I had previously discussed the possibility of restoring back the democracy in the hands of people using social media technology. Well if not systematically as of now, the power seems to have restored quite well through the informal use of social media. The Jasmine Revolution is major representative of this change and I believe and this is just the beginning.

Well moving beyond that. I feel just as it is pretty useful and gives power to the voice of many otherwise powerless people to wave their ideas without incurring much of a cost or risk while doing so, At the same time there are dangers posed to society in many ways. We are moving into an extreme world these days; knowledge, information and ideas dissipating in the channels of communication faster than ever thought. Moreover, there is connectivity of systems e.g. centralization of banking systems on a single unit and closely attaching it to your personal information which also serves as a portal for searching all sort of information unrelated to any of your banking or personal information. Basically, I mean a mobile device which is very convenient to use for banking and many other purposes these days (if not so widely as of now, then hopefully in near future). Also, there are websites that prepare logs of our behavior on the web and trace the footprints to understand our psychology so that they can better advertise us a product or attempt to sell us ideas that match our needs. This might seem very good in terms of auto-customization, but its stalking nonetheless. Moreover, every information about an individual will continue to remain forever. The web system captures the individuality of every person, linking his independent activities together in a grand system of databases where everyone automatically and uncontrollably updates his information, with or without his awareness. One example is the Yahoo answers where your questions asked will continue to remain there in your name or the alias that you use. This might get freaky for someone who did not choose an alias and used his real name for posting undesirable questions. Of course, someone who reads the terms and conditions properly will always be secured against any embarrassment in future.

With so much information of so many people going into the web, the visibility that it is going to bring is going to be enormous. Now in some ways it is good, but on a personal level it might not be. Because this may lead to accrual of actions or behavior, visible for others and thus making it almost impossible for a person to restart all over. It could be a job, or his personal life or anything. So one small mistake and ‘boom’ you will be gone forever, you will probably be never be able to erase it. So it can make us as good as naked in front of the world, ‘forever’. This is not always good. If this does not get your attention, go to people info aggregator sites, you will see where all you have left your traces against your name that you used for logging or for answering some random internet question or any other act. It does feel intruded when all your internet activity is seen collected at one hub.

Similarly, there could be even more dangerous fall-outs. One of them could be that system manipulation can take place. For e.g., we all know that people try to put up the best of their profile pictures, distorting reality and manipulating their public presence. It is a general human tendency. Worst is that those who believe in this virtuality, may end up suffering from chronic feeling of inferiority complexes. This is a very basic form of human tendency to create information asymmetry for ones advantage and also an inability to correctly judge or measure the information that one receives; Leading to biased pattern of social returns. Positive for those who already have a slight advantage over those who do not (on any scale of measurement). Over a period of time this could lead to significant differences, rendering superstar status to one individual and mediocre one to hoards of individuals. Even if it was completely out of one’s expectations. Putting it in very simple terms, one does get depressed when the guy in your school posts pictures of him hanging around with the best of the chicks and you are sitting on your sofa with a laptop searching for some friends to catch up on. And this too when you had surely never expected ‘that’ guy to ever end up like that. Well, that is pretty frank of me isn’t it? Probably if you don’t think like that and look down upon this thought you are already on the path of superstar status, and if not, then you are on the other side.

Also, the increase in footprint tracking may spread anxiety and fear and lack of trust in the fabric of system, giving rise to excessive alias usage and consequently displaying extremely inappropriate behavior under the shield of this alias. If you don’t believe go to youtube.com and see the number of anti-social comments, everyone uses an alias-shield to protect their identity. This gives them unlimited unchecked freedom for undesirable behavior. This may seem pretty obvious and minor as an example but it implies that in the age of extreme information, attacks can increase from socially rogue individuals. These attacks may not be always some sort of hacking or phishing, but it could be even seduction of people with not-so-good ideas. It could be an anti-north Indian feeling or some sort of an Islamophobia, you never know!

Moreover, the lack of trust and increased fear or anxiety in the fabric of system can lead to problems such as societal depression, anger and violence among the masses, increasing riots, conservative behavior and subsequent segmentation into silos of common behavioral groups to increase safety and minimize noise.

I see that there is an enormous amount of connectivity between all your social sites, banking sites, billing sites, mailing sites, etc taking place. Hyper-syncronisation and Auto-updation of a friends activity without the friend noticing it is also just round the corner. Your interests, hobbies, activities, things you buy, sports you play are the initial beginnings. I am a bit apprehensive, it might get a little worse beyond this. But what I want to throw some light is upon the basic idea of connectivity. When you connect two things, they both face the same amount of risk. Therefore, the global banks connected to each other collapse into a domino effect when one goes bust, and thus taking the entire economy down. Similarly if water pipes are connected to all tanks, and one pipe get contaminated, would you drink water from that integrated system?

Risk minimization is based upon the simple idea of spreading your risks across independently performing units. In this age where twitter, blogs, Facebook, mobile phones and so many other things being in a frenzied state of hyper-connectivity, it is quite easy for an idea to simply find its way across different tanks through so many pipelines. This is good when the ideas are ideals, or basically speaking they are “positive” for society e.g. save nature, save girls, don’t abuse kids and all that.

But this is also a medium for spreading chaos, have we given thought to that? One fearful idea circulates around and ‘boom’ the streets could be full of herding protestors or rioters or civil warriors or for that matter anything else. All it requires is one idea. Isn’t that echoing the recent revolution in the middle east? First, Serbia, Egypt, Libya, Jordan and many other states. People have been powered quite well because of contemporary technologies. By power I mean they have received the right tools, but don’t you forget to discount the herding behavior as well.

Theoretically every thing could be automated and sync-ed. Even physical objects. We are moving towards automation and connectivity even at household levels. But I think keeping events independent of each other is an effective tool for minimizing risk transfer. When excessive connectivity prevails massive failures can take place. If social communication or personalised independent units get connected tangibly or intangibly then there could be a very fast spread of dangers that crop up once in a while. Chaos can prevail, madness can arise. Mankind thinking and actions will be impounded by too much of information or noise to take up sound decisions. We all know too much information is no information. This noise will be confusing, Man has an ability to over or under-estimate anything, of course we cannot judge anything accurately, but the hyper-connectivity in future can lead to gross mismatch leading to several dangers. Massive scores of people could be risked this time, just because of information failures or more appropriately, information interpretation failures.

Institutionalization of large databases for decision making can be very objective and never fully accommodating all the details of a human being. UID for a billion people seems to be a little offset from common sense. Firstly, in terms of its requirement and secondly, in terms of its usability. It can be a risk to me, as I said, one small mistake and ‘boom’ my UID is always going to store it.

Lets hope we also develop mechanisms to deal with such things. In case that also happens then I believe, it would be very interesting to know what mankind will search beyond the information extreme where we all will be headed. Science can after all be a boon as well as a bane. The only thing that I get a little apprehensive about is the overall enthusiasm among everyone regarding the extreme information age.

Social media, a revolution that has helped millions of people across to globe to instantly connect with each other and share information which is growing at an exponential rate. From sharing a wide spectrum of media to new ways of interaction, it is really helping people to get together and pursue various activities ranging from fun to business. The greatest characteristic of social media is its level of connectivity with an individual. A person sitting at home can twitter using his cell phone and let his followers know what thoughts have crossed his mind in the last few moments. Almost anyone with a communication device can get access to real time information instantly. If such is the power of social media that communication is almost at a telepathic level, can we take it even further? How about using it in a democracy like India?

I have heard many people say that corruption, power abuse, bureaucracy and many other problems have gripped our nation for long which have penultimately suppressed the voice of common man. People seem to have lost the real power even on their democratic voting rights with every political party equally roiled in the muck. Not many quality options left to vote for, the elections just seem to be another game of political harakiri. It is not surprising that the great Indian politikos can have an easy ride on votes powered by indifferent voters or those who look nothing beyond a few inciting speeches and meals granted during massive election campaigns or the herd mindedness of supporting ‘the guy from our community’.

Well, my question is that if today information can be transmitted almost at the speed of light, is there a way in which we can use it create more awareness and more connectivity in terms of guiding our democracy? Imagine that our Prime Minister wants to know the reactions of  a billion people on  a particular question which he displays online, say like a status or a tweet, and with the click of a button you can simply point out whether you approve it or not! Of course I am putting all this in a very simple manner. But in reality there will be a lot of effort and time expended to study the feasibility, reliability and finally the approval to implement such a system at the ‘Zuckerberg level’. More importantly everyone should be aware of such a system. I believe that it will demand a much more matured audience than we currently have, or else riots are always there to instantly burn down our houses, only this time at the click of a social media button.

Obviously the challenges will continue to crop up one after the other; for example, constraints on rural access, complete connectivity with every individual and capability of individuals to use such a system cannot be easily surmounted. Nevertheless, I can still visualize a future where governance can utilize such breakthrough tools, where the power is restored back to the people and transparency is pumped into a system. Thus, leading to the eventual phasing out of ghosts which have haunted our system for a very long time.

I think the recent approval of UID (Unique ID), 3G systems, telecom infrastructure developments and the revolution of cheaper mobile handsets are laying the initial foundation of a road required for such a journey. However, it will certainly take some time. But roads with challenges galore are never abandoned forever and history has shown how they have always been pursued with a passion to change the future. Someday there will definitely be a time and need for such a system to be implemented and I think that day won’t be far.

These days I am learning about strategy in business. What I understood that every firm or organization has a vision of its own and it tries to align its actions in order to meet the same. These visions are broken down to the minutest details (i.e at the operational level) and thus plans for actions for almost every member are laid out. One question that came to my mind is that do we have a vision as such. Here by “we” I mean, we as a nation, we as a society and we as humans? Do we really have a strategy, or some idea of what we all want together? Essentially strategy is meant for competition. Maybe at the highest macro level, we are simply competing with ourselves. But for what? Or are we just discovering more sophisticated forms of consumption and living life? Where are we heading and for what? If we do have a vision, how are we achieving it? If nations do have a vision to what extent have they fared in it?

Sometimes I feel that just as an organization attempts to add value to their stakeholders, we as humans are managers for this earth and mother nature to add value. So creating a wonderful world can be a great vision for us. But how should we break it down into certain mission? Has anyone ever thought about this? For some reason I feel there is no goal or no mission followed by any society. Even if it prevails civilizations have really failed to achieve them . Yes, I admit that this is a radical thought and will invite the rap of millions of critics and other optimists. But let’s face it. Even after years of so-called civilized living, we behave nothing less than animals. We have still not understood how to share resources and going to the length of war for the same. And its getting hazier by the day.

On one part we do have some real good things. But I don’t wanna look at them because its always the weaker kids you are worried about than the healthier ones. We have made strides and developments. But to what extent have these been uniformly transferred to everyone? Every time I hear some kid dying in Uganda out of malnourishment, it just pricks my conscience. It just makes those wonderful working models of starbucks, walmarts and mcdonalds simply useless in front of it. Take it or leave it but capitalism is least bothered about people and socialism does not work. I think there could be an entirely different model of economic independence. But we need to explore it. Its will be complicated but maybe its possible. And it should not be mere mathematically driven or logically deductive based decision making for the various economic occurrences but also attempt to fully integrate the human behavior into it. As a management student, I have realized that statistics and mathematics are merely tools to support your judgments. There are several unrealistic assumptions made while developing scientific theories and we end up over-relying on them for making our judgments. I believe that science’s greatest shortcoming is its inability to deal with subjectivity. And even worse is its direct disapproval or denial of the unproven instances of human experiences. In that case, its the most biased form of approach. To what extent has it attempted to bring all studies under one roof and look at it from a holistic approach. Integration would result into higher realization and greater coordination among all the scholars of the world. It would surely help in reducing the lacunae in scientific judgment and thus refine our overall approach towards everything. Eventually, such knowledge should be uniformly elicited through all dimensions of society and shared with everyone. Society would really advance through that way.

One example to a disruptive economic phenomenon for which a lot of scientists have no answer is the existence of certain elements like Skype, Wikipedia in the fabric of our very capitalist society. Why would anyone be so generous in a profit driven economy? What is their utility curve? Does our economic system take this into consideration. I believe there is some serious lack of vision among the top most leaders today. It has to be corrected. And that is why we need to review the direction in which all of us are moving as a People for true advancement of our civilization.

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