Wanted: Social media talks to spread good will online

Written by by Haozhan Huang, CNN London In recent years the web has become a never-ending, home-brewed fountain of consumer grievances and online campaigns. With nearly every website, app and television channel offering something…

Wanted: Social media talks to spread good will online

Written by by Haozhan Huang, CNN London

In recent years the web has become a never-ending, home-brewed fountain of consumer grievances and online campaigns. With nearly every website, app and television channel offering something — but quickly turning you into one of the few who really matters — how can you make the most of all those Internet connections?

The answer, according to a collaborative new project by researchers from the United States and China, is to post less and chat more.

Researchers from the US and China have come up with a way to use chats to improve the Internet. Credit: Paolo Pellegrini / Thinkstock

Named OGEpop — the acronym of “Online Collaboration and Its Effects,” the project, devised by researchers from Brooklyn’s Columbia University and Peking University in Beijing, creates “threads” of user-submitted information that are then easily passed on by peers to create better, more relevant online conversations.

E-sports, an annual point-scoring tournament whose participants communicate via online games, helped inspire the project.

Similarly, how people interact with each other, especially while online, can be powerful. With an eye to the increasingly fragmented nature of the Web, the researchers say the right conversations can emerge from the wrong ones, and it’s important to engage each other in meaningful discussions.

“It’s important to know that you’re not the only person interested in X and that others are willing to discuss it,” said OGEpop’s technology director Professor Kang Yang.

When people join a thread in the project’s decentralized format, they opt to either participate in the conversation, or be left out completely. The message automatically appears on everyone’s screen, encouraging everyone to discuss and communicate with others via the theme that it represents.

People from Peking University and Columbia University met last month to develop the “OGEpop” project. Credit: Paolo Pellegrini / Thinkstock

Beyond chat, the researchers say this distributed focus produces more-relevant information, the result of which is for conversations to be around popular causes, like renewable energy, rather than small topics that could generate trivial arguments.

“You need to have social networks that are talking about these bigger, more interesting and vital issues,” said the project’s lead researcher, Seung-Woo Sung.

“We should advocate for positive change, and not allow individual emotions to generate negative ones,” he added.

Leave a Comment