Unlike typical social networks, where communication is self-selected into circles of “friends,” JessyCom works byway of co-operation of randomly selected people. Users of different ages, with different ethnic and economic backgrounds will need to talk to each and work together for the communication platform to work.
The Jessy Cohen neighbourhood is an underprivileged neighbourhood, many neighbourhood people, especially youth, have mobile phones, but most have no credit, so they can receive calls, but not make any. The ability to communicate is strikingly asymmetric, parents can call children, bosses can call workers, but for broke children and workers maintaining enough credit to initiate their own calls is a bit of a hustle. Thus their mobile phones are not so much freedom-enabling communications devices, as portrayed by the advertisements of the mobile operators, but rather instruments of control, tethers used by authorities to call them home, into work, or to generally monitor their activities and whereabouts.
JessyCom users are able to click a button on the website which will cause the system to phone them and automatically connect the subscriber to a randomly selected person that has signed-up for JessyCom, the caller can then pass on a message to this person. Starting from these two people, JessyCom is an implementation of the “random phone call” model of network broadcasting. Information is passed by word of mouth throughout an entire network byway of a series of calls between randomly selected people.
The original message is passed vocally from person to person in a “broken telephone” style until every person in the group has received the message. Nnobody needs to have any phone credit to participate, as all random calls are initiated by the JessyCom telephone switch and thus are incoming calls for the participants.
The base of the project will be a storefront in the Jessy Cohen neighborhood wich will be converted into a kiosk that resembles those used to market mobile telephone service, but instead will promote “JessyCom” a platform where users can “Connect. Talk. Win!”
To build interest in JessyCom the project will focus around a contest. People will be encouraged to sign-up for JessyCom for the chance to win prizes, incuding free top-up cards to get credit for their existing mobile operator. The contest will employ the system to spread special messages into the community, and then award prizes of phone credit to randomly selected community members who know the original message.
Explaining this contest will be the primary role of the storefront, website and other materials. We hope that the contest will incentivize members of the community to join. Once they know how the system works by joining the contest, they can initiate new messages on their own and employ JessyCom as they like.
JessyCom reconfigures the social toplogy of mobile communictions.