2014 reflections:My blog in retrospective

Hola! We are in the first week of January 2015. The day seems appropriate to reflect on not just the year that passed by, but also this blog and thereby my life. My agenda for this post follows my perspective. I like to gaze the skies before grazing the valleys.

Gazing the skies
When I started my blog in 2007, under the title, "Ruminations of an enchanted soul", it was just another quiet lane where I gathered few pebbles of thoughts for display. Armed with nothing but an amateur's passion for writing and my naive sense of aesthetics, I wrote my darnedest in the earnest hope that few friends would find the alley inviting enough to play or at least stroll around in their private moments of leisure.

Hashtags as Social Networks

Today morning, after I came across Fred Wilson's post announcing his portfolio company Kik's launch, I went back to my older writings I had posted on #hashtag in my company's Yammer page. I had written,  
#hashtag is the contextual frame which liberates the message (or content) from its medium. I love twitter precisely for this reason because it skirts close to the mysterious ways in which we humans derive meaning from information. Sometimes, when you sit and observe the torrentuous streams of conversations happening about various topics, it fascinates me to see how a certain message which was enveloped in one context jumps onto a different plane of meaning altogether just because somebody has shifted the context using this innocuous symbol containing stack of sticks.

David Weinberger on why knowing is more important than knowledge

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a small business fable titled, "How to save the world from Knowledge". It was interesting to see the responses it triggered. Among many other reasons behind writing this fable, one such was David Weinberger's fascinating book on the evolution of knowledge in the Internet Age, Too Big to Know. I enjoyed reading his exposition on how network remade knowledge in its own image.

I've always admired David Weinberger's works ever since I read the classic The Cluetrain Manifesto. So when I wrote an email to David Weinberger with a link to my blog post, I was extremely delighted to hear from him. Here is his response via email to my post, published with due permission.

How to save the world from knowledge? - A business fable



The day wasn't over yet. John glanced at his watch. It was 2:30 AM. He had just finished proofreading his presentation for later that day. He couldn't believe it took him this long. To hell with Parkinson's Law! He sat motionless in his desk, too exhausted to hit the bed. He badly wanted some fresh air. His hands sought no permission from him and clicked open the Tweet-deck App. He scrolled through the tweets gushing out of the window.

When he first saw the tweet, he choked. Was it meant to be a joke? He zoomed over to see if the tweet was still there just the way he read it few seconds ago.

How to get rid your MBA mind of bullshit taught in B-School?

Provocation has always been a rewarding tool for writers. Many writer-provocateurs have sold plenty of books & made millions out of it. I've often found it to be a crass spectacle of ignorance, strictly to be used to play to the gallery.

Last week, I deliberately went into my discomfort zone by writing a provocative piece on what I strongly felt about this whole MBA humbug business.

You can read it here. 

Regular readers of this blog would be able to spot various riffs of ideas explored in depth in my blog. The response was overwhelming, according to my standards. It was heartwarming to receive calls from strangers who felt so moved by the article and wanted to empathize with my thoughts and observations.

What I learned in this exercise were two things.
1) To provoke the readers over an emotive issue and offer grounded perspectives as an antidote is not really such a bad idea

2) The tighter you tether a problem with an emotion, the stronger you allow the readers to respond with empathy and enthusiasm.

Social Network 101: Communities Vs Social Network

We are living in the age of popcorn content. I was convinced of this when I recently came across this napkin illustration in LinkedIn's publishing platform, describing the differences between a social network and a community. It paints the differences in broad, simplistic strokes, reminding us how often we succumb to the temptations of a good-sounding narrative. Why bother probing into the dynamic nature of social networks when there is a convincing story to be told about how community is all about relationships and networks have to contend with only transactions?

Karma and Narratives

We are suckers for narratives. In Will Storr's beautiful meditation on life narratives, he eloquently explains why is it so. Storr writes,
The brain generates a narrative to make sense of the world around us, but also to make sense of ourselves. We think we’re captained by the part of us that’s self-conscious – the bit that we experience as our own living ‘me’, that collision of sense, memory and internal monologue at the centre of which sits the ‘I’. Yet there’s a silent, unconscious ‘I’ to which we have no access. It communicates with emotions, wordlessly coaxing us this way and that with its ceaseless blooms of disgust and fear and desire. It influences everything we think and do.
Exactly how much influence does this self have over our behaviour? Experts disagree. Some say its control is total: that the voice that speaks in the privacy of our heads might seem like it’s in charge, but really it’s just a babbling spin doctor, making excuses for the misdeeds of its boss. Others claim that our rational selves can play an executive role under certain, limited circumstances – but not much more than that. Either way, most of the time we feel that we’re autonomous only because the voice in our heads narrates all our actions, explaining why we’re doing what we’re doing at any given moment, even though it actually has no idea.
The West calls this story-making, "Confabulation". In the East, we instinctively recognize it as "Karma" - the narratives we tell ourselves and others concerning the vicissitudes of our life.