Thursday, November 24, 2011

The alternative system

Recent events in Egypt indicate how difficult it is to build alternate system. Fall of Mubarak was swift, but building a viable alternative government has been equally prolonged. The Generals who were once seen as good option in transition phase have now been target of protestors' ire. The promises made a year back have not materialised. Just shows how difficult it is to make a viable alternative work.

Would Indian Tahrir Square movement have met same fate? Of course, both movements were quite different, though some over enthusiastic people had compared Anna Hazare movement to Tahrir Square. Considering the infighting within Team Anna, wonder how capable they are to be part of Jan Lokpal? Again shows difficulty in finding right people of Jan Lokpal, as the criteria quoted like Megsaysay Award Winner, etc, may not be sufficient to run or govern an entity. It's different ball game.

The common thread in all these protests have been the anger against establishment. The frustration about not having control over how the country is being run. Today's slap-gate and its enthusiastic support is also manifestation of such anger. But, as rightly put by Thomas Friedman and Shashi Tharur at LitFest, people know what they are against, but they don't know what they are fighting for. There is general hatred towards ruling class, but no-one knows what is the alternative. OK, Jan Lokpal Bill was apparent goal, but how many of the mobs who joined Team Anna, knew about it. I guess people had joined it more to vent their anger against system and were trying to find quick fix. This aimless anger is detrimental to overall system as it destroys the existing system, however crippled it may be, to pave way for chaos.

Of course there could be parallel systems, as Jan Lokpal purports to be. But important criteria for such system is accountability, which I think Jan Lokpal lacks, as the members are selected rather than elected. And same is case with CAG and Judiciary, good parallel systems, but again they should restrict themselves to their role.

So how can alternative systems be arrived at? It should be more of evolution, using the existing system as a mean to achieve that. I understand that current system is corrupt, but is there any viable alternative at present? So its better to change the system slowly that to await a revolution. History is littered with revolutions, which were followed by chaos and destruction, where years were lost in forging new systems. I hope we learn from history!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sharing newspaper articles

I usually read newspaper during my commute to office. And many times you encounter news/ article which you would like to share with your friend. But it becomes quite an ordeal. You need to visit website of the newspaper, then find that particular article and then share it. Thus the article or news often remains unshared. Wouldn't it be nice if we could share newspaper articles more easily using QR codes? They have been used widely in advertisements these days and it would be great to expand it to each newspaper article.

It's a very convenient way to open a site if you have bar-code reader enabled phone in hand. No need to type addresses, just point phone towards the code and link opens. So you could have such code at the end of the news and if someone intends to share it, he would scan it and link ?would pop up asking you- Where would you like to share the article?- Facebook, Twitter, etc. All the social networking sites are based on this human inclination to 'share' and it would be great to extend it even to the non-virtual world.

And it's not restricted to newspaper, it could be extended to many parts of our lives. When I had visited Taiwan, these codes were present in several locations. You could just point your phone towards it and get information about the place. Not knowing Chinese language wasn't big roadblock when travelling across Taiwan because of this technology.

So this connection between real world and virtual world could be really helpful and could open up many more possibilities!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Har ek social network zaroori hota hai

Google 'revamped' Google Reader this week, which reduced the sharing functionality among friends. This was clearly monopolistic cross-selling strategy used by Google to promote its Google Plus, which I think is floundering just like its predecessor, Wave. Thus, this 'Evil' act by Google has caused quite an outrage among users of Reader. With so many social networks around, why do we need Reader at all? But 'har ek social network zaroori hota hai'!

Let me start with Google Reader. It was (I am using 'was' and not 'is' because I don't believe its new form is 'Reader') a RSS Reader, but with additional functionality of sharing the articles among friends on Google. The best part about this sharing was that it was restricted to articles. So in my friend stream of Google Reader, I would have few discerning readers, who would share great articles and of course comment/ discuss. There is no clutter of status updates, photos n all. It's for sheer reading pleasure. And of course you would have some friends who would share cartoons, some Indian bloggers and some sheer random but very interesting stuff. If an article from newspaper or website is worth sharing, most likely I would share on Reader, because I knew that other users would value it. Now with friends' stream gone I hardly go to Reader. I hope Google would restore the original Reader. (BTW I am 'hoping' for Google to do something? Haven't I been left to whims and fancies of Google management? It's becoming Evil indeed! Scary!)

Then comes another from Google, Buzz! Well only reason I continue to use buzz is because of the button just below my inbox. It's easy to reach, people often share Reader articles, Twitter statuses, etc. on Buzz. So kind of good aggregator of various media. Just an output medium, as I hardly ever posted on Buzz. Mainly extension of Reader, with more clutter.

After Reader has ceased to provide friend stream, my article sharing would mostly happen on Twitter. It's easy to share on Twitter with short comment and by selecting whom you follow carefully, you can control quality of posts. I think twitter would become de facto sharing site for me after sad demise of Reader.

And the most famous and powerful Facebook. Personally I find it too much cluttered. Why would I be bothered about some random acquaintance travelling to Timbuktu or random games some people play. I know we can weed out these posts. But then it becomes too chaotic and difficult to control what's appearing on the wall. And that's why I find it very intrusive social network.

Linked in is again for professional network, where you would go for serious stuff. Whatsapp has been real fun for casual chat (especially group chat) on the go.

That's why I believe each social network has a purpose. If I need to read some quality stuff, I would go to Reader; if I want quick glance at news or witty comments (and increasingly shared articles going forward) I would check Twitter. And if I want random stuff I would go to Facebook basically for spending time. I know that Facebook is trying to be one stop shop for all these purposes, I believe it's good to have different networking site for all these purposes, because it would be better than succumbing to Facebook-poly.

Wouldn't you prefer different friends for different reasons, rather than having one messiah? Aakhir har ek social network zaroori hota hai...

1. I didn't discuss Google Plus, because I hope it would die its natural death just like Wave did
2. I was wondering what is 'purpose' of this blog and where should I share it? But since it mentions all the social networking sites, I thought it would be better to share on all :P