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Recapping the previous post on this topic, Mark Zuckerberg’s new non-profit consortium of information and communication technology (ICT) corporations would like to connect the remaining 5 billion inhabitants of the planet to the Internet who are not now connected (Internet.org, 2013). Many of the five billion people in question will most likely come from collectivistic non-western cultures. From here we’ll look at the following questions:

    1. What types of individual psychological effects can be expected from the insertion of Western ICT in a collective environment devoid of such equipment?
    2. Will there be changes in culture, and if so how might they manifest themselves and how long might it take?
    3. What may religious beliefs have to do with the impact of ICT?

When engaging in social change of this magnitude there are several other critical considerations that require examination such as diversity, globalization, and social change.  From the outset, diversity is a factor in this endeavor as it targets what will most likely be the most economically depressed populations of the world. A further assumption can be made that much of this group may also be the most undereducated due to a lack of resources. If these factors are accurate, this is also the group that is the least media literate and cognitively at risk to attempts at attitude and behavior modification. Portions of the targeted group may be familiar with Western psychology, but others may fall prey to well-designed effects driven by the use of computers as persuasive technology (captology) that could involve an integrated cultural spin to ease the reception of a message—an inoculator of sorts (Fogg, Cuellar, & Danielson, 2002).

Marsella (1998) cautioned about the potential impact of ICT on collective-based cultures as they join a “cybersociety that stretches across the globe transcending national and natural borders” based on the Western senses of consumerism, materialism, individualism, competition and rapid change (p. 1288). This audience will have little knowledge or experience with topics such as privacy, piracy, net neutrality or mass interpersonal persuasion as found and practiced on Facebook (Fogg, 2008).

Last, we should ask if Zuckerberg’s vision of social change, the good life and good society are congruent with that of the five billion people he wishes to hook to the Internet to build a global knowledge economy (Zuckerberg, 2013). Prilleltensky (1997) tells us that we should look to the values of the individual to understand the outcomes of their possible involvement. Facebook’s stated five corporate values are:

  1. Focus on impact – focus on solving the most important problems
  2. Move fast – don’t be afraid of making mistakes; “move fast and break things”
  3. Be bold – “The riskiest thing is to take no risks”
  4. Be open – having more information allows for greater impact
  5. Build social value – “Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected” (Constine, 2012).

Zuckerberg maintains that “…a more open and connected world will help create a stronger economy with more authentic businesses that build better products and services” (Constine, 2012).

This article serves as the second article in a short series examining what types of psychological effects can be expected from the insertion of Western ICT into a collective environment devoid of such equipment; whether changes in cultures might be observed, and if so how might they manifest themselves and how long might that take; and how religious beliefs may impact the insertion of ICT.

References

Constine, J. (2012, Feb 1). Facebook’s S-1 letter from Zuckerberg urges understanding before investment. Retrieved from TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2012/02/01/facebook-ipo-letter/

Fogg, B. J. (2008). Mass interpersonal persuasion: an early view of a new phenomenon. In H. Oinas-Kukkonen, M. Harjumma, & K. Segerstahl (Eds.), Persuasive   Technology: Third International Conference, PERSUASIVE 2008, Oulu, Finland,   June 4-6, 2008, Proceedings (pp. 23-34). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.

Fogg, B. J., Cuellar, G., & Danielson, D. (2002). Motivating, influencing and persuading users. In A. Sears, & J. A. Jacko (Eds.), The human-computer interaction handbook: fundamentals, evolving technologies and emerging applications (pp.   133-147). Lawrence Erlbaum. Retrieved 2013, from   http://captology.stanford.edu/resources/paper-motivating-influencing-and-persuading-users.html

Internet.org. (2013, August). Internet.org. Retrieved from Internet.org:   http://internet.org/

Marsella, A. J. (1998). Toward a “global-community psychology”. American Psychologist, 53(12), 1282-1291. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/amp/

Prilleltensky, I. (1997). Values, assumptions, and practices. American Psychologist, 52(5),   517-535. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/amp

Zuckerberg, M. (2013). Is connectivity a human right? Retrieved from Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/isconnectivityahumanright

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