Sai Rao

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One always hears that an idea, no matter how revolutionary, is worthless unless one can effectively convey it to others. Now that millions have access to the internet, they are able to communicate with a much wider and diverse audience. The availability and easy access of information on the web also causes many to become impatient in their data gathering; if one site does not deliver information fast enough, people can easily look for another that will. Hence, conveying one’s message to others so that they listen and internalize it has become exponentially more difficult. However, examining and discussing the revolutionary tools now available showed everyone the different techniques one can use on the unique medium known as the internet.

The most significant difference about the internet has to be the ease and speed of proceeding from one site to another, to hyperlink to and from seemingly unrelated content. This increases the power of word of mouth advertising, as someone can instantly tell others about a particularly interesting site through instant messaging or e-mail. However, similar to television, the ease of changing “channels” requires a site to instantly attract a viewer and deliver almost immediate gratification. Perhaps this is why one sees elaborate flash introductions for most major sites or short, to-the-point videos on Youtube or Google Video. Even Google’s search engine works on the same principle; its spiders rank pages based on links from other sites. This amounts to coding in the word of mouth phenomenon into a prioritization system.

Although my project does not lend itself to attracting popular interest, its success requires following the same principles. Internet censorship abroad will not attract many interested English-speaking parties as it does not directly affect their lives. To attract the smaller, more dedicated and interested audience, the site needs to attract those prominent in the field. After all, they can most effectively spread the word, provide content, and thereby attract even more people to the site. Doing this requires the same tools as for general websites, providing relevant information clearly and concisely and packing the content using video, audio, and text.

The content on the site must also be unique so as to stand out in the sea of information on the web. Empathic argument comes into play here as it creates a much more complete and convincing argument, leading to richer debates. Most websites that detail censorship online assume that it is bad and inherently unwanted, failing to consider any political or social justifications for it. As such, they fail to promote any movement to open up the internet in the governments that censor. They simply preach to the choir Considering the government’s point of view as legitimate will make the argument that internet filtering is unnecessary and potentially harmful for the country’s development. Through the podcasts and future video samples, hopefully the site will be able to provide more of an emotional punch and thereby move into the next stage of its development, attracting members from the public at large.

Overall, the course, fittingly, expressed the nature and efficacy of empathic argument fairly well. Over the past semester, the efficacy of empathic argument became much clearer. The student projects in particular showed this best, as everyone was forced to consider a personal belief from the opposing side. Students took thinking from the opponent’s perspective, although a long since recognized important part of effective debate, to the next level. They began to accept the opponent’s position as legitimate and connect with it emotionally as well as logically Not only did this make their arguments stronger, it made them seem stronger by default. The class as a whole took on the role as arbiters, seekers, of truth, rather than advocates for a particular cause. Ultimately, such an exercise may have reinforced some beliefs or dispelled others, but the emphasis of the debates returned to finding the optimal solution, not just the most beneficial to one’s self.

People wishing to engage in the new forms of communication on the internet could learn from the idea of empathic argument. By starting from the point of the average user who has no interest or even disapproves of the site, an administrator can escape his inherent bias and try to tailor the site towards a larger audience. Succeeding will not only attract more people initially, but it will also create a rippling effect through the network, creating even more popular appeal.

The same holds true for the various aggregating tools that exist today, such as Youtube or Google. Giving one’s video or site an empathic basis will create a stronger bond between the creator and the viewer, increasing the chances that the creator’s message will get across. Given that poor videos of little informational or entertainment value comprise the vast majority of Youtube, empathic communication clearly has not taken hold yet. Content creators do not understand viewer wants, so they do not connect with each other. That content which does form an emotional bond excels beyond its origins and often remains popular for weeks or months, an eternity on the internet.