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.

My blog re-birthed itself in 2010, under the new, seemingly narcissistic title Venkinesis, after I understood (or thought I understood) the power of the Web. I was determined to build my home in the world of bits, rallying to the passionate cri de coeur of the Internet evangelists to destroy life-sucking hierarchical institutions of the past. 

Enchanted by how the blogging medium mirrored the fluid nature of human perceptions, my blog served two functions, firstly as a chronicle of my perceptions and thoughts as they found expression and secondly as a witness to the kinesis, the movement that unfolds the shift in perceptions over time.     

Little did I know then that I was fooling around under the pretense of personal branding, conniving others (and myself) that I was building my home, while I was busy creating a ravenous self-identity, gobbling down the cake made from the virtual crumbs of my own digital footprint. 

It took my immune system the threat of virtual self-annihilation to purge out this gluttonous self reeking with the stench of the stale breadcrumbs and out-dated perspectives. This painful process for its due worth helped me rediscover the meaning of blogging: An intensely personal activity of mental hygiene necessary to clear the cob-webs off one's thinking head.

Today, with a clearer purpose of blogging, I have the luxury of trying out different masks without any fear of them eating my face. Despite living in the age of "publish or perish", I can afford to play around with all seriousness, rest assured that I am not the content I publish.

Grazing the valleys 
2014 turned out to be very special as it helped me define a simple yet concise description of my work in the networked world. If what I do today can be summarized in five words, without sounding reductive, it has to be this - build context and craft narratives.

This description will mean nothing to you if you haven't invested before on the meaning of the words- context and narratives.  These words can mean different things to different people and, perhaps, it is to these words' credit for carrying a panorama of meaning - right from the mundane to the profound -so lightly on their sleeves.

Of the two, I spent more time on narratives this year. I presented a whitepaper on "The Return of Narratives" at a Big Data conference, arguing that in a world awash with data, narratives would play a critical role in providing the dynamic contexts by which we would make sense of the data we would breathe in the near future. (I presented its implications for analytics professionals here.)

In a nutshell, I attempted to draw out the cyclical process in which context not only finds expression through narratives, but also feeds off its energies and discovers newer trajectories. Of course, I haven't completely sketched out the details and will continue to explore it further this year to seek more clarity.     

Using Bill Stor's meditation on life narratives as an anchor, I also tried to showcase how karma narratives play ponzi schemes inside our minds as we reason to ourselves the unfavorable events which unfold beyond human control. 

Apart from this, I also took time for some excursions of inquiry into the process of knowing in the networked world. As a consultant - somebody who sells his knowledge for a living- I felt it was necessary to examine whether we need to rewire or reclaim our knowing process in today's age of information abundance. Set in the form of a fable, it was one of my favorite posts of the year. 

Later during the year, with great trepidation, I went out of my comfort zone and wrote a provocative piece about what I felt about the MBA humbug business. What I learned in that exercise ( as I have articulated before) 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.

Despite the warm response I received to the article, I remain skeptical of using it again until thoughts find no other recourse other than using the tools of provocation. 

During the last month of 2014, I got an opportunity to revisit the relationship between context and narratives through a workshop session I did on Storytelling & Narratives for the Hyderabad's blogging community. In that session, I attempted to distill my seven years of blogging experience and also address few questions which intrigued me. Some of them were,

1) Why do facts come and go while stories stay forever?
2) Can blogging be used for self-exploration?

Although the slides have been put up( you can find them here) , I am looking at writing a detailed post delving into this soon. 

Here is a round-up of few miscellaneous posts which eluded what I've covered so far.

1) Communities Vs Social Networks -  After getting frustrated over reading a overly simplistic view on social networks, I tried to sketch out the differences between the two ancient social structures from the standpoint of the dynamics of the relationships. 

2) Into the Yagna of Modernity- Deeply moved by Svaha, a short movie I found on the web, I wrote a short commentary on this beautiful elegy to the eternal Brahmin traditions, pondering over my relationship with tradition. 

3) Hashtags as Social Networks Exploring hashtags as contextual frames. This was my first attempt to write one-shot blog posts in one sitting, after I came across the hashtag messaging start-up Kik

To sum up, although my writing output was very meager, I am happy with the momentum that has been built and the seeds that were sown. I suppose, It will be fun harvesting them and get busy planting new seeds. Wish you all a happy new year! 

8 comments:

Emeri Gent [Em] said...

kinesis, "the movement that unfolds the shift in perceptions over time" integrated with the ven of "context and narratives". The chemistry here is passion inside meeting energy outside. This is not a kinesis but a venkinesis, so an idea that has spirit meets meaning that now has body.

It can move into the world because now it has physical form and it will meet ideas that will try to push at that body, try to deform it to see if it is made of or to change the physical meaning for those who also have ideas but are looking for a body.

With only ideas we can push against something, challenge or question and that is always easier when there is no actual body - when we have only ideas it is easier to be against things, but once we have body, we have ground - and we simply move to one side and watch the futility. It will unfold because most people are looking for meaning, but only a few will walk with it.

Passion that is spiritual will dissipate into the night, but now housed to receive energy, passion as a biological home. A being has been shaped, something new has been born - a venkinesis.

We can either sit in the womb of ideas or give birth to meaning - we do not need to spend too much time worrying or being critical of all the meaning that was unborn. Ideas fit armchair punditry, meaning is accompanied those who are able to get out of the chair.

There is always chairs, but less teachers and even when there are teachers, there will also be teachers in chairs - rather than teachers with meaning. The road less travelled now has a name, a movement, an address and a journey that isn't called a venkinesis but is a venkinesis.

In ideas we can be all things to all people but in meaning our world becomes smaller, it becomes more laser focused - we separate ourselves from those who pretend to be alive and the few that are absolutely alive.

The relationship between passion and energy now appears to us everywhere. We can go back to the chair and it make our womb and from a seated position observe everything or we grow in the relationship which is now unique to us. Our we find our living space, and nurture it, find fellow roots and thereby create a physical becoming.

We are not abandoning our spiritual state, we are appreciating physical intelligence. The intelligence of our choices, of our craft, of our way.

The reframing here that is necessary is that we are getting married to meaning rather than getting divorced from ideas. Is this "venkenisis" a match made in heaven? We don't know - for those that sit in chairs there is more knowing and there is a point of physical intelligence, which is unlearning because we got full of knowing and only knowing.

When we get married to meaning, it is a physical act, a procreation and not a recreation. It is a major decision - there will be many forms of kinesis, but only one form of venkinesis. This is an original being in an ocean of spirits without land or being.

The life spirit of meaning is appreciation. The meaning in death is legacy, where our life story becomes spirit again. If this venkenesis is a truly a movement, then this ven will emerge as the kenesis unfolds.

In ideas there will always be doubt, in meaning there is life. Those only with ideas can doubt themselves and never be born, those with meaning can move. Meaning has rebirth for it is entirely possible for one state of existence to emerge into another state, but left only as an idea and we can create without a creation. In a passion state we have G-d's, in energy we have our World. What courage there is in those who create worlds when the sperm of ideas has actually fertilized an egg of meaning.

The chemistry here is passion inside meeting energy outside.

[Em]

Lali Chattoraj Sengupta said...

That is such a perceptive and well-elucidated piece, Venky. You write exceptionally well and your thought patterns are very interesting too.

Venkataraman said...

Thanks Lolita for your kind words! You've been an inspiration in my quest to write better.

To my friends who are reading my blog, you should definitely check out her writings at http://lolitachattorajsengupta.wordpress.com/

Ramakrishnan Seshadri said...

You tie narratives and technology (+ karma) together to say
there is a different way to identify and relate with things. When I play back what you say these come as significant messages to highlight in me. There are other messages too.. but significant I mentioned.. Good open writing.. Continue your analysis! Help us be part in your journey.

Emeri Gent [Em] said...

When I wrote my first response, it was all gazing which involved no expenditure of pain at all, and that is "gazing". When gazing becomes a metaphor for personal transformation, that is a really good thing. It means we were capable of seeing ourselves and knowing ourselves. There are always painful realizations that stem from such insight - the key is the realization. The pain is simply a description of the past, and it does not represent the present unless it still hurts.

If the past no longer hurts but is pure realization, then we can move on. If pain was a transformation, we should both be insightful about what we no longer are but also be mindful that is lost in the losing of the past. If an experience strengthens us then we are better for that experience - the value is the resulting insight.

The value of my response is grass that I must chew, and that is how we graze. We chew on what is and the what is in your response is a declaration, an intent and a decision. That is what you are going to be chewing on hence forth and that is your nutrition and in the expression of Seth Godin, your Purple Cow.

In terms of analogies, sky is important, ground is important but what we often neglect is core. Indeed, the relationship between space, sky, ground and core are a part of finding the whole. The cathartic moment in your response is not sky or ground, but past and present.

You will fashion, shape and produce new ground, but the moment that is shaped that too becomes a past, you will transform insights that were painful to realize into realities which are whole. Geoffrey Moore did not talk about crossing the valley, he talked about crossing the chasm.

Clearly in your 2014 reflections there has been a chasm that has been crossed, and the transformation here is viewing the pain to understanding the chasm that has just been crossed due to that pain (realization).

What is important here is that there is new energy at the core, there is new ground in formation due to that new energy and that energy will reach new skies. When we have a former self because the transformation was so acute, a new being because of this transformation, we have more than a clear past and a clear present - we have a reference point which was our former self.

The Venky that will be 20 years from now won't be questioning which transformation was more essential - whether that be the Venky who was 20, or the Venky who is getting closer to 30 or the Venky who will one day be 40. It will all be an appreciation of the whole, good or bad, for better or for worse - the key is that these reference points must constantly find their meaning in terms of blessings, rather than retrospectively viewed as a curse (and it cannot be a curse unless there was no transformation in your being).

What is nice here is that you are crystal clear about where it is you are going and there may be pretenders or passengers who you pick up on the way, and then there will be people who add real value to your journey - the mere fact that the core of one's being is aligned is where that value will emit from, whatever you create on the ground, that value will transmit from and how that transmission connects with the sky, will determine, what comes back and how the ground is shaped by that and how the core grows stronger because mission, emission and transmission became aligned - lots of signal to work with, lots of noise to ignore, but the transformation isn't gazing to grazing - because remember, all such actions are still a part of the whole. :-)

Congratulations Venky.

[Em]

Venkataraman said...

Hello Sir! It's a pleasure to hear from you. Thank you for your comments! I would be interested to hear more from you in your journeys of human value and self exploration!

Venkataraman said...

When I read your first response before this one, to be honest with you, I struggled to respond in a coherent whole. The activity seemed daunting, because of the inevitable writing process which would obliterate what is ineffable. I am attempting once again fully aware of its flaws, lest I give you the impression that I haven't meditated over your deeply provoking responses. Looking at the web as a mirror of your own reflective self is a skill I have begun to learn from wise souls like you! I count every interaction a blessing in that regard, and I am sure, I would one day sit with you, in all my materiality and give you a warm hug on a sunny day in Canada and share with you the first blush of excitement i had when I discovered "Mark Zorro". God bless you sir with pink of spirits and health!

Emeri Gent [Em] said...

The world of narratives and storytelling is much richer than I originally conceived, it is interesting how much our focus takes in regarding an area of interest that we would be oblivious to before. I look forward to seeing how your journey unfolds.

As for hugs, I come from a family of huggers and have learned to create my own space - living in a communal home smothered with alloparenting, is a unique space. It creates unique realities.

In that regard I have become much more Japanese in my disposition - I welcome bowing or at least shaking hands - and then all that hugging continues in the consulting world - (not to mention those kisses on the cheek that I often avoid by extending out my arm). One client still wanted the hug, and chased me down even as I did my best to avoid that, I sometimes whatever happened to that old fashioned warrior class Samurai.

Doesn't namaste mean "I bow to you" and acknowledging the spirit of the other person rather than their physical being. How then did we became this society of virulent huggers?

The good news for me is that I wasn't born in France but the not so good news is how socially awkward it becomes for me when I do not drink, do not party and do not hug :-)

Namaste, "I bow to you" :-)

[Em]