Friday, December 03, 2010

Wikileaks & Web 2.0 Complexity

News Media on the Net has been quite active for the past few weeks especially with Wikileaks globally and Tape leak Controversy in India.

The evolving events in Web 2.0 world shows just how unprepared we are in dealing with new issues or taking advantage of emerging opportunities.

For example, Here is a UK retailer who has started a company called InternetEyes. The company provides a service to small business owners where the CCTV security streames can be watched in real-time and the business owners can be alerted for suspicious activities for a monthly fee. The interesting fact is that the company provides this service by Crowdsourcing. Yes, the people on Internet can signup to watch the CCTV stream during their free time and alert the business owners on suspicious events. Now, this sounds like a cool idea, isn't it?. But,there are several quesions that remain to be answered - Is this legal to outsource the legal enforcement activity itself to common citizens?. Does it breach the privacy of people who visit the store?. Is it ethical or do we need to inform those visitors?

Second, Whatever Wikileaks has been doing, Is it legal? just because it is someone that uploads the leaked documents and Wikileaks do not hold any responsibility. Or whatever gets reported out of Wikileaks, is it true and authentic?. Whatz the guarantee that those uploads are not edited? Very recently, Amazon has opted to drop the Wikileaks service fearing legal issues.

And Third, the Tape controversy in India. The news broke out only in Internet and the traditional print/TV media chose to remain silent on the issue for varous reasons. Hence, large number of people remained unaware of the issue and its consequences. This proves that in a country like India, Internet as a Media, is still a minority compared to its population and the reach of traditional print/TV media. How do we distill the multitude of opinions pouring from various avenues claiming who is right and who is wrong?. How do we know the right source of truth?. How do we cut the noise and synthesize the substance?

I see these phenonmenon as evolution of Web 2.0. As the phenomenon grows and people start to contribute in unconventional/unusual ways, it starts to generate new insights, leads to new possiblities and of course, new challenges and new threats in social/legal avenues.

And that's going to be quite a lot of work for netizens. As an Individual, it is going to be expensive for someone to distill and make sense out of proliferation of information and associated opinions on various events. In user-generated content world, given the fact that published content itself could have undergone intentional, biased manipulation, the problem only could get worse. I believe we are going thru the times of information authoring and discovery and we are in need of new tools and technologies that can help us to filter/synthesize / assit in navigating the amazon of information and make suitable choices. It will all the more good, if those tools are highly personalized and understand individual needs better. "Googling" for information is just not enough..Its just the beginning and we have to find ways to move beyond Google.

In this aspect, I would like to quote 'LG App Advisor' application in the newly launched LG Android Phone - LG Optimus One. I do have a HTC Android phone and I love it. And I have downloaded quite a bit of android applications from the market place and wish to 'fish' some more suitable apps that aligns to my interests. Now, if I go to the android marketplace and do a search, I get plenty of results and that is frustrating to me to filter and shortlist the best apps that are interesting to me. Now, LG App Advisor is one that claims to assist in this area. This app can help in suggesting suitable apps accoring to our interests, mediating between us and the android marketplace. The idea is interesting and it is definitely useful. Am yet to see this app advisor demo on Youtube and the feedback. But, this is the kind of example I was talking about - There would be new breed of mediator tools/technologies/apps we will see in near future to navigate the Internet better.

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