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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Solar Women engineers in Tilonia, India? Not much needs said about Bunker Roy's Barefoot College - except that he makes me proud to be Indian. 

He ends with this quote from Mahatma Gandhi : "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
10:17:39 PM    comment []  trackback []

Saw this via ArZan's blog :

"A very well written article By Darryl D'Monte in IndiaTogether, about the role of bloggers in today's world.

There is an extensive conversation with Dina Mehta, one of the powerhouses of Indian blogging. The whole IIPM saga is mentioned.

Are bloggers parked? Are bloggers just like journalists? The jury is still debating, but clearly bloggers are filling some voids in mainstream journalism, and connecting to net-savvy citizens in an exciting fashion. Blogs are not about to destroy conventional media, but they are making an impact, notes Darryl D'Monte.

Continue reading at IndiaTogether.

Transmogrified has a good commentary on the article; and so does our own Curios Gawker"

I met Darryl at a recent workshop on effective writing on the web, organized by The New Media initiative of the Comet Media Foundation, where I did a presentation called 'Web 2.0 - How the Internet is getting more Social'. I have to figure out a way to upload this presentation to this blog sometime. It was a fun session, with a great set of people in the audience - journalists, homemakers, publishers, advertising and design folk. Most hadn't heard of blogs and wikis and Voip - and i took them on a learning journey, sharing stories about how I have used these tools to not just 'write' on the web, but collaborate and communicate [note - in my view, writing is more individual, communicating is more social]. I wasn't sure how to introduce myself ... qualitative research and ethnography practitioner? blogger? explorer of the social web? Finally I decided to chuck away all these labels and said hey - I am not a writer, nor a journalist - yet I am, by virtue of being a blogger.

Darryl writes :

"At the same time, it is true that with the mainstream media dumbing down with a vengeance and looking to their bottom line rather than people who live at the bottom, bloggers are very much in business. They are telling it like it is, rather than what media barons decide is politically or commercially more convenient. In the US, the war in Iraq is condemned far more pungently in blogs. But blogs aren't about to destroy conventional media anytime soon. Mehta thinks that the days of the newspaper are over, but this is far from evident. Old media is clearly still strong in developing countries, and if India is an example, may even be acquiring monopolistic tendencies in some instances."

Heh it doesn't matter. What matters is that I think i was able to communicate how easy it is and how effective it can be to share your ideas, preoccupations and opinions freely and engage in conversations around passions and interests. And that it isn't and shouldn't be a 'war' between old school journalism and the emergent new social media. Each has its space and one cannot ignore or dismiss the other anymore. That there are new rules being written ... by millions of 'publishers' all over the world. That you don't need to be a poet or a writer in the classical sense to convey your thoughts and engage in meaningful discourse. That you CAN make a difference and change the world you live in, through this sharing.

And that the old guard is taking notice, as is evident from this article by Darryl. I also showed them how easy it is to set up a blog - I wish we had had better connectivity there - but still, it worked.

10:00:23 PM    comment []  trackback []

Cameron Sinclair, a Worldchanging colleague, is on talking about how to create architecture that helps the world. What can I say except that he is absolutely inspiring. Just go here and you will know why. It is great to hear from someone who isn't just talking but walking the talk, and "Design(ing) Like You Give A Damn"

9:19:48 PM    comment []  trackback []

A picture named pixars 2005 tsunamihelp.jpg

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This is what we are seeing demo'd live.Flock's a new browser .. makes bookmarking and tagging simple, has an RSS aggregator view, has a one-click blogging tool which feels so similar to being able to blog directly from my Radio News Aggregator, and from where you can blog pictures directly from a Flickr toolbar for example.

Sounds neat - currently I use different tools for all these things ... would be nice to have a one-stop space !

3:56:13 AM    comment []  trackback []

Nicholas Negroponte, professor at MIT and founder-chairman of the Media Labs on the $100 laptop project. 23 years ago, they tried computerising schools in Senegal - but it didn't work. In Costa Rica (3.5 mn people) however, it has been really successful - the poster child for the MIT Media Lab. He got involved in sending used computers to Cambodia. This stopped ... and instead they started building schools and not just sending used computers. Satellite connections were put in, laptops were set up, generators were set up. Kids started taking their laptops home and parents loved it, because suddenly they had a source of light (no electricity otherwise). The first English word many of them spoke was Google!

Today's laptops are so loaded ... he takes us back to the old days when they were so quick, so easy and so reliable to use. His question - do we really need it. Some things to reduce cost - remove colour mode on the LCD screen and use B&W with high resolution, or low res colours. Has to be on a very low power budget - below 2 watts. E-books must be below 1 watt.

They needed scale - not as much to take down costs - but to change the strategic plan in companies offering the service --- when he told them he needed 100 million chips - the company making the chips did an about-turn on their initial hesitation that it doesn't meet their business strategy.

November 16, 2005 is when it will be shown at the Vatican for the first time.

Wow. I hope they have India in their roll-out plans.

3:42:24 AM    comment []  trackback []

Yochai Benkler leads the session on Participation Revolution by talking of the demarcation between producers and consumers in the Industrial Information Economy.  And then moves onto the Networked Information Economy.  Described as decentralised and widely distributed - in terms of computation and communications resources as well as human creativity, intuition, experience and motivational.  What this means is that things people have always done with and for each other, move to commons based productions, can be individual or collective, commercial or non-commercial.  A self-feeding contract. The other major development is we are seeing large-scale collaboration - eg. peer production using social cues rather than command and control. And sharing material resources.

Examples - Clickworkers for NASA, Wikipedia, Dmoz, Skype, open source software, Craig's List, Technorati.

Social sharing and exchange is becoming the modality of economic production. You have stuff flowing out of connected human beings,  Your supply and demand chains are different now - they are determined by "Surfers".  And they input back. 

He then talked about the Politics of it - of autonomy, of freedom and justice, of democracy.  As a result - new business challenges and opportunities, and new ways of being free and equal human beings.
A rousing "you can't stop us" end to the presentation.

A good paper by Yochai Benkler - "Sharing Nicely" .[link posted in the chatroom by Greg Elin]. 

Nothing so new, but useful to the audience here.  I was talking to someone during one of the breaks and describing how we have used tools like blogs and wikis and VOIP in disasters and for research projects - and they seemed to want to hear more about how these systems are changing the way we transact today. 

3:18:52 AM    comment []  trackback []