Friday, June 15, 2007

Every Other Person Seems to Be Blogging Nowadays and I Love the Blogosphere for It!!!

I remember reading somewhere (and please excuse my memory for not remembering where) that the first step towards creating something that makes an interesting read is the title. It's like if you make a good impression on the reader, he will read your stuff and the way to making a good impression is to have a most eye-grabbing, attention-catching title. The author went on to elaborate how short titles are always more preferable to long ones (Guess Borat makers didn't read this stuff.) But that isn't going to stop me from putting up this post with this title, because I'm part of this non-conformist world driven by an undercurrent called the Information Revolution...because there is no longer one right way and many wrong ways to do things...because new ideas are welcome thoughts are appearing at will because of our willingness to accept each person as a different individual with thoughts, behaviour and mentality completely different from the person beside him/her...because at last, we realize that just as many problems can have multiple solutions, many things can be done in multiple ways.

So how has this river of non-conformism and independent thinking swept us away? I don't know for sure, although I am a part of this. Probably it is the sudden upsurge of people expressing themselves that has created so many independent threads of thoughts - all snaking about, intertwining, sparring, concurring and debating with each other. The sheer number of these leave me wondering whether there are new thoughts at all...But that's something I'll leave for another post...

I just returned from a short break from home yesterday and let me tell you, I had more than my fair share of blog posts to check out - Saurya, Rachit, Nilanjana, Swapnil, Ramya, Rajat, Rishabh (not necessarily in the same order - I've got to be politically correct here) - with each blog having multiple posts. And then the thought struck me like a bolt of lightening that is all so common in these rainy days - how do people whose blogrolls stretch on and on, keep track of what their friends are writing? If there are say, ten people on your blogroll and each of them posts 10 entries per month - that translates into 100 different threads of thought every month. Just imagine that the number of people in the blogging world is many thousand times the number I just quoted in the earlier example.

This, for me is the real power of blogging, of internet, and of freedom of speech in general. Discussions are no longer confined to being held in hurried whispers with fears of being caught hanging like a spectre over one's head; opinions are no longer withheld for fear of not meeting with approval. People want to be heard, they want their thoughts to count or they just want to release their thoughts and feelings out of their systems - and many (yours truly being one of them) have, among other things turned to blogging to do just that.

The concept of a thought sphere - a ambiguous, non-real entity supposed to contain all the info in the minds of all the people on this earth - is now truly realized in the form of the blogosphere. It contains info, opinions, general crap - everything. But above all, I feel it tells me how all humans differ from each other, especially when two people see the same thing, yet write different interpretations of it in their blogs.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Promise of A New World

I swore to myself when I started this blog that I'd never have 'techie' posts here. It's my belief that unless you are a very good sci-fi author with oodles of imagination to supplement tons of ability with words, you can't make techie stuff appear good reads for everybody; and since I haven't proved myself to be either, hence the reason for my resolve.

But over the last few days, two things have caught my attention and excited me to such an extent that I've now broken my aforementioned golden rule, not once but twice in quick succession. The first of course, was the concept of $100 laptops; the second is the incredible concept of surface computing.

To know more about this, you can look over the papers from a couple of days ago, or you could wiki it, or just visit the homepage of Microsoft Surface. This is hardly a place for putting up all the details of the project since I do not know everything, nor am I an expert in this field. But it is the possible reach of this enterprise that excites me.

This is possibly the first genuine step to make computing a part of our daily life, and I mean computers as a integral part of everything we do. Okay, it is a big part even today; but computers are still ensconced within the traditional display, input and processing devices - at least to the general public. Sure there are microprocessors everywhere - as traditional microprocessors or microcontrollers, but they are not quite capable of multi-tasked all round computing, are they? (Do correct me if I am wrong in saying any of this) But Microsoft Surface is the first attempt at breaking this notion.

It's probably too early to say this, but I think we are heading for a Star Wars style world full of computers and devices having brilliant computing capability. We are heading towards an exciting, brave new world where our creations - machines led by computers - will enable us to reach greater heights of progress and technical advancement. It takes software and hardware development and inter-relation to a whole new level altogether. And these are the reasons why, this new concept excites me. Despite all the immediate inflated costs and stuff, this shows the way towards the next generation in computer evolution.

I wonder whether Alan M. Turing, when he invented the first computing machine, ever imagined this stage in computer evolution. If he did and had he been alive, wouldn't he be having a smile on his face on this day, looking at the direction his invention his original invention is taking and the limitless possibilities it is providing to mankind? And if he didn't, wouldn't he still be happy that his invention has reached such zeniths, with even more peaks to scale?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Modern Day Cynicism

A six-day break from blogging for no reason other than the lack of stuff to write - that's been the story of the past week for me at home. But on the flip side, while I haven't had much to express, I've had a lot to observe, a lot to mull upon and finally, something to write about.

To start with let's look at some of the major news stories from the past week:

  • Agitations in Rajasthan over the OBC reservation issues - pity that certain groups of people consider fighting for a right to circumvent the path everyone has to take as a righteous struggle; pity that even after 60 years of independence, the specter of reservations haunts us.
  • The FBI foiled a planned attack on the JFK airport in NY.
  • The progress of the monsoons hits a roadblock with the formation of a cyclone 800 km southwest of Mumbai.
  • There were fears of an outbreak of smallpox in Bangladesh and Myanmar, which eventually turned out to a false alarm with the WHO confirming it as an outbreak of measles.
  • NDTV expose purportedly showing the collusion between the prosecution and the defence in the sensational BMW hit-and-run case aired on TV.

Now, the print media did dwell on each of these issues in some length or the other although one could argue that they had to do so for fear of lacking the necessary content to fill up the few blanks within their pages. After all, you can't fill a whole newspaper with advertisements - not that TOI and some others would mind.

Let's look at the television media on the other hand. Each of these events appeared, yes, but with sensational claims, twists and turns along the way. And that brings me to the point of asking whether the media in the country looks for news in search of the truth or is sensationalism the major criterion for breaking news. Whatever it is, the phenomenon of television ratings and market share seems to have caught up with the media, causing an overkill of sensational, eye-grabbing headlines - some true, some blown-up beyond proportion.

I do wonder sometimes whether today's media - the self-style voice and saviour of the people - care about the people themselves whose cause they are fighting for. The general cynicism and lack of preparation that goes into the coverage of news stories is all so apparent to me. News channels have become an extension of tabloid tattle, whereby issues like celebrity hookups are given supreme priority. And when the issues that really matter do come to the fore, one can be rest assured it's due to the sensation potential of that issue. Add to that the bias regarding many many issues that are covered - and you realize that Indian media, amidst all the cynicism, is ill.

It is this cynicism that we have to rid our mindsets of. For I believe a reason for the widespread cynicism in the media is that the people themselves demand it. When you are in the business of selling news to people, you better give them what they want; and it seems this is what is happening in India at the moment.

However, that does not mean there are no good journalists out there. There are people who are doing a really good job out there. Without taking names, I'll be the first one to admit that there are people in the media who earnestly believe in their duty as the voice of the people and try to bring out real issues from beneath the cloak of sensationalism. And I for one hope that the number of this increasingly rare breed of journalists sees a considerable increase.