Will social ‘cells’ fill gaps left by big social networks?
Social is instant – that’s the much-touted line. And sure, if you’ve got a smartphone permanently attached to your person you’re not likely to miss out on anything. But there are some pockets of society that aren’t as up to speed as others.
Workers in offices where social sites are blocked, kids in school who should be concentrating on the board, folk that fear privacy invasions, people that can’t afford connected devices… These are all demographics that are often left out of the social loop, but a new service might help bring them back.
Celly enables real world groups to instantly ‘self-organize’ into mobile social networks called cells using text messaging, email and web. Users set up cells in less than a minute, connect to the people they want to reach and then enjoy what is essentially a miniature social network, communicating in short, sharp bursts, and using the service to send alerts or reminders, plan events, and so on.
The service is proving popular with schools, where teachers use it to engage with students. Melissa Seideman, History Teacher and Haldane High School in New York, even goes as far as to say it’s “changing the face of education”.
“I use Celly to send text messages to students with reminders, announcements, polls, and questions. Students can text me a specific question such as ‘What is on the test tomorrow?’ or ‘What did I miss in class?’ if they were out sick. With Celly, cell phones have the potential to bridge the gap between the home, school, and social media world.”
Shawn Carrie, a member of the Occupy Wall Street’s Tech Ops Working Group, also sings its praises: “With the relentless barrage of emails, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+ notifications we all receive on a daily basis, a simple, short, and concise text message cuts through all the noise of our digital lifestyles.”
To be sure, then, the service is popular in certain circles; it allows for spontaneous sharing in real world scenarios plus, as it’s free and works from any SMS-enabled device, it’s totally inclusive. It’s hardly a threat to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, but will it gain widespread appeal?
In school or workplace environments where it becomes a standard (or imposed) method of communication, Celly could play an important role. Ditto family situations where one or two otherwise technophobic members are unwilling to foray into other social networks. However, its success will overall depend on take up, and the reality is that anyone receiving a message asking them to connect to yet another service will likely dismiss it and log in to Facebook or Twitter instead.
And those out of the social loop will accept that, because they too know that social media waits for no man.