Veni Vidi Vici- ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’. Prof. Sree Sreenivasan could well make it his tagline for his USIS lecture on Social Networking! As a participant, I found his talk no less than mesmerizing.
On 19th July, 2011 American Centre, Kolkata has arranged a session with Columbia University Professor and Dean Dr. Sreenivasan. The discussion was centering on how social networks actually could play a role in democracy.
In recent past, we have seen some popular uprising in Middle East and Egypt, which are popularly referred to as twitter or Facebook revolution. Professor interacted on this in a very lively manner, though the title of the discussion was ‘New Media: Defining Democracy’ but it was never so limited in discussion. In a lively manner, professor through his wonderful presentation took us to the universe of the social networking. What are the countries that are hooked into this, what’s the latest trend in this, can an individual stay really aloof from social networking in present day scenario etc.
In India, I can bet that no institution can ever think of having a lecture period on Facebook, Orkut, Twitter or Google Plus. But Prof. Sreenivasan has been doing this in the Columbia School of Journalism for past few years. Actually, he encourages students on getting into social networking so that actually it ‘ruins their interest’ in it!
Time to time there was snap polls that how many in the audience actually know how to connect on linkedin and twiiter and some other interesting stuffs. The response was really surprising, most of us really don’t know the mechanism of those sites. Large number of school students were present and they made the programme very lively with their continuous participation.
In the course of the discussions, good, bad and the ugly side of the social networking has been focused upon. The renowned digital media from USA emphasized the need for social media practices that balances in perfect tune on & off line status.
How did the professor himself be part of Facebook? That’s co-incidentally a Kolkata connection. He glued into the ‘Scrabulous’ (online Scrabble) – popular game on Facebook, much before Farmville and Mafia became everyone’s darling! It has been developed by St Xavier’s College alumni Jayant and Rajat Agarwala, that attracted him to join it. Though in this city of warmth, this is Professor’s first visit!
In the lively Q&A session, moderated by veteran journalist Snehasis Sur, so many interesting questions came up. One of them was how far face book ‘revolution’ or ‘peace initiative’ can yield result? Isn’t profanity a common practice on the social media platform?
Isn’t social media making us ‘unsocial’ too? He considered the scenario as ‘glass half filled’. He told, “My family is in four countries, so it’s the best platform to keep in touch with each other.” Humorously enough, how so many eyebrows were raised when his FB friends saw he (Prof. Sreenivasan) is now friend with his mother-in-law! But he himself has taken a tough challenge that how for another 5 years he would keep away his kids away from this networking world. His twins will reach teen then.
Though he is for social networking, but he never encouraged fake accounts on networking sites. To keep inquisitive parents and curious cousins at bay, he advocated a real name culture. In his words, “You should have only one account on any social website because then you will be more real. It won’t be a case of split personality…”
He was introduced to us by Acting USA Consul General in Kolkata Clinton S “Tad” Brown as a person who teaches facebook and orkut (In India many would lose their consciousness after knowing this) but the most skeptic of the same. And all I can say the ‘City of Joy’ welcomed him with his skepticism & mastery.
Professor, waiting eagerly to meet you again…
Welcome back to ‘Coolcutta’!