Friday, December 30, 2005

Collaborations among humans

There is a series of interesting articles in The Economist on human evolution. The most interesting point was the observation that human brains are hardwired to detect injustice. This means that even our ancestors could distinguish between friends and foes based on previous actions done by their counterparts. A good deed was returned by a good deed, but selfishness was not favored. Such trust based relationships are not seen in other species at all. In fact, some scientists are of the opinion that the reason for the larger size of the human brain is to enable this collaborative function among humans because it requires more brain processing. So much so, there is a high correlation between the brain:body ratio and the size of the group that a species lives in. For humans, this mean size is around 150, which was also the typical size of a primitive hunter-gatherer group. The rise of a collaborative society based on trust relationships acquired over time, is also considered responsible for the development of language, and consequently, for the use of language for manipulations and politics. All in all, there seems to be a high value in detecting levels of trust and reputations among humans for any kind of communication activities.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Similarity of conflicts in Iraq, with Indo-Pak skirmishes

The resistance of the Sunni population of Iraq to the Shia dominated democratic government has led to an increasing number of skirmishes and demonstrations, and is feared to make the American dream of a democratic Iraq run out of steam. Isn't this very similar to how things would have been in India had the partition not taken place? It will be interesting to see how things unfold over the years to come. Can Iraq surmount the communal resistance and remain united, or will the system break down? This will help us answer the ifs and buts and justifications of the Indo-Pak partition, and whether things would have been better or worse today without the parition.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Snow soccer

A new addition to soccer games - snow soccer! It's basically soccer, but it's played in 30cm of snow. It's real fun - try it some time. The pluses: You get to try out amazing shots with diving headers and Pele style bicycle kicks. The minuses: Nothing really, except that you feet get very cold.

We even have an Orkut community on this:

Friday, December 16, 2005

King Kong, the movie

What do you get when stupid veggie dinosaurs don't know how to run and just keep tumbling upon each other? King Kong.

What do you get when a girl tries to teach a gorilla to say 'beautiful'? King Kong.

What do you get when dinosaurs and gorillas turn into trapeze artists? King Kong.

Oh boy, if you want to do something for yourself, then don't watch King Kong. I was totally speechless after the movie that how could Peter Jackson turn evil enough to unleash this torture upon us innocent mortals of the world.

I wonder where the ugly natives who came in the beginning of the movie, totally disappeared after they sacrificed the girl. And I wonder which garment company made the girl's top because the seemingly ultra slender straps never broke off during her entire roller-coaster rides with the gorilla. Speaking of the gorilla, I wonder where his pee-pee was located - I desperately tried to find it but I couldn't!

Sunday, July 07, 2002

Weblogging: The trees fight back

Jul 4th 2002
From The Economist print edition

Should old media embrace blogging?

BACK in the mists of early Internet history, online publishing was going to wrest power from the inky fingers of old media groups and put it in the hands of ordinary people. Well, it never happened. Yet just when old media began to feel smug again about its old-fashioned paper-based products, weblogging (known as blogging) happened. The question for the big media world is whether to embrace the phenomenon that, in part, claims to undermine it.

Blogging, the publication of running commentary on personal online weblogs, has in the past couple of years exploded from a cultish techie activity into a cottage industry churning out increasingly compelling content. In 1998, there were about 30,000 weblogs; today, there are some 500,000, according to Cameron Marlow, who runs blogdex, which tracks them.

Blogging has taken off thanks to the development of online tools, such as Blogger and UserLand, which make it simple and cheap to update personal web content instantly. Weblogs range from the political (InstaPundit, Kausfiles, AndrewSullivan) to the high-tech (Dan Gillmor's eJournal, Scripting News, 802.11b, Boing Boing), and from the personal rant to the thoughtful critique. One recurring theme is their quirky, counter-cultural nature. As a recent article in the Online Journalism Review put it: “Weblogs are the anti-newspaper.”

Many thrive on correcting or deriding content published in newspapers and magazines. “Blogs have emerged as an instant critique of major media,” says Andrew Sullivan, former editor of the New Republic, whose weblog book reviews can lift a title into the top ten on Amazon. “At the same time, bloggers are parasites on big media, relying on them for stories and raw material.”

How then is big media to respond? Some publishers, such as the San Jose Mercury News and Britain's Guardian newspaper, were quick to set up weblogs. But the general response has been to ignore them. This was not entirely foolish: weblogs do not make money. Some bloggers earn commissions on items bought through a link from their weblog, or receive donations from charitable readers. But even Mr Sullivan says his weblog brings in only about $6,000 a month from such sources. Most bloggers do not blog for money.

So what do big media groups stand to gain from adopting a format that delights in promoting competitors' content, and relies on relinquishing editorial control? Such a question, say bloggers, misunderstands the force of weblogs. “Traditional publishing is about putting on a show; building a network of weblogs is like hosting a party,” says Simon Waldman, head of digital publishing at the Guardian.

For all the costly and failed efforts by media companies to create and charge for online material, blogging suggests that the web works best as a link to other people—and a way of finding and raiding their content. As InstaPundit's Glenn Reynolds says, “the threat to big media is not to its pocketbook but to its self-importance.”