Today in the Philippine Twittersphere: fighting the Book Blockade

Update (05/25/09): The Philippine Star reports that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has lifted the book tax imposed by the Department of Finance / Bureau of Customs. Also, a postscript from Robin Hemley, the first to write about the whole thing.

The Great Book Blockade of 2009 has been buzzing for a few weeks now, but not as loudly as one would have wanted. It’s about the taxation of books and the pathetic notion by Philippine customs that books are not educational. It seems a lot of things are more newsworthy than this.

Like how American Idol finalist David Archuleta appeared on Philippine noontime show Eat Bulaga and suddenly Pinoy twitterers were gushing about him so much that it hit Twitter’s most popular keywords. Unfortunately Filipinos seem to care more about singing sensations than this pressing issue (even Neil Gaiman tweeted about it before most), but some of us realized we could piggyback on the existing buzz. (To be sure, we posted on Plurk too.)

After a couple of hours of tweeting and retweeting, #bookblockade finally made it to the trending topics on Twitter’s sidebar. There’s also a nod to it on The Blog Herald.

#bookblockade on Twitter

It’s exhilarating to realize that in a short span of time you can make a difference. While our efforts haven’t eradicated the taxation of imported books or fired the officials who can’t see how novels are educational or hit the headlines as of yet, it’s still progress. This is the kind of influence that people dabbling in social media—whether personally or professionally—should focus on.

Now go read the timeline so far on the Book Blockade. And keep up the good tweets.

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