Network member, Chief Media Scientist at Twitter and Director of the Laboratory for Social Machines at MIT Deb Roy discussed the concept of mutual visibility and the ways that social media can help improve public life with The Hindu.
"I think there’s huge amount of work ahead to get towards workable responsive systems for a feedback loop….The kind of social action today that you see enabled by social media, especially real-time and fast and at-scale digital networks, is best characterised as ad hoc and disruptive. It’s easier to protest, easier to have suddenly in a moment a big voice and suddenly to have big impact in the moment.
There’s a lot of theory on paper, legal structures, governance structures that are supposed to work like that — they just don’t work, because of the friction in the system that buries information.
If you are a high-ranking person in the government of India, just imagine looking down at a picture of the country you serve and the billion-plus people. Or let’s say you’re in some ministry and you are supposed to be doing something for your ministry — beyond knowing that there’s this couple of million people, this mass out there and you can slowly broadcast some policies, you’re in the dark; you’re staring into the darkness. You don’t know where they are, what they’re doing and the feeling is mutual.
The internet opens up this mutual visibility which sets a new set of possibilities in motion. Lots of work to be done, but I’m a technology optimist — it is technology that is opening up this set of possibilities but it is raw right now."
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