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Tag Archives: Chat Republic

Are we living among Bots?

It sounds like great opening paragraph for a sci-fi novel – a rhetorical question inserted into the throughts of someone fighting off some bad karma.

Are bots occupying spaces in our lives where we least expect? Our news feeds, our social media likes, even the ‘information’ we use to make decisions on investing, purchasing, and what to read etc. A recent article in Fortune states that malicious bots account for nearly 20% of all Internet traffic. Their list of insidious bots include those scripts steal content from commercial websites, influence ad metrics and ticket prices, and infiltrate forums. The main report from Digital Trends (they put the number at nearly 30 percent) notes that  48.2 percent of all traffic was sent by humans that year. The other 51.8 percent were bots. 23 percent were form good bots.

We now hear of ‘bot farms’ that trade in followers – one can supposedly buy thousands of Instagram followers for a few thousand bucks. Oh, my! No wonder some websites’ authentication makes you click on “I am not a bot”!

To think the premise for my 2013 book was about ‘being human 1.0 in a web 2.0 world.’ 

On a related note, IABC –the International Association of Business Communicators – has a forum discussion on Trust in wake of the 2018 Trust Barometer report. The bot discussion surfaced here too. Which shows that not ject tech folk worry about and plan ho to counter such an Internet cancer. Comms folk involved the reputations of companies and the information they share have to be cognizant of living among bots. Yes there are ‘good bots’ and bad ones, and there could be a battle royale being waged on the networks we use, hidden in plain sight.

More material for that sci-fi novel, huh?

 

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Unloading on social media – The encore has just begun

Despite my book, Chat Republic –or perhaps because of it – it’s been my constant warning to those who would listen: Social media is bringing out the anti-social around us.

This week, the alarum bells were rung by Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook. In December it was former Facebook exec, Chamath Palihapitiya.

As Cook said of social media, “sometimes the very technology that is meant to connect us devices technology is capable of doing great things but it doesn’t want to do great things.”  (Fast forward video to 7 minutes and watch)  Your thoughts?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2018 in Chat Republic, Social Media

 

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Is surge of Signal, triggered by paranoia or cynicism?

Chat apps with encryption sound like an idea whose time has come. Or rather, an idea whose time came, did a quiet exit, and after some tangle with Twitter, did an U-turn and returned as ‘Signal’.

signalSignal has powerful encryption, and has supposedly grown by 400 percent since the US election. Indeed, most people are passionate about keeping their communication away from prying eyes of governments. Or is this paranoia, knowing what we know about email being easily hacked or compromised? Even Signal has been subpoenaed by the govt! No coincidence that journalists now use encrypted chat apps more than ever.

Which explains why Chat apps like WhatsApp, Line, SnapChat and FB Messenger have quietly changed how we communicate. Hike, the SnapChat clone in India lets users chat in eight languages!

To be sure, as I said (in the last chapter of my book, Chat Republic) ordinary citizens, not just journalists, who become wary of the status quo, would refine these modes of chat in ways that we never imagined. That was in 2013.

And we the ____________ people (insertcynical,’ ‘paranoid,’ etc) are probably taking that path too.

 

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The Chatbots are coming! The Chatbots are coming!

You are not imagining. Suddenly there is a lot of talk about these things called Chatbots.

And, um, what exactly is a Chatbot? It’s probably not what you might imagine at first. It’s not an App that you use to talk to someone – thought that evolution might just happen. A Chatbot is a virtual information assistant that uses artificial intelligence to provide answers you may ask of it. Yes, like SIRI, but better.

A Chatbot may predict what you are looking for (say weather in Colombo, as opposed to weather in San Francisco), and provide you with some insight it gleans from past interactions with you.

Amazon and Microsoft have been early out of the gate with these AI assistants. Amazon, for instance has Alexa, and is used with the Amazon Echo speaker. It’s basically a piece of hardware you talk to (as opposed to an App like SIRI). And it this networked speaker provides you with things such as sports scores, places you are looking up such as restaurants etc.

What’s the big deal about Chatbots?

Let me answer this from the perspective of my book (conveniently titled) Chat Republic. The big deal is that we humans fully immersed in a Web 2.0 world are moving towards having deeper, richer, and dare-I-say commercially-infused conversations. For whatever reason, we sometimes prefer technology over humans (which is why we are often politely asked to text someone not call!), so the market is giving us what we show preference to.

Artificial Intelligence has developed to the point that it can deliver information that was once curated, created or thought through by humans. Oddly enough, some Chatbots do have humans working behind the scenes! I’m not against Chatbots. They have a role to play, after all.

Side note: Many moons ago, before smart phones (c. 1998), I used a phone-based service to find movie times, demographic information and such. That data was saved on servers we now call the ‘Cloud’, and that database has evolved into AI.

Supreme irony: Chatbots do the work once done by humans. Humans also do the work done by Chatbots.

 

 
 

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‘BYOD’ in schools, free ‘Candy Crush’ tablets for MPs – Maybe it’s a good thing

The BYOD – or ‘Bring Your Own Device’ – movement has been gathering steam in schools. If you want to know my position on this, I put it this way: It could quickly turn into Bring Your Own Distraction’ unless we make sure young students understand what screens are good for, and what they are lousy at. Unless we teach young people how to engage with others, and the value of being able to dive deep into issues beyond simple search and scan, we will end up with a distracted workforce, and distracted leaders.

Speaking of whom, consider this: 650 British MPs will be issued iPads after the British elections in May. But apparently the Brits are concerned about distraction. (Just read the headline of this Forbes article, and you’ll know what I mean.) But skepticism aside, it’s about time elected officials are provided with technology that denies them the excuse for not staying in touch with the rest of us.

In my book, Chat Republic, I featured a prescient idea by a Sri Lankan journalist who said that we ought to make democracy more digital. In a nutshell, what Indi Samarajiva said was that the average citizen has a right to know how an elected acts on our behalf, in real-time! Here is Indi expounding on part of that idea.

Last December (21014) Accenture published a paper on ‘Government as a Digital Disruptor. It spoke of the need for an eco-system for open, collaborative, creative engagement. Read the paper here.

 

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One more review of Chat Republic – “Long Live the Republic!”

Amazon review of my book, Chat Republic. The review is by Peggy Bieniek

“American designer, author and artist Edwin Schlossberg said that “the skill of writing is to create context in which other people can think.” Angelo Fernando does just that in his book, Chat Republic. Angelo gives his readers a lot to think about as it relates to our use and obsession with social media. He has included so much content, in fact, that he could have created a collection of books, each with its own conversation and tips about the many subjects that he covers in Chat Republic – podcasting, digital storytelling, communication by citizen-driven grassroots organizations, social listening, “democracy in the digital age” and so much more.” 

Read the rest of her review, here. 

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Social Media

 

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Humanize Your Communication – Presentation from IABC Phoenix event

When you are online do you act like a Visitor or Resident?

I sometimes joke that, whenever I hear the phrase “If Facebook was a country (often said to impress that a huge chunk of humanity is online), I am tempted to say...“I would quickly seek asylum somewhere else!”

That was one of the points I raised at my discussion with members of IABC Phoenix last Thursday, at their luncheon meeting. The point was not just about Facebok, per se, but about what it means to be a “resident” in a hyper-social world.

Interestingly enough, it’s something I touch on now, when teaching students in the computer and technology lab –my 6th grade class– what it means to be a digital citizen: Their roles, and expectations. We often have to ask ourselves: do we trade one of these for the other?

  • Visitor or Resident?
  • Antenna or Amplifier?
  • Symmetric or asymmetric?
  • Ambient Intimacy or “Alone Together”

Prezi - Chat Republic - IABCPhoenix

For those who have asked: Here’s a link to last my presentation: Humanizing Your Communication.” It’s hosted on Prezi. So much more interesting that PowerPoint.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2014 in Chat Republic, Social Media

 

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