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Social Media, Communication vs Governments

I would imagine that most of the readers are not only aware of social media and internet communications but are also heavy users of Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Gtalk, Blackberry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, etc etc. What a fantastic technological breakthrough which literally makes the entire world real-time, user friendly and connected via this huge thing called internet. With affordable smart phones, it has now become more easier to keep in touch on a real time basis, irrespective of whether you want an urgent information from a friend sitting at Auckland while you are physically located at London. Technology has no doubt made the world a global village with no effective boundaries to cross for communication across the world, across languages, etc.

Now information can spread rapidly multiplying by GP rather than simple additions. It can not only go across localities, but across regions, across cities, across countries, across continents. While this is a great boon to most of the people, this has also resulted in headaches for authorities and governments. The UK rioting that happened across cities in 2010 spread rapidly because of huge use of Blackberry Messenger where precise time and locations for arson and looting were apparently shared amongst closed groups. Facebook played a pivotal role in the Egypt uprising of people. And before the authorities had even any clues of the next imminent ‘danger’, the same were executed with massive and precise execution. It is now a common headache for governments to try and intercept terrorist ‘chatter’ through the internet where the source detection becomes that much difficult. That results in the often tussle between governments and these service providers to open up ‘encryption’ codes so that any message can be intercepted — which leads to the endless debate of individual privacy vs security and safety.

Recent incidents in India (one in Bengal and other in Maharasthtra) have again raised the questions of “freedom of internet” for voicing individual’s thought. Sharing of cartoons highlighting ministers led to arrests; sharing of anger against a popular leader of an area led to again arrests of teenager.

Therefore, as governments go up the maturity curve to handle such situations along with the citizens of a country, I have a feeling that this freedom of opinion through these means will be curtailed in the future and sometimes even blocked (as already there in countries like China). In the long term, probably an unofficial “code of conduct” will evolve naturally which will allow co-existence between conflicting views and opinions, specially against not-so-tolerant or not-so-patient administrations and governments.

Till that evolves, probably it is best to be “careful” while living a virtual life in the internet. And the degree of “carefullness” will be always open to interpretation

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.


Social networks beyond networking

It’s a fact that we spend a considerable amount of time in social networking sites like Facebook. In a recent study done in early 2011, it was revealed that a person in US spends an average time of 8 hours per month in Facebook, which though looks quite insignificant in terms of numbers (only around 1% of the total time), but what is interesting is that in August’ 2010 the same figure was 6 hours per month. Hence, the rate of increase is quite aggressive – a jump of more than 30% in a span of 6 months. The predictions are that this number will have an increasing trend. Most of us at least access Facebook once a day and have a glance of the new posts, notifications, messages – isn’t it ?

But still the majority of the activities are still limited to networking activities – with a fraction of the time spent on playing online games accessing through Facebook. It is still limited to connecting with family and friends through messaging, sharing of pictures and videos.

What has struck me is the lack of the use of this network for buying products as consumers. People who know me through Facebook can easily arrive at a conclusion that I am a big fan of Barcelona football club, Messi and Sachin Tendulkar. This interpretation is quite obvious. Hence, if somebody (can be a corporate organisation) approaches me with fantastic offers of say DVDs of Messi, centuries of Sachin, I will be more than interested in procuring the same. But the problem is that as of today, no one has approached me with that kind of offer :-)

What I am therefore hinting is that social networks have the huge potential to extend themselves to do “business” with consumers using profile-specific likings to target at products and services that might interest the individuals. Maybe, we would require text based heuristics and algorithms to be developed which will capture the key words of an individual posts and try to develop a profile to arrive at his / her likings. And, we all know that likings will be changing as we go along – the needs of a bachelor might be different once that person gets married :-) Come on, don’t jump to conclusions guys ! Basically, we would need self-adapting neural networking logic that will continue to start adjusting on the profiles being created through text based heuristics and algorithms.

Will this be the next maturity phase of social networks ?

PS > Very recently, saw an announcement of Facebook “agreement” with EBay, wherein retailers can come up with their products based on likings of individuals to usher in social-commerce. This was tried earlier with ventures with Delta and other corporations, but the success was quite limited. Only time will tell whether this EBay integration with Facebook will be successful….

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The battle of FTG+

If you are wondering what is FTG+, let me break the suspense : that’s my abbreviation for the most talked-about social networking sites : Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Why most talked about ? Well, the number says all :

“More than 200 million tweets are written every day by 100+ million users on Twitter while the
numbers are even more impressive for Facebook. The 800+million users of Facebook like and share more than 2 billion posts per day. Google+ is growing at an impressive rate but is still a relatively small player with 43 million users.”

Obviously the battle is on to be the most popular site ever which will appeal to all generations, young and old. Who will win the battle to emerge as the champion of champions remains to be seen, but let me share my perspective being active user in Twitter and Facebook and also a ‘try’er in Google+

I will not go into what I liked and disliked into each of the contenders – but I think Twitter is a different model of social networking as compared to the other two. It is more “public” in nature and less privacy surrounding it as all the tweets are accessible to anyone and everyone who would like to follow you. I prefer to use Twitter more to follow breaking news, global financial markets, happenings in the internet and mobile world rather than interacting with my friends and family members. I see Twitter as a powerful tool for superstars (can be film stars, sportsmen, TV anchors, etc) to keep “in touch” with their fan following. I also used to initially follow quite a few of them – but when I found that their tweets are mostly promotions of their next films, events and tending to say ‘see, how great I am’, I got sick of this and have stopped following them. It’s mainly news and hard facts following now-a-days.

I tried G+ when my friend sent me an invite during their beta release. Obviously, like any fresh tool, I got excited with its new and fresh user interface and liked the concept of circles, wherein you can follow / subscribe to people whom you want, apart from sharing posts, thoughts with friends and others. But ultimately, I was not convinced why I should migrate from Facebook when there will be a need of huge data migration, huge migration of my friends in FB after they got convinced in G+. I even shared a provocative post there questioning the above – but nobody could give me a convincing answer.

Now I am sure Facebook is learning many things from G+ – and they are slowly adapting to them. Otherwise why they will come up with the idea of “subscribe”, more control on your posts, etc ? I am now a FB user for more than 3 years, well “settled” with family and friends, can access with easy blackberry application (haven’t seen a G+ application for blackberry yet) and have started enjoying the new concepts of subscribe, private groups, chats (textual plus video), etc. So, why the hell should I try to move now to another networking site of G+ when maybe most of my friends and families might not move ? Even if I move, what will happen to my rich history of posts, notes, data points that is already there in FB ?

Hence to me, the battle is already won by Facebook simply because they were the early entrants, already have a huge user base, already have huge number of “families” settled with their own virtual worlds, have thought of innovations related to access through applications across platforms (whether be it for Apple, for Android, for BlackBerry, etc) and till date, have not done anything so stupid that will “force” people to “migrate” to somewhere else.

So, let’s wait and watch how the other sites fight for the top spot in next 3-5 years ….. Till that time, let me continue to enjoy the virtuality in a platform where I have my “family” already established.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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