THINC Webinar: Do Digital Communities Strengthen Human Connections?
By Tech x Human Connection
Human interaction is fundamental to human society. In a world of rapid technological development, are individuals defining the way of interaction, or are digital media guiding the direction of human relationships?
In THINC's 7th seminar, we invited David Chou from Tencent's Marketing and PR Department as the main speaker to share the WeChat platform's journey towards goodness. 6 fellows of THINC's Technology & Human Relations team have presented on topics of finding new opportunities in job hunting, teamwork, etc. to suggest possible paths on how digital communities can positively affect society.
The App That Does Good For 1.2 billion Users: Talk by David Chou
Gu Xiaofen, a community policeman in Shanghai's Minhang district, has 2,477 WeChat friends, 80% of whom are residents of the local community she serves. Through 73 WeChat groups, she can communicate with and provide services to approximately 10,000 residents. Under the recent severe pandemic situation in Shanghai, community service workers, led by Gu, are communicating with residents remotely through WeChat. It is proved to be an important method of preventing and controlling the pandemic, says Gu: "[Building a] community of helping hands and compassion through WeChat."
Since its launch in 2011, WeChat has had 1.268 billion monthly active users. 2021 saw over 450 million daily users on WeChat mini program and over 700 million monthly users on WeChat Search. As one of the world's most popular social networking software, WeChat has become a part of many online users' lives with its features covering instant messaging, location sharing, mobile payments, social sharing, and many other areas.
David divides WeChat's relationship chain into three levels: communication for intimate relationships, including family and partners; communication for indirect relationships, including friends, colleagues, and acquaintances; and communication for social relationships, including PR services and strangers. With the help of WeChat, society becomes more and more closely integrated around these relationship chains.
WeChat's goal is to work for a better society. In addition to chat and communication, there are many functions under the WeChat ecosystem, including WeChat Official Accounts, WeChat mini-programs, WeChat search, and more. During the pandemic, users can access public services remotely from home through WeChat, while WeChat mini program provides services targeting COVID-19 testing appointments and vaccination appointments, bringing convenience to people's lives.
WeChat has incorporated the value of reaching out to the good into its functional design. In Care mode for the elderly, fonts and buttons are larger and colors are stronger for easy legibility; in teen mode, password restrictions are adopted for features such as WeChat Official Accounts, WeChat Channels, and Games; and educational features for deeper users include guidance on the use of WeChat products and alerts on anti-fraud messages.
Spot A Certain Job in Uncertainty: Talk by Arthur Gopak
Based on the needs of job seekers for information and experience, the Arthur brothers set up a job search website to share job-hunting experiences, follow industry trends and offer job opportunities. With the help of technology, Alpha Gamma can draw attention to content that is likely to be of interest to users based on their personal information on the site. Also, he designs content to meet the needs of their users. Currently, the corporate service covers 192 countries around the world, with a total readership of over four million across all channels, attracting over 500 influencers to share relevant job search experiences and business insights through text, effectively helping users to expand their network of contacts in the workplace.
At the same time, Alpha Gamma's analysis of these workplace relationships has led to a general trend: "A study of 2,130 HR professionals in North America and Europe revealed that the most important quality of a candidate is motivation. Companies want to understand why candidates are joining the business and want to help them grow. Another 68% of hiring decisions come outside the school classroom, meaning candidates should be active and participate in external activities to seek opportunities."
"Look for head or viable start-ups in dominant industries through information searches; look at investment trends from venture capitalists and related institutions to find good tracks; and use Crunch base, LinkedIn Premium, or another platform to observe employment trends." These are three tips from Arthur on how to find professional contacts and opportunities.
Talk Before Forming a Team: Talk by Hancheng Cao
Where there are people, there is cooperation. However, there are always confusing questions about teamwork, and unhappy cooperation can be half the battle. Is there a model that can quickly detect the probability of a team's failure? In other words, how can we quickly determine the survival of a team?
To improve the efficiency of teamwork, Hancheng Cao, an interdisciplinary researcher at Stanford University, has used modeling research to create a system that can quickly analyze and determine the viability of a team. This alert system can analyze and predict the viability of a team's operations in advance and nip problems in the bud. It takes only 70 seconds and 12% of the chat interaction to reach 95% accurate conclusions.
By extensively capturing records of team member communications and exchanges, Hancheng analyzed the feasibility of the team. In the study, being responsive and engaging in team activities during communication was an indicator of a more viable team. For example, the use of exclusive language such as 'but', 'either', 'except', and addressing each other in the second person (e.g. 'you') was significantly and positively associated with higher survivability. The findings demonstrate a high degree of commonality in the testing of chat logs across different teams and can be used for generalization and research.
Hancheng hopes to apply related research on the ground in the future and use technology to improve the efficiency of teamwork in the industry.
A 3km Community and a Global Community: Talk by Howard Park
The second-hand trading platform Karrot has exploded in South Korea under the pandemic. Strangely though, the software only allows users to buy and sell within 3km of their location. The distance restriction limits the options for both buyers and sellers, but Karrot is still gaining popularity among users.
Why are restrictive software features a success?
According to Howard Park, senior product leader at Operations & Mobility, users are more relieved when restrictions on the scope are met with transactional behavior. Users tend to be more polite and honest in the face of their neighbors, enhancing the quality and viability of transactions, which can greatly contribute to building and strengthening relationships; the platform encourages face-to-face transactions, allowing users to check the quality of items face-to-face before deciding to buy. At the same time, the trading of items between community users re-enforces the connection and trust between communities.
Limitations are not the only way in which technology facilitates human interaction. Communication technology is constantly trying to break down barriers and offer more possibilities for work and life.
The language barrier has long been a problem for many companies hiring foreign talent. For Howard's Operations & Mobility, Zoom's simultaneous translation helps companies to overcome the language barrier when hiring international talent. This is achieved through the ability to insert a separate translation track. With access to an external simultaneous delivery interpreter, users can choose to replace the original guest's audio with simultaneous audio into the meeting, and a non-fluent but the highly competent person can be taken on by the company, even working remotely for the company.
Technology can widen the physical distance we can reach and enhance the width of human relationships, but it is not the universal answer to human relationships and cannot replace face-to-face interaction. The multi-dimensional development of communication technology has created opportunities for acquaintance, platforms for cooperation, and channels for understanding, and will continue to break down the barriers of the physical world in the future, allowing us to live next to each other in digital communities.