Tag Archives: facebook

Why Social Networking activism sucks: Another top ten list

Booo. Ok, this is sure to raise the hackles of the social-network activists, but then, who is afraid of them anymore?

 

Facebook and Twitter warriors have just lost it. Posting, liking and sharing their way into the glorious midnight, they have totally missed the fact that they have managed to make themselves obsolete in a record time. Trust me, they have. Ok, don’t trust me, but they still have. [This is the type of logic that is currently in currency, so what the heck, I can use it too.]

[A much better and impactful article has been written on the subject, long back in 2010, by Malcom Gladwell in The New Yorker and can be seen here: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/04/101004fa_fact_gladwell The article has following arguments, not used here: the social networking relationships are based on weak ties, the activism is remote and not really connected with the people, activists and others ‘signing up’ do not have to invest their money or future in it, movements are leaderless, incoherent and lack strategy etc.]

 

This fall of the social-network activism however gives me a perfect opportunity to launch another awesome top ten list. Here goes, whoopiee…

[Disclaimer: This is an ‘extra-lite’ version writing style. This article is also beta-version, which means, I am not responsible for any errors.]

 

  1. From un-informed, unverified to deliberate falsehood. Facts are not sacred on the social circuit, and opinion is freer than ever before. The status updates are worse than gossips – more malicious and untrue. Once people lose faith, they rarely find it again in the same place. This has reduced the power of social media to influence.
  2. Intellectually non-rigorous. Simplistic.  H L Mencken famously said – “For every complex problem there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.” Social activists really love these types of solutions. The world is actually not made up of simple problems and simple solutions. “In fact the social media activists are creating problems and obstacles for those trying to solve problems” [Note this last sentence –106 characters with spaces. This is the type of smartass opinion you can expect on fb/twitter.]
  3. Too easy. It has become just too easy to launch an opinion. Stronger the opinion, more likely it is to elicit responses. Just try to explain a complicated problem with a complex argument and see how many of your friends go through it. In fact I would be linking this article on my fb, and I know hardly anyone would take the trouble to read it. Not because they don’t love me (they do, often), but because that is the nature of social media – it has led people to expect simple, eye catching things, like ads, not like art movies and documentaries.
  4. Emotional and irrational. However much you dislike rationality, whatever a society or an individual gains in life, it does through solid rational processes. I write poetry, and the writing part of it is always rational and methodical, though the inspiration and arguments in it are often romantic and irrational. Heavy duty reliance on the emotional leads to silly ultra-nationalism, terrorism, social disruption, phony posturing and no classes and no studies on the campuses.
  5. Absence of expertise and domain knowledge. The activists dabble in anything that catches their fancy (like I am doing here). Such efforts are generally useless and benign, but can be dangerous for society if done in excess. Mediocrity rules supreme, and trust in experts is undermined. I would not like to have a social media activist flying the plane I am on, nor would I trust him with guarding our borders, or running our country.
  6. Too easily manipulated. It is just too easy to create a fake pic of a God-face on a rock, or a graphic proving anything, or launch a campaign with half-truths and strong opinions. Only the manipulators are empowered, though thankfully, with the decline in the influence of these platforms, the manipulators are only looking silly school-kids now, not awe-inspiring conspirators.
  7. Panders to lowest common denominators. This is a big problem. Huge. Imagine a situation when there are tensions between two countries – social media activists would ensure that a war does take place. Then they would shed croc tears over the innocents killed, and blame all and sundry for the mess.
  8. Limited reach. Reach is touted to be the biggest strength of social media. But that is a myth. These platforms are populated exclusively by a section of the aspirational, often frustrated, middle-class. These are not the people who generally vote or participate in street demonstrations. Language and digital divide is no doubt the biggest handicap, but attitudes are no less responsible for turning many people away.
  9. Cowardice and snobbery. It is the medium of the coward. People who are afraid of confronting their tormentors directly find this medium convenient to vent their ire. But soon their ire turns against all and sundry, and they start to revel in becoming ‘rebels with multiple causes’. Unfortunately, such rebels have started to make an appearance in society outside of the social media networks, sowing confusion and muddying the already confused state of our affairs.
  10. Assists in faking of information, emotions. It is hardly a surprise that one of the more popular pages on the fb is Faking News. At least they are honest. People are faking emotions, personality, facts, photos… anything, with glee. Attacking icons, respectable leaders, companies, cooking up conspiracy theories, proposing dubious solutions – they are hardly the material on which we can build our future.

These are strong charges, seriously made. My appeal is:

(a) be wary of what you read on social network, do not believe anything without verifying;

(b) be careful what you share, repost or like; and

(c) if you feel strongly about something, step out and revolt, defy, revolt. Don’t hide behind fake identities and the anonymity of the net.

And yes, do press the ‘like’ button, just below the three stars that you see here. 🙂

***


Why this damn blog doesn’t take off: Top ten reasons.

It is not a little surprising that this blog, with its awesome content, hasn’t taken off yet. Serious enquiry into the matter, backed by five minutes of concentrated thought, has revealed some reasons, which I submit for the use and caution of fellow bloggers:

1. Aliens have infiltrated the web: While the content of this blog doesn’t discuss matters related to the frontiers of scientific thought, it also does not target a sub-human intelligence. I believe, though I do not have proof as of now, that species other than homo sapiens have infiltrated the web. Since this species are sub-human in intelligence, they can only appreciate things like Angry Birds and Kolavari Di.

2. The blog is not about Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or Paris Hilton: Or, for that matter, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry or Lindsay Lohan. Anything on the net which does not directly relate to these awesome people, is doomed. I shall seriously look into this matter, beginning with this blog entry.

3. There is no porn or erotica on this site: This is suicidal. Basically shy by nature, I have so far avoided this serious genre, but I know I shall have to work on my attitude to rectify this short-coming.

4. The site doesn’t assist in piracy: Now what is the use of a web-site that does not, in the name of freedom on the web, assist people in downloading latest music and games, movies and software?

5. Zionist-Stalinist-Capitalist conspiracy: For once these three top conspiratorial forces have come together to thwart my effort to make the world a better place, a world where everyone is equal, a world where there are no disparities, a world where…..You get my point (a world where I am popular and rich).

6. I do not pamper potential readers by liking their posts: I would, believe me, do that, day in and day out, had I got time to do so. It does take time to write the stuff that I post, besides doing all the things that I have to do to keep alive. I shall, from now on, post the most well-considered, most powerful comment on each blog that I visit, which is, “Awesome”.

7. I do not ask questions: People do not want to know, they want to tell. (The same is the case with me, but then, on this blog, I can assume that that is ok.) So, instead of posting information and other content, I shall ask for it. In the poetry section, for example, I shall say… “What is the best line you ever wrote? Please do tell…” rather than “The ferocious beast that doth trod……” or some such rot.

8. I do not pay for getting this stuff on the web: Now you may think that the web is free, but it is not. All the ecommerce business has taken over the place, and even wordpress will not allow ‘Plugins’ unless it is a paid blog. And without ‘Plugins’, whatever they are, you are doomed. Believe me, I am told the aliens love the sites which have these plugin-thingies.

9. The people have polarized themselves into two camps, and I cater to neither of them: The world has polarized itself into the religious (here there are numerous subdivisions- the Guru-chelas, the spiritualists, the dooms-dayers, the ‘true’ sects, the hate-others, the terrorists…) and the profane (here there is unity – all are one – they all watch porn).

Now, I know I will have to choose sides. And I will have to be loud about it. If I align myself with the second group, I would have to do things that Sunny Leone does. If I am with the first bunch, I have to scream and kick up a row. I will have to tell the world what the non-believers are doing, and why they shall rot in the everlasting hell (in great salacious detail) and why I shall, with my brethren, be drinking honeyed wine in heaven few years from now.

10. People want to buy things: They do not like being free loaders. Awesome ads, targeted audiences on the social media sites and celebrity endorsements are all that I need. I think I may have to convert this site to a paid one, where I charge in dollars for you people to read this stuff. And I know you shall do so. Just consider this list from a research by the Pew Research Centre (2011):

 

Usage

% of adult internet users in the U.S. who do this online
1 Use a search engine to find information 92
2 Send or read e-mail 91
3 Look for information online about a service or product 78
4 Get news 76
5 Go online just for fun or to pass the time ((you know how)) 74
6 Buy a product 71
7 Watch a video on a video-sharing site like YouTube or Vimeo 71
8 Look for “how-to,” “do-it-yourself” or repair information 68
9 Use an online social networking site like Facebook 64
10 Pay to access or download digital content online 43
11 Download music, other files to your computer 37
12 Play online games 36
13 Read someone else’s online journal or blog 32
14 Look for religious/spiritual info 32
15 Post comments to an online news group, website, blog or photo site 32

(The Pew people are coy; they do not mention the smut and piracy as the top draws. Everyone knows that it is so, so probably they assumed it as said. Also notice that Item no 13 and 15 are the same set of people, keeping each other happy by posting ‘awesome’.)

My eyes have been opened by this deep research (it took full 5 minutes of research, followed by 5 minutes of deep thinking, interrupted though this process was, due to a game of Angry Birds). Let the message go down to the fellow bloggers.

The message is (in case it has not become clear yet) – leave a like at the bottom of this page, and do visit again. Bye.

***


‘Cartoon’ Jokes

Instances of Cartoons (no joke intended here) being taken too seriously are growing in the world. It seems cartoons have ‘arrived’. I made a few cartoon jokes today, inspired somewhat by what is happening in India (and around the world).
 
1
Why do cartoons don’t like other cartoons?
Because they feel they are perfect.
 
2
Why did one cartoon say to another, “You are under arrest?”
Because he was so dumb that he thought that the line was funny.
 
3
Why did cartoon say, “You are under arrest?”
Because he wanted to be taken seriously.
 
4
How do you know the difference between a cartoon and a real person?
Real person is funnier.
 
5
Why did the cartoon shoot the cartoonist?
Because he did not like being ‘made’ fun of.
 
6
Knock, Knock.
Who’s there?
A cartoon.
That’s not funny.
I know.
 
7
Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Another cartoon.
I hope you are honest – the last time it turned out to be a Chief Minister.
 
8
Why was a cartoon sitting with a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim in a plane that was about to fall?
To make the joke look more contemporary.
 
9
How many cartoons does it take to change a bulb?
None, because they arrest each other.
 
10
How many cartoons does it take to change a light bulb?
Last time it took whole of West Bengal.
 
11
Santa said to Banta, “Let us make a cartoon.”
“Ok,” said Banta, and rushed to get his camera.
 
12
If you have one bullet, and you are faced with a terrorist, a Mafioso, a lawyer and a cartoonist, who would you shoot?
The cartoonist – at least the world will not know what happened to you afterwards.
 
13
Why do cartoonists have such poor drawings?
So that no one can recognize who they are drawing.
 
14
Why did the cartoonist make a caricature of a Chief Minister?
Because Osama bin Laden is dead.
 
15
Why did Jawahar Lal Nehru love cartoonists?
Because he wanted to be different from the coming generations of politicians.
 
16
Why do you find so many cartoons on your facebook wall?
Because facebook is free, easily accessible and popular.
 
17
Why did a cartoon decide to play in the IPL?
Because it is better paying than a politicians’ job.
 
18
“Mirror, mirror, who is the greatest cartoon of them all?”
“Please, I shall not answer that. I will get arrested.”
 
19
Boy: I want to become a cartoon when I grow up.
Mother: Do not get influenced by your father. One cartoon in the house is enough.
 
20
What is the religion of a cartoon?
Hindu: Because even he does not know anything about his religion
Muslim: Because he is found everywhere in the world
Christian: Because he is persecuted and crucified
Sikh: Because he can laugh at himself
 
****

Where are the folks going next: The present and future of social networking

The next big idea in social networking is the application that finds friends of friends near you, giving you an opportunity to meet them in real time. The idea is a disaster ab initio. The whole idea of social networking is to prevent people from meeting each other, to create a screen persona so awesome that all friends just shrivel and wither away, to light the fire of jealousy and to keep it stoking with every post and tweet. Making people meet will wean them away from the screen, causing loss to the business and will only lead to the bursting of the bubble.

Before diving further into the world of social media, let us first cover our flanks – are there any challengers who can pip the social media networks in the enar future?

The game is to keep them hooked. But there are people who are not yet in the trap (believe me, it is true). Most of these ‘others’ are still stuck to the idiot box – to the never ending soaps. The approach of the soap writers is simple – create a circular story around adultery, and put it in a loop. There is no way the viewer will be able to get out of it. It is something like what the geeks dread in computer programming, or like the mazes of the old times. But these soap junkies are from the older generation, and not growing in numbers.

Where do books, movies and theatre fit in?

Books have a great future – as status symbols for the rich, as decorations for the spare drawing room that classy people call study, as snob accessory for the intellectuals to bang each other with (physically or with quotes – the effect is the same) and for being kept in the umpteen libraries that were created in the last generation. But, and this is important, people are actually not reading books – as in spending their time with it. So, they do not pose any challenge what so ever. In any case until they find a way to limit a book to 140 characters before they can even begin to think of challenging the social networks. (Here ‘characters’ means alphabets, including blank spaces, and not the heroes, the knights, the villains, the Chinamen, the inspector, the…)

Movies are part-time – side business – they do not need complete, full time involvement. They will survive, along with the reading of gossip columns and page three of newspapers and the occasional dining out.

Theatre is dead – I introduced theatre in the discussion just to sound classy. (To sound classier, I could have talked about classical music, ballet or opera – but that would have exposed me as a sham, it was not worth the risk.)

There are only two serious challenges to social networking – sex and gaming. In both the cases the social networks are trying to ‘sleep with the enemy’. The idea is to promote ‘sex-appeal’ and gossip as an alternative to real sex (and here I am not referring to pornography, which does not exist, so we will not discuss it). This suits the modern male and female very much, thank you. Real relationships are so cumbersome to maintain, so time consuming, so draining, so messy, that flirting on the social network is, in fact, a good option.

As for gaming, light, addictive gaming is on the Facebook-type platforms already – it is the ‘heavy-metal’ gaming of the addicts that poses a threat. But with careful and constant vilification campaigns against it, promoted through the agency of parents and schools, that the threat can be nixed in the bud. Something like the anti-smoking campaign. There are signs that it is succeeding – I see less and less of gaming fanatics around me these days.

Social networking includes videos (you tube), pictures (facebook, flicker) and text (micro-blogging of Facebook and Twitter). In that sense it is a mutli-media attack on the senses (or whatever remains of it). It seduces the ego – making it seem that it is you who is in control, who is creating the content, who is making people sit up and think, who is the one at the centre of the universe. Moreover, the tools that it gives – cut-and-paste quotes, edit your pictures, edit out bad comments, fit yourself into ‘frames’ created by applications…the whole industry is like the cosmetics industry, working hard to make you look awesome.

There seems to be no getting away from the fact that we live in the age of social networking. The few, mutually exclusive, platforms that rule the roost at the moment are having it good. The wanna-bes’ are burning the midnight oil to find the next big idea, and upstage them. For them, here is a ‘take-away’ from the above – pander to the ego of the individual, and he will be hooked. The advertisers will follow, and thou shalt be rolling in the…er…in whatever the rich roll in.

***

(All cartoons in this post are taken from social network sites/blogs on the net.)


Impact of Social Media: A Top ten list

  • Everyone has become beautiful: Just look at any photograph on a social media site and you would realize that a beauty revolution/miracle has struck the world. No one is plain/ugly. If you don’t agree, you are not the social media. [[Impact: people meet each other only on social media; rise and rise of stocks of cosmetic companies; photo-editing skills become basic survival tool.]]
  • Everyone has become a genius: Going by the profound one-liners, pithy poems and awesome jokes, it seems all my dullard friends (and me) have suddenly been allotted brains. [[Impact: conversations are banned – people just dole out wisdom; google replaces natural memory.]]
  • Everyone has become a celebrity: 20,000 followers on Twitter! 345 likes on a comment on Facebook!! We are the new celebrities. At a time when your “I am feeling sleepy” status update shakes the world, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian can rightly claim to be the Goddesses of the brave new world. [[Impact: round-the-clock status updates for the fans, daily changing profile pics, words of wit and wisdom – one works hard for one’s fans.]]
  • Everyone has become a nationalist, humanist, activist: There are no bribe-givers, no litterbugs, no rule breakers, no criminals / thieves / thugs / rapists / criminals now. All of us remember our forgotten heroes, we celebrate our national days with fervor, we are vocal in lambasting the corrupt politicians – the citizen has finally struck the ‘model’ code. [[Impact: National flag has become the new God – Woe betides anyone who holds the national flag upside down, or who puts a foot in the vicinity of one.]]
  • Every problem has a perfect solution: On Twitter, it takes 140 character, and on Facebook, it takes about 10 sentences to solve any problem in the world. The world economy is being run better by the World Bank because of the tips the director gets (for free) on his Facebook account daily. Obama caught Osama (or was it the other way around) because he was advised by the netizens to do so. [[Impact: The world has become a happier place, where there is no need for negotiating, compromising, surrendering; and there is obviously no losing, crying, dying…]]
  • Every infant is a born movie star: Since the ‘Charlie bit me’ phenomena hit the youtube, parents have been chasing the toddlers with camcorders, and putting up clips of their awesome (not awful, please read carefully) performances. The future of film industry is secure – all this talent will no doubt have an impact!!! [[Impact: all the gadgets now come with a camera; storage-servers of youtube will be kept on Moon – there is little space left on Earth.]]
  • Office has become fun: Scrabble, Farmville and hundreds of other games on Facebook has made the office hours tolerable. It is of minor consequence that productivity has fallen. However, nobody notices – all the bosses are on the social media too. [[Impact: Better atmospherics in the office, less gossip, less back-biting, less bossism.]]
  • War, corruption, crime have come down: Who has the time? Since all the people are on the net, posting pictures, playing games, raking in the ‘likes’ for their status updates or advising the world leaders how to run the world, there is no one left to actually fight the wars, bribe the politicians etc. So, in short, the world is becoming a better place. [[Impact: Stocks crash for the defense production related industry.]]
  • Reality is banished: Not by anyone – reality just fades away into history. Try telling someone (not posting on facebook/twitter) that there are people without food, that they are dying in civil wars, that there is inequality and crime or that the world is facing global warming. Just try it – if you can find anyone to listen to you. [[Impact: No one knows.]]
  • Everyone is in love…with themselves: What mirror could not do, Social media has done. Narcissus fell in love seeing his image in a pond – we have fallen in love with ourselves, seeing ourselves on the social media site. We never knew we were so awesome!!! [[Impact: psychiatrists go out of business – no one has any self-doubt anymore; relationships, marriages and divorces have started looking so out-of-fashion.]]

(Courtesy: Social Network)

***


The new age dawns

“Why are you giving your location and details of your feelings on a per minute basis,” I asked Soapy, confused.

He glared at me, and moved on.

I looked at Phil, the balding veteran of the HR department, for enlightenment. “What’s up David?” he asked.

“This fellow is on the net, and keeps updating his status all the time. Why this craze – I don’t get it,” I explained.

Phil shook his head, “This needs careful thought,” he said, “Soapy doesn’t do anything without a purpose. How do you know he does this?”

“Actually I am linked to him on the net and keep getting his messages. See..” I said and showed Phil the mystifying statements that Soapy had been broadcasting to the world for the last few days.

“’Deep into files,’ says one message,” read Phil, “’Holidays cancelled, Wife attacks with blunt object,’ says another. Lots of alphabets that do not mean anything…..Sad faces…”

“Those are smilies,” I said.

“But they look unhappy.”

“This one is a sad smiley,” I explained.

“Whatever,” said Phil and silently read on. “He seems to have an opinion about everything in the world…and seems to be a good poet too.”

“Those poems are copied from the net. If you look carefully, they are mostly from Shakespeare, twisted and modernized slightly,” I said.

“You seem to have done some research into this,” Phil commented.

“I have been observing him, yes, for I doubted his poetic capabilities,” I explained defensively.

What remained unsaid was that I have started feeling threatened by this youngster, who, I have no doubt, will go to any extent to grab the next promotion opportunity, leaving me in an awkward situation where I would have to do a lot of explaining to ‘she-who-must-not-be-disobeyed’.

Later that week, Superboss called a meeting on the ‘targets’, and was in a foul mood. “How many repeat customers are you getting,” he asked Mr A, my immediate boss, who was handling the agents for some time now.

“Lots,” he said, “They keep on repeating the same thing.”

“What do they repeat?” Mr A had managed to confuse Superboss again.

“Hmm,” said Mr A, “That’s not worth repeating, but it is mostly whining.”

“You mean they are not satisfied?”

“It seems so,” said Mr A. “They don’t seem to like the product. They say it is a mishmash of old ideas.”

“What rot,” said Superboss, raising his voice. “The product is being well received in all the other zones.”

There was of course no need to respond to a statement of fact, and so Mr A kept quiet. Superboss waited for some time, expecting Mr A to clarify, but finally had to ask, “So what do you suggest we should do?”

Mr A shrugged and mumbled something to the effect that we should make something that is actually sellable.

“What can be done is to use the social media to our advantage,” said Soapy, with a smirk, “And keep in touch with our customers and agents on a more regular basis. What is more, it would not cost us anything.”

Superboss’ face lit up. Whether it was because it was a new idea, or because the promised solution was to be free, he took an immediate liking to it. On his prodding, what followed was a detailed account of the powers of new media by our resident expert, Soapy.

Mr X, the arch rival of my boss, was the first to jump up to the idea – and it was with great difficulty that he restrained himself from walking up to Soapy, and shaking him by the hand. With what I perceived to be tears of happiness in his eyes, he seconded the idea of adopting the social media in all our activities, and especially for maintaining a close relation with our agents.

The upshot of the meeting was that Mr A was given the job of starting our accounts on all social media platforms – ‘immediately and without fail by this weekend’ – and report the results in a meeting to all the colleagues in a week’s time. And thus, on that bright morning, we began our journey into the new world.

The start turned out to be easier than expected. Except for Soapy, who had expected the task of implementing the idea to be given to him, everyone was happy. Most believed that since the matter was in the hands of Mr A, nothing would come out of it in the end – they had full confident in him, and rightly so, if I may add.

Mr A has a number of aces up his sleeve when confronted with work. Sometimes he expands the work to such a colossal amount, that it has to be outsourced. Sometimes he buys time till the work becomes redundant and everyone forgets about it. Sometimes he messes it to the extent that it has to be dropped altogether.

In this case, however, he did not have to do much. He just launched the idea, and it took care of itself. That is, the idea proved itself to be a disaster, without Mr A having to do anything to ruin it.

Mr A was in his elements when he made his presentation on his experiences with the social media the following week.

“As directed, our office started a Twitter and a Facebook account, and we got huge support from our agents. Almost all logged on with us on the first day itself. In fact agents and managers of our rival companies also logged on…” began Mr A, and Superboss gave him a pleasant smile.

“From the first day itself, we started getting questions on our products, our pricing policy, our agent selection policy, our future plans regarding the products, the actual cost of our products and the mechanism by which we decide on the commission to different agents…”

Superboss cut Mr A short mid sentence- “How are all these things relevant to the agents?” he asked.

Mr A shrugged, and said “Don’t know. They seemed very keen to know, and persisted with these questions. In fact they started a discussion on these subjects on our sites, and started sharing their experiences. I have a printout of the discussions here – we have made a few copies for all of us to go through. David please distribute the copies..”

The senior managers went through the transcripts with increasing sense of alarm. Mr A continued – “There are some positive references about David, and even about me if I may add, for starting this site. We immediately clarified that it was the idea of Superboss – yours sir. But some disgruntled elements diverted the discussions into some very irrelevant channels, questioning your appointment and caliber, and even that of some of our other managers. Some stooges of our rival company, I am sure they were planted, even tried to spread canards about our products. On page three, you would notice, the discussion suddenly turns to the wasteful expenditure on our golf course project. We ruthlessly snubbed these stupid comments, even deleted many, but they kept cropping up….”

Mr A took the members through the various discussions that had come up on our sites. Mr A was very frank about it all. He did not hide the bitter details, just for the sake of making a favorable impression.

At the end of the presentation, Mr A asked for the opinion of members on how to take the project forward. Soapy, I noticed, looked aloof and disinterested. In fact, apart from Superboss, everyone looked disinterested in the goings on in the brave new world.

Finally, Superboss gave his verdict. “I don’t think the social network in this form suits our business. I am a believer in inter-personal relationships. We must focus on the people, rather than technology. It would be better to study the matter further, and in greater detail. ‘A’ you may close down the pilot project – it has served its purpose. You may like to name your team for studying the matter further. But we must not linger on in this matter for ages – I would like to have a report of your committee within three months….”

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