I can almost hear skeptical and unbelieving thought bubbles popping up and bursting in my readers’ minds. Some are wondering what virtualization technology stands for, whereas more tech savvy readers are probably scoffing at what they perceive to be total lack of connection between virtualization, technology and politics. Well, bear with me and I will do my best to explain. Let’s start with a short introduction on what virtualization is.
Simply put, virtualization is the creation of a fully-functional virtual version (as opposed to building a physical copy) of a computing component. Virtual copies of operating systems, storage devices, network resources and even entire PCs can easily be crafted and run on other computing devices. Yes, that is right. You can actually have a virtual computer operating within your real computer. Needless to say, virtualization technology saves a lot of resources by freeing up hardware and space. For example, instead of storing data in physical containers such as servers, companies and individuals opt to create virtual containers and host them within other computers. This is where politics and virtualization technology intersect.
As succinctly put by an industry insider, virtualization “abstracted function away from hardware into software” and thus enabled the formation of today’s mega social networking sites. Without the advent of advanced virtualization techniques and products, Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and other who are who of internet would not be able to provide the services they are boasting about today. Could Youtube maintain its gigantic database successfully? Could Twitter keep its scarily humongous user database live? In other words, billions can communicate through these sophisticated internet services due to the brilliance of the virtualization technology.
Where does politics fit in this scheme? Well, have you heard anything about the ‘Tea Party’ or ‘Occupy Wall Street’ in the last three years? Do I need to mention how ‘the Arab Spring’ was organized? It is through virtualization technology that billions of people are practicing political agency and are free to have a say in the global political landscape. Politicians no longer have the luxury of turning a blind eye on what their constituents demand. Furthermore, political campaigns are also noticing that certain kinds of virtualization technology might be useful for reaching voters.
News reports about President Obama’s 2012 campaign always highlight the size of its ‘research and development’ teams. Obama 2012 is actively looking for efficient ways of collecting and analyzing information about voters online. Although there is no information leak to rely on, it is likely that the Obama 2012 team is utilizing virtual web trackers that visualize and map how a certain set of news and information travels through the web. This software is adequately intelligent to read the nature (positive or negative for the campaign) of the information flow. Virtualization has therefore not only changed the way we communicate with one another, but is also a tool for tracking public opinion—a tool that is being capitalized on by politicians as we speak.