It began with a click.
The National Cyber Media Conclave (NCMC) made its debut at Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune on the 28th March 2008. Organised by the students of SIMC, the one-of-a-kind event saw the evangelists of the cyber world discussing and debating on priorities of the cyberspace, digital activism, and customer experience in the virtual space, engineering opinion, and technology of tomorrow.
The first session was on the “Potency of the cyber medium for information exchange and social exchange,” and began with the hugely popular national blogger and Founder – Knowledge Foundation speaking of internet as a tool for knowledge sharing. He cited incidents from his own life where he experienced the power and potency of the internet in situations that touches your life and becomes your 3 am friend. “Collective knowledge of the audience is always more than the speaker,” Kiruba insisted.
Shivam Vij, national blogger extensively discussed the changing relationship between mainstream media and new social media. Talking about the times when open hostility existed between the blogging community and old media, to now when Tsunami helpline blogs that drew international media attention to the situation and of the Harvard project, Global Voices Online, which carries entries from Third world blogs about life and issues in the developing nations for international community to take note of.
Also present at NCMC was Shiv Baskar Javed, CEO – The Viewspaper. Carefully constructing his argument, “Cyber News Media is the ultimate fourth estate”, Javed took the audience through the evolution of media. “The internet changes a few of these things.” Javed said, “Content creation and distribution is no more limited to the dynamics of the physical domain like money, distributions system etc. And nor is it concentrated in the hands of a few.”
The last speaker for the pre lunch session was Jasmeen Batheja, Founder – Blank Noise Project. Batheja spoke the issue of street sexual harassment and how her organisation that was founded as a stand again it uses new media to create awareness and result in participation and engagement. The issue of street sexual harassment is also magnified by the intangibility of the act itself, she said. By encouraging victims to post the pictures of what they were wearing when they were harassed, of the perpetrators, initiating discussions and exchange of incidents; helped blank noise connect to many women across the country who were mute recipient and gave them the courage to stand up and demand their rightful public spaces.
The second session began with Rajesh Lalwani, Founder- Blogworks talking about the buyer decision making. Stating that there is a difference b/w “sold” and “nearly sold”, he explained the potential of social media in influencing customer opinion in the last mile towards making that sale in the real world.
Rashmi Dhanwani, media manager Breakthrough spoke about her organisation bridging the gap between culture and human rights using pop media such as TV, film, music and internet. With laws proving insufficient to cover the gap between progressive politics and ground realities, campaigns such as Breakthrough’s Bell Bajao calls on the common man to act. Take that to the cyberspace, digital activism attracts activist by its sufficiently usable read/write platforms.
Bell Bajao, the 360 degree multimedia campaign against domestic violence, was released both in mainstream and online media simultaneously for total campaign dissemination. It was a revelation for many in the audience, when Dhanwani said that, the campaign that involved Ministry for Women and Child & UNIFEM partnering with breakthrough, was not only a zero cost campaign but was also done pro bono both by O&M and the campaign ambassador Boman Irani.
While the website created a conversational space around the issue using tools such blog posts, contests (tied up with contest2win & Zapak.com), educational tools etc; the mainstream brought the issue to the living room. A perfect example where mainstream media and cyber media work in tandem to drive home the messaging.
Speaking on the evolving face of online video: global learnings and its relevance for India; Namit Bimbhat, CEO Switch Media Services elaborated on the opportunities for video enablement for broadcasters and publishers, educational institutes, religious organisations, radio stations, and destination portals. Reiterating the fact that online portals can be successful revenue generation models, Bimbhat cited the case of YouTube, Netflix, and Megastudy.
Jayram Mahadevan VP Products, BharatMatrimony.com calling himself the CEO, in his terms the Chief Engagement Officer, discussed building brands the social way taking the case of his own company.
Atul Chitnis, Sr. VP – Geodesic Solutions, discussed the technological future of the cyber medium. Calling open source software as social software, Atul made a strong philosophical point of sharing – “If I have it, I am obliged to share it with another who is in need.” Such visionary statements took NCMC to a whole new level even at its debut.
Throwing light on the phenomenon of building trust through recommendations and extending it to credibility creation, Chitins cited the example of how one surfs consumer forums for opinions on products and services before making a decision, and how the cyber space has the power to allow informed decision making.
The beauty of the new media was brought out by the diversity in opinions, even among the panellists, resulting in some rather memorable exchanges characteristic of the new media.
Some interesting quotes at the NCMC:
“Biggest utilitarian value of IE today, is to download Firefox” – Atul Chitnis
“Cyber Media is like masturbation. You got to do it yourself to get it right” – Rajesh Lalwani
“Wikipedia wouldn’t have been what it is if we kept worrying about credibility and control” – Kiruba Shankar
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