Welcome!

In this blog, I intend to write my thoughts on things happening around me, the news I see in the TV, something I read or anything that captures my attention. I will try to avoid the effect of everyday ups and downs of my personal life on the contents of the blog.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Human islands

About 20 years ago, there used to be a lady living somewhere in our neighbourhood who used to walk alone at a specific time every evening talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated and no one next to her...our neighbours said she had some mental disorder.

Fast forward 15 years from then, as I enter an elevator in a mall I see a good looking, well dressed man, alone, talking at high pitch, fast paced, highly animated gesturing with both his hands facing the wall...he's called tech savvy, he was using his bluetooth hands free, mobile headset.

Sometimes I have literally felt like an alien when I see 19 out the 20 people around me in a bus busy with their gadgets and me being the only one switching my gaze from one to the other bemused. Going further with my observations, understandably, I see the level of comfort in staying in this state improve down the generations just as the natural progression we see with handling gizmos. The generation of the 90s late Gen-Y and early Gen-Zs who are the youngest to enter the workforce have almost transformed into a species of Homo Zappiens. They zap between identies online donning a new avatar for every profile online. In fact, even if you live in the same house with them, or in the same aisle at work the best possibility of grabbing their attention will be by leaving a 'post' or 'invite' online than attempting to strike a live conversation with them. Its so amazing to see the dexterity with which this generation could type a 'long' Short Message Service (SMS) text in their phones just by jabbing their thumbs into the little keypad involuntarily with their eyes busy on something else. My dad finds it so hard to avoid pressing 4 keys at a time with full concentration on the keypad and screen, his generation had a technological shock when telephones swiched from rotor dialling to push buttons. I lie in between, slow but comfortable with the keypad and all the menu options and not a frequent user of SMS or even the mobile phone.

It's become a common scene in urban life today and to a good degree in rural set-ups too that when people are alone for even a short while flip out a gadget and get connected to someone elsewhere either engaging through a telephone call, SMS texting or through social networking web-sites, thanks to the never ending technological innovations. Though they enable us to multi-task and complete a lot of things while on the go I also notice that it is leading to people miss out the pleasure of having a conversation with a stranger, miss opportunities of being forced out of the comfort zone leading to what I call 'lateral learning' by mere sharing of experiences which could be one of the little things that's helped our species evolve to where we are.

Something seems to be not right when people sharing a physical space fail to communicate with each other and individually go to their 'Contact list' for a conversation. Though the quality of living is improving over the years the quality of human communication seems to be detiriorating. If we decide to interact only with people who are part of our '(online) community' or share the same 'interests' and who are introduced to us only by a common friend then we are missing something...and that something is definitely not available online.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Provenance

Oh no! you don't have to 'google' for this word 'cos that is what I did for you. Recently, I read something that inspired me to write this post around this term. Provenance = History of origin and ownership of a valued object. Generally used in the context of a treasured art work and more on wine. The history and origin of wine is very important for the valuation of it. A key information for wine buyers. In archeology, a variant of this term is used as 'provenience' = exact location where an artifact was found. Alright! that's about the word and its meaning. Anyone who wanted close this web page just knowing what it means may now click the 'X' button in the top right corner of this window.

Let us now look at provenance, perception around provenance of a few more things and concepts around us and how it is affecting current affairs. Let us take a very popular product which is tied to a place, 'SWISS-Watches'. From middle of 16th century when the jewelers of Geneva were forced out of their business of watch making their innovation and entrepreneurship kept them going even to this date. The jewelers turned the engineering of clock making to a craft, which they mastered NOT by mass producing, cost-effective, production lines but as cottage industry, like customized art work. They built their brand over centuries which still stands rock solid. The 'provenance' of their watches fetch them a premium in any part of the world.

Ooo! that's something hard to duplicate. In modern days superior laser technologies and advancement of science has replaced expensive mechanical movements that are prone to error factors over time with cheap but more accurate quartz oscillators. With a huge market, more competition and pricing pressures the game is different. When the job of a watch is to show time accurately, sound logic would say that it is a low cost and more accurate watch which will have better market. Contrary to it, Swiss watches are still regarded the best. It is the image that was built over centuries what is technically called the 'brand'.

Provenance not always works to the favor of the place of origin. In examples like good quality automobiles, electronics or software products from emerging countries like India or Korea. They are perceived to be of lesser quality as these countries for a very long time were seen as mass producing, low cost locations than for their innovation and quality in product design. It took some of the now top companies like SONY, LG, SAMSUNG, TOYOTA and hard to believe HONDA a few decades to shatter the stereotyped mis-perceptions and establish their new brand. Each followed a strategy that fitted them well. Some hid the popular names under a new brand like Honda-Acura, Toyota-Lexus. Some piggy backed on a host name downplaying the real origin, some get aggressive and turn their roots as the USP like Colombian coffee. Some just stick to their existing reputation and make a market out of it, still Chinese silk and Indian spices sells well due to the centuries old reputation.

Hope the next time we see the 'Made in xxxx' tag of any product, we will think twice before deciding based on what we've heard about...