WhatsApp: Communications Vectors and Political Momentum

Context: What’s Up with WhatsApp: The Widespread Use of WhatsApp in Political Campaigning in the Global South

It is curious that while the conceptual sophistication underlying any particular technology or suite of technologies may be relatively simple (approximating to a rudimentary ontological algebra of concepts, components and entities within any network-facilitated communications system), the scope and reach or influence of that elementary tool-set can be profound. The complex web of logically recombinatory possibilities represented here by participant opportunity to generate fairly straightforward user-created channels and networks of influence indicates (or suggests) an implicit systems-bias towards such self-assembling, emergent social and sub-cultural, technologically-facilitated sub-systems.

Such self-organising cultural and communications-system architectures tend to rapidly capitalise upon and exploit these technical vectors or opportunities when they appear. It indicates something of a “free-floating” cultural or logical and conceptual evolutionary domain, an ongoing selection test of convergent and reflexively cross-fertilising psychological (i.e. existential) self-interests and technical methods. The encapsulating corporate “wrapper” of such a self-propagating and potentially disruptive emergence (consider for instance the “Arab Spring”) indicates a similar logical presence and relationship as does a “host” operating system to a “virtual machine” of social and cultural process. If relatively simple technological concepts can exhibit or cultivate such non-linear social, cultural, economic and political consequences – then a valuable area of commercial or academic interest and investigation must be the logic, theory and system dynamics of such processes.

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