Saturday, July 31, 2004

Prof. Mohanty's Blog

Prof. Pitabas Mohanty - one of the best finance professors at xlri has started his own blog!

Prof. Mohanty's Blog

Friday, July 30, 2004

Wetnite dancing:Professional Dancing::Blogs:Websites

Actually, not just wetnite dancing, but any disco dancing. Most people on the dance-floor hardly have co-ordinated steps, for that matter hardly dance 'well' - but still there is so much enthusiasm in the dance that it makes up for all that is missing. Most blogs, similarly, hardly have grammatical prose, but still the enthusiasm makes up for all that. Wet-nite dances are about dancing in groups, allowing oneself to 'flow with the beat' - blogs similarly draw on huge network effects - many of them involve inter-comments (quite unlike individual websites). Finally, dancing on the floor in a wet-nite comes to almost anyone - one needn't be a professional dancer - no one's looking at you. Blogs, similarly, are in the reach of all and sundry - no one cares what jabbering you put into them - and they are much easier to make than websites.

As a concluding observation, maybe both are outcomes of the individual's desire to express himself, to have fun - to be himself and to break free from society's need for 'professional' conduct. :P

Blogs - A Disruptive Technology ?

Today, in the 'Business Value of IT investments' class we had been discussing disruptive technologies. I was pondering on the question of whether blogs are a disruptive technology and what a coincidence ! - came across an article with exactly the same title while browsing for something else. The article is an absolute gem.

Article available at: "Blogs as a Disruptive Technology"

The article is by a lawyer and has appeared in the January/Feb 2004 edition of Law Practise Management.

Going by what the author writes, there are very strong reasons why blogs are a disruptive technology:
a) people are not sure at first how a disruptive technology would be beneficial - same thing with the business usage of blogs - people are still experimenting.
b) it has potentially disruptive effects on existing technologies - the author argues in the paper that weblogs are going to change the way webdesigning is done - in fact goes on to say that blogs are going to make web-designing obsolete !! - now that is 'disruptive'.
c) they bring a different value proposition to the market than had been available before - blogs vs websites exactly - any tom-dick-and-harry can create a weblog and become an online journalist.
d) disruptive technologies have features other fringe customers value - businesses do not value blogs that much now but that is going to change in future as they shift over from websites to blogs.
e) products based on disruptive technologies are more convenient to use, are cheaper, simpler and smaller - woho! - anyone who has made websites before will attest to this fact - imagine putting up a professional website in 3 mins! (something blogger says a blog can be put up in)

Incidentally, some other interesting advantages of blogs that the author points out to:
a) Weblogs attract clients to businesses - websites he says frequently do a poor job at this 'Generating' function while weblogs.
b) Perform like Corvettes, while looking like Corollas :P
c) Much more cheaper than websites to make and maintain.

As an addendum to the article is an interview with the author. Found an interesting argument among the benefits. The author says that writing about a new case or ruling on his blogs helps him understand the real implications of the case. Now compare this with the concept of stratals we learnt in the creativity class. (for those who don't know, stratal is a mechanism wherein descriptive writing about a particular object improves our awareness about it and its uses and thereby increases the possible creative uses you can put it to or improve it). Now note how blogs are acting as a stratal mechanism :D - are they a new route to creativity ??

Finally, an interesting comment the author Erik J. Heels makes in the article:
"Blogs are the most important development since the web itself" :D

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

TAXI Dinner

Amazing ! I can't find words to describe the dinner. Have just come back from the TAXI (Tamilian Association of XLRI) dinner at Mad-sam. And this was a real saddhi. After so long, I've got such wonderful food. Really wish I had a bigger stomach. 15 different food items ! - particularly the chakara-pongal and aviyal - oho :D. And this time was different from the last - this time we served 3 rounds instead of the buffet we had last year. And it was a wonderful experience.

Three cheers to our TAXI chief VC(Vijay Chandrashekar) for a well conducted saddhi. \:D/

Monday, July 26, 2004

Wikiholism

Have been on wikipedia - both in learning and adding content. However, only now have been exploring wikis per se. As an intro - the power of wikis, in the words of wiki.org - lies in:

"Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by nontechnical users."

Blog++ eh.

Further wiki info shall be added on my bloggrok page.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Misfits ...

how many times have you felt that you are a misfit in your environment ? The feeling of living in a parallel universe - as all of humanity streams around you - with you lost - not knowing what you seek, not knowing what is the path ahead, moving like a zombie ... is a very funny one...

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

DreamWorks Animation IPO

Dreamworks - the Animation Group behind Antz, Shrek and Shrek2 has filed a $650 million IPO. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan are lead underwriters. Major shareholders include MS, Paul Allen, Howard Schultz and Roger Enrico. Interestingly, the company has posted profits only once - in 2001.

Story at CBS Marketwatch

humbling experience

A Bschool is, above all, a deeply humbling experience - don't know how many times I keep finding this out - its been more than a year now that I was made painfully aware of it - but I still keep thinking about it every new day... maybe it's because of the fact that we come of such a wide variety of backgrounds - everyday is something new to learn.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

What is Strategy ?

Have been reading Porter's seminal 1996 HBR article with the above title - an interesting point: says strategy is making trade-offs while competing. The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

3rd Convocation of IIIT on 31st July

The 3rd Convocation of IIIT-Hyderabad will be held on Saturday, 31st July at 11 am. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Dr YSR Reddy will be the Chief Guest, and the Union Minister of Communication and IT Mr Dayanidhi Maran will deliver the convocation address. The ceremony will be held at the IIIT campus.

IIIT-Hyderabad to host IJCAI-07

The International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI) is being held this year at IIIT-Hyderabad from the 5th to the 12th of August. Participants include Edmund H.Durfee, Gal Kaminka, Katia Sycara and Munindar Singh. More information can be obtained from the Hyderabad-Multiagent Systems School website.

Way to go IIIT.

Now is too late

Have been reading this book called "Now is too late" in the past week - a really beautiful book - picked from the library. The book talks about how organizations should manage media opinion in an era of Instant News. I'd written an earlier post about the misuse of media power. In this context and in view of things that we've been through in the past month, I found the book extremely relevant. It gives particular insights about how should one manage public relations when u've activists biting at you :D.

Some interesting points (selected at random from the book) which I thought are worth noting:
"A lie is halfway around the world before you can get your pants on"
- Winston Churchill

To compete in an increasing crowded media environment, media organizations have increasingly turned to "infotainment". News is often designed to fit a predetermined formula that is not dictated by the information, but by media's understanding of the audience's need to be entertained. It is a blending of information and entertainment that results in public information being packaged in a way that resembles melodrama. To continue to pretend, as so many do, that news reporting is anything other than a business of gaining and maintaining audiences is deceptive.

"You only have one response to make a first impression" - every subsequent story will follow the line of original response or contradict it.

.... there is a very disjointed debate as both sides spar. The company/organization under attack focuses on the facts and carries on the discussion in a fairly formal, professional tone. The activist on the other hand ... the nature of the discourse is frequently much more personal, informal, passionate and ambiguous.

- reminds of something eh :P

Today, the Internet, much more than a means of publicly presenting information that audiences can "pull", has the ability to proactively "push" information and in the process build audiences or communities around shared interests. It is this ability that activist groups have used to great effect.

Some interesting points about blogging:
"What amazes the mainstream media about the bloggers is how quickly they've established themselves"

Some new rules of the media:
- Bad news can be controlled by opponents and politicians and frequently has a long life
- Speed is more important than accuracy
- credibility depends on getting to the media first, do not wait for them to call
- Proactively supply information, even about the smallest of incidents

...the only hope you have of managing perceptions is by communicating. To choose not to, or to communicate too slowly for today's instant news requirements, puts your message in the hands of others. Those others might have agendas quite contrary of your own.


Finally, a good learning:
The best defense is a good offense :D


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

End of Good Ol' Hacker Days

Have been reading this Wired Article ...

Its a commentary on the recent Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) convention with speakers including Steve Wozniak and Kevin Mitnick. Hacker community is facing significant change with the US govt crackdown in the form of the Patriot Act and recent corporate litigation. Good Ol' hackers seem to feel that the days of free hacking - when one could take apart a system just to show its flaws and get away - stuff that has brought computer science and the internet to what it is now - is over.

People no longer seem to view hacking/exposing product flaws as technical wizardry - it is more associated now with crime. Maybe it is because of the influence of cracking on hacking. Hacking (as a term and as a concept) originated from the labs of AI MIT as a means for the wizards to show their talent - by exposing flaws in the existing system. Somewhere, over the course of time, the boundaries between hacking for fun and hacking with malintent (read cracking) became fuzzy. Today, the meaning of the word 'hack' is more associated with the later. Sad but True :-/

Google to list on Nasdaq

According to this Yahoo News Article Google has decided to list on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange. Its coming out with a $2.7 billion IPO later this year.

Friday, July 09, 2004

The Saturn Mission Images

Have been viewing the Saturn & Titan images from the Nasa Cassini-Huygens Home - real cool pics - particularly the Titan Surface views.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Prez Kalam advocates open source

President APJ Abdul Kalam's advised the defense scientists to shun proprietary systems and opt for open source codes in defense networks so as to minimize dependence and increase security.

Article in the Hindu

Online forums eh ?

From Prof. Madhukar Shukla's Blog

Group-Think in Online Chat Groups

Internet is a great democratic medium. But I stumbled on an interesting "real"(/virtual)-life event - a particular online discussion forum - during last few days. Searching for an explanantion about what was happening in this forum (what would look to be a case of collective pathology), led to some interesting resources about what can happen in an Online Community.

Gordon Graham in his book, The Internet: A Philosophical Inquiry [see summary], makes an interesting observation about the online groups, and their "pure confluences of interest".

Graham says that the internet is a medium which enables people to seek out exclusively kindred spirits and to avoid ever being exposed to views which are contrary to their own. He claims that... "the self-made philosopher with a grand but completely vacuous 'theory of everything' will sooner or later find a coterie of people whose knowledge and critical acumen is even less, but who are willing to be impressed."

The Symptoms of Group Think are:

1) Illusion of Invulnerability
2) Belief in Inherent Morality of Group
3) Collective Rationalization
4) Stereotypes of Out-Groups
5) Self-Censorship
6) Illusion of Unanimity
7) Direct Pressure on Dissenters
8) Self-Appointed Mind-Guards

Give the nature of the self-selection in most online chat groups, these symptoms are quite likely to emerge.

Friday, July 02, 2004

India's Digital Village

In a previous post, I'd said about the Businessweek article about how India's digital revolution is affecting the rural masses. Interestingly, today Slashdot has run the same story as its first post. Obviously it has received very interesting comments.

Some of them:

One person referred to an Economist Article about how encouraging adoption of IT in the developing world would have consequences beyond those philanthropic. Some interesting notes from this...

These technologies are part of HP's ambitious plans to sell to the 4 billion poorest people at the bottom of the global economic pyramid. In addition to work being done at the HP Labs, the company has also invested resources in its “e-inclusion” initiative, a project designed to set up “Digital Villages” and “i-communities” around the world—the former are philanthropic projects, the latter strategic market investments. Several centres—in India, South Africa, Ghana and Brazil—have already been established.

All of this activity could easily be mistaken for yet another philanthropic effort to bridge the “digital divide” between rich and poor. But that is only part of the story. Anand Tawker, the head of HP's e-inclusion efforts in Asia, speaks of a “blended strategy” that creates social benefits at the same time as boosting HP's brand and sales. “In the process of creating social value, there is also a profitable return to HP,” he says. “Doing good and doing well are not mutually exclusive.”


Whether philanthropy is the reason for the compaies like HP investing in developing countries or not - the result is its helping us a lot :D.

However, there are some very interesting (and adverse) posts as well - particularly motivated, I believe, from the outsourcing issue... People have made comments saying "India is not the way to go-reconsider" - that India's caste system! and our politics are pathetic.

There also seems to be posts pointing to particular instances of where Indians could not do an IT job properly or did not possess proper communcation skills - and using these as excuses to say that India is - i quote - "just a shabby country as every other country".

Ofcourse, quite a few Indians seem to have fought back these cynical comments with pointed answers :D.