Look Beyond the Hashtag

with Prof. Archana R Singh

Picture this: 2012, when Twitter was the undisputed VIP lounge for online chatter with only elite gatherings. The Nirbhaya case unfolds, and suddenly, your timeline is a mix of activism, outrage, and a flurry of activity. Now, jump to 2021, and the Kisan Morcha hits the digital stage – where hashtags weren’t just trending; they were practically the headliners. These are the two cases examined in depth by Prof Archana R Singh in her latest book, ‘Beyond the Hashtag: A Decade of Twitter Activism in India,’. Prof. Archana R Singh, a distinguished journalism professor at Panjab University, has created a buzz in the academic arena. The book that gives us a front-row seat to the evolution of online activism was launched at the World Book Fair on February 14th, 2024, and takes a deep dive into online activism in India. Vitasta Publishing, a woman-owned academic publisher, published the book.

The book traverses the tweets that shaped two pivotal moments in India’s history—analysing the digital conversations where concerned citizens, journalists, and news organisations communicate asynchronously. The result? It is a riveting narrative that explores the dynamics of social media activism with the powerful force of theoretical explanations. Prof. Singh’s work not only enriches academic discourse but also empowers the industry to understand and harness the potential of social media for positive change.

‘Beyond the hashtag’ immerses the readers in the Twitter universe, where hashtags become the heroes of collective action. The book peels back the layers of the digital world, showcasing how social media influences offline and online realities, proving that revolutions are sometimes carried forward in 280 characters or less. The book is a concentrated effort towards understanding Twitter revolutions in India. While much has been written about the Twitter revolutions worldwide, this book brings home the reality of the Indian revolutions with the help of big data analytics. It provides new knowledge through analysing tweets and an eye-opening demystification of two social movements as they unfolded on social media while protestors were on the streets. Some findings are a matter of concern, some are surprising, some are reassuring, and some are unbelievable.

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