Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Stakes you own in your own future !

Having spent a considerable portion of my life on social media platforms, one thing that I've come to know of, is the prowess of certain wizards in trendifying things. Be it Twitter hashtags or Facebook shares, these people have made people swear in to oaths, to certain new practices, to new ways of life and what not. Basically, social media can be used in very ingenious ways to tap into the collective social conscience and create a cascading effect for effective follow up action. Man is a social animal and will always like to do things that keep him a part of the herd. Modern man does not have a lot of time to get into matters that seem trivial in the beginning because of the absence of ostensible direct impact. He simply follows the voice of the society, which in various cases consists of merely his friends, and in others. consists of an entire population. Whatever it may be, the net result is the prevalence of trends and cults. And these trends, cults and supposed beliefs have already resulted in freeing of a baby elephant trapped in a secluded island, the rooting out of an anarchist regime and massive support for victims who succumbed to iniquities. It's now time to use the same platform to bring the youth closer to what at the first place makes it a part of the democracy - The right to vote.

A subset of the entire social media realm is the cohort of social mobile apps. Social mobile apps are defining the way we largely communicate today. One reason for specifically leveraging on these apps is that we remain connected to them all the time. Be it an IM messenger like WeChat or a social media chatting platform like Facebook chat and GTalk, we are always ready to respond to what comes in and we don't have a specific time window in which to cater to messages directed towards us. Secondly, social mobile apps have an enormous capability of both message broadcasting and unicasting, which means that more general messages could be broadcast and the age specific or messages pertaining to a demographic parameter could be unicast or multicast. Hence we have multiple modes to share our messages. So if there is a generic message urging everyone to vote, we can have a single message sent to all the people of, say, a constituency or a part of a group, requesting them to vote. On the other hand, if we are urging people of a particular institute to vote, the message can always be sent on the multitude of groups to make people aware. Although apps like WeChat and others are laden enough with features to make the job possible, we need some more provisions to make it an optimal solution.

      Group of Groups

All social mobile apps have the option of creating and subscribing to groups. However, network infrastructure and app algorithms post constraints on the size of groups. This means that effectively, one message would need human gateways to get transferred to other groups. So, one person receives a WeChat message on a group or on personal message inbox, he/she likes it, and he/she forwards it to other groups, in which some other person would like it and then accordingly forward it to other groups and personal conversations. So essentially, human intervention is needed to transit messages from groups to groups and massive broadcasting is not deemed possible. What's needed to resolve this is a group listing. Usenet, the Internet discussion platform that became very famous  in 1996, allowed individual Usenet groups to register to discussion threads and hence every single Usenet discussion group had the choice of receiving messages that were broadcast to all groups that had registered to that topic or news item. Effectively, it was nothing but controlled broadcasting, something that is conceived on social networks like Facebook by liking a particular page, whose all updates are then broadcast to only the follower base. 

Hence by group listing, we'll be allowing all smaller groups, to enumerate through their respective group admins, the list of group topics that they wish to subscribe to. Hence a small youth group can subscribe to the general youth topic and an engineering school group can subscribe to the engineering topic. For our purpose, we can allow groups to subscribe to the politics discussion topicwhich will have some witty and tacky description like "Your switch to your future" or something like that, which links them to the magnitude of the matter at hand and acquaints them with the immense power vested in them. All groups listed in this directory shall be allowed to send messages from their entire group to the whole group of groups. The admin(s) might be given the ultimate authority and discretion in selecting which messages shall get the right to be posted on the entire list of groups and individual members shall be given the right to post such messages to the group just like any other messages. Then, it would be left upon this same poster of the message or some other person in the group to promote this message to the admin with a request that it may be posted on the general directory of groups. Subsequently, it's upon the admin to take the message to all the registered groups or to deny the request. This whole phenomenon is nothing but MMS. Massive Messaging Service.

What this will do is that effective messages within a group, that can be very effective or thought provoking or which include some very relevant factual information, could be used to produce the same kind of impact in all groups that are interested in the particular topic of democracy/voting. Moreover, the request clause and the admin's judgment shall act as filters to ensure than this does not result in spamming and that only genuine messages are multicast. Secondly, it will also be ensured that every message shall have an option of being reported and any group posting too many biased or arbitrary message shall be warned and eventually removed from the listing in case reported multiple offences were committed in this regard. Hence, with this additional flexibility, we can bring to the social mobile apps an array of possibilities that help in mobilizing and cajoling the youth to vote and to be an active participant in democracy. It will effectively be mimicking the kind of effect which massive social network movements caused during the Arab Spring, If they can be powerful enough to expose tyranny and result in a massive political upheaval, just imagine how efficacious they can be in making voters become more aware of their power to exercise vote and bring change and also the consequences of failing to do so. We've seen how individual opinions merge to form the social opinion and how social opinion often drives positive action on part of the individual. These social mobile apps can just do that for us. Just imagine that day when voter Id cards held much more value than just as an identity and address proof, and when they were used for their paramount purpose - Changing your future.