Obama & Osama—the Internet gurus

By Farrukh Saleem

ISLAMABAD: Obama and Osama have at least one thing in common: they both have used the Internet—as best as it can be by anyone—to achieve their own respective goals. Osama uses the net as a communication and a propaganda tool, and Osama may be loosing the physical war but, thanks to his Internet artistry, he seems to be winning on the ideological front.

Obama, on the other hand, is the planet’s first truly Internet president. He has literally won his battle to the White House through the Internet. He became the first presidential campaigner in the whole world to have raised a colossal $639 million to finance his election campaign—and most of that through the world wide web (WWW). Obama’s campaign made the best use of tweets (twitter is a blogging service that allows people to be constantly in touch no matter where they are), text, images, e-mail, videos, SMS (short messaging service), RSS (really simple syndication) and multimedia along with social networking and micro-blogging services. For the past 200 years, America’s presidential election campaigns had been based on handshakes, corner meetings, town hall gatherings and TV debates. Obama actually based his election campaign on web servers, proxy servers, file servers and mail servers. And, he won. The US presidential election 2008 has been a billion dollar affair; Obama raised $639 million and McCain the rest. This is something that has never been done before—no presidential election has ever been a billion dollar affair.

Obama’s centrepiece was www.My.BarackObama.com; stirred by successes like www.facebook.com and www.myspace.com (both social networking websites). Obama’s campaign office has been less of a political HQ and more of an Internet outfit with online phone-calling technology, virtual phone banks, group e-mail software, database technology, electronic voter tracking, spam filtering, interactive conferencing and supporter interfaces. My.BarackObama.com claims to have more than a million members.

Obama used Twitter to raise millions of dollars. The United States Army’s 304th military intelligence battalion has now put out a report tilted “potential for terrorist use of Twitter”. The report states that “Twitter may actually be used by terrorist groups for their own benefit. The fear is that Twitter could actually be used as a tool to carry out a terrorist operation in the US.” A few years ago, Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, co-founder of Hamas, said, “We will use whatever tools we can—emails, the Internet—to facilitate Jihad against the Israeli occupiers and their supporters.” According to George Tenet, Director CIA from 1997 to 2004, to a “greater and greater degree, terrorist groups including al-Qaeda, are using computerised files, e-mail, and encryption to support their operations.”

Osama is using the ‘network of networks’ like no one has before him. Obama has used fibre-optic cables, even cooper wires, wireless connections, packet switching and My.BarackObama.com like no one has done before him. Osama brought down the World Trade Centre and Obama has captured the White House.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=144926

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