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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

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Was passing by one of the busiest 'walls' in Bombay today .. and couldn't resist this picture. Any guesses on the product? No pink prizes ange :)

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6:35:23 PM    comment []  trackback []

Reuters Newsmaker - Social responsibility: whose business is it?

Reuters is holding a live event on Corporate Social Responsibility. The full announcement is here. There is a live chat that will be curated by the Global Voices Online team at the event - to facilitate interaction between bloggers/ remote participants. The event page is here - http://tinyurl.com/yzo66p

It would be great if we had more people from South Asia in the discussion though the time is a little odd - 5 AM IST on Friday November 10. If you're up then, and interested, do join in.

3:02:44 PM    comment []  trackback []

Stuff that's caught my eye recently:

  • Delete Your Bad Web Rep - bad idea I think .. we leave traces of ourselves when we put ourselves online. Against my belief in transparency and the open web. There's always good and bad .. and to hide the bad .. hmmm .. paranoia?
  • Alec Saunders on creating a meme through blogging:

    "In 12 months time, we've managed to insert an idea, which now has apparently a ton of currency, into a very old industry. We haven't relied on large marketing budgets, or heavy lifting PR campaigns. Instead, using just blogs and conversation, we set out to cause a change that would produce an environment that would be more conducive to our success, and the success of hosts of other companies like ours.

    And that, my friends, is why blogging is powerful."
  • Computing, 2016 - What won't be possible: "The new social-and-technology networks that can be studied include e-mail patterns, buying recommendations on commercial Web sites like Amazon, messages and postings on community sites like MySpace and Facebook, and the diffusion of news, opinions, fads, urban myths, products and services over the Internet. Why do some online communities thrive, while others decline and perish? What forces or characteristics determine success? Can they be captured in a computing algorithm?

    Social networking research promises a rich trove for marketers and politicians, as well as sociologists, economists, anthropologists, psychologists and educators. "This is the introduction of computing and algorithmic processes into the social sciences in a big way," Dr. Kleinberg said, "and we're just at the beginning.""

  • Am enjoying playing with Twitter and iLike ... first impressions - both are really easy to use, and fun! Twitter is amazing .. am currently experimenting with an SMS-Blog interface on a research project and I see lots we can do with a Twitter-like application. I see lots of potential for online campaigns and disaster information/relief as well.
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1:13:18 PM    comment []  trackback []

  • danah boyd shares what she means when she says "email is dead" in reference to teens. "Now, let's talk about youth. They have email accounts. They get homework assignments sent there. Xanga tells them that their friends have updated their pages. Attachments (a.k.a. digital Netflix/Amazon packages) get sent there. Companies try to spam them there (a.k.a. junk mail). Sifting through the crap, they might get a neat penpal letter or a friend might have sent them something to read but, by and large, there's not a lot of emotional investment over email.

    That said, take away their AIM or MySpace or SMS or whatever their primary form of asynchronous messaging with their friends is and they will start twitching and moan about how you've ruined their life. And you have. Because you've taken away their access to their friends, their access to the thing that matters most to them. It's like me taking away your access to blogs and email and being forced to stay at the office just because you showed up late for work.

    I'm part of the generation caught between email and IM where IM feels more natural but most of the folks just a little older than me refuse to use IM so i'm stuck dealing with email. Today's teens are stuck between IM, MySpace/Facebook, and SMS. There's another transition going on which is why there's no clean one place. IM replaced email for quite a few years but now things are in flux again. Still, no matter what, email is not regaining beloved ground."

  • Mobile Youth Trends - some excerpts from an interview with Nick Wright, a Research Associate at the Wireless World Forum, who is a co-author of the mobileYouth 2006 report :  "The relationship between youth and their mobiles is not necessarily based on being ìfun, cool, or entertainingî. Itís a key social tool employed in the dynamics of the peer group. Youth consume mobile products - as they do others - to make statements about themselves and their relationship with their peers.

    Self-expression is such a key aspect of young people's lives that they would rarely choose a non-branded alternative over an identifiable brand. 98% of teens for example would choose a brand/logo designed T-shirt over a plain one.

    Mobile is most importantly a symbol of belonging to a group, both as a physical product (you must own a phone to be part of our group) and its communicative possibilities: texting is essential to youth not because of the content (very limited) of the texts themselves but because each text is a reaffirmation and a reminder that "I'm with you".


"However, overall it is fueling the more extrovert and allowing shyer teens to communicate more easily. One of the more interesting findings is that mobiles have come to take the place in youth culture traditionally held by cigarettes. They provide or allow private communication, the activity is carried out largely unsupervised and they effectively create a rare private space for youth to interact in."
  • Businessworld has a special issue on What India's Youth Wants.  No surprises there.  Needs simple registration to access the article.  From the opening essay: "What makes India's youth worth studying is evident; one of the world's hottest economies, a billion people, roughly half of them between the ages of 15 and 29 years, and rising purchasing power. It is a demographic gold mine for marketers and a case-study-in-progress of democratic capitalism. There is much happening to make us a happier, more chilled-out country. Why, then, are our young turning into somewhat moralistic people with limited ambitions?

    You could argue, of course, that we are jumping to conclusions based on some interviews and a survey. No survey, especially in a terrifically heterogeneous country like India, can fully capture the complexities and nuances of an entire generation. You could also argue that there is no harm in being anti-smoking, anti-drinking or traditional. That it is to the credit of their parents that this generation is less rebellious and bonds better with its elders.

    And maybe that is true. Maybe this, then, is this generation's way of rebelling. The fact is that in spite of the malls, media and the positive cheer surrounding us, India remains a poor, half-illiterate, difficult-to-live-in country. Getting the basics, a home in an area with decent electricity, clean surroundings, water supply, schools and so on, in any city is still a difficult and expensive business. Earlier generations spent decades trying to get just these. The young see no virtue in huffing and puffing over what they think are hygiene factors. They want to get them out of the way before they deal with some of life's more interesting pleasures - foreign holidays or alternative careers. So, they are alright doing a boring job (how interesting can call centres be?), not working too hard (over one-third do not think hard work is essential for success), and making money.

    This is a self-centred, goal-fixated generation that will, with full comprehension and at any price, secure its future. The sacrifices and martyrdom for a cause is not for them, unless it means signing an online petition or holding some candles (though 30 per cent of them are keen on a career in politics). No rough backpacking or exploring the world for them. This generation seems happier achieving the status quo their parents did, only faster. Their enthusiasm for life seems very rooted to the here and now, and the immediately achievable."

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12:27:19 PM    comment []  trackback []

is on November 14, 2006.  An interesting initiative from Making Life Easy:

As part of World Usability Day weíre asking you to make some noise about things that are hard to use. London-based research and design consultancy Flow is marking World Usability Day with a campaign to get people to speak up about the things that make their life needlessly difficult.

Confusing cash machines, unclear signs, frustrating websites - poor usability is everywhere and it gets in the way of life. Sometimes it is just annoying. At other times it stops us doing what we need to do. It can even be dangerous.

World Usability Day is an international event promoting the message that people have had enough of things that are hard to use. We want people to share their usability frustrations with their fellow sufferers. Record your experiences at the campaign website MakingLifeEasy.org and:

1) See what is frustrating other people
2) Rate these annoyances on a scale of Usability Pain (coming soon!)
3) Upload a photograph and describe what makes life needlessly difficult

Get Involved!
Submit an Entry
Usability Hall of Shame/Hall of Fame
Send us a photo of your good or bad usability example! Either add it to our Flickr Group or email it to us and tell us what's good or bad about it. Then, join our blog and you can write and submit a blog post to put your submission in the running for the Usability Halls of Fame/Shame and we'll post it to the blog where everyone can comment and vote!
Log In To Add A Submission Here

Vote for the Usability
Hall of Shame and Hall of Fame
Cast your vote on any of the examples you find on the site by adding a comment with a +1 (for Hall of Fame) or -1 (for Hall of Shame). We'll tally the votes and announce the inductees on World Usability Day, 14 November 2006.

11:46:57 AM    comment []  trackback []

Wow .. this is just fantastic.  The folks at Savage Minds have set up an open access wiki on anthropology journal articles and papers, and have created a discussion list and IRC channel for those interested in anthropology to hangout at:

Learn about the issue
openaccessanthropology.org is now up and, while it's still very much a work in progress, it is the best place to go for an overview of the issues - and will get even better as we all help grow it.

Sign up for updates
There is an Open Access Anthropology group which people are using as a mailing list - you can sign up today to share your ideas or just keep up to date with what is going on. So far the list is not very high-volume, so you won't be drowned in email if you sign up.

Join the conversation
We've started an IRC channel where thereís been a fair amount of chat about OAA (although really it is just a place for anthropologists to hang out in general). It's #savageminds on irc.freenode.net. If you are unwise in the ways of IRC just go to IRC at work type in a nickname, for 'server' put irc.freenode.net and for 'channel' put #savageminds and then you should be good. If you are looking for an IRC program, we recommend GAIM (PC) or Colloquy (Mac).

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10:30:25 AM    comment []  trackback []