Not so often!

It is not so often that one comes across a set of works which isn’t simply inspiring but also challenges the usual notions of what is possible and what is not. I realized this few minutes ago when I came across the site of someone called ‘Adam Magyar’. He is a photographer of a different kind one who writes codes to cleanup the noise from his pictures to create an extraordinary imaginary. You can read more about him by clicking here and can see what he does on this link.

Telephony; What else does it bring with itself?

May be things aren’t the way I observed but nonetheless I must tell what is making me to even write so. I am seeing a lot of people around me spending hours entertaining  calls. Either they are answering calls or many a times are making calls to all different sort of people. And with an oxygenated penetration of mobile telephony, people aren’t simply making calls to all different sort of people; they are making calls from all different sort of locations as well. Finding people with earplugs and talking to gods and demons while they walk on road or virtually at any place, no matter how bizarre the place itself is, isn’t such a spectacle any more. No doubt we are connected better than ever before perhaps in the history of human race but what about the clarity of communication. What is it that drives these conversations? Does it compose of statements followed by further set of statements or by an endless clarification of the anything being spoken of? Does it include more of confusion or clarity? Although I have no access to what people talk about on their phones but with some inquiry and with couple of persons who shared their experiences of talking at length, few interesting things seem to be emerging.

It is off course subjective to an extent to see a connection between clarity of communication and the communication medium i.e. mobile telephony in our case. However the agencies, the people who are talking, which drive communication do have an effect on the clarity of communication. Whether one is able to communicate to the other, does depend on one’s ability to articulate his thoughts. No doubt about this but the case doesn’t simply rest here. What about the loss of signals during a mobile conversation or a sudden disappearance of battery power? What about the continuous noise that disrupts our talk sometimes? And what about an accidental push on the ‘red button’ when you are trying to switch between your ears? All of these and similar others random factors do affect our perception of the caller or of the subject being talked of. I have come across people testifying how they have been mistaken for someone who is arrogant or egoistic when for reasons, similar to the ones mentioned above, a call broke at some critical point in the conversation. And even when they resumed the call back, how hard they had a time clarifying their stand or explaining the reason for the ‘break’ in communication. This might happen between two people fixing a deal on phone, or between duos who are on the verge of resolving a crisis. And this might be worse between a couple.

Apparently none other than script writers or storytellers have made a note of any such behavior, truly spontaneous and random, but many a times critical. We can accept this! We can term these as ‘misunderstandings’  and can assume that these have ever existed between people, and can conclude that communication technology can’t really handle it. However I do feel somewhere that technology isn’t simply mean to enable communication between peers but rather it is there to sustain it in an intended form; in a form which humans decide.

I love this idea of seeing numbers over a timeline. Extremely engaging and interesting work.

ICTs for Development

I’ve entered the ITU data on mobile phone penetration for all countries from 1998-2008 into a Google Docs spreadsheet, and then added the Motion Chart visualiser (the same engine made famous by Hans Rosling and TED, though they use the Gapminder Trendalyzer version).

Unfortunately, WordPress scripting rules mean I can’t post the active chart here. To access the spreadsheet data and Google Motion chart, you need to go to:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tUzZsw5SoG_jXRDl6p8tRCg&single=true&gid=0&output=html

Screenshots below give an indicator of how you can visualise the data. The chart offers three main means to visualise (bubble, bar chart, and line graph) via tabs at the top right. You can change the axes and element colouring/size, and highlight individual countries. For bubble and bar, the main point of the chart is that you can click play (bottom left) and show how things change over time. (Note playback speed variation control, and also the ability to drag…

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On Schooling

For days and days it has been occurring to me to reflect back on my school days and on the education I had. The curriculum included natural sciences and languages along with slighter glimpses of other subjects, resigned to be termed as extracurricular. One can look at the curriculum and can be best assured to say that everything ought to be known is well there. But I guess the larger question is how to approach this knowledge. As I have come to believing that approach to know changes or alters the knowledge itself. My teachers were competitive and interesting, and they perhaps had tried telling us what all they knew. However I feel that few factors were always acting in opposition to the entire process of knowledge acquisition.

First, it seems that the entire process of acquiring knowledge  is somewhere inflicted with a flawed notion of timing. The fact that there is a course to be finished by a particular deadline doesn’t allow much room both for students as well as teachers. Teacher wants to finish the course on time and then moves on to setting a paper for students to attempt. How rubbish! Can’t the process of knowledge acquisition be more fluid and continuous. Can’t be free from parametric identifiers of percentage and rankings?  Having time bound milestones often results in an environment which is competitive for no reasons. To make things worse, it’s not just the timing rather the valorization of being on time that kills individuals at the end. There is so much of shame associated with not being on time that it doesn’t even allow many to say NO.

Second, it seems that the teachers themselves work under a huge pressure of abiding to a particular syllabus. Any aberration from a prescribed syllabus is hugely suppressed and demotivated. The position a teacher holds, not only in the society but even with in the education system itself, doesn’t give him much power to defer to the popular notion of syllabus and prescription. There is so much of onus bestowed on people who set the syllabus rather than on those who teach the syllabus. I have seen and met few people who work as advisory members to curriculum committees and not all the time are they correct. But any communication which suggests so is seen as a wild act, often intolerable.

I am raising these questions as I still sense same forces at work. What do you guys say?

Happy Birth Day Gustav !

There are always few who deserves a mention more than by just Google in this digital age. We often call them one’s favorite or inspiration or a better adjective always. Today it is Gustav Klimt’s birth day. No wonder Google has one of his paintings on its search engine. When it comes to Gustav I am not so fortunate. I came to know about Gustav and his excellence as an artist quite recently. It is somewhere in Jan 2008 when I was wandering in a book store and had put my hand on one of the table top books with paintings of different artists. I went through the book, turning it page-by-page glancing through all different paintings, giving almost equal time to every painting. This continued till I came to a page where I saw this beautiful nude women, well painted with bright colors, though quite an unusual combination of colors with golden shades here-n-there. I had to halt. I had to stop. It was Gustav Klimt. It was him. That’s was my first meeting with dear Gustav.

Gustav seems to be a musician and a painter at the same time. He seems to infuse his work with a strong sense of performance. A performance of the kind which is lucid, breath taking and yet carried out with patience. The layers of robes of Gustav’s women unfold before you almost with an elegance and charm of the superior kind. Gold showers as it would have showered in the heaven. His themes seem to be divine and mortal at the same time. It is in his paintings that these two extreme ends of divinity and mortality meets. Gustav’s “Zeus came to Danae in a shower of gold”, is an marvelous work where he does the same. I can’t attest any further how much I like this painting. I don’t know Gustav much but he is the one who welcomes me to know him more. Happy Birth Day Gustav!

Image Credits: For Gustav’s Profile Pic and for his painting Danae.

How simple the things can be?

Here is an interesting read from Wired. The link mentions various patents registered against the name of celebrities. I find this quite interesting for two reasons. First, all of these patents are filed by people who are not scientists. Rather these are the people who were musicians, cameraman, performers and other creative professionals. This asks us to extend our thought of seeing things so narrowly- a kind of skepticism that we had acquired in an age of specialization. Second, all of these patents are so lucidly illustrated or explained that it kind of highlights the simplicity of thought. It also gives one an idea that patents could also be about very simple ideas provided they are novel, illustrative and communicable.

Credits: Wired Dot Com