The day started with the long journey to SRM, situated in the outskirts of Chennai. "Aaruush" is SRM's techno-management fest (but they do have a pro show; mind you) and 'Unconference' is the event for which Vikas Chawla was invited to be one of the panelists. Down to SRM auditorium. We're warmly welcomed by the hospitality team and met one of the other panelists, Raghav Srinivas, an interesting persona with interests ranging from neural science to social media to philosophy. And in next few minutes, we're duly joined by the other panelists. One of them is a lawyer in High Court, Aruna Ganesh, who holds the credit for handling Chennai's first cyber crime case. And the other one is a fascinating person, J Walt, a professional who performs on virtual reality video concerts (also, he is the one doing the pro show). And, our own Vikas Chawla, a multi-faceted personality who is experienced in Marketing, Sales, HR and currently the Co-Founder of Social Beat. That's all about the diversified panelists.
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The screen goes up "UNCONFERENCE : Social Media - SOS or LOL" (You guys can always google SOS and find out what it is, I did that too). And the whole conference was moderated by a student called Arvind, who was articulate enough to put forth what the audience thought and kept the momentum going. For most of the time, the discussion was confined only to Facebook and other social media platforms were not exploited at all, let alone twitter.
The debate started off with the clichéd "How many of you check out Facebook the moment you wake up and before you go to bed" question, to which except the wall (not the Facebook wall) in the auditorium, everyone raised their hands. Let me quote few excerpts and anecdotes shared thereafter. Vikas said "Facebook says the most visited page of a user is their own profile." Raghav added the brain connection to this, "The impact of pre-frontal cortex plays a huge role in our subconscious thinking." Then, the discussion gradually moved on to the grey area - the legalities governing internet in India- which was neatly elucidated by Aruna Ganesh. Most of the audience was not aware of the IT Act 66A and the legal implications. Thanks to my Twitter TL during the most happening days, it didn't seem Greek and Roman to me at least. Aruna spoke in length various issues concerning the netizens and quoted few brilliant examples. For instance, she told "A person from Oman filed a complaint with the Chennai police stating that he was guaranteed employment by a party here. He submitted the e-mails sent to him by the employer. The cyber crime branch tracked the IP address to the complainant's personal laptop. Then came the shocking revelation that the complainee was found to be none other than his own son." J.Walt quipped on this bizarre act as "What a rotten kid! How messed up this family is." He pitched in good amount of humor time and again that left us all in splits.
The crux of the discussion and also the crucial takeaway was the IT Act 66A. Our ignorance on the law of the land governing social media was a grim reminder to all. Also, there was an interesting student in the audience who actually echoed everyone's feelings by saying "I post a really good and sensible status - 10 likes. And my girl shares it - 100 likes." And he also questioned why people are not taking responsibilities. Vikas made a quick reply saying "Responsibility has to come from within. You should be the change you wish to see in the world."
Unconference finally came to an end with various thoughts and conclusions consolidated and narrated perfectly by Arvind. So, who had the last laugh? Social Media :)