uldaar, TheKarachiKid, PishiPotty oh wait! I thought I was still tagging tweeple with the hashtag #PKSMS! Is this jargon for most of you? Well, that was easy to forget at Pakistan's first International Social Media Summit. Organized by CIOPakistan, Intel and US Consulate Karachi, along with other sponsors, it brought together bloggers and social media addicts and had them discuss new avenues that could bring their activism, opinions and thoughts to a floor in the real world.
It was a common sight at the 2-day event to find people recognizing each other by their Twitter handles, which most of them had printed below their names on their name tags, and not only recognizing but being overwhelmed by finally meeting the faces behind the Twitter wits and online exchanges. Besides the networking and socializing, important issues were brought to the table: there was the Egyptian revolution (the session was led by Mohamed El Dahshan, an Egyptian blogger) and women's rights through social media (shout out to panelists Jehan Ara from P@SHA for Take Back the Tech campaign, Sana Saleem and Naveen Naqvi for Gawaahi.com, Rebecca Chiao for HarassMap and Sabeen Mahmud of PeaceNiche for giving us a platform like T2F). There were also a couple of Skype workshops organized for the participants. One of those sessions was led by Claire Diaz from Twitter Philanthropy (Hope140) about how Twitter can help bring about positive change. She is the author of the book "Twitter for Good". Her references to American singer Kanye West's tweets were funny and winsome.
Regarding the use of social media for social causes, US Consul General Karachi William Martin shared his thoughts in his opening note and said:
"During the last year's floods, I saw the social media network shining the light on this situation and many others. The social media really does create a global village and it is an honor to be here with so many distinguished citizens."
Egyptian blogger Mohamed El Dahshan said:
"If the government tells you you're on your own and everybody is happy, you are afraid of doing things. But social media changed that. It helped bring together people who were upset about the same things."
The summit didn't draw a large number of participants. But it was a high-quality event nonetheless.
Alishba Zarmeen is a student in Karachi