Sunday, February 7, 2016

Social Systems for the Cyberspace; organic development of systems


Big Bang Fireworks (9431612485).jpg
Attribution : commons.wikimedia.org


Starting from the networking needs of the military sixty decades back, the Cyberspace was evolving and self-developing in an organic way. The history of computer networking starts with the development of electronic computers in the 1950s. Initial concepts of networking was called packet networking and it originated in several computer science laboratories in the United States, Great Britain, and France. These efforts got greater purpose when the US Department of Defence awarded contracts for packet network systems, including the development of the ARPANET (which would become the first network to use the Internet Protocol.) during 1960s. 


When the first message was sent over the ARPANET from Professor Leonard Kleinrock's laboratory at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to the second network node at Stanford Research Institute (SRI), nobody might have realized that it was the Big Bang and the Cyberspace was created!


Right from the moment of origin, developments in the Cyberspace have been occurring quite organically in the same way the social systems have been developing in the real world for millions of years based on felt-needs. Yes, interestingly it has close proximity with the 'Organic theory of the state'. In the organic theory of the state, the union of individuals forming the State has been described as similar to the union between the several parts of an animal body, wherein all parts are functionally related and none can exist in isolation from the rest. Can something or somebody in the cyberspace exist in isolation? If a very loud 'NO' echoes as answer in the minds of majority, we have to admit that social systems in the Cyberspace is also organic. Every element of the Cyberspace ecosystem has been evolving in an interconnected and interdependent way; from the access to it to whatever thing you can list out there. 


Everybody has a space in the cyberspace. Of course, access to that space is a problem for many now. But the possible developments in the cyberspace in the coming decades, would definitely make the access universal. Nobody can stop it; nobody can deny it – it will be the evolving universal rule. But it will further necessitate stable social systems in the cyberspace. Therefore every individual in this world has to contribute towards maintaining a better Cyberspace.


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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Social systems for the Cyberspace; the social media

File:Social Media me and other social media systems.gif
Image attribution: commons.wikimedia.org
In the last blog I wrote about the open society models of wikis, especially the wikipedia. The policies and guidelines are instrumental to develop and maintain the virtual society on wikipedia. In this blog, I would like to write about the Cyberspace societies being nurtured by the social networking websites, or Social Media, as we call them together nowadays. 
The social media includes blogs, business networks, enterprise social networks, forums, microblogs, photo sharing, products/services review, social bookmarking, social gaming, social networks, video sharing and more. As per a wikipedia article 'A social networking service (also social networking site or SNS) is a platform to build social networks or social relations among people who share similar interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections'. Early social networking on the World Wide Web began in the form of generalized online communities such as Theglobe.com (1995), Geocities (1994) and Tripod.com (1995). Many of these early communities focused on bringing people together to interact with each other through chat rooms, and encouraged users to share personal information and ideas via personal webpages by providing easy-to-use publishing tools and free or inexpensive webspace.


There are more than two hundred prominent social networking sites on the web. Roughly all these sites together has 7.5 billion members (7543202609). It is almost equal to the world population! Of course, the members are not unique for every site. From this world population equivalent figure, it is very vivid that individuals have memberships in multiple networking sites. In the same site also, some individuals may be maintaining multiple accounts. Even after considering all the above possibilities of number duplication, the remaining number will be huge, there is no doubt about it. Even the duplication of accounts can also be taken as an indicator for enhanced involvement of individuals in the Cyberspace activities. In short, it is a strong indication of people start to live more in the Cyberspace every day. Active involvement of the the same individuals in multiple sites can be taken as an even stronger indication similar to individuals live and work in their family and friends' circles, groups of colleagues and larger societies of various nature around them for diverse purposes.


The range of activities happening in the Cyberspace through this social networking sites also amazingly large and diverse enough to compete with the real life activities. Starting from sharing of personal pleasures and worries to mobilizing people for huge social movements, from marketing to corporate business discussions, form layman's sharing of political opinions to consolidation of political powers by world leaders, from sharing of learning information to virtual class-rooms, everything you can imagine definitely happens in the social networks.


Each social network is a society in the Cyberspace. Each such society is governed by different policies of the site facilitators as well as the governments that regulate such sites, starting from the membership policy. In some cases, the individual members also have a say in developing and managing such policies, though not as open as in the case of Wikipedia. Gradually and steady these policies together build the structural design, living spaces and social systems of an evolving Cyberspace. Now it is high time that we look into these policies very seriously and and participate in the development and implementation of such policies with a long term vision, as people involve and facilitate the development of civilizations in the real world. Because, the Imanofutu like scenario wherein people started to live their real life in the Cyberspace almost completely towards the last part of the twenty first century, need not necessarily continue as just a fiction for long.


References

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Social Systems for the Cyberspace; wiki the first open society in the virtual world


Image attribution : Wikipedia
As we discussed in the earlier blog on the need of the social systems for the Cyberspace, the virtual world is no more that virtual and the need for stable social systems in the Cyberspace is tremendously high.



Perhaps the first open public space in the Cyberspace that facilitated the development of a well structured society is the world of wiki. Later Wikipedia revolutionised this phenomenal growth with 111666 active members in the English Wikipedia (though it has 27334636 registered members only 111666 have edited the pages in the last 30 days) and 5,065,228 articles. It averages 800 new articles per day. The virtual community of wikipedians is nurtured by wikipedia's policies and guidelines.



The policies of wikipedia are developed and maintained chiefly under six categories, viz Content, Conduct, Deletion, Enforcement, Legal, and Procedural. The appropriateness, correctness, authenticity, legal compliances, regular development etc of the wikipedia community as well as its contributions to Wikipedia are being effectively and efficiently managed by these policies. When we examine each of these policies, we find that the policies are developed and maintained in a democratic way through discussions and volunteer actions, that forms the basic principle of existence for any society, whether virtual or not.



My point here is that, any initiative towards developing social systems for the Cyberspace should start from studying the community model and policies of wikipedia. The topmost USP of Wikipedia is that its community is nurtured and developed chiefly through self-discipline and the spirit of voluntarism rather than legal enforcements.



References