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Messaging / Social Apps and their impact on deep thinking, reactionism and fake news

Those of us who were (little) early to the Internet party would find the current forwarding and fake news culture on Whatsapp / Facebook similar to what ranting & flaming on newsgroups (e-groups) used to be in the early 2000s. However, newsgroups, because their access was to a limited few, were also places where ideas were born, partnerships formed & organisations were created. But I find Whatsapp (or other forms of messaging apps like Discord or Telegram) not being so. One probable reason for this, I feel, is the lack of long-form prose which email as a medium supported and which messaging as a medium shuns. Long form writing forces you to think deeper, engage in self-correction between various coordinated (or uncoordinated) parts of your own thinking and also help the reader absorb the context and message both. To be sure, the long form thinking was not mandatory in an email, and so, there was reactionism, flaming and shaming on newsgroups as well, but that was also

Checklist for product developers to market products

Stepahnie Hurlburt, a Graphics Engineer & Entrepreneur has tweeted a very useful checklist for software developers releasing Open Source products and tools to help in their adoption. I think the checklist can be used by all product developers / marketers to improve adoption. Here goes the list, you can also read it on this Tweet Thread  here or go to Stephanie's Twitter handle here . “Why isn’t someone using my software product or open source tool? It’s good!” A checklist for you: Have you described what it is and what the benefits are in a way a non-developer can understand? If someone Googles to try to learn more about it, is this description easy to find? Is this description easily skimmable? If someone looks at it for 6 seconds can they be convinced? Do you compare your tool to other similar tools so people feel educated about pros/cons of yours? If performance matters, do you have easy-to-skim benchmarks that include comparing it to other tools? Do you

Why is it hard to scale a services business?

Jim Collins has been researching and writing about the Flywheel as a value of enterprises. For those who may not know, here his most famous illustration - the Amazon Flywheel. Lower prices led to more customer visits. More customers increased the volume of sales and attracted more commission-paying third-party sellers to the site. That allowed Amazon to get more out of fixed costs like the fulfillment centers and the servers needed to run the website. This greater efficiency then enabled it to lower prices further. In another article , Jim writes - " those who drive companies into decline often abandon the big thing they already have, grasping instead for a new big thing, then another and another, falling into a doom loop of chronic inconsistency " While not written in the article above, but my experience says that 'Consulting / System Integrator Services' is plagued by this particular phenomenon. Consulting firms are forced to move from one "next big thi

Presidential Election under the Indian Constitution
Addendum: Why is the Indian Constitution Unique

I have mentioned in past that "If the Indian constitution is a copy of the British and American systems, it’s the most intelligent and well customised copy ever made" Today, I discovered another small tid-bit of a quirk adopted by the makers of the Indian constitution, the need for which is now being felt even in the US. This feature is called "Single Transferable Vote" also known as " instant-runoff ". This feature is used by the Indian constitution to prevent any stalemate or gridlock (something the US legislative system has experienced), in the Presidential Elections.  STV/IRV used in single-seat elections with more than two candidates. Instead of voting only for a single candidate, voters in IRV elections can rank the candidates in order of preference. Ballots are initially counted for each elector's top choice. If a candidate secures more than half of these votes, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate in last place is eliminated

Where the individual feels Independent!

Where News is not fake  And opinion is not biased; Where no temple, mosque, Gurdwara or Church, feels the need to use loudspeakers,  to practice their faith;  Where no one retiring from constitutional position, feels the need to voice concerns for, safety of people following a particular religion; Where no government asks you, who your ancestors were, and  no one feels victimized, because of his or her religion, race, creed or caste; Where the government exudes responsibility, for actions it takes, for data it collects, for policies it pursues  and statements its officials give; Where policy is proactive, and; infants do not need to die,  to jolt  government machinery into action;  Where  no one supports a leader, who refuses to sing the ' National Song ', because his religion doesn't permit it; Where political discourse is not limited, By narrow party ideologies; Where leaders do not get votes, because of their caste;

Dots that never connected

Vivek Kumar Agrawal was retiring today, leaving behind an illustrious career at Coal India Limited and a model career path for his subordinates to look forward to. VK Sir, as he was called, was the poster boy of what PSU corporate executive should be - astute in his dealings, non-controversial decisions, well read from all worlds - VK would be able to recite lines from Munshi Premchand's novels as effortlessly as he would quote Phillip Kotler's management philosophies. Yet, VK was wondering if he had indeed taken the right decisions since he left his father's home 35 years ago. VK was the youngest of 3 brothers born in a typical 'Agrawal' family in Allahabad, the family had been living in the "holy" city for generations - at least as many generations VK had heard about! And they were even typical in their commercial engagement - his father like his grandfather and great grandfather ran a Kirana store in the city. VK's brothers, the eldest almost

Contrasting futures - the suburb vs. the city

I grew up in a typical suburban home, single storied, lush garden around it. Whether it was the nostalgia of living that life or observation of lower cost of living in a small city, till recently I used to idolise that life, yearned to go back to it - until I started my research into sustainable living! Until I started researching on what "sustainable" living is, I used to assume that since the cost of living in a small city is lower, hence lifestyle there is less wasteful. And on the surface, it indeed was so in India, until a few years back. Until 2010s, most small cities did not have huge malls - the usual evening hangout would be a park or a single screen theatre; roads were much less crowded and small cars would outnumber guzzlers (SUVs) by a quadruple if not more; people bought fruits & vegetables from small shops who'd get supplied by local farmers. Metros or big cities, in contrast, had big malls, roads were clogged - one wasted more fuel idling at the

Socialism, Communism, Open Source and Browsers

I love Firefox and the Mozilla foundation - it was the beacon of innovation when Microsoft tried to kill it with repeated versions of its buggy Internet Explorer! If you were involved in software development or managing online products circa 2005-2008 , you would know the nightmare it was to develop a website compatible with IE and its myriad of versions (IE6 was especially notorious)! At that time, Firefox was our ray of hope, and I would have tried to evangelise almost every friend, family or client to ditch IE and embrace FF. With clients, however, the big problem was, Firefox was an Open Source software and the corporate world has a certain amount of scepticism towards this species of software. [Ironical because most of the largest software services in the world run on Operating Systems which are clones of Linux and most of the web's websites run on Apache - these two being probably the largest Open Source projects in the world!] Source:  Netcraft Webserver survey 2017

Animal Farm and the current political landscape of India

I've just finished reading The Animal Farm , and while it essentially describes conditions in USSR under Stalin just after the WW2, it can be generalised to any country or political setup a few years or cycles after a major change. It is not just a commentary on Communist or totalitarian regimes (or Stalin's period) alone, but also a general account of how every political system deteriorates over a period of time, after acquiring power. In specific, I think, it starts applying to present day India, now that the BJP has occupied the top slot in the pecking order displacing the Congress firmly and has bolstered its position for a near sure victory in 2019 elections following the thumping victory in 4 of 5 State Assembly elections. As the book prophesies , the current political order too is sure to corrupt as much as the previous UPA regime. This will happen probably in a decade or so of remaining the 'ruling class', tenably after Modi is replaced by another leade

Are we witnessing Modern day Mahabharat?

Chance and serendipity can often spring profound thoughts and insights; I experienced one such moment today. I was driving towards office and switched on the Radio. All India Radio FM Gold channel was broadcasting an audio re-run of the famed Mahabharat TV Serial. Prologue: The episode was the last part (Anudyuta Parva) of Sabha Parva  - after Pandavas lose their wealth, kingdom and respect in a gambling game and leave for their penance of 12 years Vanvaas & 1 year Agyaatvaas. In the scene after their exit, Vidur (the Prime Minister) visits the quarters of Patriarch Pitaamah Bhishm. Bhishm is cross with himself for not stopping the unethical gambling game which ultimately led to a public disrobing of his great grand daughter-in-law Draupadi .  During the episode, Bhishma utters a very insightful line - कभी कभी मनुष्य अपनी विवशता को अपना कर्तव्य मान  लेता है| [Meaning: Sometimes one assume one's helplessness to be his obligation.]  This line rang a bell tak