While doing my field research at The Wrap Shack in Rittenhouse, Philadelphia, I noticed that a lot of professionals were eating lunch by themselves and I thought that what better way to utilize your lunch time than to have a lunch meet with an individual from your field. Someone who has the same interests as you and who could potentially do business with you. During my field research, I found it really interesting how some people completely isolated themselves from reality and the present time and instead, focused on their virtual lives. I figured that my application, ProNet, will help people get out and meet other professionals. As I was sitting at The Wrap Shack, I thought about how difficult it is to build your social and professional network after college, and how much more difficult it is for those who are shy and try to not get out of their comfort zone. This application helps you achieve those and more.
My application is called ProNet, an application that helps professionals in different cities, such as Philadelphia, meet other professionals with the same interests and goals in life. ProNet is intended to help professionals expand their contact network and engage in thorough conversations about similar interests with people within their field. The application is only for professionals, therefore in order to join the ProNet community, one will need to have prove of a professional jobs. Users will be able to link their work e-mail to their profile. On the application’s homepage, there will be a ProNet welcome page that will be followed by a quote: “A place to build your social and professional network.” The users will be able to have a Friend List, Inbox, Search, Group Activities, etc. One of the main tabs for users to take advantage of is Groups, here users will be able to engage in thorough conversations about a specific social topic that will lead to helping that cause. There will also be groups to set up lunch networking events. Everything in life is so face-paced now and this will allow people to meet for thirty minutes to an hour- the length of a normal lunch break at work. Users will have access to many events such as, happy-hour, lunch meet, or a group activity. If a user is on a business trip to a different city and has time to grab lunch by themselves, they can connect with someone within the ProNet community to grab lunch and network while in a different city as well.
Due to the increase on accessing social network sites through mobile devices, ProNet will be mainly a mobile application that can be accessed on an iPad or laptop as well. For example, “Facebook reported that 350 million users, almost 45% of its users, access the service through a mobile device (Facebook Statistics, 2012). Significantly more people in the world today have a mobile phone than internet connection” (Humphreys, 20120, p. 494). People who will be accessing ProNet will most likely be connecting to the application through a mobile device. Having ProNet as a mobile application will give people from all over the world the opportunity to connect with other professionals. Many people join social networking sites, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, in order to connect with others. The goal of ProNet is to “build, strengthen, and maintain social connections” (Humphreys, 2012, p.502). By connecting with others through ProNet, one will have the chance to send and receive messages from other users, thus communicative exchanges themselves give a meaning to the users of this application. ProNet also has a check-in feature that will allow users to share their location. Much like ProNet, applications such as Dodgeball allow “users to check in to a location on Dodgeball and other users might see that check-in and meet up with them in the neighborhood” (Humphreys, 2012, p.503). ProNet will give its mobile device users the ability to contribute to the notion of cataloguing of social-spatial information in several ways, such as adding information to one’s profile, using the application to send messages to others, and providing its users to a visualization of previous communication through the application, and the ability to search for information, people, and places. For examples, “on user profile pages such as, Dodgeball and Socialight, both listed where people had either checked in or left a Geo-tag. Thus users could see all of the places in aggregate that they had been on or commented on” (Humphreys, 2012, p. 505). Overall, ProNet users will be able to use three kinds of communicative practices such as, connecting, coordinating, and cataloging.
“Social networking sites, also known as SNS, are integrated world wide web-based information, communication, and community platforms that allow the creation of personal profiles, the upload and sharing of multimedia date, networking with other users with the help of “friend lists”, communication by tools such as e-mail. Guest books, or forums. SNS combine a number of Internet technologies on one platform” (Fuchs, 2010, p.1). Since society was introduced to social networking sites, people tend to use the to expand their network, but many times it ends up causing a large part of our daily time with nothing to accomplish other than playing games such as farm house on Facebook. ProNet will give you the ability to get out there and mingle with people that have the same interests as you instead of just e-mailing back and forth with little to no accomplishment. There are many social networking sites that support my idea of ProNet, but are very different from it. “One finds that Facebook, Myspace, VKontakte, LinkedIn, Orkut, hi5, Kaizin, Orkut.com, Orkut India, LiveJournal, Mixi, Renren, and Odoklassnniki, are among the most popular web applications” (Fuchs, 2010, p.1), changing society day by day. ProNet will be among these applications, changing society for the better- by engaging others in outside and face-to-face activities while expanding their social and professional network. In the social construction of technology approach, Pinch and Bijker (1987) express the design of social media sites “is a manifestation of how groups interpret the social world, which problems they see, and which solution to these problems they consider adequate” Fuchs, 2010, p. 3). Therefore, social media applications such as LinkedIn or ProNet help groups come together and interpret the social world, making it impossible for technologies to shape our society, but instead society that fully determines technology.
Social media sites are popular places for users to express themselves, communicate and self-promote. SNS allows people to have an identity and express themselves in a way that was not done before. “While Facebook is particularly focused on facilitating personal self-presentation, LinkedIn’s interface caters towards the need for professional self-promotion. And yet, both platforms deploy similar principles of connectivity and narrative” (Dijck, 2013, p.199). Most social media sites focus more on self-expression and promotion. Unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, ProNet will focus on expanding your network and helping you gain more knowledge on real life problems, as well as the ability to join groups with the same interests as you.
In today’s world, most people are able to maintain a polychronic life style, where you are constantly doing multiple things at once. Thus, ProNet, will be easy for users to be connected at all times while working or doing other things. ProNet is designed to help users connect with many people around the world and to be able to get out there and network yourself. It is now easier than ever to access your social networks through your mobile devices. Having a cellphone is more affordable than having internet connection at home. Therefore, the ability to connect to ProNet through mobile devices is better. Users of ProNet will have the ability to share their geographic space and connect with people from all the way across the world, expanding your network day by day. “The increasing temporal mobilization of human interaction is simultaneously creating new opportunities and constraints for the ecology of social life” (Kakihara, M. and Sorensen, C, 2001, p. 35). People today have much more access to mobility, ProNet will help you stay connected with people from across the world and not worry about how far or how close you are from each other. Users will be able to connect in an instant rather than waiting years to meet each other and exchange life changing ideas. ProNet will take advantage of spatial, temporal and contextual aspects of mobility in human interaction, expanding interaction among people rather than human corporeal movement.
ProNet is intended to be used for professionals only because it is a business like social networking site. Users are meant to act professional while building their network. I first thought of this application because I want to help those who are in the real world get experience networking and expanding not only their professional network, but their social life as well. Many people have a hard time trying to find things to do or meet people with the same interest as themselves. Therefore, ProNet was invented. Those who do not have a professional e-mail account will not be able to access ProNet because it is not intended to be like Facebook or LinkedIn. The application is easy to navigate around and its users will be able to access it from anywhere in the world because it is a mobile application. Those who choose not to use it on their mobile device can opt to using the application on their computer. Those who are blind will not be able to use this application because it is accessed through a screen. Once companies such as Apple come out with a feature that can help the blind navigate the cell phone, then blind people will be able to use it. The application will also be in many different languages so that professionals across the world can have access to it.
ProNet intends to bring people from all over the world and act as one. Its users will be able to connect with people who are from a different culture, speak a different language, yet share the same interest. ProNet will also help those who are shy come out of their comfort zone and be able to connect with millions of people who share the same interests. “Social justice involves everybody. It is not something that can happen piecemeal in a small corner of the world. At the minimum, it is about redistributing rights and privileges between and within nations” (Luckin & Lights, 2008, p. 10). It is not about how much you are doing, but how well you are doing it. ProNet will work towards being diverse since the time it is available for professionals to join.
In telecommunications, privacy of the communication and the protection of traffic date are a concern. “Privacy of the communication is a constitutional right. Traffic data are privacy sensitive as they reveal the behavior of a user” (Penders, 2004, p. 259). Many people using social media sites are becoming more and more concern when it comes to privacy, but there is always good with the bad. The users of social media sites are the ones in charge of making an identity for themselves online. As long as the users are being truthful and not taking advantage of social media sites, then there will be no problem. ProNet will be collected data such as, personal information. Personal information will include users’ full name, location, and work e-mail. The reason why ProNet will collect work e-mail is because that is the only way one can access the ProNet community since it is intended to be used by professionals only. Much like how Facebook started, only users with e-mails from colleges were able to join the Facebook community. On the users’ profile, under privacy, there will be a tab that will allow you to block or report anyone who is not professional and who is bothering you in any way- this way users will feel more comfortable knowing that anyone who flirts or misrepresents themselves can be booted off the site.
In a survey conducted by Fuchs’ research team, students from Salzburg Autria were asked a series of questions regarding privacy and surveillance. Some of the main positive feedback about social network sties they got from people in their twenties were that, SNS connects people from all over the world and you find old and new friends. It is easy to establish contact with colleagues that you have thus far hardly known. To come in touch and stay in touch with people that have the same interests as you; you can build up a small network of friends and acquaintances; finding others and being found. These are all example of why people should get involved in websites such as ProNet because nonetheless, it helps you build your contact list and get out of your comfort zone if you are shy. On the other hand, some of the negative things they found were that, users are being spied by their employers, personal data are sold to different corporation and the surveillance society. ProNet is a private professional site that will help people connect with others. The users’ profile will not be public unless the users choose to do so, therefore they do not have to be spied on by their employers while using the application. Privacy is very important to ProNet and its users, therefore ProNet will try to be as professional and as private as possible.
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Kakihara M. and Sorensen C. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. Department of Information System. London School of Economics and Political Science, 3(22), 33-37.
Humphrey, Lee (20120). Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. 56:6.494-510.
Luckin,R. & Light, A. (2008). Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology, and Learning. P.02-46.
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