Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Social Networking or Social Engineering ???

Although I went into deep slumber once again, first on the pretext of exams and then with the kind of killing schedule of classes that we had last week combined with the absolute laziness that forms my core, did not care to write a post. And the foremost reason that I feel guilty is coz there are so many things that I keep crossing my mind and yet I prefer the "hibernate" time and again.

Infact even today was no different, after survivng the onslaught of more than 3 hrs of Cost Accounting lecture and becoming a complete airhead, I head back towards my PG accomodation. Thinking about how I wasted yet another day :(

Well... in true blue Floydian style yet again rearranged my self to sanity..... and for the benefit of someone who is still reading this, let me get started with the title of this post...

Last week on of my friend showed clear signs of almost being petrified with any reference of the word "Orkut" coming her way. Although I have been accused a million times for my abuse of words/expression, but the adjective used here is more than justified, as a later conversation with her confirmed as well. And by the way, the person I am referring to is a fairly outgoing and extrovert person, who is a journalist by profession. So, timidity and all things of such nature can be clearly removed from the picture. What has scared her was the recent trend of people hacking other's Orkut Profiles and Pictures from there uploaded albums and then morphing the images and doing all sorts of unpleasent things.

Social Networking, one of the cornerstone of Web 2.0 is one of the most talked/debated topics. On one hand it has helped in finding convergence in divergence. People with common interests can meet on various online forums to interact, exchange thoughts & veiws and in some cases even forming support groups. All this has lend the World Wide Web an human face and one is no longer tagged geeky if he/she spends hours on the internet. Whats more marvelous is that this growth has been totally organic in nature. A look at the serch trends (what people search on the internet) is quite insightful to say the least -> http://www.webology.ir/2004/v1n2/a4.html .

There have been a number of researches and studies showing a clear shift in patterns, from sex and ecommerce (ode to the dot com bubble) in the late 90's to business, personal researches and information related. I remember the when I had the first interface with the internet. At that time at a place like Allahabad, cybercafes where far and few and costly as well (I have paid Rs. 40 per hr for internet surfing). Invariably cybercafes followed the cubicle format, each workstation was tightly packed and the major concern for both the user and the owner was to make sure that not an inch of the screen was visible from any side/any angle. And then there were people marvelling on the wonders of Yahoo Messenger and once having mastered the nuisances of the art of chatting and rudiments of netiquette bring along there friends and peers for a "live" demo. Gradually this also extended to exchanging emails with friends abroad.

Contrasting this with the present wherein the internet has become an extension of all our activities, there are bound to be several issues cropping up. We have although evolved several wonderful applications but ultimately who they are used and/or abused depends on whose hands are they in.

Social Engineering is one concept that I came across for the first time about 5 years back, an aspect of Social Psychology which talked about use of various techniques to manipulate people and collecting information of sensitive and personal nature from them. Mostly this term has been used in context of financial frauds. However with the rising popularity of Social Networks, one tends to interact and chit-chat openly. This leads to a lot of loose bits of information left in the open for data mining and almost leading to a complete personality and behaviour profiling of the person. Even I have also off late noticed and realised how such intrutiveness is becoming an accepted part of life.

Its too tempting for me in true debate style to summarize this issue and then come up with a very idealistic and forceful statement to conclude, or maybe a quotation (something like "Liberty is no license") however since this is something for which concern is more deep rooted hence would like the reader also to ponder over it and likewise go ahead and discuss it the next person......

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  • ashwin said...

    good post dude.. It's "Social Networking" that has made me visit your blog.If the Laxman rekhas are clearly drawn, then it is useful in expanding our friend's circle.

  • Ashutosh said...

    @ Ashwin

    Thanks buddy... At the cost of sounding cycnical, clearly there is still a divide between bloggers, people who are using internet for knowledge sharing and gaining knowledge vis-a-vis the majority of people using it for mere time pass. And the gap is bigger in our country. Hope things change, for good...


  • ashwin said...

    U r rite dude. Interent's potential is not tapped in our country. If the knowledge sharing capability of internet is fully utilisied, then it would be helpful for development of a person (as well as the country)

  • Ashutosh said...

    yeah buddy,

    how i wish projects like -> http://www.domain-b.com/companies/companies_t/teNet/20060816_promotes.html

    attain a critical mass and turn into a viable revenue stream for both rural india as well as the companies.

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