Tamilnadu Politics

I have had a nomadic, apolitical upbringing. I have appreciated logic, non-emotional and non-judgement way of life. I grew up in various SBI Officers’s quarters i.e. Orissa, Mumbai, Chennai and in Pondicherry. Also stayed briefly in the US in and around Berkeley. Then moved to Mumbai, Bangalore and then back to Chennai. I have never been passionate about Politics. I have voted only once in my entire life at Mumbai 4 years back and the candidate lost! In fact looked down upon it during my college days and continue to do so :-) I have always believed that the entire world is one country. An utopian or naive way of life. But over the last few years, I have come to terms with the fact that having been exposed to democracy as the way of life in the places I have visited it is important.  As part of work, I even participated in the Mobile SMS campaign for BJP as part of the last elections (in other words spam!)

I have always wondered why lots of my India friends have taken appreciating US politics more than India. Why the India TV channels create drama. Always admired the way students and people in US supported and had a view on the politics of its country. They way the US presidents talk, the UK House of Commons functions and why Indians mostly take up to yes-manism, chair throwing, buying votes. Pondered very briefly, Why can our representatives sit down as statesman and fix the real situation? And never get lost in who shouts the most and not have structured discussions. Whether if we were a dictatorship, India might be a better place to live :-) The statement from my physics professor who helped me prepare for IIT exams always comes to my mind when I think of these things : Thank God Physics doesn’t behave as democracy does. (He would ask a spot poll on what people think the answer is and the majority of intelligent people came up with wrong answers! ;-) )

Off late, Tamilnadu has been in the national news over the last few months. Main items have been the 2G scandal (which I don’t think is a scandal! Apparently Time lists the scandal as the biggest one after Watergate!!), AIDMK wining the state elections, Eminent fall of the DMK and now the Sri Lankan war crimes associated politics that have been affecting the Indian Nation. I think everyone should watch the video Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields  on youtube first before forming an opinion.

Anyway, the reason I decided to write this post was, I was not sure how do I get started to know or even started comprehending the political situation in Tamilnadu. And the best way I thought was history. But, I am very lazy when it comes to reading books and taking the effort to have a fact based opinion. Partly because at a gut level, I don’t care in my heart but my mind accepts I need to get educated! Its like if you are an engineer you don’t care about sales but for the success of the company sales is very important function! I happened to pick up a copy of Frontline (Jan 25, 2013 Issue) during my travels across india in Jan, Feb and Mar and it had very interesting articles about Tamilnadu politics and its history. Would love to discuss with some people who understand this more but just thought will blog it away for later reference.

The last article is very relevant to the current news that has lead the DMK to withdraw support from UPA and current TN Government deciding not allow Srilanka players to play the IPL while also making a resolution today to push for Sanctions, Trade Embargo against Sri Lanka and declaring that Sri Lanka is not a friendly nation to India. Though these developments are primary political in nature, the actions are being taken as a good portion does reflect the mood of the state. I think one should also see the movie Iruvar (also Aishwarya Rai’s debut movie?) to get a feel of the political climate then when AIDMK was founded. The rise of Jayalalithaa is also an amazing story, which I still don’t understand.

Tamil Eelam (A survey in late 2008 by the Tamil Nadu daily Ananda Vikatan found 55.4% of Indian Tamils in the state supported the separation of Tamil Eelam, while 34.63% supported a federal Tamil Eelam) is only point on which Tamilnadu stands together and no party wants to be seen lacking in terms of actions against it. Some quotes from the last article Tamil Nationalism – Then and Now:

The frequent references in Tamil Nadu and outside to “Tamil nationalist” and “Tamil protectionist” movements by leaders of the Patali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) and other political parties are confusing and misleading.

These terms were initially used in the context of the struggle for Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. But their use in the context of Tamil Nadu calls for explanation. The concept of “Tamil nationalism” was initiated at the end of the 19th century mainly to protect the separate identity of the Tamil language. When a false impression was created that the pan Indian culture was Sanskrit, a section of educated Tamils asserted the point that Tamil culture was distinct from Sanskrit culture and demanded its independent recognition. This was followed by the non-Brahmin movement of the non-Brahmin upper castes (who identified Brahmins with Sanskrit) against Brahmin monopoly in education and employment in the first three decades of the 20th century and by E.V. Ramasamy Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement since 1925 and the Dravidian movement thereafter.

The non-Brahmin movement of the Justice Party founded in 1916; the Justice Party’s rise to power in the 1920 elections to the Madras Legislative Council through the “communal electorates”—a major outcome of its non-Brahmin movement; the Self-Respect movement founded by Periyar in 1925 with his long-term goals of establishing a rational egalitarian society; C.N. Annadurai’s acceptance of Periyar as his leader in 1935; their work together for the next 14 years when they changed the course of Tamil culture, politics and society, with Periyar more on the campaign side and Anna on the culture side; the related groundswell and efflorescence of the Dravidian movement from the 1930s to the 1960s; Anna’s entry into the Justice Party in 1935 when it was in its last gasp, which, as he revealed later, was “to convert the party of the affluent into a democratic and socialist party”; the Justice Party unwittingly facilitating this radical change by naming Periyar as its leader in 1938 when he was in jail for the anti-Hindi agitation.

Anna and Periyar together transforming the moribund Justice Party into the Dravidar Kazhagam (D.K., or Dravidar Federation) in 1944, laying the foundations of Tamil cultural and political nationalism in the province; the rupture between Anna and Periyar in 1949 when Anna left Periyar and the D.K. and founded the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, or Dravida Progressive Federation); Anna’s election to the Rajya Sabha in 1962, even as the DMK graduated to become the principal opposition party in the Madras legislature; Anna’s demand in his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha expounding his goal of an independent Dravida Nadu (Dravidian country), which Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru rejected in the House later; the Sixteenth Amendment to the Indian Constitution, which proscribed advocacy of secession and the DMK’s decision to drop its Dravida Nadu demand, all should be seen as precursors of the DMK’s rise to power in 1967.

Anna, after he became Chief Minister, used power to achieve the goals of the Dravidian movement, of Dravida Nadu. He named Madras State Tamil Nadu, enacted the progressive legalisation of self-respect marriages, which was central to Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement, encouraged inter-caste marriages by awarding gold medals to such couples, and, daringly, abolished Hindi as a mandatory subject in government schools.

Anna pleaded with the Centre for a constitutional realignment in favour of the States, and believed that India could play an international role when Indians “are socially integrated, economically self-reliant and work out ostensibly what can be federal and State subjects”. Anna’s DMK pioneered the advent of regional parties in India’s polity, providing a safe and democratic outlet for regional aspirations within a united India and the espousal and accommodation of linguistic cultural nationalism in India’s complex plural ethnic and religious mosaic.

After the breakup of the DMK in 1972 when film actor-turned-politician M.G. Ramachandran formed the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK), later renamed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), the political landscape of Tamil Nadu spawned many new parties, each for the promotion of a single caste, mainly to gain from the loaves and fishes of public office, have a share in the State’s caste-based power play and a larger slice of the cake in its caste-based reservation politics.

The PMK is a product of this caste-centred political churning. Its single-point political agenda has fostered the Vanniyar caste, first through the family of its founder, Dr S. Ramadoss, and then through “Vanniya Nadu”. For this, Ramadoss has been doing a Bal Thackeray in Tamil Nadu by appropriating what he fantasises as Tamil culture and Tamil nationalism, crying foul that “Tamil culture is in danger” without understanding the heterogeneous and palimpsest nature of culture, which is of multiplex complexity in a caste-ridden society.

The upshot of the power play and factional politics in the State is the conflict between the Scheduled Castes and the intermediate castes. The non-Brahmin movement was successful in highlighting Brahmin domination in every sphere of public life. The Brahmins retreated tactfully. It was a slow process. In the face of the social mobility movements of Dalits and their legitimate aspirations for a higher and better place in what is increasingly seen as a secular and not a caste society, that too after centuries of subjugation, sections of the so-called “intermediate castes” such as Vanniyar, Mukkulathore (Thevar, Maravar, Agamudayar) and Goundar, who once tried to move up the caste hierarchy by claiming Kshatriya status through Sanskritisation (briefly, imitation of Brahmin behaviour), are unwilling to yield social and political space to Dalits as the Brahmins did from the 1940s to the 1970s. (These castes were not really intermediate in the traditional fourfold Varna system but at the bottom of the hierarchy of the Sudra castes and are “intermediate castes” only now in relation to Dalits; Dalits were outside the Sudras and hence were characterised as Avarnas or Panchamas.)

HP31022C.N.AnnaduraiVCK_Protest

What should I do with my life?

I came across a book lying on my Dad’s table.  The titled read “what should I do with my life” by Po Bronson. As I been on a break for close to a year and its one question has come across my mind often. I decided to grab and see what special gyan this book was going to help me with. I initially thought it would one of those 10 steps to be a millionaire books :-). Surprisingly I felt it was worth the read! Po Bronson has written this  book in a way that appealed to me. The author has collected around 60 stories after interacting deeply with people who tried answering the question or atleast had the will to go looking got it rather being stuck with existential view of life. Check out the link for some sample stories.

I really loved his final summary. Very appropriate one. It goes as (verbatim from the book):

Some of the important things I have learned:

A calling is not something you know, it’s something you grow into through trials and mistakes. Work shouldn’t just be fun. Work should be like life – sometimes fun, sometimes moving, and defined by meaningful events. Attack your fears, rather than shy away from them. Bring what you do in alignment with who you are. Freedom is the confidence that you can live within the means of something you ‘re passionate about. Failure’s hard but success at the wrong thing can lock you in forever. Don’t be seduced by artificial love. Be open to defining experiences. Don’t mistake intensity for passion. You don’t find your purpose about you neck, you find it below the neck, when you are transformed by what you have witnessed. You can get good at what you need to serve what you believe in . Get your mind 80 per cent of the way there, then go looking for the catalyst. Look backward as much as forward, inward as much as outward. Nothing helps like knowing you are not alone. There’s a powerful transformative effect when you surround yourself with like-minded people. Create an environment where the truth is invited into your life. If you develop the character, the odds are pretty good you can succeed. Success is defined as when you’re no longer held back by your heart, and your character blossoms, and the gifts you have to offer to the world are apparent. Don’t cling to a single scenario, allow yourself many paths to the same destination. Give it a lifetime to pay off. Things you work hardest for are the things you will most treasure.

I used to think life presented a five-page menu of choices. Now I think choice is in whether to be honest, to ourselves, and others, and the rest is more of an uncovering, a peeling away of layers, discovering talents we assumed we didn’t have. I used to treasure the innocence of first love. Now I treasure the hard-fought. I used to want to change the world. Now, I’m open to letting it change me.

I think lot of people in my generation have started thinking about this in India. As the Indian economy has grown and the world has shrunk due to increased connectivity (transport and communication technology) has given way to increased opportunities. Unlike my parent’s generation who were really not able to question traditions and take risks in their work life. Bunch of stories spoke to me personally. The way I look at life now tells me that I need not regret that I feel I will keep doing things in my life (instead of having one specific calling). Keep exploring and solving tough, meaningful problems in life and move on to newer things. Its the journey and not the goal. Till now I have followed my heart and have always given my best in all the work I have done. Luckily I have been only held back by my health. Have a great family that has supported me always and good set of friends I can lean on. I will always cherish the role of serendipity and look at opportunity in every challenge thrown at me :-) And yeah, its never too late!

silence economy

I have been thinking and feeling a lot about silence. You can find posts on this topic in my blog : silence : Infact I lived the last 2 years of my life trying to appreciate in better :-)

This quote by Lao Tzu is so profound! Silence is a source of great strength

Buddha

Meditating on silence

I mention about it in the following posts : Being Creative ; Creative Silence ; LoCuSt Theory . 2 years back i was so much into internet and mobile, I suddenly felt if I was too dependent on it. What if, I asked myself, I don’t have the connection? Will I be okay and happy? Am I too social? Can I be happy with myself and people around me? Or am I addicted to the internet to the extent that its a relationship I am dependent on? Hence over the last 700+ days I completely withdrew myself and now I am back to full form myself. Happy to say, I can go to an island and still remain happy with out electricity :-) The internet and mobile with facebook, twitter and google definitely keep me happy and entertained. But I shall be happy and thriving without it as well …

Coming back to the topic of the post, I see the whole world economy as a result of the human kind not be at ease with the silence. As I said in my earlier post, Locust Theory : The whole universe is built around Nothingness or impermanence. Actually a massive silence. The absolute truth is nothingness or silence!

The whole modern materialistic, capitalistic world seems to be making money from the inability of people to be at peace with the silence. The economy of the growth i.e. GDP is a measure of how much the country is working towards filing this silence! The only problem I see with this is its fundamentally unstable. Growth where the foundation of the economy is silence is more sustainable and democratic. Growth that is more thought out – a step though slower definitely towards a stronger, better and richer tomorrow. I think India’ growth trajectory is in the right direction with focus on sustainable development, long term development as the future i.e. as per needs and abilities. Of course, there is a balance of power, a big gap in the socio-economic structure. But the inclusive development will happen in sometime … if not now definitely by 2050! the internet and mobile will play a very critical role in this.

HAR PAL … KUCH ZAROORI ( www.mytoday.com Every Moment … something u need ) a new product we are re-launching and re-branding where I work. I guess this will add more fuel to the economy in general : ;-) and we take a cut! Hopefully in the more sustainable way.  Only time will tell but I am sure we are onto something really big here. Possibly the next google or facebook? I am sure this will be addictive. Atleast thats my job role to make it addictive – hope I live up to the expectations!

Coming to the more details of the silence economy, this is how the economy functions. In order to get away from the silence, a person, institution or group of people can do one of the following things:

  • create
  • consume
  • comment
  • curate
  • collaborate (co-create)
  • destroy
  • share

Depending where you are in the value making or consumption chain your either make or spend money! Thats the gyan session for today :-) too much philosophy. Next blog post on ‘life’ would be either on anger or how / why the future of money will be barter in the open, social and free world :-)

what is journalism

With technology costs coming down and people becoming more participative, I have always wondering what and how to define what journalism actually entails. Jeff Jarvis quotes in his post on Product vs Process Journalism and I totally endorse Robert’s definition

Robert Picard writes that journalism

is not business model; it is not a job; it is not a company; it is not an industry; it is not a form of media; it is not a distribution platform. Instead, journalism is an activity. It is a body of practices by which information and knowledge is gathered, processed, and conveyed. The practices are influenced by the form of media and distribution platform, of course, as well as by financial arrangements that support the journalism. But one should not equate the two.

Another point, I strongly feel everyone (esp. India Media) should start understanding the implication of what they mean by citizen journalism. Just aggregating tweets or news bits or live reporting on the internet by people is not what I would call journalism. And the word citizen journalism with the general interpretation becomes too overloaded and loose. What is processed and how it is presented in any media at the end is what matters not how fast (not too late ;-) !) and how much (esp Indian New TV Channels).

Re: Morality or the woman’s womb

I chanced about reading Rachel Chitra’s post Morality or the Woman’s womb. After first reading I was very tempted to critically comment :-) But then I said to myself, I think I shall reserve my critical views for sometime if and when we meet in future! However, I glanced About me section, turns out she is a journalist from my home town and so is her husband! That made me think about the quality of the writing and the points she makes (I expect better Chitra?). For the moment, I shall just hide behind the ‘I am not a journalist window’ and pepper my immediate thoughts in line …

For women with great power to procreate comes great responsibility to safegaurd it. The Indian society, has somehow lacked the ability to talk openly and make people understand the different changes their body undergoes. Hopefully in the decades to come with more information awareness, things will change for the better. And also technology aided birth prevention (condom, contraceptive pills and abortion) comes to rescue to bring balance into the equation of man & women.

And yeah, I kind of strongly disagree with her view of “In India, people also have the disgusting habit of holding a grand function in which all friends & relatives attend, when the girl attains puberty. I don’t see anyone celebrating a boy’s attainment of puberty in India. “

Its a immature to conclude it as a disgusting habit. I see it as a celebration of the girl child and her maturity. Also a very grand way to convey the message to the community of her puberty. Southern traditions are laden with such rituals equally among the girl & boy child. Seemandham (Baby Shower) couple of months before child birth. The thread ceremony being something equivalent for the boy?

From what I have understood, all the traditions had some thought behind when they were put in place. Over periods of time, the reason people think has changed in similar ways the mis-interpretation of BiBle, Quran and Gita. Agreed some of the traditional tradition may not be needed or re-looked. Kindly note that my understanding has been self observed & objective one (and yeah I don’t believe in the concept of God!). Anything specific you don’t agree, I would love to engage in a constructive dialogue if you need.

Will open this post for comments. I have closed my comments on the blog due to mega spamming. Trackbacks are appreciated ;P

Life Bytes

Was wondering about how cool it would be record every second of one’s life what it would physically. Open a online spreadsheet and landed with this calculation

Life Bytes

If I store in MP3 i.e Stereo sound quality and assuming a average lifespan of 80 years, we just need 40 TB ( 1TB = 1024 GB) and it would cost just $10,000!! Would I be interested in such a service and would I pay this … hellya! Fast forward, year 2020 would I like to know with whom I was spend most of my time talking and what I was talking? Am I ready to $125 i.e Rs 5000 per year for that … sure! I think this is some killer service atleast the phone operators are missing.

Next lets take video – mpeg divX quality – Its just another order more. If I have a necklace attached to my neck and it records audio + video + acceleration + temp variation + pollution levels I am exposed => Do I have potential use of it? Sure! Does the technology exist for something like that? Yes. What would be the cost of the gadget i.e hardware max $300 (some of the hardware platform is also open sourced) what missing is the service angle. I think in another decade this is going to be a reality.

Yes, privacy laws and security become a concern but I will definitely value what I did in my twenties and thirties a lot when I can personally re-experience it when i am 50! Only concern with this business idea – upfront capital cost + maintenance cost. If we can get people on a monthly plan – I feel this can be resolved :D What do you say??

Education Platform or Institution?

Jeff talks about distributed university, I am not happy that he titled the post Google U. He writes on the topic of collaborative education – the new category: openguru I have opened in my blog. This post very clearly elucidates my thoughts (still abstract) on this topic:

Once you put all this together, students can self-organize with teachers and fellow students to learn what they want how and where they want. My hope is that this could finally lead to the lifelong education we keep nattering about but do little to actually support. And why don’t we? Because it doesn’t fit into the degree structure. And because self-organizing classes and education could cut academic institutions out of the their exclusive role in education.The real problem with this for society is that it cuts out the core business of the university, which also produces research and scholarship.The problem here is that the internet is unforgiving of needs to preserve old models and methods. It disaggregates ruthlessly.

So I think that education has a rude shocking coming unless it gets ahead of this change and figures out how to become less of an institution and more of a platform.

To top this, put it in context of India. 2 years down the lane – mobile is where most of the Indian population will be accessing online content, 3G hopefully will be up and running (regulation is throttling it). The desire to learn is very much there in the Indian culture. Name the city (rural or urban): education is valued irrespective of the social strata. And finally  demographically, a young population which needs & wants to learn and will learn how to use the tools pretty damn fast irrespective of cost.

The only barrier according to me is TIME.

Love and Communities

Lovely post by Dave on Chemistry of Love.

Short of it:

That’s all we seem to know so far. But it’s enough to suggest that we can’t help ourselves — love is not something our minds have any control over. That’s both delicious and terrifying, … And when we lose it, like an addict going through withdrawal cold turkey, there is no greater agony.

Long of it:

There is still a lot of controversy about what happens in our bodies when we love, or fall in love, and to what extent the chemical soup of love determines what and how we feel. But there seems to be a consensus emerging.

What we are learning is that the chemistry of erotic love is different from that of the intellectual, emotional and sensual aspects of love. Erotic love also seems to be quite different in men than in women: in women it is less provoked by visual stimuli, and takes longer to arise in the first place and then longer to be slaked. Other aspects of love, from the intellectual love of ideas and of imaginings and of learning, to the emotional love of friends and partners and children and nature, to the sensual, aesthetic love of beauty, art and music, tend to me closely interwoven, less ‘separable’ from each other than from erotic love.

love is a consequence of a veritable cocktail of at least four different chemicals being released by the body, in an astonishing number of locations.

Phenylethylamine gives us the feeling of unbounded euphoria and energy we feel, especially when we first ‘fall’ in love.
Dopamine and neopinephrine give us the less ecstatic feeling of well-being and bliss, that wonderful mellow feeling that all’s right with the world.
Oxytocin is often called the ‘cuddling’ hormone — it is what makes us want to touch, caress, embrace and protect the one we love. It also increases the nurturing urge, and lowers our trust threshold, sometimes with disastrous results when we find that trust betrayed.

The cuddling and caresses in turn increase the production of phenylethylamine, dopamine and neopinephrine, so the self-reinforcing overdose of these hormones can be overwhelming, transformational.

Cruelly, over time, our bodies build up resistance to these four chemicals, and, except for those so addicted they abandon those they love to seek new thrills that start the cocktail over again, we begin to go through a slow withdrawal. We re-become our old selves.

Nature, and our bodies, having hooked us with the mind-blowing cocktail, now keep us hooked with a more enduring, low-key, matter-of-fact addictive drug. Testosterone and estrogen add the spice to reinforce that attachment, to keep us connected to the same people instead of wandering. Sometimes, anyway.

And my comments on Dave’s post about Communities based on Love:

Nice Concept but some of the points made in the comments are valid.

A Community with a purpose – would fall into something I call ‘complexity science’ domain.

One should have a few basic rules and others guidelines. Things I would list would be around 3 or 4 things say:
1. Love (if defined in a broader way it would include Trust, Honesty, responsibility, sensitivity and expressiveness)
2. Curiosity (same way lots of them when coupled with Love and Curiosity are derivative in nature i.e Intelligence, Passion, Imagination, Creativity)
3. Strength (ability to Deal with the unexpected, loss, randomness)

I think self-sufficiency will be something that will evolve. But its should absent for the community to grow initially. There needs to be constant activity – either CONSUME and CREATE

Would like to know your thoughts over email … Keep writing on this line of thought :-) I am curious :P

comments on vibrancy of SNS

Just read Fred’s article Vibrancy of the online Social Space and wrote a comment there … given the fact that my blogging is coming down I think I repost the comment to the article as blog post. Some snippets from the article:

as I log in, I am engaged by a cross-section of my social relationships. In an instant, information is revealed, opportunities are discovered, and a website becomes a social nexus – from which I can derive a sense of gratification, meaning and identity.

In her 1961 work The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs described the sidewalk ballet of a vital urban environment. Jacobs argued that a vibrant and diverse city should possess four characteristic design elements, the first being that a neighborhood should be multifunction, creating activity throughout the day. Next, a city should have short blocks and its buildings should be multiform, creating interest and promoting exploration by inhabitants. Finally, Jacobs argued for density, in which different populations intersperse, affording variety and shared resources.

Applying Jacobs’ criteria to an online space creates a challenge; as a neighborhood jumps from the physical to the virtual, the nature of its goods changes.

Arguing for shorter blocks, Jacobs felt that this type of design would foster exploration by city dwellers. The “short blocks” analogy is alive and well in online social networks, where the ability to browse and explore fellow network participants fuels use. In a social network, we enumerate our identity as we describe our interests, tag each other, and post on walls and message boards. These “digital traces” are often hyperlinked, permitting endless point-and-click exploration of the social space.

Indeed, online social networks are concentrated; in this sense they are unlike any neighborhood. Social networks allow for the centralization of one’s network in a single place; geographic boundaries are rendered insignificant as we connect across place and time. The social network allows the work friends to intermingle with grade school friends in an odd, often awkward dance.

In a study conducted at Michigan State University (Lampe, 2006), researchers found that friendships in social networks often began offline and migrated online, rather than the other way around.

The social cost of relationship maintenance decreases; the birthday card is replaced with a wall post. We can certainly lament the depersonalization of online interaction, but we can’t impugn the outcome – we are able to manage larger collections of friends with less effort than ever before. Do these extended friend networks increase sociality or simply introduce new digital tethers to our social life? That is a question we’ll work towards answering, as the effects of these digital publics on our real world is explored.

We flirt, we interact, we do business, we seek out information and gratification, finding a complex social world at our fingertips. While the digital spaces we inhabit will have a good deal in common with our cities of concrete and granite, they are unique places with unique challenges. While the technological emphasis of relevance and searchability will create new types of interactions online, it would be wise for developers to pay attention to Jacbos; they will find both the meaning and the letter of her laws instructive.

My comments:

Fred … nicely written will read this again and hopefully get back with more thoughts. From my personal experience, I see myself making more friends either in the offline or real world and enriching the boards in social networking sites like playing a game of scrabble or doing fun stuff.

However, I make more chance exploration kind of encounters in communities like Flickr and Flickr communities and special niche communities for like minded topics. When we have meetups – I like the interaction and then choose to go online hoping to find the people I liked online and grow the bond richer.

I have never come across party like behaviour in the online space. And yes, I haven’t tried second life as the bandwidth is very less in India. (Feel frustrated about that once I moved back from the Bay Area.)

But, there is one thing you should consider: the influence of the mobile and information convergence it brings on! It was also very interesting to see Steve Jobs showcasing facebook’s beta iPhone site :-) What happens as a next step as your social internet sphere moves with you on the go. What happens in countries like India and other where majority of population in a year or two is going to experience SNS primarily through the mobile??

I am just putting a screen shot from couple of applications to aid your thought process of the visualization of my facebook social sphere. Remember its going to be only 3 months I am on facebook and I am loving it completely. I have around 225 contacts on facebook and around 375 contacts on orkut – all decently meaningful ones so that my interactions there don’t get diluted!

friendwheel

vinu_toughgraph_fb_app

iPod touch – not good to own!

The looks are there and the price is there! You may decide to buy the thing for the pinch and flick and the lovely screen.
iPodTouch

But I think I will either wait for the iphone or wait for a more feature packed iPodTouch! I agree with VitaminCM here on most accounts. The list of feature I want to see more in the iPod Touch are:

  • Two small cameras – a 1M in the front and a 3M in the back
    • Can make video voice calls!
    • Capture moments and ditch the camera
    • Also cut and make videos on the go – nokia ain’t that good!
  • Open the damn platform and give api’s for the touch and accelorometers – there are so many lovely things to be done.
    • Apple is still thinking these things are MP3 players and computers
    • we are nearing convergence damit – open the shit!
  • Wireless USB and Bluetooth
    • The market this year and the next is going to explode with wireless usb products – keyboards, monitors, webcams etc ….
  • GPS – with map integration :-)
  • Blogging tools!
  • 40GB memory! ;-) (you have 160Gb on one extreme and a mere 8Gb on the other!)

I probably the logical explanations on why apple is slowly taking a back door entry to iPhone like device. it was also nice to see steve showing facebook’s iphone version on the keynote. Lovely right?

The day Apple releases the above specs in the iPod Touch for $300 or Rs 12k-15k I am gonna buy it even if it doesn’t have a phone on it! Else I would be happy to check it out in the apple store or borrowing it from my friend …. Jobs make me want more … the new iPods suck any way!!! and release the leopard out the cage faaaast! roar …. Anyway – the buy statement always holds :-)

why I like facebook?

I think I started using facebook as I was able to get in touch with my old friends from the US phase of my life. Also it helped me socialize virtually as orkut started getting banned everywhere and to top it – there is so much fun stuff to do!!

The facebook apps have totally inspired me – will blog about them soom but I thought will share some screen shots from the update feed and invites feed. Also from the comparison and personality app! These are something that are fringe benefits of a social networking site that I derive good amount of bang for the buck spending my time on facebook.

For starters its always nice to log in and see something like this:

facebook_friend_reqs

And then being posed these questions is so fun – would like to dine with my advisor from Berkeley or my cus from Phili?
alice_nivi

Or wonder who would make a better mom and who would I sleep with! ;-) {both being hot that well know friends!}
snigdha_vs_Samy
nishu_bhavna

And of course worst of all who has a better body – a Indian chick I don’t know that well or a close hot friend from uzbekistan?!

elena_vs_Geetika

And a personality test to match personalities with friends is always cool. I think it might even help employers to hire the right kind of people … save yourself joining the wrong type of job etc!

personality comparison

essential capacities of community

found this post at How to save the World really good; I am thinking to start couple of communities and I think this will be a really good basis to start out with …

Capacity for: Actions:
1. ATTENTION sense, probe, observe, listen, find patterns
2. INSTINCT perceive, intuit, let come, know subconsciously
3. APPRECIATION discover, play, learn, laugh, understand, thank
4. REFLECTION suspend, consider, open, let go, entertain, explore
5. INTENTION love, have passion. persevere, follow through
6. CRITICAL THINKING question, infer, deduce
7. ELICITATION incite, provoke, draw out
8. IMAGINATION conceive, ideate, let emerge
9. COLLABORATION facilitate, help, connect, cooperate, co-develop
10. RESPONSIBILITY care, nurture, cultivate, mend, sustain, groom
11. RESOURCEFULNESS bring to bear, supply, give, equip, prepare
12. CREATIVITY model, recreate, innovate, realize
13. COMMUNICATION relate stories, convey, converse, explain, describe
14. DEMONSTRATION offer, show, exhibit
15. IMPROVISATION respond, decide, try, experiment, perform
16. RESILIENCE/GRACE self-change, adapt, self-manage

I think I need lot of work in 7, 15 and 16. And yes, there is lot of scope to improve in other areas also!

Organic Sustainable Communities …

Had to specifically blog two articles I read lately and the upcoming Barcamp bangalore (more than 1000+ registrants!). Smart Mobs had some news about Omidyar.net closing up, but the write up highlights very keenly the same philosophy or thought I had written about in a post called the 4Cs (I wrote that Commerce is not a very important spoke), quoting from there:

One of the things we’ve learned over the last three years is that self-managed communities can work. Given the tools and the space in which to use them, the community can and will manage itself and keep things running with little to no oversight. We’ve also learned that communities are all about the people, not the platform, and that’s informed our decision for moving forward.

And then Brian highlights the importance of environment / ecosystem in his post “Its not the features … its the environment!” at Social Degree

Do features, design and UI help create the environment? Absolutely. But the community’s environment make features valuable, the features don’t make the community valuable.

This is evident in many of the online communities that I use as regular examples in my posts. For example, Sermo is nothing more than a forum. But they have created a high quality environment for doctors to interact. Such a high quality that they are able to charge hedge funds and big pharma companies $150,000 for access to the content that is being created by the community.

There is no formula to building a great environment, and therefore a community. Much of it is like entrepreneurship. It takes persistence, dedication, creativity, and a healthy dose of luck.

Luck is a key part, because you never know what member or action might be the tipping point. But as Bo Peabody (founder of Tripod) explains in his book “Lucky or Smart”, while you can’t force luck, there are a number of things that you can do to increase your chances of being lucky.

So what does this mean in the world of the Facebook Platform and Ning? It means that nothing, especially those two items, are the be all, end all of online communities. Facebook has a pre-existing, established environment and Ning is for the most part an environment out of the box.

And David (Genuine VC), says

What really matters is Brand.

In the end, each media property means something different to a
different set of people. It’s the brand that’s important, not the
functionality.

Take an analog analog here… a magazine. Readers of a magazine like
Time could care less about the printing press used to make the
publication, whether it was inked with the latest technology or an
antiquated one.

When I explore a potential VC investment in a consumer-facing online
media startup opportunity, one of the questions I ask is: “what is the
long-term potential to build a long-term brand?” With any
media property, it either needs to have wide mass appeal with an
adequate monetization rate or a niche appeal with a very high
monetization rate
. Whether or not it has a social element to
it depends on the audience. But in reality, from here on out, I suspect
almost all of new online media will be some type social media.

From my personal experience, same holds true for Flickr and the Indian MBA entrant community Pagalguy. Both the brands have garnered a very high following and its very cult like.

Flickr leveraged it in terms of a buyout and thankfully Yahoo phasing out it Y! Photos product (talk about power of the community! BTW its just forums and comments …). Else there might have been a big backlash and they couldn’t sustain having two development teams essentially trying to serve the same need.

Thankfully, Pagalguy also realizes this is working towards monetising and spinning out products utilizing its brand value.

Leaving behind with some questions in my mind. If you think a bit:

The Brand is what customer thinks of You. The customer / consumer own the BRAND! yes, you can influence them and try to manage their reactions but its beyond your control! So, the question is: How can you grow the Brand? How can sustain it? How can you monetize it?

Note: Brand can either be a huge company, community or can be just YOU.

Guess, to me more experience and reading will let me answer it :-) awaiting your comments

perspectives on social networking

Came across the article by Marlene (a PhD student in Denmark) at Social Computing titled 35 perspective on Online Social networking. On reading it I felt the enumeration was a tad to big but I felt the grouping in the end was neat. Do check out her blog – I liked her open style of writing and her background seems impressive. I especially liked couple of her post on ethnography. She finally groups the 35 perspectives on Social Networking in the following way :

Based on my – currently 35 – different perspectives I propose the following six overarching categories:

Research perspectives – e.g. the identity perspective, the youth perspective, the language perspective, the genre perspective, the materialistic perspective, the learning perspective, the creative perspective, the Community of Practice perspective and so on. All of those perspectives could (and should) be a way of researching online social networking and youth. (I am on it :))

User perspectives – e.g. the social perspective, the friendship perspective, the democratic perspective, the love perspective, the reassurance perspective, the sincerity perspective, the public perspective etc. Those perspectives could also be viewed as different motives that the users have for using social networking sites.

Professional or learning perspectives – To this category belongs the perspectives that consider the learning possibilities of social networking or see how it can be used in a (future) professional life. We have here the network perspective, the group work perspective, the source critique perspective, the technological perspective, the creative perspective, the Community of Practice perspective and more.

Adult or parents perspectives – In this category we have the voices from the worried parents or other adults who have a hard time understanding why the youngsters spend so much time in front of the screen. This is for example the time-consuming perspective, the anti-social perspective, the generation gap perspective, the language perspective, the consumer perspective, the public perspective etc.

Moral panic or news media perspectives – Some perspectives emerge out of a public concern or a news media discourse where creating selling headlines comes into play. Thus, we have in this category the paedophile and predator perspective, the bullying perspective, the sex perspective, the network perspective, the youth perspective, the public perspective and so on.

Marketing perspectives – In this category we find the marketing or business perspectives such as the consumer perspective, the materialistic perspective, the branding perspective, the surveillance perspective and the hardcore business perspective.

The various perspectives when grouped make sense. Reading the article couple of time might give you an insight. If you are from India – think about all the news Orkut has made and reflect on the various categories – it will make a lot of sense!!

vinu + simpson = vimpson

Do you love avatars? Are you in love with the Simpsons – if the answer is yes then goto the Simpsons Movie website and get yours :-) I made mine – check this out. I have taken a printout and put it on my office DESK ;P

A lovely cool way to spread the movie – get the customer invovled! I am totally hooked and I plan to watch the movie now.

vinu + simpson => simpson ;-)

BTW – want to know how I found out – through flickr. Lots of my friends got their’s and it appeared when I logged in :-) Check this one from Shakti and Coda

Maaan – I wanna to see some simpsons episodes now – times for sometime Bit Torrent ;-)

Community is the Bank

Well I am in love with this metaphor:

Community is the Bank

I have been talking with a bunch of friends for 2 weeks on that in regards to Facebook opening its platform and its really nice to see loads of stuff coming on the web. Just came across this report titled Social Personal Finance from OFI – Online Financial Innovations (onlinebankingreport.com)

I want to read it! If anyone can help me get the report – that would be cool!

Facebook and Orkut have the potential to be the next biggest BANKS … now will that not be cool?

A bit from the abstract

The rise of social networking could have a profound effect on banking and personal finance. As companies combine massive databases of financial transactions with the “collective intelligence” of a networked customer base, interesting things can happen.  What might those networks look like?

This report looks at how social finance networks may evolve and how they compare to typical financial institutions today. We also have recommendations on the more pressing need: how to incorporate social finance features into your own Web-based delivery. Finally, we analyze the key startups in the space: Wesabe, Buxfer, and several others.

And finally look at companies they have mentioned in the report – I can already kind of guess what the report says but anyway would be a nice read:

Companies mentioned: Bank of America, Buxfer, Circle Lending (Virgin USA), Compete Inc., Co-operative Bank (UK), Digital Insight (Intuit), Facebook, First American Credit Union, Geezeo, Lending Club, Linked:In, Loanio, Mint, MySpace, National Australia Bank, Piedmont Credit Union, Prosper, Schwab, Twitter, Verity Credit Union, Wells Fargo Bank, Wesabe, Yodlee, Zecco

A glimpse about the report can be found here at the author’s blog post – MySpace Meets Quicken and the most important point in the post is this I feel:

 In the future, social networks may become so trusted that they can function as a virtual credit union, bringing together members to provide each other with financial services (e.g., P2P lending) or using their clout to negotiate deep discounts with financial providers (e.g., affinity credit cards).