Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Personality tests

I'm sure from time to time all of have taken some kind of personality tests. It is 'most inescapable with the net being so full of them & the amount of unsolicited mails one possibly gets from these sites. They judge everything from your ability to turn an omelette to your expertise on leaving a peck on the neck.

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

The paradox

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

Photography blog

I now have a new blog. It is a collection of some of the photographs I have taken. While I like some of these, I'll try to focus on the technique & aspects of composing a photograph. I'm hoping that a written journal will help me be a better photographer.

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

The Reservation Debate - the good part

I'm sure all of us have been following the reservation debate, like it or not, for the TV channels are full of it. No doubt, we have our own opinion on it, probably a strong one at that. For most readers of this post, it is not very difficult to guess what that opinion is.

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.