On the 23rd of August this year, around 35000 people gathered in Tudikhel, Kathmandu to form the shape of the Nepali flag. The event was an effort to set a Guinness world record for forming the largest human flag (previously set in Pakistan in February with an estimated 29000 people), and the bulk of the organization of it – spearheaded by a heretofore little-known NGO called ‘Human Values for Peace and Prosperity’ (HVPP) – was conducted over social media; primarily Facebook.
The usage of Facebook enabled the sort of ‘viral’ flow of information that made the event possible, with participants choosing to facilitate the spread of information themselves to friends and contacts (in a sense, self-identifying in the production of information in a way similar to the commons-based peer-production of Benkler). However, it also became apparent in the aftermath of the event that the sort of information being propounded was difficult for any institution to control or regulate: the easy connectivity of the platform did allow HVPP to reach out with their intended message of calling people to gather at a certain time and place, but it also enabled the viral spread of pictures and comments regarding the public disruptions and littering that the event caused (things that were quickly called into question and never really settled). It would thus seem that in using online social media for the purpose of reaching out, the organization had to deal with the trade-off between the high levels of connectivity such networks offer and the difficulty of regulating information within those networks (perhaps in a sense the scale-depth trade-off applied to connectivity).