delhi traffic police used Facebook, during “Delhi rape” protests, to announce lifting of restrictions on traffic movements around India Gate. Even the Delhi Police spokesperson joined in updating the status. Hours later, the Delhi Police commissioner tried to reach out to the youth on Twitter.
Bangalore Traffic Police too has a Facebook page (, where both the public and the traffic police post the current traffic scenarios, traffic advisories, ongoing construction works, accidents and delays. Police are also posting safety rules and regulations to bring traffic awareness to the public.  For example, this post clearly illustrates the above point:
Dear Friends,
December month is generally considered as road accident month. Compared to other months, accidents are reported more during December. This is due to cold weather, less visibility and drunken driving. During the last week of December 2011, 25 people were killed in the city due to road accidents. We cannot overcome the cold weather and low visibility, but drunken driving can be prevented. - Bangalore City Traffic Police”
Recently the Bangalore Traffic launched a new site where the public can file a complaint against bad drivers (, where you can enter details of the vehicle including pictures and other details. These then will be treated as inputs for generating tickets against traffic violators and/or arrests.

During the recent Egyptian revolt, when the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, CNN host Anderson Cooper had questioned former CIA director James Woolsey whether the U.S. intelligence community had fully grasped the power of social media in catalyzing pro-democracy movements worldwide. As can be seen with these above mentioned instances, social media is indeed playing a major role in bringing masses together on one platform, voicing their opinions and effecting discernible changes in their society.

Would ‘social media’ well be the next media ‘revolution’?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Social Media and Tourism

Social media has made a huge impact on every major industry - including travel and tourism. Travel and tourism business heavily depends on word-of-mouth. Social media has helped both the travel industry and the travelers in promoting tourism through reviews, shared experiences, opinions about the hotels and service through blogs, Facebook, youtube and discussion forums. It is found that almost 87 percent of US travelers use the internet for their travel planning. The U.S. online travel industry is set to reach a huge target of $162 billion in 2012 – up some 74 percent since 2007 – and social media is playing a major part. More than half (52 percent) of travelers have changed their plans after researching their trip on social media sites, and 50 percent of travel companies have said that direct bookings have been generated from social media (

Recently I had traveled to the University of Brazil, Brazil, for presenting a paper in a conference. Though I had lots of reservation traveling to Brazil, I still wanted to take the risk because of two reasons- i. Microsoft rated this conference (Information Security) as #13 in the world ( ) and ii. I always wanted to visit Rio de Janeiro (one of the world’s beautiful cities).

I would like to describe here how the social media came to my rescue in planning my travel to the minutest detail.

Since Brazil is considered to be a yellow fever endemic region, it was mandatory for me to take the vaccination. I had no idea about the seriousness of yellow fever; I had to do some research on yellow fever and the required vaccination. I had to visit several medical sites such as – ,  to learn that yellow fever is indeed one of the deadliest diseases. I had to get this vaccination 10 days before the travel. This vaccination is not easily available and only a very few government agencies provide certificates of vaccination, which is to be shown to the immigration officer. I was able to find out all this information by just sitting in my office, going through various social media sites – ,

The next thing was to make the travel arrangements. Since the conference was in the University of Brazil in Sao Paulo, the conference coordinator helped me with accommodation within the University. However, I had to make my own arrangements at Rio de Janeiro. Since I had read a lot about crime in Brazil and Rio, I was a bit jittery, from the beginning, to travel to Rio all by myself. I had to rely on several social media sites to find a suitable hotel in a safe location. I read lots of reviews, very carefully, to find a hotel in a ‘safe’ neighborhood and booked it online. I also read a lot about certain ‘safety’ precautions that one needs to take to go around the city of Rio de Janeiro. And it so turned out that the hotel I stayed in Rio was indeed in a very safe place and I had no trouble going around the city. All this was possible because of the prior information I was able to glean out of the social media sites such as –

Not knowing the Portuguese language was a BIG problem in Brazil. Very few people speak English in that country. Another important social media which came to my rescue to survive in Brazil was – I used this social media site extensively to translate my simple communication to Portuguese and wrote it down on a paper and confidently roamed around the city, using their Metro, speaking the few Portuguese lines that I had learnt online. Finally helped me to know my whereabouts within Rio de Janeiro.

As can be inferred from above, Social Media is playing a very important role in the life of a global traveler and more and more people are planning their travels based on the information available on such sites. This should urge the people in the travel industry to use the social media very prominently in promoting their business and improve upon, based on the various reviews residing therein. Social media definitely made my trip to Brazil smooth sailing, enjoyable and memorable.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Social Media’s role during Super storm Sandy

Super storm Sandy recently devastated the east coast of United States of America. Even now, many parts of New Jersey and New York have no power, no water, no subways, no roads and many other basic amenities of life. The cleaning operations have just begun. Even with all the new technology, inventions, satellites, hi-tech equipment that we have today, no one was able to stop the Mother Nature from causing massive destructions. However, new social media technologies such as Facebook, twitter have been a tremendous help in providing information to people, particularly those who are affected by the super storm Sandy. During previous storms such as Hurricane Katrina, there was no twitter or Facebook that broadcast the breaking news on their mobile devices instantly. People had to wait patiently and listen to the TVs or go online for latest images. But yesterday, even when the natural disaster was being struck, people took pictures, shot videos, sent tweets and posted latest updates on Facebook. According to Mashable, Instagram users posted 10 Hurricane Sandy photos per second, and provided more than 86,000 images in a 24-hour period. And this is just one such social media site. According to ABC Television, there were 4 million tweets in the last 24 hours. People were tweeting on where one could find milk, water or how bad their area was being affected by floods.

Photos and videos are only informational. Though it is difficult to exactly quantify how tweets, Facebook postings etc., affected the response time of people, I definitely believe it has aided the affected people to respond to an emergency and take effective measures.

Here are some of the social media sites which are providing latest updates, rescue operations and other related information regarding Sandy:

Storm Live Updates:

Emergency Response Information by Google

Hurricane Research Division:

National Hurricane Center
The story of hurricane Sandy told through instagram

I was monitoring the tweets and Facebook updates during the day of the storm and here are some of the sample tweets and Facebook postings:

 "RT @businessinsider: A Tree Destroyed By Hurricane Sandy Hid A Grisly Surprise by @abbyrogers",

"Here is a list of restaurants open today. @EaterNY will be updating throughout the day. #Sandy",

"RT @CuzItsFunny: Hurricanes have nice names like sandy, It sounds friendly & then kills everyone They should name them shaniqua so everyone gets out the way.",

"RT @BoingBoing: Why do electrical transformers explode? And, hey, what exactly are electrical transformers and how do they work? #Sandy",

Unlike · · Share · 5 hours ago ·
·         Still no power. Thanks to friends, we are able to take hot showers. 800,00 on Long Island have no power. University closed today (Wed) as well. Stores and gas stations all still closed. Noise of buzz saws cutting fallen branches and trees everywhere. Long Island seems to be as badly hit as any other part of the Northeast.
Like · · Unfollow Post · Share
S.N. Sridhar From our office in the university, which has its own power plant :)Thanks for this, we are able to heat up some food in the microwave and eat. Also glad we live 7 minutes from school.

Somehow this reminds me of a city that I have spent a lot of time in :-)

18 minutes ago ·Still no power. Cell network spotty. Two restaurants on Rt. 347 open. Thanks to friends, hot shower and prospect of a hot dinner this evening:)

"NEW YORK: This Is What Your Flooded Subway System Looked Like After Hurricane Sandy via @businessinsider",


Monday, 29 October 2012

Search Twitter

Finally I was able to code how to find(search) your favorite topic that is being discussed on Twitter!! This program will give you the latest tweets. Just type your topic, example Obama, in the text box and click GO!! Enjoy reading tweets!!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Social Media and Business Impact

“Social Media” is the word nowadays on everyone’s lips, whether it is the young students or the adults or the major enterprises. However, I would like to describe some of the terms that are used in social media and why it is important for your business.

Social media is a technology channel built on web 2.0. It simply connects people on the web. It could be a video site such as, or social sites - or, or online gaming sites. It could even be a blogging or micro-blogging sites such as twitter. 

Social networking has become the medium where individuals of similar mindset come together to form specific groups, for example, classmates, people with particular hobbies, technical members of a committee or a small rural community or neighbors from a town. The only difference between earlier social networking and the present scenario is the new technology – internet and www. This has enabled people from across the globe to connect and stay in touch, exchange information within seconds. The “distance” is slowly disappearing and world is becoming “small” (small world phenomenon). 

Social media marketing is the way to use “social media networking” to build customer relationships, drive repeat business and attract new customers through friends sharing with friends. Why is social network marketing powerful?  Mainly because of its characteristics - Network Effects, Strength of Weak Ties, Small World Phenomenon and Six Degrees Separation.

Here are some ways the social media can have a big impact on your business:

e-WOM – You can build your brand through word of mouth and also by spreading the word. Social media offers an excellent way to promote new products. The introductory offers or promotions are a good way to generate interest and to build the relationship (social group).
Promotions – Give customers offers which are so good that they cannot turn down and can make them go “viral”.
Participation - Listen and respond to what your customers are saying about you and to you.
Customer Retention - Build relationships with customers so that they trust you more.

Staying on Top of the competition - Social media is helpful in observing what other competing businesses are doing and what’s being said in the market by the consumers. From these observations, you will be able to infer market intelligence and “sentiments” of consumers.

To help marketers, I plotted my “Social” graph. It clearly shows different clusters (represented by different colours) –schoolmates, hobby network, colleagues/ex-colleagues and family/friends. This graph shows the “influential player” in my “social network.” (It does not mean that if you have more number of friends you are the influential player!)

 Which social “media” works for your business? It all depends on your “social media strategy.”

Sunday, 23 September 2012

World Wide Web – A rich source for Research

The World Wide Web is a powerful tool which helps in searching for information on the internet. As a researcher, I use web to search journal documents, latest research in my area, conferences, etc. I am listing some of the important web sites which I think would be helpful to my fellow researchers.
1. - Provides a search of scholarly literature across many disciplines and sources, including theses, books, abstracts and articles
2. - Provides comprehensive reports about companies, industries and people that drive the economy, along with powerful tools to find and connect to the right people to get business done
3. - Provides an interface where all search engines, social networks, etc., are integrated to make use of many of the best tools of the Web.
4. - Web site that indexes and reviews quality, credible, and current web-based resources
5. - The New York Times allows you to do an on-line search of their archives of NY Times articles
6. – Provides Indian market guide. You can also access other countries’ marketing guide as well from this site (USA, Australia, etc).
7. - The PRODUCEMARKETGUIDE.COM is your search to the Fresh Produce Industry. This is a site to connect buyers with EVERY player in the fresh produce supply chain (world wide data is available)
8. - The United States Securities and Exchange Commission. You can access the EDGAR Archives here.
9.  - For those who want to know more about academic writing.
10. - For those who want to know more about academic writing.
11. - The Stanford AI Lab (SAIL) is the intellectual home for researchers whose primary research focus is Artificial Intelligence.
12. - Stanford University Online Library.
13. - A leading global provider of web content for professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting, and academic markets.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cellular(Mobile) phone evolution

Today, we can live without food for a day but not without a mobile phone. There is no doubt that the mobile/cell phone has had tremendous impact on our lives than any other technology. Can you imagine a life without your smart phone that allows you to browse web, send messages, check your e-mails, take photographs, play your favorite music, find out your location if you are lost and also make a telephone call?

A mobile phone (also known as a cellular phone, a cell phone and a hand phone) is a “telephone” device that can send and receive telephone calls over a “radio link” around a wide geographical area. Your mobile phone is connected to a cellular network, provided by a mobile phone service provider, which in-turn is connected to a public telephone network (PSTN).

It all began when Alexander Graham Bell invented the “telephone” in 1876. In the early 1890s, Charles Stevenson developed a radio communication system to communicate with the lighthouses off the shore. However, in 1894, Marconi succeeded in developing a radio system that could transmit a signal over a stretch of 2 Km. In 1902, telegraphed letter “S” was sent from England to Newfoundland and this was the first successful radiotelegraph “wireless” message. In 1906, Fessenden broadcasted music over the radio.

Wireless communication involves sending and receiving of information through air or space using electromagnetic waves, at different frequencies, which include radio waves, infrared rays and microwaves. The pioneer of wireless telecommunications is Al Gross, who invented the walkie-talkie, which is the first radio communication device. He patented them in 1938. Walkie-talkies are the first radio communication device that was used for military purposes during the Second World War, and eventually spread for commercial use after the war. But they operate only in a close proximity. Invention of walkie-talkie has led to the invention of Citizen’s Band (CB) radio, also called as car radio phones, used mainly in taxis, and then to telephone “pagers”, which was a very early form of one-way text messaging. The mobile phone was the next logical development of both the car radio telephone service and personal mobile radios.

Motorola is the pioneer in wireless technology. Years of experience in engineering two-way radio systems led to Motorola's vision of personal, portable communication devices. The result was the world's first commercial portable cellular phone. Motorola introduced the world's first commercial portable cellular phone in the year 1984 - DynaTAC, the Brick Phone. It was the device that ushered in the mobile phone era that has come to define who we are today. Since then, the cell phones have changed a lot; advancement in technology has transformed the huge brick-sized mobile phones to credit card sized sleek iPhones that we carry now. Mobile phone technology evolved from First generation (1G) - an analog cellular network, to second generation (2G) – digital cellular networks, to the third generation (3G) broadband data services and finally fourth generation (4G) - high speed IP networks.

I must say that I was lucky enough to be in the United States of America during the golden times (in 1990s). I hence had an opportunity to work for the world’s most prestigious company, the AT&T Bell Labs where the inventors of “Telephone”, “Transistors”, “UNIX and C”, “C++” and other great inventors worked. I also have seen the technology evolving over time, starting from mainframes to MS-DOS to Windows, internet to World Wide Web, analog telephone to cellular phones, etc. 


"Al Gross, Inventor of the Walkie-Talkie." Inventor of the Week Archive. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 15 November 2004, <>.