Archives for June 2013

Sediments of Legacy

Our works are our legacy. How we think about it matters to those who do anything worth doing. And here is Steve Jobs mulling about legacy.

Absolutely love the way he frames the ephemerality of technology based creations, as compared to great works of Art or Sculptures.

From one perspective it is a given that our life’s work in technology will be lost to what comes after it. Your MyMasterpiece version 1.0, will last until version 2.0 comes about. But it is also true that a game changer of the future stands on the foundations that your, now forgotten, MyMasterpiece version 1.0 had laid.

And so it is with all of life right. Yet we must build, create, sing, dance and become. What are you doing with the time given to you?

(via Daring Fireball)

Stephen Fry on Language

Stephen Fry’s soliloquy on Language and pedants who play spoilsport. Beautifully animated by Mathew Rogers.

How Not to Do Content Recommendation

Good intentions are sunk by bad copywriting. LinkedIn sent me this a little while ago. I did not click a single one of these “Influencer Summer Guides”.

LinkedIn-Content Recommendations Not

 

First that repetition of “on the best” made me cringe. They could have put the original titles, if there were any. I don’t care about value of content behind those links, bad post titles, especially from large networks like LinkedIn, should not be rewarded. Else the system (both machines and/or the humans behind them) would generate more such ‘content recommendation‘ junk.

The “Top 10 Blog Post Title Patterns of All Time” school of copywriting & content generation has gone out of control.

Sure, to gain audience you might have to resort to these tricks..but damn this is LinkedIn! They have a large global audience and have supposed influencers..could they not attempt something original? Why perpetuate the mediocrity?

Doing a Startup? Here is one way to maintain focus

Am sure this is familiar to anyone in startup mode. Endless possibilities, danger of losing focus at every turn and no sight of a home. Homer, poet of Ancient Greece, shows how Odysseus, the hero of Odyssey, maintains his focus.

Situation

Odysseus is trying to get home. His immediate problem is to navigate along with his men beyond the Sirens, maidens of beauty and heart wrenching songs. Those who heard the Sirens abandoned prudence and rushed to rocky coasts.

Solution?

Ulysses_and_the_Sirens_by_H.J._Draper

Odysseus has his team’s ears blocked with beeswax, preventing them from hearing the Siren’s song. A song of unbearable longing that lures sailors, only to dash their ships to doom on treacherous seas. Odysseus is curious to hear the song, but is pragmatic enough not to trust himself, hence has himself tied to the ship’s mast. So the team is not distracted and he is tied to his purpose, literally in this case.

Thus, the team row their way past the Sirens. Odysseus survives the Siren’s call to doom by being firm in his commitment and a little foresight.

So, if you are working on your startup, be open to possibilities, both benign and malicious. But commit yourself to a schedule, a plan or your original vision. Do not heed every call to new opportunities and change course. Trust your intuition and keep moving. Beware unbelievably nice possibilities. And keep yourselves focussed on execution.

Makes sense?

xx—xx

What did we do with such focus? CollabLayer is what we did. A cloud-based collaboration tool that enables collaborative content consumption, discussions in context and rapid discovery of insight. If your work involves reviewing, sharing and discussing digital content with a team, you should really check it out. Free during beta and you can always take your data back. Learn about motivations behind CollabLayer. Or head here to Signup.

This is our Signature. And it means everything.

This is it.
This is what matters.
The experience of a product.

How it makes someone feel.
Will it make life better?
Does it deserve to exist?

We spend a lot of time
On a few great things.
Until every idea we touch
Enhances each life it touches.

You may rarely look at it.
But you’ll always feel it.

This is our signature.
And it means everything.

My iPhone 4S drowned around 5 months back. Not wanting to spend a ton of cash on an iPhone, I took another route. I opted for a Windows Phone, a Lumia 820. I could handle it for a few months.

About two weeks back, I had enough. I had enough compromising on my own design and aesthetic sensibilities, enough compromising on what I valued and enjoyed in any device I used. I gave in and bought an iPhone 5. If there is one thing I have noticed that good engineering is not just about features, it is primarily what informed the design thinking of the creators, it is about what they wanted to evoke in you every time you used their creation.

Now, more than ever, I utterly understand what Apple means by “You may rarely look at it. But you will always feel it”, every damn time I lift the phone and use any of the apps.

Other platforms can try their best to cram features, add bigger screens, be first to add a visual idiom etc. But most do not understand whatever deep design-based thinking can accomplish can only be bettered by superior design thinking. Without it one builds castles in sand.

Make Good Music with Shankar Tucker via Kickstarter

And no, it does not involve learning an instrument, practicing it for 10,000 hours and being visited by the muses. Just support Shankar Tucker via Kickstarter!

Before we get to the how, do sample what sort of music am talking about here.

“Jaane Kaise” – Shankar Tucker ft. Shashwat Singh (A Cappella)

“Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo” – Shankar Tucker ft. Rohini Ravada

 

So if that appeals to your musical sensibilities, there is awesome news for you..Shankar Tucker, a musician from the US, trained in Western Classical and Indian Musical styles has launched a Kickstarter project. Below is the introduction.

Am going to support this project.

Shanker via his Shrutibox YouTube channel has given me untold amount of joy and I sincerely hope with our support he can make this project happen. Visit the Kickstarter project and sponsor his effort, we need people like him to bring out more India inspired music out.

And am curious to know which of Shankar’s songs are your favorites. This rendition of Bharatiyar’s song, or this one completely move me.

NSA Manual for Budding Spies Quotes Greek Mythology

The NSA, a key component of America’s Intelligence Community, released a manual for budding spies titled, ‘Untangling the Web‘. Warning, it is a large pdf file. Given the sensational headline on Wired, I took a peek inside. Many points stood out, let me list a few for you.

Libraries in Persia

Love of learning in Persia

The opening passage of the Preface starts by illustrating love of learning in Persia. What struck me was the stark contrast of how Persia was then and how it is perceived now.

Sisyphean Fate of Spies and Information Seekers

Sisyphean Labors - 1

Sisyphean Labors - 2

This section captures the futility of trying to grasp the Internet. And what better way than to highlight the parallels with Sisyphus. This feeling of hopelessness should be familiar to anyone trying to gather any insight from unstructured data!

Minotaur in the Labyrinth

Minotaur in the Labyrinth

Love this parallel about being lost in the Labyrinth and role played by the Minotaur. And guess the irony, NSA might be the Minotaur, capturing every unwary piece of information that flows through the labyrinth!

Every Angle of the Universe

Every Angle of the Universe

To bring Borges and Boswell in the span of a single paragraph about the Internet does count for something in my view. I had never heard about Aleph but that  idea of “Aleph..little more than an inch..which nonetheless contains all space, actual and undiminished..in which one can see every angle of the universe” is profoundly beautiful.

Not sure if anyone other than Borges could have thought it up. Of course there are parallels with the Upanishadic idea of “Purusha, lodged in the heart and no larger than a thumb“. Purusha in this case is the Highest Consciousness, or the Brahman, in whom is contained All Time & Space and yet exceeds everything.

After this I was half-expecting references to the Library of Babel but unfortunately I did not find any. Neither could I search through the pdf because the whole document is made of images. So much for data transparency from the NSA, they basically gave a document that is not a document.

I have not read the entire document yet but found the preface and initial sections with references to Greek Mythology, Persia’s love of learning, Borges and Boswell strangely beautiful. Another example of beautiful minds serving fuzzy purposes.