Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Transformation via Facebook

There is an article in ‘Wired’ magazine on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) that attempts to explain the organization’s success from a scientific perspective. Another article in the magazine questions the relevance of the usual method of science inquiry. These days with data seemingly in abundance, the scientific method is turned on its head. According to the writer, instead of making a hypothesis and then undertaking an experiment to prove (or disprove) a thesis, one should in its place amass large data sets and determine associations or patterns from the data, thereby proving or disproving or even creating a new thesis. This method is made possible where organization like Google have access to large amounts of data. New companies like ‘23 and me’ have the ability to amass large data sets for precisely this reason. See: https://www.23andme.com/

It’s an interesting argument that remains to be proven. But it’s a paradigm shift that could result in speedy development of medical cures as well as radical changes in technology. It’s the rapid development of so-called crowd sourcing where the web facilitates massive participation. This was put to good use in the recent election with the use of Face book to help elect a new administration. Social media is the new thing and new ideas like ‘socialnomics’ attempt to explain this phenomenon. The book’s second title states ‘how social media transforms the way we live and do business’. Looks like an interesting book that tries to exploit the current trend. See:  http://socialnomics.net/ .
Nowadays social network sites like Face book or You Tube have a large number of users that are bigger than the populations of some countries. It is these web-based social network applications that are used more today than ‘Goggle’ or ‘Yahoo’ or Windows or other such famous application in the recent past.

Web-based social networking is increasing in usage not because of the prevalence of computers but other new gizmos. Mobile devices such as smart phones or devices that carved out  new niches in the market like iPads or devices like Sony Dash and even television sets including gizmos like Boxee, Roku, Apple TV or Google TV, widen the ability to access the Internet and it’s social networking applications. I guess this is the next revolution driving innovation. The computer in its usual form may have reached their apex of innovation. Only the software and the Internet is driving change. Perhaps the only thing left are incremental changes like touch screen, wireless connection to television and so on. The action is happening in mobile devices and other gizmos that widen the gateway to the Internet. It’s this new wave driving mobile software like location driven social networking.

The ‘Wired’ article that interested me was the piece on AA. The AA sessions sometimes reminds one of Toastmaster. Both organizations rely on a group setting that help transform individual members. The trans formative event occurs when the group is actively helping one to transcend his or her limitations. Similarly, this is the value of writing workshops – a group setting that helps you become a writer. I guess this proves that no one is an island and one is really a social animal and needs ‘psychological’ or ‘spiritual’ nourishment in a group setting to grow. Isn’t this social networking in action? I guess self-help organizations are really social organization where the group to helps the individual. Social networking is really technology facilitating group interactions. Perhaps one feels less alone in the world when one sees his friends (new and long lost) in Face book, for example, that he is strengthened to move on with his life. It’s the feeling that his life matters and that his progress in life is a source of wonder for his friends and relatives watching his growth in Face book. I guess social networking is the true redemption or saving grace of technology.

No comments: