‘The twitter of the 80’s are now dead’ – this headline about the closure of the 150 year old telegram services made me wonder how technology destroys and recreates its very own pillars of foundation. It’s like that never ending journey that self generates and moves into an entirely different direction and a parallel universe. Social media, unheard of a few years back, now forms the backbone of how our society thinks, interacts and collaborates. As the so-called social structures crumble, the world gets globalized and families’ nuclear, social media has effectively played the bridge for information transmission across boundaries, raising uproar, disputes, awareness and maybe just a simple expression of love.
When I heard about Social Blood for the first time, honestly I didn’t have much of an impression. It seemed like another attempt at raising awareness and garnering public opinions and big talks of saving lives in a world of shrinking values and empathy for our kinds. May be it will stir up some emotions and there will be an initial response, but as always it will fall prey to dying enthusiasm and apathy. In a world where brothers take swords against each other and women raped
ruthlessly, how would you search out the good Samaritans whose voice gets lost in this continuous war cry? Where would you find those people who retire in their cozy homes, thinking that they alone cannot make a difference and let the world burn? And also, there are people, who would rise and play at least a minuscule role, if given a chance to? It would be huge and an impossible haul for the kind hearted Karthik Naralasetty.
2 years back when I was appointed by my organisation to represent them in a Big Data conference, I was a bit reluctant – because I didn’t want to change the technology and move into a different a career path at least at this point of my career. Somewhat grudgingly I took up the offer. It was a terrific experience for me, the 10 week long course. I came to know about the infinite- literally infinite potential of leveraging information from meaningless and unstructured data. The massive bytes of data when mined for information can actually bring to the table a world of possibilities. Consumer, internet and mobile data traffic forms the bulk of this. This emergence of the unstructured data that shows patterns about human behaviour and social dependencies has till now eluded the world. The key is to leverage this data based on social, economic, educational and cultural divisions of the society – to gain an edge and ride the wave of technology and raise the bars of how we look at things and do stuff. It is, today, in theory instrumental in defining strategy be it marketing or a ushering social change.
So, how does a radical organisation, like social blood – benefit from the potential possibilities of data turned into information and then extract the juices of knowledge to apply them for social awareness? When you take a closer look at the how the organisation operates is by leveraging the user base of Facebook, which is by all means infallible. By creating spider’s web of using the connections that people have it spreads its roots across social layers, crossing boundaries, and religions. The very societal structures that it forms its roots on, seems too fidgety at times isn’t it? It’s something like, you are searching for something all over the room and the thing lies hidden in a place where you wouldn’t even think of looking for. If people are its foundation, isn’t it worth understanding that foundation? How it behaves, and how it will reciprocate to a change, which layers of the society are more responsive to requests for blood donations, and what triggers a decision for an individual to drive 10 miles in the middle of the night to fulfill an emergency blood donation request?
Some basic questions, on making the ground on which you stand on – stronger, more connected and extracting the best out of that, is just a natural choice. Collecting and understanding the data will hold the key in the case of social blood.
Power of Big Data: The data based on various factors like the social back ground, cultural affinity, education, gender, availability of resources both economical and transportation. Very less people would actually pay for a cab and travel 10 miles in an odd hour to donate blood. I know it sounds selfish but that is sadly the reality – people from which regions or of which social strata are more responsive to requests that come to them. Analyse which gender is relates more, and why is it? – Simply, because of the emotional quotient? Or is it something else? Which age group are the more active participants, These are questions thrown on the table, which we can think about; ponder on, to open up new possibilities in reaching out to the people, understanding the nature and the trend. There are various organisations like Data Kind who offer their support to organisations who seek help in understanding data and turning these unstructured data into gold mines of information.
Data Scientists: The world has now opened up to a new breed of data scientists. Who plays with the data and creates information out of them which might just seem Greek to you and me. Hiring professional data scientists can hugely influence the strategic decisions of the organisations. This data that the organisation would collect can be interpreted by these professionals to bring up the importance of targeted areas where social blood can concentrate more. Awareness is a direct by product of education. Social blood can designate teams to specifically work on areas of less penetration, to analyse and devise a plan to make it more effective.
Create a brand: The next step in this social revolution is to create a brand, which the people will connect to. Tie up with corporates, (I am sure the corporates would lap up the offer with an en eye on increasing their CSR activities) to delve into the strata of highly aware corporate sleeping giants. These are resourceful, wealthy people – who cannot think out of their cubicle. To tap into this section of the society, is the first step to start the chain reaction.
The world of NGO’s: NGO’s deal with a huge amount of data every day. To relate to these NGOs would create a mutual ecosystem, of feeding the society for what it has been hugely deprived of all along. The NGO s are often those organisations, who has all the data in the world, but are unable to tap out the information from them because of financial constraints that would reveal trade secrets for which even the corporates can die for.
Collaborate More: Organize donation drives and awareness campaigns, in the streets, in malls, in highway dhabas and places people wouldn’t think of. Everyone loves surprises. Make them feel good about them. Collate the opinion polls and reviews, engage volunteers, and collaborate with schools and colleges to spread the message of the importance of blood donations and how you can make a life better. Analyse the data, the reactions and rework again and again, until you turn information into wisdom within us.
A mere online presence will not help social blood to delve into the minds of the individual. The world is much more than Facebook. Being online helps you get the initial leverage but most of it lies with the connection with the people on the larger scale. It is much about the information and collaboration. Facebook can always be used as a stepping stone, because it offers the services of reaching out the people, but to the take greater leap, it has to be leap of faith. It is after all about information in the service of humanity that transcends borders.
This blog is written for Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012. and inspired by Karthik Naralasetty, the founder of Social Blood (socialblood.org) – Founder of Social Blood (socialblood.org) – a social networking site for blood donation. Know more about him in this YouTube video - Karthik Naralasetty