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Monday, June 11, 2007

Dialogue on Mxit: it's uses and abuses

Perhaps it's because at the heart of Mxit sit entrepreneurs. Entreprising individuals who have as their foremost interest, to innnovate. Be it in solving a business or social problem. I was rather caught off-guard that Chris Coetzee, a keen researcher on Mxit, invited me to air my thoughts on the social networking technology. This was following my two open-ended entries about Mxit and its impact on the social fabric.

I'm always one who believes that dialogue, when facing any sort of problem, is extremely good and can lead to solutions never thought of by separately thinking parties. The following is my are my further thoughts on Mxit that were invited by Chris on this blog:

"Dear Chris,

Thank you very much for your interest in inviting and hearing my thoughts. Such dialogue is much appreciated.

First, I must let you know that, contrary to the impression that may have been created by my blog entries, I, like many others, am impressed with Mxit as a technology and a tool for empowering the consumer, especially in the backdrop of steep, rip off prices from the three corroborating oligarchs. And the many positive uses of Mxit are obvious and adored.

My views, as invited, are as follows:

  • Mxit has a higher chance, in its current use-model, of side effects that outweigh the economic and social benefits it provides.
  • It transforms the time that was previously devoted to other necessary activities, such as reading; studying; in-person conversing and 'living' of such teenagers, into wasted time chatting.
  • It halves the efforts of the paedophiles and provides them with an easy access to the many innocent girls.
    It's model, of a near-free access, makes it all that easy to aquire and therefore increases the scale or scope of the potential victims that paedophiles can access.
  • With the latest 'multimedia' enabled version of Mxit, I have no doubt that more nude, and pornographic pictures of both young and innocent boys and girls will circulate.
  • Parents are touted to be the solution. That they must police their kids. This will not work towards a long lasting creative solution. The solution must lie within the technology and its model (or access), if not with greater social responsibility program.
  • As I've wishingly suggested, attaching an adjusted but fair price (yet cheap) to Mxit can somewhat entice responsible use.
  • Another thought is that, what you pay for, you will not abuse freely. In a way I must say.
  • For the solution, or just an adjustment, one could look at the reason why SMS doesn't experience or attract as much abuse.
  • As part of Mxit social responsibility, particularly since it enjoys such wide and pervasive support, you may embark on an intensive public awareness campaign.
  • The above can be done in alliance with other technology-interest groups - social or business.
  • Depending on the potential dent to your coffers, one could embark on popular media campaign, PR (to target parents) various, road trips to schools and other places.
  • The above would be done in the interest of educating both the user and the parent, teacher, guardian, relative and friends of such a user, of the potential abuses and side effects of the technology and how members of the community can spot changing behaviour in the user.
  • At the same time, one could make them aware of the need for the users independent responsibility, that ultimately, they must police themselves.

Nevertheless, I still believe that a different pricing model would have better results although I'm concerned about the viability of that for your business. My further suggestion is that the latter should work together with the awareness campaign so that the user can be aware, especially at their tender and 'gullible' age, of the potential dangers of their abuse (or gullibility thereof) stemming from lack of responsibility or proper awareness.

The aim, rather than to be anti-Mxit or any other consumer-benefit driven technology (like government is), is to be socially responsible. This is imperative because the amazinly unscrutinising users of such technology are at a stage in their lives where they are absorbing many teachings that must build them into the responsible and smart leaders of tomorrow. A tomorrow which will be dominated by technology that must, again, be used in a socially responsible manner that must yield its benefits for the good of society than the other way around.

Please note that I focused this specifically on the age group of the popular user of Mxit, which the Sunday Times claimed to be 12-17.

Thank you for this opportunity for dialogue Chris. Much appreciated once again.

Israel Mlambo"

The two previous entries here:

"Judge of a man by his questions, rather than by his answers." - Voltaire


Sarahr said...

Just want to correct something - your understanding of who owns MXit and who Chris Coetzee is:

Chris Coetzee heads up GeminIT - a small 'research' company which produced a five page document on MXit chat room behaviour.

Herman Heunis is the CEO of MXit which is 30% owned by Naspers.

chidi said...

1st time on your blog......thanks for stopping by mine. Will definetly pop back more to read your other posts

Israel Izz Mlambo said...

The errors are regretted. Thanks for bring such crucial corrections to my attention. Much appreciated.

I hope that Herman and Naspers find ways of making the technology socially responsible.