Archive for January, 2011



January 29, 2011

Actually, let me extend my comments on involving the information tribe in the blog.  I recently read two books and I’d like to put forth some extended quotations from each.

The first book, which came to my attention for some professional reasons, is: D. Tapscott and A. D. Williams, Macrowikinomics: Rebooting Business and the World, London: Portfolio Penguin, 2010.

The second book, which came to my attention for some personal reasons and was relatively easily accessible due to the Library of Congress Public Law 480 Program, is: R. A. Kashyap, Facets of Ancient Indian Education and Their Modern Relevance, Bangalore: Tattva Viveka Publications, 1973.

p. 344: “Many organizations take the wrong approach to exploiting the Web.  They might create a new technology or system that promises to improve the way people work.  To do so, they’ll assess what people say they need, they’ll design a system, and then they’ll implement it, doing their best to manage change.  They’ll use the same approach to create any other content—whether it’s a Web site, a new product and service, or a new way of dealing with the customer.  In each case, they’ll think of themselves as creators of content.

“This is the wrong approach.  In order to succeed in a wiki world, you cannot just think of yourself as a content provider, or as someone creating an initiative, product, or service.  Instead, become the curator, someone who creates a context or a platform that allows other people to self-organize and create things that are valuable, both for you and for them, and maybe even for the world.  If you build a Web site, don’t simply load it up with static content.  Instead, create the framework and tools for others to create their own content and build communities.”

pp. 9-10: “The propagation of culture depended on the preservation of all the great values that had been discovered throughout man’s existence in life.  It needs no reiteration that the civilisation of man from the savage state was made possible the moment he discovered methods of preservation of ideas and experience through the discovery of language.  The primary purpose of history and the primary urge behind it was nothing more than this, of preserving all those skills, physical or mental, that conduce to the progress of the species.  Naturally what was useful and valuable was preserved and what was not so useful or had been superseded by more useful knowledge was discarded.  That is the true sense of history; the preservation of what is useful for social weal.  Opinions among intellectuals might be divided on this issue but for the common man History should be a force enabling him to link what is useful and valuable in the past with his present, so that he may create a better future.  Mere preservation of facts will tend to be a burden on the people, however much we may defend them on the score that they are the results of the painstaking work of scientific historians.  Much that is in the dead past is best ploughed back to the earth so that it may rot there and provide the necessary manure for the growth of better things.  The desirable ones ought to be preserved and made to live luxuriantly.

“Hence the true function of History as Vyasa conceived it was that it should be a force for the preservation and propagation of culture.  He had laboriously undertaken the arrangement and the editing of the Vedas.  Such a task could only be for the few.  The common man needed an easier and an interesting mode of retaining all that was good in the past to guide his life in the present.  It was this that gave birth to the composition of the Mahabharata.  Here was History recorded not with an accent on the facts in their strict veracity, as scientific historians might claim, but living ideals and values treasured and transmitted.”

My interpretation of Kashyap’s claim is that the curator Krishna Dwaipayana was equal to, if not greater than, the creator Krishna Vasudeva.

I never used to like “comparing and contrasting” in English classes in school, so I’ll leave it to you to develop insight from the two quotations and to describe desiderata for a Vyasa of the wiki world.



January 18, 2011

With a title like Dimensions, you might think I would want to talk about 3D television or perhaps about color spaces and metamers.  Maybe about that romance of many dimensions, Flatland, or how multitaskers believe they’re getting more done, but instead they’re just getting faster and sloppier, as if exceeding channel capacity.  Or if you thought I was in a mathematical mood, you might expect some discussion about high-dimensional concentration in geometry and in probability.  Incidentally, this Vesica Piscis business that arises in soft sphere packing, especially in high dimensions, is rather intriguing.    Apparently 7 dimensions is extremal when looking at the surface area of hyperspheres:

What I really want to talk about is your suggestion of expanding the social dimension of this blog.  I like the idea of interviews with others.  Hopefully we’ll get some informational strength of weak ties benefits by expanding beyond the two of us.  I wonder if structural holes would come into play.

I wonder how Watson would do when facing questions from you rather than from Alex Trebek (or Jimmy McGuire).

Incidentally, I also like your Bhullar campaign.  You should get the magician (or at least the sauna) behind it.  I think the brothers would almost automatically become the second and third best hindoos to ever play at Syracuse.


Listening to the Crowd

January 14, 2011

¡Olé Señor Ole Einar Bjørndalen!  It was sad to hear of the passing of Bud Greenspan, who really focused his documentaries on the individuals within the crowded milieu of the Games.

The social milieu, the crowd, the commons, the mob.  Poll the mob?  Ask the mob?  Trust the mob? Is the crowd wiser than the individual?  Is the ensemble stronger than its components?

The Gap listened to the crowd and has done amazingly well in the stock market since.

The Hindu people respect scriptures composed by a collection of Vyāsas.

As has been recently written, “The AAU circuit and high-profile recruiting landscape is littered with ‘support groups’ that are merely opportunists pushing their athletes toward the fastest-moving gravy train.”  It looks like Sim and Tanveer Bhullar may be joining that litter.  I hope they are not lead astray by an entourage with mixed up objectives.  The brothers could really provide the push needed to bring the Indian crowd into the game of basketball.  My earlier call for a large, united campaign to bring the Bhullar brothers to Syracuse could overcome a fragmented, discordant Bhullar entourage.  There’s a penalty of discord, innit?

And you’ll be talking about the penalty of discord among other things related to decision making by people, committees, and crowds next month in San Diego, innit?

It is true that this blog is written as a conversation between us, Señor Subrata Paul. but I wouldn’t interpret that conversation as only a dialogue.  I’m glad that you took the time to engage the community.  Let me suggest another direction for the blog: bringing some friends in for a conversation, interview style.  We (and anyone who later happens upon the blog) would be able to learn more about the life and times of different members of the community, to hear the stories of the individuals within the crowded milieu of the information age.