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





Sunday, January 24, 2016

Social Systems for the Cyberspace

While writing the first two volumes of Imanofutu, one of the serious thoughts haunted me the need of well structured social systems in the cyberspace for the Imanofuteans. The starting point of the plot was the life in Imanofutu during the last quarter of the twenty first century. Since the climate change related issues had made the normal life in the open air almost impossible, the Cyberspace had become the main living space for the Imanofuteans. Starting from banking to schooling, everything has been migrated to the cyberspace. Thus they established Netizen's Community Networks (NCNs), which ensured access to and safety in the cyberspace for all by prudent technologies, definite laws and community ethics.

While returning from Imanofutu to our real world, there also we see millions of people have already started to live their real life in the virtual world! Yes, we are forced to admit that virtual world is not that virtual now. Of course, not chiefly because of environmental issues, but due to so many other technological, social and economical reasons. It quite naturally necessitates inclusiveness in the case of accessibility and stable systems to ensure security.

The guidances for living in the cyberspace have to be given to individuals from their childhood onwards in the same manner the family members, teachers and others mentor the younger ones to lead a healthy social life in the real world. Then there should be laws, and knowledge about such laws and adherence to it should become an organic development for every individual. Laws should also be in a way that cater to the different individual and social requirements in a healthy way. The requirements and ethics for the public spaces and individual or private spaces in the cyberspace have to be honored as in the case of their equivalents in the real world.

Individual users and communities of users should also take responsibility to ensure access to and security in the Cyberspace for them and their fellow human beings. When individuals and their communities maintain self restrictions and refrains, when they show respect, love and care for others, cyberspace also becomes a worthy living space for all.

You may be wondering why I am scribbling down it now. My reason is simple. I see Imanofutu like cyberspace requirement for all in this world as we age towards the later half of the current century.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The destroyer



The following is a poem inluded in the Volume 1 of the 'Imanofutu' fiction series titled 'IMANOFUTU; A 21 Cy Portrait' . In the fiction it is written and recited by a young poet, who is very disappointed and anxious about the panic efforts taken by people to escape from the clutches of the environmental issues towards the end of the 21st century. 'The under earth and under sea hideouts' refer to the Under Ground Living Space (UGL Space) and Under Sea Living Space initiatives of the Imanofutu government. Free digital copy of the fiction is available on Google Books and it can also be downloaded from www.imanofutu.blogspot.com

“You have been reckless exploiters
Who plundered nature for disasters
That you thought fortunes.

Hey men! You have spoiled the blues
And I don’t have blue skies now,
I don’t have white mountains
I don’t have green valleys
I don’t have serene air
Hey men! You are the arch destroyer!

Now you seek hideouts everywhere
Under the earth, under the sea,
These are not advancements
But man, you remember
You are in the return path
You are undoing the evolution!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Open Fiction

I have been writing and self-publishing fictions with open license for the last few years without least care to what have been happening in the realm of fiction writing, purely based on philanthropic concerns. I used to add the genre as 'open fiction'.  Then, a few months back, quite accidentally, I happened to read a blog by Joschua Fink, a student of screen-writing at the German Film- and Television Academy Berlin, titled "Why we all write Science Fiction- A short overview about all open source novels ever written." In the blog he wrote that there are novels published under creative commons license, but almost all of them  disallow either modification or commercial use, which are both integral freedoms in the Definition of Free Cultural Works. He continued “If we sort them out, what remains left to be called open source? Just very few. Few enough to count them with the digits of a single hand”. He lists four writers and one among them is myself (with Imanofutu). Others are Juan Julián Merelo Guervós (with Hoborg), Cheryl Ives (with Timeless) and Ryan Somma (with ideonexus.com).

The above interesting observation triggered my curiosity to learn more about open source novels and the more wider spectrum, which I would like to name as 'Open Fiction'. I searched wikipedia. Wikipedia's Creative Commons-licensed novels category shows the details of 23 books. Yes, Joschua Fink is right, most of them carry non-commercial licenses. He seemed to have painstakingly gone through those catalogues.

However, I would say, the sharing of fictions with  restrictive clauses also contribute towards ensuring inclusiveness with respect to the access to literature. Therefore such services are also remarkable. Like in the case of Open Educational Resources, let us say, CC-BY-SA would remain the most appreciated license, whereas other variants will also contribute towards building an open fiction ecosystem.

There are also great projects that obtain open licenses for fictions from the copy-right holders and release it in public domain. Project Gutenberg is an ideal example. Project Gutenberg is the oldest e-book project started by Michael Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, in 1971 with the digitization of the United States Declaration of Independence. It has over 50000 books in its collection now. Of course, the situation is different from the authors themselves release their works with open license.

Now yet another area of debate could be about the purpose of Open Fiction. Do the society has a grave requirement for open fictions as in the case of Open Educational Resources? I would say a very loud 'YES'. The topmost reason is the inclusiveness in the case of access to literature. Secondly, there are a lot of themes in fictions that handle social and scientific matters. If all freedoms are provided for re-purposing and redistributing such works, further creativity will be added on it to make it progressively contributive to the evolving social and scientific scenarios for the benefit of all. For instance, in the case of Imanofutu, I decided to release it open chiefly because it imagines and examines  the possibilities of adaptation for living in the coming centuries.

Of course, this matter needs to be debated further.

References:
http://joschua.de/en/blog/2015/01/why-we-all-write-science-fiction.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Creative_Commons-licensed_novels
http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page

Friday, January 1, 2016

Tranquility is vibrant; Happy New Year!




Years are jubilant
When the moments are triumphant

Moments are triumphant
When the minds are vibrant

Minds are vibrant
When the thoughts are tranquil

Can tranquillity be vibrant?
Yes, it is the eternal vibrancy;
It is the eternal jubilation!




Happy New Year my dear vibrant minds!