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.

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.

Social experiment worth watching- Online ‘chat’ powers game

One more example of how broad and deep the idea of ‘chatting’ could be.

A way to play a massive online game of Pokemon, using chat commands. There’s a massive time lag between inputting a chat command, and seeing the game progress. Wonder how this experiment will pan out in a world that takes real-time interactions as a given.

I may be touching on this today at IABC Phoenix.