Wednesday, August 31, 2005

State of Fear

Standard Michael Crichton - good pace throughout. Nice contrarian handling of a subject on which there is such a single viewpoint in the public. Crichton seems to have done good research for it - almost Michael Moore level in criticizing the media for the one side view of global warming. However, gets slightly wierd towards the end with all the cannibalism stuff.

Explorations ho !

Exploring Mumbai continued…. The intrepid traveler - Me :p - went to Mani Bhavan (Gandhiji's home in Mumbai) this weekend. It’s a dilapidated structure (under renovation) at Chowpatty (for the MBA guys who've done their summers in Mumbai, its close to the Wilson College). A memorial to the Mahatma, it chronicles his life though pictures, writings, quotations, puppetry and a display of his belongings. The only visitors to the place when I went were foreigners - a French lady and a German couple - we Indians I guess, no longer find time to visit such places :|. Interestingly too, no shopkeeper or taxi-walla in the area knew where the place was (except the one through whom I finally found the place). I do hope the renovation improves the state of the place… its presently in a sorry shape. An interesting quote I read there:

"The seeker after truth should be humbler than the dust. Only then, and not until then, will he have a glimpse of the truth"

Then went to the Iskon temple nearby… quite a nice place - people chanting 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' with moving devotion and melody.

The Babulnath temple (to Lord Shiva) is located closeby. Situated on a hillock, the temple was completely crowded in the evening, when I went. Decorated with flowers and filled with chants, the temple has a colorful atmosphere.

Iqbal

Nice movie. Some really great acting, beautiful music and nice humor. And of course, Naseeruddin Shah at his classic best.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Splogging

Splogging (a.ka. spam-blogging) seems to be becoming such a painful issue. Had to enable word verification to stop the crap. Thanks to Rashmi Bansal for pointing it out - I was really puzzled by the phenomenon.

Splog Reporter: A site to report and monitor splogs.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The future of computer science grads

The need for a multi-disciplinary focus for computing grads - An article from the NyTimes: A Techie, Absolutely, and More. A potent indication of the way the field of computer science is likely to head in India too.

Monday, August 22, 2005

My Web 2.0

Social Search !! If they can pull this off, it would become the next generation of recommender systems. The research challenges, though, are phenomenal. If they can get a significant community on-board and get a decent enough implementation in place, Yahoo! would surely have pulled off a big one.

Better workplaces

One of the 'key takeaways' (so to say :P) from freakonomics is the concept of incentives guiding most of human choices. Levitt divides incentives into three types - economic, social and moral.

Now there's this article in the recent Sunday Times here with A.M.Naik - Chairman and MD of L&T - lamenting the fact that its losing most of its engineers to the IT industry, and predicting a sad future for India's infrastructure setup if this trend continues. But just consider why? the economic incentives - India's IT sector pays its engineers much higher and has better work conditions than what the old economy companies can match, at the same level - plus add the perks of the periodic international travel; the social incentives - working in the IT sector is 'hip' - it’s a source of pride for people today to say they are working in an infy or a tcs, leave alone an MS or an Oracle (just look at the number of parents who brag about their wards working an IT company vs those whose work in old-economy firms). It has simply become a socio-cultural aspiration to work in IT. Just appealing to the youth on a moral ground won't work as everyone seems to have gotten used to the fact that IT is adding to India's economy - after-all its India's poster child for our new-found growth. What old-economy majors need to do to attract and retain the best of talent is to provide better economic and social incentives to youth as they enter the work-pool. This translates to not just paying more, but projecting a more 'cooler' image of the workplace. A very challenging mandate, I agree. We certainly live in interesting times :D

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Finding Neverland

Oka level movie. Impressive acting, well directed and a moving storyline. I guess its one of the best movies I've seen in quite some time now.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Freakonomics

Interesting book, must say. Very creative use of data to come up with some interesting results. But like it says in the prologue, its kinda unstructured, leaving one wondering..."huh.. so?".

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Friday, August 12, 2005

A meet at the airport

This post is for iiitians... Well, I was stuck at Mumbai airport at the beginning of this month (when it had rained like hell here), on my way home. An AirIndia flight had skidded off the runway while I was waiting for takeoff of my flight and it was raining pretty badly with the result that we had to stay back at the airport for 4 hours. I met Prof. Kamal - he had just landed in from Amsterdam, back from a paper presentation. Said he'd been to Japan and quite a few of other places and said he seemed to be meeting iiit guys at every airport. Seems to have grown a lot more white-haired from what I remembered of him back at iiit. I've never seen a professor as excited with a subject as he was while he taught us data mining.

Have a nice long weekend ppl :D

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Should shareholders matter more than employees ?

This is one of the things that puzzles me the most - that companies consider shareholder value more important than employee interests. Should a company consider exceeding the cost of capital given to it more important that the welfare of the employees who labor for it? Who is more important? Infact, this was one of the first questions I ever asked Prof. Mohanty... he just by-passed it saying shareholder value maximization is an assumption made in modern finance. I still haven't found the answer and continue to be puzzled by it. I guess at some stage these things lead to questioning the very nature of capitalistic thought now. I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this blog post (on bubblegeneration - through thyagi) on Sumantra Ghoshal's later work researching this very question.

Article: Bad Management Theories