Think About It

Bitter/sweet

My “nostalgia analysis” post had an excellent comment – “I have noticed that nostalgia happens for certain things when you are satisfied with how things turned out. And then there is bitterness…” I am not really convinced by the first sentence, and think it’s a little more nuanced. Broadly yes, when everything turns out well, nostalgia is ‘easy’. But as I mentioned in the post, I think the mind also reconstructs and reconciles what it can. In a way, taking memories into dreams territory. A vision of near-perfectness. Probably a device used by evolution to help the organism cope, survive and thrive. Ok, that sounded cold. Moving on. It is the second sentence that really caught my attention.

..And then there is bitterness..” Bitterness. I can remember many brushes with that phenomenon. It has made me miss several years with people, though thankfully, sanity prevailed in most cases. I reached out, and time healed. It has happened in the recent past as well. The only difference these days is that I am not blind to it, and have tried to understand it, so I can try to minimise the damage it causes. But maybe I was missing something. More

Global Mood Swings!

Recently, at a meet-up of Twitter folks, a couple of people asked me whether I had retired from Twitter. They had a point. Sure, I still shared links, but not only were they few in number, I also mostly stayed away from conversation. My reasons were that I had seen people and their agenda on Twitter change  (from the first time I had encountered them on the platform) – the vanity numbers affecting the ego, the loss of humility, the perceived slights and the overall nature of conversations that are more to convince and score points, than to understand and gain perspectives. From discuss to diss and cuss, as bad wordplay would go. :)

Yes, there are some great folks around with whom I have conversations, funnily enough more over DM, phone, other networks and offline meetings! One could also prune the feed to maximise this, but one could also read a book!

I had alluded to this in a previous post – Binary Code – the increasing disappearance of nuance in our consumption. Obviously, this is also happening in creation. In less than a couple of decades, we have moved from being in bubbles formed from having only a few information sources to ones made from having too many. We aren’t used to having a microphone in the hand, and it’s showing. Making things binary in consumption and reasoning is a way of coping with unbridled creation. It’s also not being helped by search engine and social algorithms accentuating and reinforcing pre existing notions and showing us the kind of things we’d like. Sanitised for our unique taste buds. More

The Kabali Experience

Kabali had to be watched in the movie hall, I had decided as soon as I saw the first trailer. The hype that followed all but ensured that polarisation would happen, but I honestly didn’t care what the reviews said. Rajini’s “Kabali daa” in the trailer, to me, felt like a guarantee.

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It isn’t a typical Rajini film, most people seem to agree on that. For instance, here I was, ready to jump up, whoop in joy, and throw a coin during the entry scene, and in an underwhelming introductory shot, he appears, the embodiment of calm in what’s touted as a gangster movie! And yet, in a few seconds, the movie started delivering on what I’d come for – the spellbinding swag that only Rajinikanth can pull off on screen! (“Koodave poranthathu, ennikkum pogadhu” 😀 #youremember) There are enough of those scenes in the movie to have kept the fan in me very contented. More

Binary Code

Facebook is in the process of updating its Newsfeed algo again so that we see more posts from friends and family, and less from ‘Pages’. Great news, except that when every person is media, and there is a limit to the pruning one can do, the feed will still consist of biases, prejudices, hoaxes, paid endorsements without disclosure, and yes, cat videos, Lincoln’s quotes on self driving cars, click bait and baby pics. My point above is less about filter failure and more about the continuing explosion of content and its distribution to set the context.

But now let’s talk about filters. The sheer volume of content means that (in general) the reader will want quickly digestible information before he/she moves on to the highly entertaining video waiting in line. Absolutely connected to ‘the demise of the middle ground in the attention economy‘. The article talks about nuance in political debate getting lost, but I think its reach extends beyond that. As this fantastic Guardian article “How technology disrupted the truth” states, “..everyone has their own facts“. But why do this happen? More

Prosperity’s moral code

A few months ago, TechCrunch had a post debating the role of capitalism in a world that includes AI, where jobs are disappearing at a rate faster than new jobs coming in.  Capitalism has always been played as a finite game, focused on profit for a set of people, largely irrespective of the costs to others or society at large. As I wrote in “A shift in the world order“, its only real foe in the recent past has been the nation state, and its executive arm – the government. A foe increasingly struggling to even defend its own relevance, I’d say. As the dominant system of the world, we will then automatically (whether rightfully, is debatable) begin questioning capitalism’s morality codes. More than what we are doing currently, because the impact will not just be higher, it will also start affecting more people.

Earlier this year, I had written on how if it intends to survive, capitalism needs to expand its scope, and play an infinite game – whose purpose is to continue the flow of the game, and bring in new players. Something similar to what Douglas Rushkoff calls digital distributism (read) a model that aims for the circulation of money rather than the extraction of money. An evolution that capitalism needs to go through, or it runs the risk of imploding. This, of course, is not really in line with the way an earlier generation of corporations, or Silicon Valley operates.  As Maciej Cegłowski writes in “The Moral Economy of Tech“, treating the world as a software project gives us a rationale for being selfish. We pretend that by maximizing our convenience and productivity, we’re hastening the day when we finally make life better for all those other people. More

Informed Renunciation

Around me, I see a few people who seem to have stayed put at a certain point in time in terms of their lifestyle – the clothes they wear, the homes they live in, the gadgets and vehicles they use, the content they consume, and so on. In many cases, I have attributed it to age. Maybe they just couldn’t perceive the incremental enjoyment that the new thing offered, or maybe priorities changed – either in terms of economics or interest. But there are also relatively younger folks who eschew a lot of things I might consider a need. In both cases, I wonder whether it is a conscious choice/ trade off, or something that just slipped in unobtrusively until it became a way of life, or something that circumstances forced.

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(Ben Frankin, via) More

The divide and the rules

It has been just over a year since I wrote “A responsible meritocracy“. My view was that meritocracy had indeed played a huge role in dislodging systemic inequalities (e.g. ethnicity, religion, even economic background) but not only is it not an ideal system, it is now widening the gulf between the haves and have-nots, and even creating entry barriers to prosperity. To use an adage from pop culture, it’s a hero which has lived long enough to see itself become a villain. Arguable, yes.

Every system is bound to create two sets of people – those who benefit from it, and those who do not. I’d rate the success of a system on two counts – the ability of its beneficiaries to see the other side, and what they do about it.  The merit in a meritocracy is accrued courtesy intelligence/smartness. Intelligence is a means to creating the universally acknowledged currency – money. In that respect, I’d say that Silicon Valley has been a big beneficiary, and probably the most visible. More

Life menus

In last week’s post, I had referred to this excellent post – “How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds…” in the context of Google/Facebook/Amazon. As I had mentioned, I liked it because it had a direct connection with the can-want-need framework I (try to) use in my personal consumption. Specifically, his first point on the ‘menu’ and the illusion of choice. To quote from the post,

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

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Making sense of nostalgia

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The other day, when discussing brand communication, we noted how nostalgia was such a broad platform that it would appeal to almost everyone.One moment you’re in the present, and sometimes, even without the slightest provocation, you’re off with a reconstruction of events that transpired. For instance, just a week before that, when I learnt that Kammatti Paadam was releasing, a lot of my excitement was because it was set in Kochi from the 1970’s onwards. Until 2003, that’s pretty much my life. Before and after I watched the movie, quite a few hours were spent recollecting my life in my hometown across a couple of decades.  More

We, the storytellers (2)

There is a quote that has found its way into many posts on this blog – “Judging a person doesn’t define who they are, it defines who you are.” I still subscribe to that. However, motivated by the daily outrage on social platforms on everything ranging from a Coldplay video to a newspaper calling the city by its old name – Bombay, to each other’s political or religious belief systems, and by the behaviour of people around, (and myself when I introspected) I decided to go further along that quote. The result was this tweet

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