Woodstok

Yes, you see something missing, but no, I haven’t gotten the spelling wrong. Nor is this some wordplay stunt on any famous golfer you might have heard of recently.

I assume that since the owners would have found it difficult to replicate the original, naming their ‘resto-cafe’ to sound like the iconic event would be their way of paying a tribute. Works for me, and if good ol’ rock’n'roll ain’t good enough for you, the fact that they have a soup laced with chocolate should get your immediate attention and affection. But we’ll come to that it in a while.

Woosdstok serves continental food, pastries too, and is located on the road that connects the Koramangala-Indiranagar 100 ft road to CMH Road/12th Main etc. When coming from Koramangala, take a left immediately after the flyover, and you’ll find it on your right after about a 100m. You can find a map right here. Parking isn’t too difficult for 2 wheelers, and I’m sure those at a higher tier can find a way.

We didn’t reserve in advance since we planned to reach early, but we saw that the place was beginning to get crowded by the time we left, so you might want to keep that in mind. Woodstok has seating on two floors and seemed like a house converted into its current function. So instead of coldly functional/symmetric/ordered seating, there are balconies, diner style options, some modas and so on, all lending character to the place, while retaining the functional element. Ok, enough of design, we obviously had other designs for the visit. We chose to sit on the balcony, overlooking a not-so-crowded road, and it added a lot to the the experience.

The menu can be found online, so bonus points for that!! I’m guessing the kids menu would be popular too. We started with a ‘Cream of chicken with a twist’. The twist is in the form of a chocolate sauce, just a wee bit, but hey, just for once, I’ll say its the thought that counts. The soup was very creamy, and with a little pepper, it worked out very well indeed. Though it did take a little longer than usual to get to us, they kept us occupied with a garlic bread basket. (though I found it odd that they chose to give 3 slices when there were 2 of us – wouldn’t any even number have made more sense? )

For the main course, we asked for a London House Woodstok Grill (its a sizzler) and a Chicken Marsala. The Grill was all that its descriptor promised it to be, with grilled chicken, a mini steak, cocktail chicken sausages, bacon and ham with a pepper sauce. Yes, there were sauteed vegetables too, but they only got the attention they deserved. The mashed potatoes were good though. The steak was well done and unlike the Mallu joke, I didn’t have to kill it before I ate it. Grilled chicken, bacon, ham, bliss, enough said. The Marsala, we were told when we ordered, would be slightly sweet, but it actually had a strong oregano flavour instead. Along with the mushrooms, mashed potatoes and tender chicken, this has a unique taste worth checking out.

The flip side is that we were too stuffed for dessert, in spite of the many tempting options. ‘Woodstok Wonder’, we’re destined to meet someday, i promise ya. Meanwhile, they also gave us a complimentary lime sorbet (completely frozen) that served as some consolation for me.

All of the above came to just over Rs.1050, including a 10% service tax which is well deserved. There is a nice personal touch to their feedback mechanism. The sheet not only asks for feedback on the specific items you have consumed, but also has the name of the ‘crew’ who served you. Neat, and Bijoy, you did a great job, along with the wonderful lady who showed us to our seat and came back to check if everything was fine. This one goes right into my favourite list, food, ambiance and service, and is definitely worth checking out if you have a relaxed evening in mind.

Woodstok, Near Firepro, #3777, Domlur Service Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, Ph: 080-42115042/+91 9686191998

Menu and Photos at Zomato

Social Scalability

When I see brands and organisations take a piecemeal approach towards social media – either the token presence or the department focus-based approach, I sense that the need for a cultural shift is ignored by many. Cultural shifts are a difficult proposition (good post by David Armano) and need a buy in from all parts of the organisation before even starting out. I have really begun to wonder if the scale of global corporations have made this impossible, and whether splitting up the usage of social platforms as per functional areas is this is their way of keeping the scale under control.

The scalability of social media has always been a topic of interest to me. The link that I had ended last week’ s post with mentions that ‘socialising cannot scale’, although that is in the context of individuals. But I read this line – “Once a group reaches a certain size, each participant starts to feel anonymous again, and the person they’re following — who once seemed proximal, like a friend — now seems larger than life and remote…..It becomes old-fashioned broadcasting.” and wondered if that would apply to brands too.

I’d discussed this topic here earlier – whether smaller organisations are better suited to social media and more recently, the possibility of a Dunbar’s number for brands. Last week’s post  – on the preferential approach by brands towards customers with more social influence also creates a context. A smaller scale and lesser number of consumers would mean all the conversations could be treated the same, and the business/brand could remain true to its soul. (good post by Chris Brogan) Again, is it possible for a large organisation to go back to the basics outlined in the post and if necessary re-define itself? What about all the investments made and the processes sculpted over a period of time? Simplistically put, will a Starbucks, for example, ever consider doing this counter intuitive yet brilliant ‘Disloyalty Card‘? (for a moment, forget relative positions in the marketplace)

So I still believe that unless large organisations go through fundamental cultural shifts, small brands have a better chance of using social platforms to their full potential. Is it possible that the spread and dominance of social interactions will force businesses to scale down? Unlikely, even I have to admit, and its more likely that small and big businesses will co-exist in social platforms as they have so far in the real world. Their treatment of consumers will differ because large brands most often appeal to a mass audience. They have to tread many middle paths and rely on solutions that are a compromise. Smaller brands can perhaps be truer to their soul and will attract audiences simply because of the customised tone and attitude. (a great product is taken as hygiene here) So how will consumers react to the different way they’re treated by these brands of different scale?  Will they have expectations according to categories too – product vs service, considered purchase vs commodity? I doubt that. So, shouldn’t brands develop their social media plans only after understanding the specific expectations of the crowd from their category, rather than generic category case studies?

until next time, weighing scales :)

Ok, its alright with me…..

As I walked towards the parking space to get the vehicle, the lion and the clown beckoned to me. While their masks sported plastic smiles, i could sense the beseeching look their eyes would have. It was almost the end of the day, and when I peeped inside as I walked past, I could find rows and rows of empty counters and mannequins and sales people with equally blank expressions. It wasn’t the first time I had seen this  shop and wondered how they managed to stay afloat. I see it whenever traffic gets held up in the junction. At the heart of the central business district, I am sure it must have seen better times, maybe a time before the malls and the big brands… what plans they must’ve made about sales and revenues and good times…wonder if it really matters now…

As i rode home, I got stuck in one of those endless traffic snarls that is as characteristic of this city now as a by-two coffee in darshinis. As the honks became louder and tempers got frayed, I thought the ordeal would never end. But  suddenly, the traffic began to move slowly. As I turned a corner, literally and figuratively, I could see a little distance way, a civilian directing traffic. I would’ve thanked him, but by the time I got there, the traffic was moving briskly, and he had crossed the road and disappeared into a lane. I’m sure he wasn’t getting paid, and he didn’t have any plans other than to undo a few knots…

I make plans… and you make plans.. some plans are better than others… sometimes I have to do what I have to do.. and sometimes, like the Joker, I’m a dog chasing cars, I wouldn’t know what to do if i caught one… but yet, more often than not, Krishna’s words in the Bhagvad Gita make sense. But one is attached – for fame, money, love, combinations of the above and a myriad other reasons.. it is never easy to be detached. I feel sorry for the shop even if they were greedy, and I am envious of the man who walked away after he did what he had to do..

Plans.. there were things I thought I couldn’t do without, a few years back, a lifestyle which I didn’t want to alter,  I thought a way of living could be kept constant across time, but things change, for a few days I may have mourned, and then I moved on.. they make good nostalgia frames – time,  places, things, people.. they all have a role to play..if you told me then that I would be living without them at a later date, I’d have smiled at you, a knowing smile acknowledging your silliness. But yet, here I am, with a new set that I don’t think I can live without…

Ok it’s alright with me some things are just meant to be
it never comes easily and when it does i’m already gone
i’m practically never still more likely to move until i end up alone at will
my life continues inching along

[Eric Hutchinson - Ok it's alright with me]

So i move along, and I reach a place and I wonder how it all started… And I realise that even the attachment I claim is such a flimsy piece of string, it unravels for a while, and then at some point, the memory gets cut off, and then perhaps I make up the rest in the image of how it should have started…

I promise you, I have not changed the beginning of this post, this was an experiment of a thought stream, of giving up control, of not being a hostage to plans, but I  have to wonder, if I knew this was the way it would end, would I have started differently?

until next time, post….life

Note: I’d written this post a while back, and it was almost forgotten in ‘drafts’. Chanced upon it, and realised it made sense to publish it on the day before I leave this workplace. 8 years after i started working, I’m finally going to work… for me :)

Tunday Kababi

The reviews that I had read in the last couple of weeks had ensured that before this Sunday I’d have a go at Tunday. :) It helped that the place is in Koramangala, on the same road as Ping, Empire, Paramount etc, in the same building as Lazeez. (map) Parking is not very easy for four wheelers, but you should just about manage. Tunday is spread across two floors, and at about 9.30 pm on Saturday was quite crowded. Thankfully, we found a place on the first floor.

Tunday is a famous import from Lucknow, and apparently is the first franchise outside of the place, though it seems the cooks and spices have been brought down. According to Amit Akali’s review in Bangalore Mirror (disclosure: yep, I work in the Times Group :) ), legend has it that the mutton kabab was created specially for a Lucknowi nobleman who had lost his teeth but not his appetite for kababs. Also Tunday gets its name from tunda,a slang for a one armed man. You can read more here. So, keep that in mind and when you’re here, and so pehle aap ek plate Mutton Tunday kabab order karo please. :)

We did, and though we had no train to catch, it was brought in a few minutes. A plate has 4 pieces and from what we ate, I’m convinced that the toothless nobleman would’ve had no trouble at all with the kabab. The phrase ‘melt in the mouth’ is a cliche for kababs, but I’m guessing this one  is a good candidate to have started it. Its awesome and I insist you try it. (a good time to mention that if you’re a veggie,you’ll perhaps feel as much a sense of belonging here as Sarah Palin in a geography quiz) Meanwhile, the menu is as simple as it can get, as you can see here

tunday

(click for a larger image)

After the splendid kabab, we moved on to a Shahi Murg Masala and a couple of Tunday’s parathas. The paratha is perhaps the most unique one I’ve had. It is crispy yet soft. Do give it a try. The Shahi Murg Masala was another good choice, and though the portion was not really that large (had only one chicken piece, though a large one at that) it was delicious. Spicy too, and there was some flavour that I couldn’t quite place, though it did remind me of saffron. (but it wasn’t saffron)

The next round consisted of a mutton biriyani and a chicken korma. The mutton biriyani was fantastic, and unlike the ones we regularly have, it was not very oily. Of the whole lot, the korma was perhaps the only one that wasn’t really stellar. But it was in the company of legends, so one can’t really blame it. By the time we finished all this, we were stuffed, and so the Awadhi kheer had to be left for another day.

Now, this is by no stretch of imagination, a fine dining place. No A/c, the tables are just about clean, the chairs aren’t so lucky, and they won’t bring the handwash apparatus to your table. :) The service is chaotic, we even contemplated joining our table with the adjacent couple, since there were at least a couple of mixed up orders. But you really wouldn’t pay attention because of the speed at which the food arrives and of course, the food itself. Besides the guys are really pleasant in spite of the furious pace, and the earnestness wins you over. So, think of it as though you’re at home, roll up your sleeves, and get to work on the part that matters – the food. :)

All of the above cost us just less than Rs.450, that was after reminding them that they hadn’t billed one item. :) The portions are not large, but the good part, therefore, is that you can try different dishes. :) You should definitely try the place out.

Tunday Kababi, KHB Colony, 5th Block, Koramangala Ph: 9448083030

Menu at Zomato

Brands and consumer social influence

Sometime back, I had read a post on Inquisitr very interestingly titled “Let’s bring some reality to this social media game“. Although my expectation of reality was slightly different from what the post delivered, I still found it a good read because it dealt with an issue that I have thought about several times. We even discussed it in the comments section of a post that (among other things) brought up the Kiruba-Cleartrip incident from last year.  In my personal blog, I’d written about the ‘clique friendly web‘ in a tangential context – of bloggers with fan clubs perhaps losing objectivity and not tolerating a difference of opinion. The question, meanwhile, is really quite simple – should companies on social media sites give differential treatment to customers basis their ‘social influence’.

A few weeks back, I saw a post on Jeremiah’s blog which dealt with the same subject. His point – “Just as companies factor in value of a customers celebrity status, buying power or customer loyalty –companies must factor in social influence or put themselves at risk.” He has even created a matrix that shows 4 phases of  incorporating social influence and the pros and cons of each phase. He has factored in both absolute and relative influence (influence in context of a brand/company’s domain)

Let me try a context for this. Very simplistically put, I’ve always seen the consumer generated media as part of a media long tail. The traditional media is in the head, aggregators including Google, FB, Twitter are also there now, followed by forums/discussion boards, influential blogs and then the individual accounts. So consider this perspective. Brands have always given preferential treatment to MSM simply because they reach a mass. And let’s just say not just in terms of using them for communication, but the overall experience for their representatives. With the rise of the web and a new set of aggregators gaining prominence, brands have tried to evolve processes for the system – from SEO/M to blogger outreach to presence on Social Media. Yes, processes do help, but..

With search engines including real time updates in their results – Google even outlines how its Twitter algorithm works, brands now not only have to listen, but also work out the way to handle all the messages being thrown at them, because they’d be deemed unresponsive otherwise. The phrase “there’s no dipping your toe in social media” comes to mind. So, should there be differential treatment?

At this point, I know most companies would do exactly that, but I wonder if they’d then be just trading one set of media for another. I’ve seen many cases where a tweet from a relatively unknown (in my circles) person gets RTed and becomes a raging fire. It is perhaps easier to assign a process basis categories of social influence, but I think, unlike the structured media that has been dominant before, this is a web – of human connections, which is  more difficult to fathom, and have ways of inorganic spread that are no way close to measurement, yet. If indeed, there is a process to be set up, perhaps it should be more internal than external – involving different functional groups capable of thinking and reacting to specific domains and contexts. With services like Twitter planning on multiple identities within the same handle, perhaps the old fundamental social media approach of people to people might help debunk what I am also inclined to believe – “socializing cannot scale

until next time, weighing scales :)

PS: If I consider posts on both blogs, this one happens to be #1000 :)

Waking Life?

(not really to do with that excellent film)

All good things have a season finale, and when it happens to be the last season, the event becomes all the more poignant. Boston Legal has been my favourite show for a while now, and I am a huge fan of Alan Shore‘s sense of fairness. And while the description is tossed around a lot, there really can only be one Denny Crane. True, the last season was lesser than a shadow of the earlier ones, however it still didn’t take away much from the series. But yes, case closed.

Which brings me to what I shall now be doing on weekdays 10 PM.Yes, I could read more or browse more, but when one has been following a show for quite a while, one does feel a sense of emptiness. It led me to think about how a life is spent nowadays. Sometime back I had wondered whether everyone’s life would be ‘interesting’ if it were to be fitted into a 2.5- 3 hour movie. Interesting relative to the daily routine that a typical life follows. Yes, the ‘different’ vacations included. And yes yes, there are those who lead an interesting life 24×365, ‘it depends’ blah blah, let’s forget all that, let’s say I’m talking about mine. Subjective, and at least a few others I know of.

So, typically, there’s a routine, work, dinner, television/internet, weekends, shopping, cinema etc… How many of these are conscious choices and how many happen by default? Not the conscious choice of choosing say ‘Lost’ over ‘Ugly Betty’, but at least a couple of levels above that to say watching television vs going for a walk. Does the former happen by default,unless of course a health scare suddenly makes you stop, think, and take a re-look at perspectives, and therefore go for a walk?

So far, I will have to admit that mine happens by default. And what typically happens is that when a template is broken, like in this case, there is a sense of ‘boredom’ till a replacement is found. On twitter, these days, I find a lot of versions of the “I’m bored” tweet in my stream. It made me wonder about how we really spend our time, about multitasking. Heh.  About incomplete experiences. As real time and technology advances are made at dizzying spaces, I think the templates are being formed faster and the dependence on them becoming stronger. Even at this stage, the differences between the tail and the dog are blurring. What really matters to me – the experience, the sharing of the experience, filling up waking hours, racing with time to complete x tasks in y time? What is the driver? Damn, its not even a who.

So I stepped back and asked why it was so? Is it because I never thought about it that way? Is it because it is easier to make a template and follow? Oh yes, switching on the telly, or playing around on FB is definitely is easier than figuring out what one wants, how one wants to spend one’s time, and other such difficult questions. These require an effort,  not just in thought but in deed (eg.trying out an interest like the ‘learning how to play the guitar’ route) and answers to tougher questions in the background. Or then again, is it because of a fascination, a way of living vicariously through the real and fictional characters – on the net and television? Or to ensure that there is no time left for such thoughts, because I know they’re difficult ones? I think a bit of each, and anything else you’d like to add?

And so, is it possible to make conscious choices every moment? Would that be the best way to fully live a life? I wonder what it would do to ‘expectations’ though – set me free or get amplified, for isn’t each expectation derived from a previous direct or indirect experience? But that can be dealt with later, for now, the idea, to use Mo’s words is to (edited) a wee bit “devour every little bit of whatever is on your platter”, and yes, I need to consciously decide what’s on the platter.

until next time, crouching potato :)

64

is not just a number. And though I’m not aware of any deep significance that say, a 42 is privileged to have, it happens to be the name of a ‘bistro bar’ in Koramangala. 64 is located diagonally opposite Jukebox. (map) Let me warn you that traffic in this area is an absolute pain, so you might be better off leaving your vehicle at the Bosch parking space (take the left turn opposite Star on Hosur Road) which is relatively free during weekends, and walking up the rest of the way.

64 has a mix of seating options spread across the first and second floor of what appears to be a house converted into its current usage. But this actually works in its favor. The cuisine is predominantly continental with just some lip service paid to a couple of other cuisines. You can have a look at the menu here. (and thank Roopashree)

The menu offers quite a few options for vegetarians also, and within non veg, you can choose from chicken, fish, lamb and prawns. Since we couldn’t find a thick soup in the menu, we’d almost decided on a starter, but a casual enquiry resulted in us ordering a cream based chicken and mushroom soup, which isn’t on the menu. The chicken was added on our request, that was nice of them. :) The soup turned out to be slightly less thicker than we’d have liked, but the creamy, peppery flavour was good enough for us to be largely satisfied.

For the main course, we chose to ignore the pasta options. D ordered a ‘Chicken Piccata’ and I asked for a ‘Stuffed Chicken Pockets’. We both chose rice (over bread), and that didn’t disappoint. The sauces used in both dishes were excellent, though the chicken could’ve been a little more tender. The Chicken Piccata has a mushroom-pepper sauce, which went very well with the rice. The chicken pockets were indeed stuffed, but possibly could’ve been a little less bland. Thankfully, the tangy sauce covered up for it. The portions will not be sufficient if you’re really hungry and I’d recommend a starter if you’re planning to make a full meal of it in 64. Since we had other plans for desserts (that Crepe Connection refuses to let go of its stranglehold) we skipped that bit here.

64 is closed on Mondays. It offers a Sunday special breakfast and lunch menu, which sounded (and I’ve heard good things about it too) quite sumptuous. There is also a ‘corporate lunch’ on weekdays, in which you can make your own salad, pasta and also includes a soup and dessert too.

While the food is quite good, what really works for this place is the ambiance. While it did help that we landed up early (7.30 PM), there is something definitely relaxing about the place. It is really unhurried as its brochure suggests. No live acts on the day we visited, but with ‘The Killers’ and ‘Coldplay’, I couldn’t really complain. :) Even though it is in a part of Koramangala where the traffic can be absolutely maddening (even to watch) the place manages to let you wath the world rush by, in peace, with some excellent service and a really soothing design and ambiance. Make sure you drop in. (if you need just desserts, there’s always Corner House right around the corner ;) )

64, 1st Main, 7th Block, Koramangala Ph: 9241734704

Menu and Photos at Zomato

Where are you @ ?

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to write about a shiny new toy here, but I believe we now have a service that can break the stranglehold of the holy trinity of Facebook, Google, Twitter – on this blog. :) Say hi to Foursquare. Towards the second half of last year is when it was hailed by many, including Mashable, Scoble as the ‘next Twitter’/ bigger than Twitter. No, you don’t need to contradict that, that’s been done too.

Though I created an account a while back, I started using it actively last week.  So what do I do on Foursquare? Well, I add places, check-in to places that have already been added by others, leave tips for people (no, not the waiters) and get points for doing all this. The places getting added are most usually F&B establishments, though that’s really up to you, because I’ve seen someone adding their own home too. Oh well. If you happen to check in many times, you get to be mayor of the place, until someone knocks you off. The guy who’s added his home, he happens to be mayor of his own home. :) So, yes, it also works as a game, and you can import your friends from other networks. Status updating on Twitter and Facebook are also possible. Considering that I have more than 80 restaurant reviews on my other blog, I think Foursquare and I will get along just fine. :)

When I first checked in, I was reminded of Twitter back in 2007. There will obviously be more features built in, it will evolve, just like Twitter has. Location based marketing is only beginning. But unlike Twitter’s cycle, things are faster now. Foursquare already has brand engagement and perhaps even revenue plans. I’d written earlier on Pepsi using Foursquare to fund Camp Interactive. Adage recently had a very good article on potential Foursquare revenue models, with separate working models for small local businesses, brands with retail chains and large multinational brands like Pepsi. Businesses are already testing out coupons based on preferences, for customers in the locality. Many places have Mayor specials. No, Barista, MG Road, Bangalore, obviously doesn’t have one.

In addition to the obvious models, Foursquare has also signed deals with HBO (for a new series called How to make it in America) , Warner (for the new movie Valentine’s Day) , the History channel etc, complete with tips and badges. The other interesting tie-up is with Zagat, a food and restaurant review site, part of which is a  weekly ‘Meet the Mayor’ guide. This is more experimenting than what poor Twitter had in its first couple of years, I’d say.

Foursquare already has a lot of competition – from Google Latitude Buzz to Loopt, MyTown, Gowalla etc. Loopt recently launched the LooptCard, which lets mobile consumers avail of offers, coupons and discounts by checking-in to spots. Gowalla recently opened up their API, and a report earlier stated that MyTown had surged past both Foursquare and Gowalla.  Foursquare’s traffic has tripled in the last 2 months, but there’s more competition too – Yelp recently started mobile check ins, which is not really great news for players like Foursquare because of Yelp’s existing audience. Twitter has made its move on Local, starting with trends, and will surely expand in that domain. Google Buzz connects to Google Maps Place Pages and being a part of GMail, already has a huge user base!! (Read more about the implications here, here and here) And then of course, is the new 800 pound gorilla in everything social – Facebook. With more than 1.5 million local business listings, they are bound to make a play in local soon. In India, I wonder if one of my favourite services, Burrp, will make a game out of it.

Its amazing how the more things change, the more they remain the same. We’re now back to ‘Location, Location, Location’, but with the new layers of social, and behaviour added. :)

until next time, keep reading, maybe I’ll be handing out special Mayor invites soon :p

Flipkart affiliate program

Just found out, on Twitter, about Flipkart’s affiliate program. Since this blog has over 30 book reviews and is bound to have many more, I thought it makes sense for me to add the bit of code to the review posts. Okay, you don’t need to flip, it isn’t as though I’m going to bully you into buying a book, since I know that in case you don’t like it, you’ll throw the book at me. :p

Meanwhile, it helps that I’m a satisfied customer of Flipkart and can, within reasonable limits, recommend their service.

It’s right at the end of each book review, so in case you’re planning to buy the book, it would be great if  you can do so from here. I’ll get a tiny share, and you’ll help feed a hungry blogger.

Food for thought, of course. Ok, chocolate too occasionally ;)

The Immortal’s reality

‘1984’ is a subject that has appeared in many conversations, no, not Indira Gandhi’s assassination, George Orwell’s book. And every time it did, I have smiled politely and pleaded ignorance except for ‘Big Brother’, nothing to do with Shilpa Shetty’s adventures or Sunny Deol’s movie, in spite of my Bollywood fixation. I read the book a while back, and was absolutely fascinated by the dystopian world Orwell has created.

Though I found many facets of the book interesting, there were two that were more equal than the others. :) One was the idea of a few people controlling the minds and actions through unrelenting propaganda (among other things) and the sentence ‘He who controls the past controls the future, he controls the present controls the past’. History being written by winners, and it being what’s recorded (either in books or other data storage devices), or people’s minds. The second interesting thing is to do with the latter, of how reality is such a deceptive thing, and is of our own making. If there are two of us, and both of us agree that one is flying, then that is reality for us. Yes, you might laugh at the simplistic approach, but in the context of the book, absolutely possible.

The human mind, its storage capabilities, and its evolution is a subject that keeps popping up regularly in this blog. Recently, the concept of singularity has interested me a lot, and I’ve been reading up material available on the net. While I’ve been interested in science fiction for quite a long time (from watching Star Trek and Sigma on DD, okay well, that’s a start to Doctor Who and the Foundation series in school and college, with minor setbacks like not being able to like Clarke, and recently, not able to enjoy Doctor Who on the BBC) and I saw singularity as a natural progression of that basic interest. Except, as I read more, I realise the lines between fiction and reality are beginning to get blurred.

I had an interesting conversation recently with a friend S which was a sort of mash up of both these subjects. We were discussing the effects of these advances on society. I brought up the argument from 1984 that whatever happened the three tier classification of society (high, middle and low classes) would be retained in some form or the other. S was of the opinion that the have- have not divide would widen, he even brought up the concept of human farms, harvested for body parts. (a human controlled version of the Matrix). The 1984 premise of thought control would be perfect for that.

And then, after teleportation, time travel, whether teleportation would be significant if we are able to replicate all sensations before that (as of now, we can see and hear across distances, smell, taste, touch remain) and similar interesting stuff came the subject of immortality. I said , one of the things that sadden me when I’m reading science fiction is that I’ll not be around to witness science fiction becoming reality. But I also  wondered whether, even if the body were capable of lasting for an infinite amount of time, would the mind be ready for it. All of our life, we base on finite time – things to be done, objectives to be achieved, what if we had all the time in the world, how would we adjust? S pointed out that these things happen gradually, and by the time we become immortal, we would have already grown used to really long life spans. Like many things now, we would take it for granted, and would not appreciate the significance. We were only having coffee but discussed how there might still be loss of (memory of) experiences so far, and how there would perhaps be preloaded SIM cards one could install, and how the immortal’s “will” would have instructions of the “I don’t want a Windows OS for my body, Chrome is where my heart is” variety. Ok, cheesy, but can you imagine the possibilities?

My biggest concern was the revenue model. If i lived forever, how would I afford it? What would be the economics of such an existence? Writer this century, sportsman the next, will natural ability be of any value or significance? And the final question, will we able to control time enough to have alternate realities? S says never, but i get back to the 1984 premise of reality, of controlling sources of information to ensure that the past is consistent with the present, and I wonder what humanity will end up doing.

until next time, morality and mortality…