Thursday, December 28, 2006
And perhaps the web needs a third dimension? Perhaps your bookmarks should not be 2 dimensional list of websites but really an art gallery like setting which you walk through where each favorite website of yours hangs from a wall like a painting? Too good to be true? No. Welcome to the world of three dimensional browsing. And that of a three dimensional browser.
In effect, the web is no longer a platform. The web is an experience. The participative model of web 2.0 can be thought of as a byword for an idea which has political roots. While democratic governments represent people & the ramifications of that discussion are myriad & not always reassuring, the web 2.0 experience is the people it connects in ever more enriching ways.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Have you had a chance lately to sit by the lake in Yelagiri or walk around it? Do you know that the first mammal, Morganucodon watsoni, looked more like a rodent, & that you need more than a week to fully appreciate all that the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC have to offer? Do you know why turtles come to Maravanthe, & what becalms the sea in Murudeshwar?
What does New York tell you about yourself? Why Pondichery, & why the first rays of sun on the Kanchenjunga?
Saturday, December 09, 2006
What is not often discussed, for it appears that reason & convenience are the only things we live by, is that our lives are perhaps a little more than a sum total of opportunities we may or may not explore. Unfortunately, without sufficient eloquence, this point of view might come across as the USA not being "good enough" by some people. Looking at all the aspects of a problem is not undermining the US or being sentimental about issues, I feel as I write this.
India is an emerging economy plagued as it is by corruption & beaurocracy. Things are vastly improved from what they were 10 years back or even more. The US is an excellent system, the richest country in the world & the like. The pluses & minues discussion is an endless one & I do not intend to go into that. I want to, rather, say how you might decide on this - just my own personal view - & not how you analyze.
In the end, when you weigh it all together you'll have to decide for yourself what is best for you. And you'll also have to decide if what is best for you is indeed the best you could do.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I'm not sure how to measure the maturity of a process, or indeed if there are metrics that can be captured or surveys that can be conducted to capture this kind of information - which, for all you know, might just be little more than opinions - but there is a part of me which tends to relate process maturity to a ritual.
Now, firstly by ritual I do not mean blind compliance. By ritual, I mean a stage of process evolution which has more or less perfected the process, i.e. it has answered all doubts & concerns. The term ritual is useful then in describing what follows, for in that stage of maturity there is a comprehensive buy-in of the process by all parties concerned & there is a degree of automation in the way the process is followed - without reminders or any assertions.
Like a ritual then, process compliance becomes a part of a larger, collective conscience.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The representative first guessed my name as a Greek one. And then, as he was entering all the information into the system & going through the process of setting my account up, he told me how he had been to Sri Lanka on the ship he worked for back in 1980 ( & said I was exactly three years old then by the way of proving his arithmetic abilities!), & how he had wandered off into the streets looking for local cuisine, & how he had eaten one of everything on offer in a local restaurant ( he did not say whether he had paid for each one, too), & how the color of his face had changed with the spice content of each dish. He then said that it was quite a show & children gathered all around him laughing at this quaint American doing strange things. And he said, that, not knowing how to react, he decided to join the children in their merry laughter.
He went on to say that how similar people are anywhere you go, & how governments just represent the politics of a country & how this representation is often mistaken for what people are like.
At this point, he said I was all set & thanked me for bringing up fond memories.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
- Your blog is the virtual you. There is no other platform which gives an opportunity to express the sum total of the person you are as much as blogging does. With blogging, you are not your resume or just someone who is interested in white collar crimes.
- Blogging is not need-based. It is wish-based. So while you'll be active on LinkedIn, if you're looking for a job or growing your business at any point, you can blog for much more mundane reasons like reporting what your dog did last Sunday or publicizing what is so weird about you.
- Content-type: While most networking sites go as far as letting you upload a photograph of yourself, with blogging you get: as many photos as you want, dynamic content like RSS feeds, videos, & sundry other scripts you can run for various purposes (like site meters). A blog any day is more dynamic, & more you, than your other networking profile(s).
- Customization: You can make your blog look the way you want to limited only by your exposure to web technologies. Even if you're not a HTML/CSS/Ajax wizard, each blog can be customized easily to make it your own. Other networking sites provide you with only a filter to differentiate public information about yourself from the private ones.
- Interactive: This is a very important reason why blogs are so popular. Blogging is essentially a communication platform & potentially develops into a community. I find that people whose posts receive a lot of comments also post more frequently than those whose blogs do not get too much traffic. With other social networking platforms, the extent of communication is limited by their very design (like Orkut scrapbooks)
- No sign-up required: Anybody can see your blog, & just about anybody can comment, depending on how you've configured your blog. Other networking sites typically need you to be a member to view a profile. With blogging, everybody is welcome to participate.
- Auxiliary technologies: There are a host of other technologies that support blogging. These include RSS which lets people subscribe to your blog & be notified when you publish. Technocrati maintains blogger profiles & lets the world discover the type of content they are interested in. You can also post from email.
- And finally, while you'd typically have just one Ryze or Orkut profile, you can have many blogs.
Monday, October 09, 2006
Now, it is very possible that such a representation of history is totally inaccurate. It is possible that Mr. Baig had done no research of any sort at all & there were never versions of the Holy book which were burnt. It is possible, also, that his research is indeed accurate.
I asked an Islamic friend of mine to read the article & tell me if he agreed to Baig's points of view. At the time, my motive was to understand Baig's representations, analysis, interpretations & conclusion & I did not really mean to question the authenticity of his historical research.
My friend told me that he did not agree that the book burning incident ever happened. When I asked him why, he said, almost choking himself with passion, that it is by Allah's dictate that the Qu'ran cannot be changed in any way imaginable, & so there could not have been any versions of it.
While I sat still half-apologetic, & not a little annoyed at his faith-based reply, that I ever brought this topic up; it was, in a way, the stark encounter with raw faith which was an absolute first.
Even if I were to discount this as a thought process borne out of a minority complex, I perceive that there is a general rise in staunch religiosity in the world in general, & that makes me very very uncomfortable.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
In May 1997, Deep Blue defeated Gary Kasparov, compelling us to rethink what we mean by intelligence, to look again at the possibilities of capturing our elusive moments of grand inspiration within the realm of a mundane & predictable algorithm.
That mundane & predictable algorithm follows a computational model called recursion. Ray Kurzweil has written a very informative & insightful article on the use of recursion to play a perfect game of chess.
So while my mind boggles at the sight of a chess board, & my grasp of the "Towers of Hanoi" remains feeble, it simply boils down to the inability of my cranial hardware to implement a call-stack.
And that, categorically, is not my fault.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
1. Are you happy/satisfied with your blog with its content and look?Does your family know about your blog?
With Blooger Beta, looks & usability have certainly improved. I'm, at best, satisfied with the content; there are only a handful of posts that I'm happy about. I'd definitely like to improve the variety of the content. My wife knows about this blog, & married me in spite of it. Baba, I think, does not know what a blog is though he'll pick it up in a second if I told him. Maa, the last we spoke on the topic, was still unsure what exactly a phone has to do with the internet.
2. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?
I do not publicize this blog. So those who know, also know me in person. And to that extent, I think it is slightly private. Since the digital world is a small one, I'm sure there are people whom I do not know who read this blog. I know this because a large percentage, & a very small number, of the traffic to my blog are returning visitors. So while I'm not embarassed by this blog, I do not rave about it either.
3. Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?
I've never thought about that really. And I do not post very regularly or attract a lot of discussions. However, reading in general has, I believe, played a part in shaping me (& yeah, the shape was rather round until recently!) so I reckon blogging is part of that whole.
4. Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?
I read the blogs listed on my blog & primarily of those who comment on Usha's blog. If I chose to open the blogs of folks who comment on my posts only, I would not be reading too many blogs. :)
5. What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?
Yes, I like to know, objectively & numerically, how badly my blog is doing. That apart, web analytics is of professional interest to me as well.
6. Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
No, in general. I know the ones listed on my blog, for the most part. Perhaps, they have, or have access to, my pictures which aren't exactly exhibition material. But that is categorically the photographer's fault.
7. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?
What is a real benefit, anyway? It is fun, while you're at it. It develops into a community, if you're active & good. I sometimes read my old posts, & would have turned the colour of a ripe tomato, if my skin permitted.
8. Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?
I do not think blogging implies separation from the real world. If some bloggers are such, then that is the way they are, whether they blog or not. So to an extent, blogging could be a result of separation not so much the cause of it. And hey, I wonder how long can we isolate the digital medium from the real world. For all we know, digital medium could very well integrate into the real world sooner than we know.
9. Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it's a normal thing?
I do not know if annoyance is the word. It's more like, "Oh rats, why didn't I think of that?" I try not to take it too seriously.
10. Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?
No, I'm more of "Bring it on!" All kinds of isms interest me.
11. Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
I did not know that arrests had happened. However, I think cybercrime is a reality & the internet will need policing continuously particularly because it serves as a platform beyond blogging & such services, usually construed as harmless.
12. Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?
If I live the average Indian male lifespan, I think by then blogging would have been replaced by some other cooler technology. Besides, lately I have not felt like dying, so I have not thought about it either. But I think the answer that this question seeks is that I'm not too concerned about the obscurity of this blog in the event of me popping off.
13. What do you like to hear? What's the song you might like to put a link to in your blog?
This one is easy. There is this one song which, for me, epitomizes "the drift" - the theme of my blog. It is a Dylan song & here it is:
Mr. Tambourine man
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.
Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand
but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's
too dead for dreaming.
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship
My senses have been stripped,
my hands can't feel the grip
My toes too numb to step,
wait only for my boot heels to be wanderin'
I'm ready to go anywhere,
I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade,
cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it.
Though you might hear laughin', spinnin' swingin' madly across the sun
It's not aimed at anyone,
it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'
And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
Tune your tambourine in time,
it's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind,
it's just a shadow you're seein' that he's chasing.
Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time,
far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees,
out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach
of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea,
circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate
driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
While this may be true in a large & general sense, I'm currently disposed to think that economics does not apply to terrorism or nations/organizations that seem to propagate it - which right now is the problem of many states, developed or otherwise. I think that Sen's book "Identity & violence" is very pertinent in helping explain certain aspects of the matter. While the case of plural identities & the choice of an individual's identity among all the identities that she can choose is central to the theme of the book, it is one idea that, for me, explains terrorism - not from the perspective of a Bin Laden, but rather from the perspective of those who wrap themselves up with explosives or navigate airplanes into buildings, or, for that matter, shoot children through the eye.
A recent programme on the National geographic looked at these men & women. And you can clearly see what their chosen identity is, & you cannot see any economic reasons for it. And the cult of the jehadi is celebrated all along so much so that instead of hunting for folks who would blow themselves up, these groups regularly reject plentiful aspirant martyrs. Apparently in one such organization, photographs of jehadis who kill themselves are framed on the wall next to a staircase leading to the open skies, or heaven. And there is the internet & the propaganda - all of it to sustain this cult, complete with rituals & rites.
Unfortunately, all this is done in the name of Allah - the all merciful...
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Here is one example:
In defence of his oft-repeated definition of terrorists in Kashmir as freedom fighters, General Musharraf declares: "The west rejects militant freedom struggles too broadly. The U.S. and Europe too often equate all militancy with terrorism, in particular equating Kashmir's struggle for freedom in Indian Held Kashmir with terrorism. Pakistan has always rejected this broad brush treatment."
While there may be great differences between militancy & terrorism, like in a dictionary, & while the western view may indeed be reductionist & simplistic, the Kashmiri story is a decades-old tug of war between three peoples - the Indians, the Pakistanis, & the Kashmiris. The political complexities are immense & treacherous acts abound. The history is laced with blood. Describing Kashmir merely as freedom struggle is just as blatantly reductionist & a position-based point of view as any.
State sponsorship of terrorism is a political gambit & particularly in the case of Pakistan, has saved it from an economic collapse, more than once. While the General may be a good story-teller, I wonder how many are really riveted.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Interestingly, it appears to me that logic itself has emotional strings attached. Those of us who swear by rationality & are its biggest advocates belong to the cult of logicism - for rights & wrongs are both human creations subject to opinion & debate.
So what makes sense depends on where your sensibilities are.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Running shorts, running shoes, chronograph, warming up, regulated breathing, aerobic running, stupid right-angle turns, slowing down, breathless "excuse me" -s to other 'park'-ers, speeding up.
Wet shirt, something throbbing slowly, painfully by the right knee-cap, glistening skin, heavy breathing.
12 laps, 35 minutes.
Walk back home. Wince on the stair-climb. Swear.
Tracker spreadsheet. Enter values. 390 calories burnt.
Feel your right knee lightly.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, July 24, 2006
It is an immense practical problem to be complete in one's representation of history & then completely remove any bias of any kind in the selection of what goes into 'Official History'. However, this is not stated. No historian claims that his is only a version of the truth. And students do not learn their history with this practical caveat in mind. Then comes the final shaping of opinion depending on which version of truth you're sold on. So Gandhi is both renegade &amp; a Mahatma, a national hero & a luddite in a way.
We have to start acknowledging the inadequacies that we cannot cure our history of. And we can start by ridding history of adjectives.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
However, some are, if not exactly informative, generally accepted to be of value or definitive of some kind of a benchmark. For example, the classic IQ test. The Intelligence Quotient has been believed to be a reliable indicator of a person's intelligence - for a while now - & in some really dubious studies, has been used to prove the superiority of one 'race' over the other. And this in spite of the fact that there is no scientific definition of race.
The Myers Briggs test is an interesting one. It is based on the psychological types defined by C. G. Jung & tries to arrive at the psychological type of the person taking the test by having her answer a series of questions. You can take a free online version of the test here.
It might sound like a far-fetched idea, & my own knowledge on the subject is very limited, but it appears that the test score has implications for your everyday life & career. In fact, this project management book recommends that teams be formed in the light of MBTI scores of the candidate team members.
I also believe that the online version is prone to errors of judgment & your online score is only indicative of your desired or perceived psychological type & it is only after working with MBTI consultants can you get an idea of your true type.
Also, with 16 MBTI types, assuming that people are distributed with equal probability across all types, the average % of people in any type is about 6%. So before you get glorious ideas & muse on the rarity of your psychology, laugh!
Monday, June 19, 2006
It is generally accepted that of the following three options, only two can be satisfied at a time:
- To do something well
- To do something fast
- To do something cheap
We can combine the three & say that doing something well takes time or money, sometimes both. While money is the external market factor, taking time to achieve a goal & achieve it well, more often than not, translates into time taken to gather knowledge, time taken to generate alternatives, time taken to evaluate alternatives, time taken to implement the solution & so on. It is one of the goals of technology to reduce this time factor. So you have spreadsheet packages to organize data & produce, say, some kind of reports to help you decide faster & better. Note that
- The spreadsheet package example does not reduce the knowledge gathering time, for one.
- While it makes evaluation simpler, it does not entirely erase the need for human intervention.
It is then probably reasonable enough to deduce, in general, that the use of technology reduces the time taken for a process. Therefore, the more we use technology the faster we can do things. Hidden behind this otherwise benign fact, is the human bottleneck. We need technology because we're slow. Moreover, we're destined to be this way because of the way we're designed, the way we learn & retain knowledge, the way we process information, the way we can't learn easily what is already known, & the total amount of data we remember.
Machines of course have none of these problems.
The Age of Spiritual Machines seems to indicate a future where human existence is slowly enhanced & then slowly replaced by machines.
I'm just wondering that while technology lends itself very well to the solution domain, it is humans & their institutions that constitute the problem domain. Therefore, unless you have/perceive problems, you do not need to do solve it. However, if robots are to be problematic, why make them? And if humans are to continue, then the idea of perfection will continue with it.
And as always, it'll just be on the horizon.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
I have a link to this blog on the right sidebar, too.
Monday, June 12, 2006
I do not quite remember the source of this discussion, but I seem to remember somebody, probably an Indian film director, characterizing great art as something that manifests itself bodily upon its viewership/audience.
While the merit of such a definition is rather open to debate, the sight of the Vitthala temple by the setting sun produced a veritable lump in my throat - a second time in as many visits.
The paltry town of Hampi is scattered with magnificent sculptures, a young Tungabhadra swaying around rocky hillocks, & lush spreads of foliage on the southern side. You can stay & eat cheap, & if you back your legs, your travel expenses are limited.
The Lakshmi-Narsimha temple, the Virupaksha temple, the lotus Mahal in the Zenana enclosure, the sinuous adolescent river, the crimson sun atop the Matunga - each of these splendours merit a visit on their own.
However, the Vitthala temple gives palpability to our most delectable sense of beauty; the one edifice that at once speaks to us of the most ambitious architecture & the most sublime poetry.
Friday, June 02, 2006
In addition, the same debate has had many political ramifications. Manmohan Singh has a tough job balancing out demands of coalition politics & good governance.
So much for all the bad news, for all that seems wrong & unjust.
However, if this were China, those students protesting on the streets would have been killed. If this were China, you could not see full front-page reports on National newspapers crying themselves hoarse against the Government. There would be no Tehelka, no Jessica Lal investigation. There would be no Supreme courts ordering reinvestigation of Godhra.
We remain a poor country & there is injustice all around.
But hey, we have a voice.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Religiosity, like many other socio-economic traits, is not bound by reason & inherits a lot from things like tradition & culture - both equally esoteric concepts. So whether the 'fatwa' is a reasonable reaction or not is anybody's guess. We understand that it may not be a’European’ reaction; but given the subjectivity of the problem, we cannot form an 'absolute' opinion of the matter without bringing our own prejudices. All opinion in this matter is relative, & could be better or worse only in comparison. Having said that, a more measured reaction would probably have been more acceptable.
At the same time, it is probably safe to say that Europe has miles to go before achieving the kind of multipolarity Chirac was talking about. A very good idea to understand in this context is that of swkriti elucidated in Sen's The Argumentative Indian
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
So you can make a 2 by 2, say by having priority on one axis & fulfillment on the other. Goals that are high on both priority & fulfillment will fall in the top right quadrant & goals that are low on both priority & fulfillment will be in the bottom left quadrant. The other two quadrants would be goals low on priority but high on fulfillment & goals high on priority but low on fulfillment - one such goal, typically, is work/life balance.
I think that this dichotomy is unfortunate. I think work is not, or should not be seen as, an aspect of our lives outside of 'life'. My experience has been that it is only dumb volumes that people detest; keep it interesting & still achievable, and I think, most honest employees may not complain. The difficult part is defining what is interesting & achievable for each employee - for it is subjective. Nevertheless, I maintain we should not see ‘work’ as something differentiated from 'life' in general for it seems like a corollary of McGregor's Theory X - which, I believe, is not a very positive outlook.
On the other hand, the case of overworked employees is a genuine concern. However, these are errors of planning. I think such we should recognize such mistakes & not hide behind politically correct banana oil like work/life balance.