Tag Archives: social media

The turnaround

The summer months dragged on like some old case, like a relative who habitually overstays his welcome.

The air-conditioner in the office gave more sound than relief and Mr A prodded on with his work. He was neck deep into a report that had to be submitted ‘before today.’

The CEO at the Headquarter had changed, and like all new CEOs, was bent on turning the company around. And, like all the CEOs before him, wanted the branches to submit their ideas on how this could be done. Superboss, our branch head and an old hand in dealing with new CEOs, did what he knew was to be done in such cases – he asked Mr A, his man-Friday to make a report.

Now Mr A did have all the old reports in his computer, and it would have been easy for him to recycle any of those reports. But he did not.

“We must be honest in what we do,” he admonished me when I suggested the easy way out. “I will rewrite the entire thing again from my memory,” he declared.

That statement confused me slightly. Was it going to be just a test of memory? I got the answer soon enough.

Superboss called a meeting to get opinion of all the managers regarding the report in question. Normally this meeting happens before the task is assigned to Mr A, which becomes one of the decisions of the meeting, but this time, perhaps with the intention of being original, the sequence had been changed slightly. In fact, as it turned out, it was reversed entirely. Mr A made a presentation of his ‘final’ report, and the other managers were left with the creative task of sounding original while agreeing.

Mr A began his speech with a preamble. I have found people generally do this in summers, or when they do not have much to say.

“Our new CEO is a man of vision. He has decided to take on the challenge of the times, and take the company out of the morass that it finds itself in. Having successfully charted the fortunes of five companies in his twenty year long career…..”

I thought Mr A had forgotten that the CEO was not among those present, and the attention of the group wavered. But I was wrong. It was only later that I realized that his opening remarks formed the part of the document that was sent to the CEO for his attention.

Anyway, after what seemed like ages, Mr A came to more ‘substantive’ part of his presentation.

“Our clients want a platform that cuts across the numerous technologies and media and integrates seamlessly with the social networking sites. It must be an online system, working on the power of cloud computing. It must be hardy enough to withstand the challenges of the time, and yet simple enough to be useful to the meanest of the company employee. It must address to the needs of the small business, who are the bulk of our clients, and must be able to update its data automatically through the net….”

And so on for about a quarter of an hour. The gist was, we wanted a software that did all that we were supposed to be doing. And since the creation of such software was a centralized job, it would have to be undertaken by the Headquarter.

There was a round of relieved table thumping, but as expected, a fly decided to invade the sanctity of the ointment.

Mr X spoke up. “What the HQ wants is a clue on what the clients want,” he said offensively. There is no love lost between Mr A and Mr X, but the former kept his cool.

“Exactly what Superboss told me to do. If you recall, I have highlighted the fact that in this age of computerized customization of client-relationship, no one has the time for snail paced responses. As you can see from my presentation, the exact need of the client and the solution is highlighted,” replied Mr A, stressing on the word exact.

That impressed Superboss. He knew that the report was passably all right, and had a hunch that he did not have the quality manpower to better it. A good manager is one who realizes the limitation of his resources, as also the need of the hour.

“I think A’s report captures the essence of what is required. A, mark a copy to X for further comment that he would like to make, and then put it up to me by today afternoon. We must not delay the matter further, for CEO was very clear that he wants action not words,” said Superboss, and it was curtains on the meeting.

The report reached the table of Superboss by next afternoon, without any further additions by Mr X, who corrected the grammar somewhat on page numbers 2 and 3, thereby distorting the meaning somewhat. The report then travelled to the HQ via the internet within seconds. It has been months since the mail delivery was confirmed but we have not heard anything further on the topic so far. We can only presume that the HQ is studying the report ‘in depth’ and will evolve a ‘strategy for implementation that is appropriate for the needs of the time, keeping in mind the urgency of the matter.’

The summer yielded reluctantly to mild Indian winters, bypassing the monsoons this year. The air-conditioner in our office continued to whizz ineffectively – it did no harm even in winters, and we were so used to its whizzing, that we did not really want to turn it off.

***

 

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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. 🙂

***


Shakespeare and the monkeys

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I am one of the million monkeys
Hammering away at the keyboard,
Trying to produce another Shakespeare.
 
(I wonder how the monkeys did it
The last time; with pen and ink pots,
They must have made quite a mess! )
 
Tapping away feverishly
About love, life and rage- I hope
It will another Shakespeare make.
 
(How did the monkeys of yore
Know so much about mankind?
I suspect the hand of a traitor! )
 
Do not belittle us monkeys on Twitter.
Though we make no sense now,
There are gems hidden in our chatter.
 
(I know the recipe – mix Othello’s jealousy,
Shylock’s greed and Romeo’s love, and add
The super-confidence of the monkeys! )
 
We smart monkeys of today, shall not
Create another Hamlet- we do not
Know the meaning of indecision.
 
(I do find the idea somewhat strange,
When I come to think of it,
That monkeys did not write about monkeys?)
 
I know a lot about monkeys
And I know a lot about men –
Let’s see what this one turns out to be on.
 
(Some people say Shakespeare was actually
Sir Francis Bacon. I have a suspicion
They now think that Bacon was a monkey! )
 
I wonder how many taps its shall take,
How many centuries, before we hit upon
“The world’s a stage….” once again.
 
(Did the monkeys write the sonnets too?
I wonder whether they could appreciate
The beauty of love expressed therein?)
 
One should ask the monkeys of today
To keep tapping randomly. We cannot
Produce another Shakespeare consciously.
 
(I wonder how the monkeys
Got the people to read their stuff?
It is so difficult to get readers now-a-days! )
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

(The poet. Illustrations are from the net)

***

Publishing ‘Disclaimers’ must be made mandatory with cartoons, jokes

“These fellows have taken the freedom of speech business too far. Reasonable restrictions must be put into place at once or else irreparable damage shall be done to my reputation..I mean, to the reputation of our institutions,” thundered the Great One. I agree.

The other day I posted this cartoon (somewhere) and was slapped with a legal notice from Antartica (I cannot post the caption with this cartoon, as it has been restricted through a legal injunction – if that is the word).

I therefore propose a set of disclaimers and undertakings that should be published with every cartoon and joke, and not in very fine print. The disclaimers shall help the cartoonists and the jokers (is that the word for the writers of jokes?) in avoiding un-necessary legal hassles.

1. This content in no way depicts or refers to any human being, animal or alien, living or dead.
2. This content is inspired by or refers to no news or information, current or historical.
3. This content is a work of fiction and has no resemblance to reality by any stretch of anybody’s reasonable imagination.
4. This content does not intend to inform, hurt, malign, annoy, rile or irritate holders of any office or opinion.
5. This content does not target any personnel or belief of any religion or sect.
6. The creator of this content is deeply apologetic of any inconvenience or discomfort caused unintentionally, and despite all the care taken to avoid the same.
7. The creator of this content submits his/her humble and un-reserved apology for any real or imagined slight.
 

As a sample I am posting my next cartoon here with all the disclaimers. Kindly notice that all effort has been made to avoid hurting anyone’s sensibilities. Humor does get somewhat compromised, but then, you win some, you lose some.

One cannot be sure that we have covered all the legal aspects of the matter. I think we should refer this draft to a lawyer for his comments. Meanwhile, feel free to add to it.

***


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.

***


Choosing the right career: Top professions of our times (Another top ten list)

Times have changed – no really, I am not bluffing, this time they have. I have prepared a list of top ten get-rich-fast professions/careers, based on solid research. If I do not give actual examples and names along with this list, it is because, (a) everybody knows who the top dogs in each profession are, and how they have reached there, and (b) I want to live a little longer.

Now for the top ten get-rich-fast professions/careers:

1. Looters of the natural resources. These come in three basic categories- (a) Mining (including oil, coal and other minerals like iron ore, bauxite, aluminium and even stones!!), (b) land or real estate and (c) spectrum.

(Spectrum really came as a welcome addition to the scarce resources that can be looted with the help of the ruling class.)

The beauty of the game is that this looting provides a short cut to the No.1 businessman position and with it comes all trappings of respectability. You just cannot go wrong with this one, wherever in the world you are.

Earlier it was the sovereign right of the powerful nations to loot the natural resources (of anybody’s land), but now the political class has outsourced the process of looting to the crooks, who shall be called, from here on, businessmen.

2. The arms dealers. You cannot go too wrong with this one. Again, it is the political class which needs these middle-men, though I really do not understand why they do not cut the commission agents and directly deduct their ‘n’ percent.

3. The politicians. Left, right or centre, they are the ones who own the world. There is no need to be squeamish about the fact that they are the ‘rulers’ and the rest of us are the ‘ruled’. This profession is open to all in a democracy, and there should not be unnecessary jealousy about their riches. It may however surprise some that they figure third on this list. I feel that the average income of this class is being reduced by the cranky do-gooders, the honest types, the self-appointed world changers. Also, the Return on Investment is also unfavorable compared to the two categories mentioned above.

4. The celebrity. Not an actor, not a rockstar – it is the celebrity that has it all. Here, some examples would clear the picture – Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Poonam Pandey, Rakhi Sawant. Predominently female, this tribe has mastered the art of raking in the moolah without doing anything. To launch this career with a sex-tape, or even with a hint of one, can only be a work of a genius, or a ‘celebrity’. Since there is no investment involved, the RoI is infinite.

5. Pimping and drug peddling: Now this is not as bad as it sounds. Think of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Sounds better already? Think of any huge metropolis, and the shiny Mercs. I am told half of them are owned by pimps and drug peddlers. Sounds even better now? The whole ball game is to play it at the right level, on the proper scale. Include lateral branches of this business – sports betting, casinos, escort services, and providing odd assistance to the four categories that precede this one, and you know that there will never be an off-season for this class of professionals.

6. Doctors: Aligned with the health insurance guys, the doctors are rocking and rolling (in money). That they figure below the drug peddlers is again because of the crack-pots in their profession, who bring down the averages, by parking themselves in shanties and the villages and getting bit by mosquitoes for no apparent reason.

7. Lawyers: The traditional leaders of the pack have fallen into bad times, since the top five categories now maintain such good relations with each other that they do not need to meet each other in the law courts much these days. But when they do, there is the black-coat to see to it that the wealth is equitably re-distributed.

8. The Social media owners: A small and exclusive class that rules the world by pampering to people’s egos. Killing the publishing industry, and taking over the gaming industry are their main hobbies. They have an eye on the movie industry and the mobile industry also. Too bad there is scope for only a few here.

9. The new age Gurus: Needed by all the above and also the rest of greedy mankind, the Gurus are laughing all the way to the banks. Yoga, meditation, or simply washing off the sins – they have a long product line. They are branching off to healing and spas, rehabilitation and old-age services these days. The land of the Gurus, India, is exporting their services at a good rate, and the country’s balance of payment is probably helped by the remittances by these Gurus, or donations to them by the ‘poor’ rich of the West.

10. Coaching centres: Not education. This field is different. It is the bye-product of an overpopulated world. They promise survival and are the last recourse for the hungry middle class youth. They are the hyenas who feed on the carcass of society, if we may use imagery from the ‘laws of the jungle’.

As a word of caution, I shall end with a list of absolute NO-NO careers if you want to make it good:

  • Farming, unless you are fed up with the world and want an excuse to commit suicide,
  • Manufacturing – no one does it in the West now. It is way too messy and old fashioned, and
  • Teaching, Writing, Science, Researching – These are now at par with the call-centre jobs in terms of return on investment, so be very careful with people who seek to inspire you to take up these noble professions.

***


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.)


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