This too shall pass…

Not a simple subject, but he’d been reading up, and even writing about it. Though he hadn’t completely internalised it, he felt he was beginning to understand. But the actuality of ‘transience’ hit him when his computer crashed. Photos, notes, accumulated over 7 years. Gone! Data recovery attempts failed. He too was yet to recover.

until next time, 8 years of blogging

P.S. A good time to realise that at some point, this too shall pause :)

Weekly Top 5

This week’s stories include Twitter’s Local Trends, expansion and plans to acquire Tweetdeck, Living Social’s and Groupon’s moves in the Deals space, Foursquare Day statistics and Loopt’s Q’s, Google’s quarter results, GMail features, and some Apple news.

Social Collaboration eg.

My friend via Twitter, Prem, (twice over, because both his handles are friends :D ) got me thinking on ‘Social Collaboration’ ever since he wrote this post, attempting to define the term as used by its vendors. Despite a good discussion in the comments, a definition proved elusive. Though I began to agree with Prem’s assessment that ‘social’ was redundant, Gautam’s post on it did offer an interesting line of thought -  that ‘social collaboration’ was emergent. He illustrates it with an example too. This was vaguely similar to one one of the ways in which I had tried to define the phrase, before I gave up. Here are the attempts.

The first was by tying it to the idea of a ‘social business’ (not the wiki one, but the Dachis group version), where 2 or more businesses collaborate on an objective that may be larger/ unrelated to their individual objectives. Obviously, this is more utopian than any vendor’s idea, so I dropped it.

Which led me to the second attempt, where I thought  the tools of the (enterprise) social web would enable social interaction in various contexts and collaboration would be one of the products. (Probably like what Krish Ashok is building at TCS?) This would be around the premise that Gautam presented – even identifying the need would be the result of the social interactions and collaboration would follow.

While on this, I was reminded of Google Wave, where each participant could ‘drag’ people into a conversation. There were several instances when I, as an initiator of the conversation, did not have any control over the quantity or quality of the participants or even the morphing of the intent. I was also reminded of the last paragraph of this post I wrote in 2008, when Yammer came into the limelight – “..a bridge between Yammer and Twitter. One service that allows absolute transparent conversations within the organisations, and another that allows brands and organisations to be transparent with its end users.”A one way channel did open later. If any collaborator could ‘drag’ in another collaborator from a social web outside of the enterprise’ social web eg. a customer from Twitter, could that be social collaboration? On a related note, I also remember another post of mine when I came across Memolane and wrote about brand-streams connecting consumers and the enterprise. A couple of days back Memolane released an embeddable version which it hopes will be adopted by organisations.

Alternately/further, could it be like what happened right now – where neither Prem nor Gautam invited me to collaborate, but I did nevertheless, inserting myself into it thanks to having access to their thoughts, having a take (hopefully) on a thought Prem started and being able to connect it back to them. (forget Twitter, their blogs will have trackbacks) Even if they do ignore me and refuse to collaborate, my take would still exist, available to all who might be interested? That’s probably not what the sellers intended of ‘social collaboration’, but could that be what it evolves into?

I don’t know, and that’s why for now, I have parked this aside. :)

until next time, continue collaborating..

PS: Bonus Read – How Cisco integrates social media into the organisation

PPS: Back in a fortnight :)

Books and Labels

Not sure if a lot of people do this, but sometimes I ‘drag’ my reading. Not because the book is boring, but just because I want it to go on for some more time. :)

The last recipient of this treatment was Pico Iyer’s “The Lady and the Monk”, which is part travelogue, part human journey, part Zen primer, part romance and possibly several other things too. I think this book will come up many times in this blog in future too, because it gave me multiple feed (foods didn’t sound right) for thought.

Among other things, it has left me with a great interest for the Zen school of Buddhism. I have started looking for more information on that. Meanwhile, in the book was this guy who had a seemingly simplistic approach to ‘labeling’ things – ‘necessary’, ‘useful’ and ‘useless’. When I think about the things I own/ am passionate about/ spend a lot of time on, and try to categorise it on those labels, it gives tremendous perspective, and I wonder if applying these labels regularly and mindfully would make me more, or less human. Try it out :)

until next time, non zens?

898

A neon with that number has been blinking at us for a while now, whenever we use the 80 ft Road in Koramangala, and since it also contained words like ‘steak’, ‘grill’, it didn’t require a lot of convincing for us to drop in. This is right next to Chandni Chowk (can someone explain to me the mad rush there every weekend?!) and on the top floor of the same building as 13 Spices. (map) Parking is not much of a problem if you’re there before 8.

Rooftop restaurants most usually works for me, and 898 was no different. Some nice tiled roofing and screens to close the sides means it’ll be okay even if it rains. For now, the screen that hogged all the attention was an LCD one. They have an interesting decor, confirming that kitsch is back. Different kinds of chairs, even those indoor standalone swings, and our table was a chest at some pint of time. A fish shaped wooden board, large mirrors, interesting lighting, you get the idea…

There was a good breeze too, as we sat looking at the menu. Mostly steaks, with some mocktails, and a couple of Thai soups thrown in. (click for a larger images)

We started with a Cream of Coconut Milk – Chicken. No by-twos were told, isn’t that against Bangalore culture? A watered down version of the Tom Kha, and a bit too diluted for my liking, but quite flavourful, and they were genrous with the chicken. We then got ourselves a Beef Satay. Quite well done, and the peanut sauce that accompanied it was better than usual.

For the main course, we ordered a Chicken Lasagna (ugly photo) and a Chicken Garlic Pepper Steak. I haven’t seen a lasagna served like that, but in terms of taste it was quite decent. D said the steak had a strong chicken smell, but again, it delivered in terms of taste. Neither were phenomenal, just about decent. We also ordered a Chocolate Martini (I’m still wondering why it was called that). It reminded me a lot of the old Joy/Dasprakash ice creams.

The bill came to over Rs.950. The ambiance was quite decent, though there was something missing about the food. Nothing bad enough not to drop in at all, but… The service is a bit slow, but it’s quite a relaxing place, so you probably won’t mind.They missed an item in the billing, probably teething troubles, though it has been over 2 months.

898, No.898/4, Opp IBP Petrol Bunk, 80ft Road, Koramangala 6th Block, Ph: 9844005050

Weekly Top 5

This week’s stories include LinkedIn’s Android app and its developer platform, Bing’s increasing market share and Bing Business Portal, Facebook’s ownership and Open Commute Project, a few apps on the iPad, Larry Page’s reorganisation in Google, acquisitions by Google and YouTube Live.

Plead Blue

<context> I missed the Twitter debate, but it was still interesting to see the two perspectives shared by Karthik and L.Bhat on Nike’s ‘Bleed Blue’ campaign. Bhat’s initial post was a good summing up of the campaign, and what made it work. Karthik’s contention was that Nike did not deserve credit primarily because it was “tightly associated with the team’s performance” – an external occurrence. There were other reasons too, but I gathered that this was the crux of it. The contrasting example was Pepsi’s Hoo Haa – Blue Billion effort during the 2006 Champions Trophy. In a second post, Bhat also acknowledged a correlation (between the campaign’s and India’s success) and rightly (IMO) stated that the campaign’s intent centred around ‘garnering support for Team India….’ and ‘portraying a positive, confident attitude about Team India…’ Also, as he points out, it stayed away from any ‘player superhero’ association or a ‘we will win the cup’ stance. </context>

This debate was also interesting from the perspective of what I wrote last week – brand identity and real time. But before we get there, my 2 cents on the debate. I would also credit Nike for the same reasons Bhat stated – strategy, product integration and ease of participation (execution). That is what separates it from say a ‘Pallu scoop’, which is fun and pure recall, or a ‘Get Idea’, which still hasn’t given me an idea of how it’s keeping cricket clean.  [yes, they aren't apples, but they were the other hugely visible campaigns]

Big ticket result-based events (including movies, which Karthik has mentioned) is a risk-reward game because there really isn’t any data that allows you to place sure-shot bets. But the way I see it, you can place a successful bet, and still not gain enough mileage (bad erm, ideas, bad execution etc). Nike got it right, and there was some hard work involved.

Come to think of it, I wonder if there’s any other approach Nike could’ve taken, especially since they were the official apparel sponsors. Look at the competition – Adidas had a Tendulkar ad and Reebok had nothing. It was a ‘once in 4 years’ opportunity and they seized it. India winning the cup was a key factor in the campaign’s success, but not the only one. Also, I don’t know if they had a back up plan – a “we’ll be back in 2015″, “thank you for giving it your best shot”, “bled to death”. Ok, not the last one, but you get the idea. Maybe they did and would’ve come out smelling like roses anyway. In any case, the efficacy of the campaign is probably best decided after it ends. In this case, it made Nike the buzz brand with other heavyweights in the fray, including the mighty Zoozoos. (Loved them though)

Meanwhile, by design or not, Nike’s approach was also quite a “Just Do it” one. (hindsight/retrofit) From the last post’s perspective, I wonder how much/whether that identity played a part in the design and success of the campaign. But on big events, celebrity endorsements etc, going forward, real time management of campaigns will increasingly become a requirement, thanks to the instant feedback tools that exist. Perhaps brands should formulate ‘what if scenarios’ and corresponding approaches when they plan large scale campaigns, especially when it’s linked to events that don’t offer much support in the form of data. The other way is to scale after the relevant data comes in, but that would involve quite an execution effort.

until next time, blue positive :)

PS: Nike, next time, stadium checkins and a Bleed Blue 4sq badge too please :)

Playing God

So, a few days back I had this rather scary thought. What if ‘God’ or ‘collective consciousness’, was a variable?  Depending on the notions and mores of living beings, it would change, continuously. That would probably explain how everything went downhill from whatever is believed to have existed as utopia or paradise, and how it works in cycles. Like a game that adapts to you and your moves.

Meanwhile, I came across a link that I am yet to fully explore. Maybe you can, and write about your experience in the comments/ your blog. It is titled ‘Ten games that make you think about life‘, and the synopses do make it seem promising. Coincidentally, the first one in the list is ‘Immortall’!

And while I was writing this, and scanning Google Reader, I came across this link, which talked about a game where Augmented Reality, a new technology that offers a “direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, such as sound or graphics”, was mashed up with “Conway’s game of life“. Though I’m familiar with AR, I’m still reading up on Conway’s Game of Life and it’s fascinating!!

From the wiki entry “The game can also serve as a didactic analogy, used to convey the somewhat counter-intuitive notion that ‘design’ and ‘organization’ can spontaneously emerge in the absence of a designer. For example, philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett has used the analogue of Conway’s Life ‘universe’ extensively to illustrate the possible evolution of complex philosophical constructs, such as consciousness and free will, from the relatively simple set of deterministic physical laws governing our own universe.” Essentially, the game of life could’ve been played out without the designer – God.

Meanwhile, the new game lets users create their own artificial life and then, through augmented reality, see it ‘live out’ in the real world. We have become creators. Does it go from here to a point where in the far away future, a new strange species looks back and wonders who created them, and gets no answer? Is that how the game is played out?

until next time, a level playing field?