think&drink4 was different from our other sessions so far – it had a panel, it had politics. It was also all about the biggest thing that’s happened in Singapore since Boon Tong Kee Chicken Rice. And what lies in the road ahead.
The where and when: TAB bar, Wed 25 May, 7-9pm (well, til later, really)
We had a former NMP and environmental champion (Prof Simon Tay), a ST political journalist (Tessa Wong), a freshly baked graduated History major (Chan Meiyi), and one of the most influential bloggers in Singapore (Benjamin Lee aka Mr Miyagi). Moderated by a socio-political policy expert (Dr Gillian Koh).
The audience: A motley mix of bankers, techies, greenies, wonks/experts, public servants, creatives, students, and other fellow social sector folk. 60 people turned up, way more than the 30-40 we were expecting. 29 people also tuned into the Livestream – nearly 50% of the people physically present! We're definitely going to consider doing them for future events.
Twitter: was a MASSIVE hit with everyone online #thinkdrink4.
KEY THEMES which emerged (and interesting insights which popped up)...
Social media and GE2011
Tessa noted that opposition parties were more effective in using social media in their election campaigns, which may have created a dominant opposition bias in the social media battleground
Interesting analogy from Simon - Imagine a network of school canteens which are run by a monopoly operator. This operator is a syndicate which allocates stalls to its favoured stallholders which they believe has a track record in serving the best quality food for the students and staff. On the other hand, illegal hawkers just outside the school merely seeking to make a humble living try fruitlessly to serve their fare, being not in the favoured list of this monopoly operator.
Greater participation, greater polarisation?
Gillian offered the idea that social media has had the ability to hasten the polarization of views. There were interesting mixed responses to this!
What we need for democracy
Tessa expressed the wish that a more critically thinking and deliberative mindset is needed, if we want to experience democracy in our society. And a mature media landscape is key to that.
Social media and national discourse
Mr Miyagi commented that social media provides a check and balance, or simply an alternative, to the mainstream media. One issue to consider was whether social media might hasten or hamper the evolving maturity of discourse and diversity of viewpoints
And the most dominant theme
How much space ordinary Singaporeans have to engage and participate in the political process, not just via social media but beyond as well.
And of course ...
We can't finish this without BIG THANK YOU'S to: Ridzuan Ashim for live webstreaming, Cheesey, Nurul Shahida Sharafudin, Allan Lim & wife for photography, Rick and Ezra Er for videography, Douglas O'Loughlin for mediation on standby, and of course, TAB for your awesome help + venue!
L-R: Our lovely panel in action; Gillian picking up on thought-provoking tweets; You can't tell from the pic, but Simon's doing some great stand-up here; Bernise thinking aloud about Singaporeans' values and what people want in the media; And our kickass volunteer team (the guys are NOT taller than the girls, they're just on a platform)
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