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Arbit - the spiritual side

Arbit Choudhury For the uninitiated, Arbit Choudhury is a web-comic run by 4 friends (including me) focusing on Management jargon related humour and features 'Arpit Choudhury' - a B-school student in India who is famous for his wisecracks among his friends. We release regular comics - you can subscribe to them on Facebook , Twitter or email . Way back in 2004 when we started Arbit , we had initially chosen a different name for it - it was part parody of a then famous Management Guru, part a play on words (something which Arbit is famous for!).  We for some reason did not like the name and asked our friends to suggest other names - of the several names which were proposed, "Arbit" was one. While I and Shubham were convinced of the name 'Arbit', Hemant wasn't quite so. So we ended up going back to our friends, conducted a poll on the NITIE LAN, and "Arbit" won! But it was not until recently that the spiritual relevance of this name we g

Space - the final frontier!

About 8 years ago, I blogged about how our generation has disappointed the science fiction writers by not making much progress in the area of Space Travel - something considered achievable by them by the 21st century. Space however is an area where we may not have matched fictional expectations in any form. We have an international space station in place but that I believe is a far cry from a space city and the days of Star Trek do not seem close enough. Time has come, when we will redeem our honour soon.  Space hasn't progressed much in the past few decades because it has remained, until now, a high expense, high government (funded and) controlled industry; much like Telecom sector in India until 2000s and Banking until 90s. Also, entry barriers in terms of cost and regulation made experimentation difficult, which in turn made risk taking difficult. Less risk taking meant less chance of disproportionate reward, lesser private sector involvement resulting ultimately into les

The Salesman vs. The Professional

Image Credits by Flickr user  urbaneapts I recently went to the showroom of ' Sleek ' - a modular kitchen furnishing company. I and my wife were discussing the various options for fitments to be bought when we came to the point of discussing the Chimney. Both me and my wife were sold out on buying a Chimney, but the salesperson asked us if we were non-vegetarian and whether our apartment had a window in front of the stove - the answer to the former being no and the latter being yes. To my surprise, the salesperson suggested we do not buy the Chimney because we will have little use for it. The salesperson knew she was reducing the ticket size of her sale by almost 10% and this was not a discount to make the sale, the discount was to come after this. The experience reminded me of how we work in consulting - there are times when we tell our clients that they are not ready for a particular initiative or a new software implementation, even though these initiatives would fetch

Social Media vs. Traditional Media

Image Credits: Flickr user vernieman An eminent programmer was referring to one of the most typical challenge the Media today faces - how to find out the most influential people on Social Media? Who is more influential on twitter - Barkha Dutt or Amitabh Bacchan? Who is more influential on Instagram, on Facebook? Is the number of followers the only metric which matters? What about the quality of content? What about the quality of followers / fans? How do we measure this "quality"? And if we can measure these individual factors - what is the algorithm to combine these to create a common metric, the rating which will be used to rank people based on their influentialness on social networks. Some startups have attempted to solve this puzzle - just like this eminent programmer is also trying. Klout and some similar services look like they have cracked the nut, but Klout gives a pretty high level percentage score - so its quite possible that two people have exactly the same

How to solve the distracted driving problem
Is talking on the phone while driving illegal? [Part II]

Photo Credits: Flickr user Lord Jim Humans are cognitive beings, we instinctively get attracted to actions which involve thinking, perception and interaction with others. And the  crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals [Michael Tomasello, Malinda Carpenter, Josep Call, Tanya Behne, and Henrike Moll (2005),  Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition ]. Hence, as I argued in the first part of this post  - given a chance, any human will prefer talking and interacting with others, even if it means talking or texting on the phone while driving! Making laws declaring mobile phone usage illegal is probably the easiest but the most difficult to implement solution to this problem. The solution lies in using technology to circumvent the problem. Humans today do not engage in several non-productive tasks such as those involving physical labou

Is talking on the phone while driving illegal? [Part I]

Photo Credits: Flickr user  OregonDOT Short Answer: Yes . Long Answer - read below . Depending upon which source you trust [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 ] - anything between 88 to 30 percent of people admit to using mobile phones (talking, texting and using apps) while driving. Several cars (even those not so pricey) available now integrate your mobile phone with the car stereo systems acknowledging that usage of mobile phone while driving is not just acceptable but also to be encouraged and aided with technology. Given these stats, is it really worth having laws which prohibit mobile phone usage while driving? These laws are similar to the sermons of the 16th century Church which decreed the Copernicus system of astronomy to be false. I remember one of my maternal grandfathers telling me that is mother never allowed him to ride a moped or a scooter in his youth because she was afraid of accidents. (Ironically, he got injured on the road was when someone else hit him while he was walki

Why Best Places To Work lists are wrong!

Image Credits flickr user chippenziedeutch "A Director of Human Resources for a federal agency told me I was looking at the (Best Places to Work for) lists all wrong. 'I think they're great!' he said. Just not for employees. I was looking at the wrong consumers." Traditional companies (like the government), offer solid benefits like a great retirement plan - That quote above is so true. The last 2 decades of rapid economic growth across the globe, the coming and going of recessions and rallies has created a lopsided environment about the importance of 'work' (and its derivatives 'job satisfaction', 'learning', 'growth' etc.) in an employment relationship. Prior to the 90s, when the old economy jobs ruled, trade unions (and even officer unions) controlled what went into employment contracts - the important things were job security, retirement benefits, fixed work hours etc. Today, most workplace surveys and i

Enjoy Internet content [videos / net radio] on your TV & Home Theater

How did I spend my Sunday afternoon? Well .. (aside from being in front of my laptop) - listening to songs on Internet Radio Channel - but through my home theater. Now why would I listed to Radio on the internet through the home theater when the home theater itself has an option of listening to public radio directly. The reasons are many: Public radio does not always suit my mood on weekends - on internet radio I have a choice to listen to songs which I am in mood for: Meethi Mirchi if I am in for latest hits, Puraani Jeans if I am in mood for old classics, Mirchi Edge if I am in mood for offbeat and Club Mirchi for dance numbers (think Saturday Night) [Ref:!/radiostations ] Internet Radio offers far superior quality - as good as listening to MP3 on my iPod Listening to radio is far better / hassle free than playing songs from your own playlist. You don't have to choose each song you want to listen but just choose either an pre-existing pla

Discovery vs. Connect - Social Media habits

From flickr by webtreats My first foray into Social Media was by starting this blog way back in 2004, a time when many of celebrated bloggers of India (such as Siddin Vadukut ) also started blogging. Having been the editor of my school magazine and a geek during my engineering, Blogging came naturally to me as a mix of writing and technology. My exposure to Social Media has only grown since then, Orkut – later Facebook, Twitter and even Foursquare are my regular haunts now. Having been an early adopter myself, I often wonder that today when most people in my generation use Facebook (and Twitter), what sets early adopters apart. Upon pondering I discovered that for most regular users of Social Media, it’s a way to stay in touch with people whom they know in real life but do not get a chance to meet - cousins, present and past colleagues, schoolmates, batchmates from grad school etc. However, those who are early adopters live in two separate worlds. They in addition to ‘real life

Who will win the Google Facebook Tussle
Part II: Facebook and Google are Apple and Microsoft of post-Web Tech rivalry

Flickr Image by  Sam Steiner Continued from  Facebook and Google are Apple and Microsoft of post-Web Tech rivalry In the last tussle between Windows and Mac - Windows won with a landslide majority - but there were to many variables. Apple got lost in its focus for a decade (after its visionary founder Steve Jobs was summarily expelled by the board from the company), which helped Microsoft evangelize developers to its platform. Piracy was rampant, making Windows one of the most pirated and hence most used software. Microsoft's dominance allowed it to "buy out" other markets like the initial browser market. Apple's hardware was overpriced due to its reluctance to adopt commodity hardware (ref: Intel processors). But the current tussle is nothing like the previous one. The initial success of Facebook has created pressure on Google to abandon the "open" philosophy so that now it is linking most other Google properties with its competitor social ne