Ego cogito, ergo sum

A compodium of my published aritcles, features, etc. on technology, IT and everything else; sourced from CyberMedia publications, Financial Express, Free Press Journal, Nazara.com, etc……

Uddhav: The Reluctant Tiger

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Right alongside the mirror in Matoshree’s bathroom, there must be a sticker of the party emblem — the tiger and a placard that would have the words ‘growwllll’ etched on them. The purpose of the two is simply to remind Uddhav Thackeray his lineage, and to imbibe the ‘killer instinct’ in him that the Thackerays are so much renowned for. Somehow Uddhav, the youngest of the Bal Keshav Thackeray clan, was a misfit in the family and hence he needs to be constantly reminded of who he is and what he must pose. The latest episode involving the mud-slinging with Rahul Gandhi and Shahrukh Khan is an illustration of the same fact, the display of false paws.

Some are born great and some have greatness thrust upon them, goes the adage and Uddhav is a living testament to that. Till about 2002, little was known about Uddhav except that he liked photography and yes that he was the youngest  son of the ‘remote control’ of one of the most vituperative Hindu leader. The bespectacled almost impish Uddhav preferred to do his bit, snap tigers in the wild, or shoot forts in Maharashtra from a helicopter.Uddhav, whose name means the brother of Krishna, was quiet happy to lead a non-descript life with his two sons. Since, he happened to be at the vortex of power, he could barely afford the privilege of a profession. So, he was content hosting his photo exhibitions now and then and living it out at his idyllic farm house in Karjat. Unlike his elder brothers, Jaidev and Binda, who were either spoilt by the allure of power or caught in a web of indulgences, Uddhav kept away from both politics and business. In a way, youngest Thackeray seemed to have inherited more from his mother Meena Thackeray, a warm and genile persona that shielded an iron will.

Yet, for all his desires to be away from the dust and grime of politics, he was destined for it. With the death of his brother Binda Thackeray in a car accident, his mother Meenatai in a cardiac arrest and relationship souring between Jaidev and senior Thackeray, his ageing father had no shoulder to lean on, except Uddhav’s. Though, there was indeed Uddhav’s cousin and Balasaheb’s nephew Raj, who had completely imbibed his uncle not only in the way he looked, but also the way he spoke, he thought and he reacted. Raj also had a keen business mind, and was not averse to using any means to achieve his ends. The Ramesh Kini murder case was an example, Raj was accused of threatening and subsequent murder of Ramesh Kini for a real estate deal. Raj over the years, under the aegis of Balasaheb had become the de-facto heir, whose anointment was just a matter of time. But destiny had other plans for him as well.

Once, the Shiv Sena (in conjunction with BJP) had tasted power, they were keen to hold on to it. In fact, before the saffron combine took over the Maharashtra state legislature in 1995, Shiv Sena were just a band of ruffians that were content to terrorise real-estate barons and business people and exhort money from them. But on ascending the CM’s chair, this band of ruffians suddenly realised that the real riches lay elsewhere and what they had been all the time dealing was merely a drop in front of the ocean of opportunity that lay in front. After 5 years in power they were badly itching to be back. Power was undeniably a great intoxicant and now that the ruffians had tasted it, they could not stay away from it.

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Twit Me Journalist

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Blood oozed out profusely through Neda Agha-Soltan’s nose and mouth, as lay dying on the pavement. Within seconds of it, her eyes rolled to one side, and it was evident that life was ebbing out of her. The 26 year old, had been shot apparently by government militiamen as she was proceeding to join a pro-democracy protest against the alleged fraudulent victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the Iranian. Neda’s sad end was captured on a mobile phone by one of the onlookers, and uploaded on Youtube on the same day, i.e. June 20th 2009.

Within a few hours the short video clip had been viewed by millions across the globe, and over the next few days Neda became an emblem or rather a martyr to the cause of ‘the Green Revolution’ in Iran. Numerous websites spawned up paying tributes to her, bloggers furtively wrote in her memory, even the mainstream medium joined in, with the video clip being shown on CNN, BBC, etc. In a quirky way, Neda became the first celebrity of the citizen journalism, a method wherein information is created, disseminated and consumed by the laymen and not by journalists working in the media.

Yet the concept of citizen or participatory journalism is not a novel one, it has been around for quite some years. With the mainstream media turning into a pamphleteer of the rich and powerful and doing little about mundane issues that really matter to the common man. A new street journalism that was essentially “by the people” began to flourish facilitated by the emergence of the Web earlier and mobile later. The Web was the catalyst for the movement, as individuals with a web-connection and a point-of-view could now broadcast the same to the world at large. The new world was now populated by bloggers and writers who were furtively punching in stories, uploading video clips, etc.

Some years back I had met Oh Yeon-Ho, the founder of one the most popular citizen journalist portal, Ohmynews. When, I expressed my reservations on how untrained individuals could be dubbed as journalist and expected to create news content, Yeon-Ho assured me that it was well possible and quite required because the conventional media completely ignored the common man. “This is the common man showing his thumb to the mammoth news organizations that think he does not matter,” he had joked. Indeed, the whole edifice on which the 4th estate rested, namely, a controlled medium and a controlled message, was the danger of being swamped away in the new world, in which the consumer was also the creator. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

January 29, 2010 at 1:01 am

Posted in Lonely Monkey

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7 Steps to becoming the CIO

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Peep into an ant-hill and you will know what seamless order and perfection is. The tiny insect cousins have truly evolved a highly complex organizational structure that in spite of being hierarchal is also highly efficient. At the very apex sits the queen, cynosure of all the domicile ants, and does little work except fawn and procreate. Below the queen, there are the scores and scores of workers ants that toil endlessly to ensure that queen is unperturbed and amply at ease.

Were we to project this organizational structure on to a standard enterprise, more so on to IT function of the typical enterprise. It will be fairly evident, that the CIO is the queen of the IT-hill, fawned upon by the rest of the managers and professionals. The IT function head has little to do with IT these days and frets and fumes over mundane things like RoI, people management etc.

For the sake of illustration, take the case of Mr. O, who is a CIO of a fairly large pharma company, leads a lifestyle that could be the envy of many. More often than not he is constantly touring the country and globe for work, conferences, etc. He is courted by vendors, analysts, journalists, and others who are all ears for every word that escapes his mouth. The CEO of the company is all ears, whenever Mr. O has a new proposal or strategy. He moves along in hallowed circles receiving awards and recognition with amazing regularity, has a spacious cabin with all the works.

So when does Mr. O work? Well, honestly he does not really work, but merely gets his work done. Over the years, he has outsourced much of the infrastructure management to external vendors. Even so, he still has a small and cosy team of managers and IT professionals that handle the day-to-day functioning of the IT infrastructure and the data center. The ant-hill isn’t much different from the IT-hill, isn’t it?
One cannot be sure if the worker ant within the ant-hill aspires to be the queen, but the IT manager at the IT-hill surely desires to be CIO. This was evident, when we floated out a survey on what it takes to be a CIO to sample of around 500 IT mangers drawn from different verticals, cities, and profiles. To say that the response was overwhelming would be an understatement; close to 300 IT managers had completed the survey within 2 days, while the others continue to do so over the next few days. The dozen odd questions were designed to capture the ‘essentials’ of what it takes to be a CIO. Once, the verdict was out from the IT manager’s end, the same question was posed to the CIOs and external consultants and they were asked to share their views on a similarly designed survey.

Based on the findings of the two, the IT manager survey and the CIO & consultant one, we present the 7-step guide to being a CIO. While much of this may seem fairly obvious and common sensical, yet, remember that it is the small things that make a CIO. And it is these traits and specialities that need to be imbibed and displayed to earn the CIO cap. While the steps might seem fairly easy, they require a complete change of mindset. So, if you are ready for the challenge, here is the way, presenting the IT Next’s 7-step guide to becoming CIO.

  • Be business savvy
Over the past many years the role of the CIO a 180° turnaround. While, he continues to remain the king (or the queen) of all things technical, the role has expanded in a way to encompass all the organization. Thus, a CIO is no more chained to the data center or the IT department, but is expected to take on a much bigger and strategic role within the organization. Also the fact that with rapid digitization, IT and technology is not merely backend, but very much front-end as well. Thus, while a retailer might be concerned about implementing the best inventory and warehousing system at his shop, he could also look at the Web and mobile as an additional front to reach out to the customer. Herein IT provides him a completely new revenue stream that did not exist before. The CIO in this case needs to be the change agent that brings about such a transformation, not reactive but proactive. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

January 22, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Posted in IT Next Stories

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Mogambo; miss hua..

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It has been 5 years since Hindi Film industry’s foremost villain, Amrish Puri left for the heavenly abode of Dongrila and Hindi films have never been the same again. He was the last ‘villain’ of Hindi movies and great one, by par. In these few years, his absence has been acutely felt by viewers of Hindi movies. The hero no more seems as heroic as he did in the past, simply because there is no villain who can tower over him. He was the epitome of villainy, who merely by his presence on-screen could repulse you or send a shiver down your spine. To be honest, he was the last of the great school of villains, that went long time into the past, having illustrious names like Pran, KN Singh, Kanhaiyalaal, Madan Puri, Amjad Khan, etc.

Let me illustrate this point with a personal example, sometime back while watching the film Ghazini, I realised the importance of a good villain in a film. Somehow, I could not sympathise with the character played by Aamir Khan, simply because the ‘bad guy’ did not seem to be menacing enough. He was bad alright, killing or maiming people like any other villains are expected to. But he was not evil, he was not sinister, he was not wicked. And therefore, the protagonist did not seem to be valiant and gallant. Now, imagine Amrish Puri in the role of Ghazini, the main villain and the contours change completely. Almost instinctively, you start to sympathise with hero even before the film starts that was the power of Amrish Puri.

The reason is fairly simple, unlike the West that tends to see the world in grey and color; we are brought up to see everything in Black and White. So, if it is not good, then it has to be bad, if not punya then paap. Even humans are bracketed into these slots, so if you are not a suputra (or suputri for that matter), you are definitely a kuputra (kuputri similarly). Our allegiance to the good is equally matched by our ambivalence of bad. And so we happily exist in this two-dimensional universe. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

January 14, 2010 at 3:24 am

Zewak: The search engine

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Imagine, it is a hot afternoon and you are trudging your way on a street, hot and thirsty. All you want is a nice cosy restaurant where you can sit down, order your lunch and possibly have a drink or two. You keep looking here and there, walking down the length of the street, but are unhappy with what you see. So, you finally catch hold of a person, who seems to be all knowledgeable and approachable. You beseech him to guide you to a ‘nice’ restaurant, where you can find all this and more.

On hearing you out, the person, cross-checks with you a few more things; things like, what is the cost range you looking at? You want to have a beer or a juice? What kind of cuisine you looking at? AC or non-AC? And a few more like this. Based on your responses, he proposes a few options and then on further discussion, you finally chose one from them. The search for the restaurant for a hungry you in this scenario was two-way process.

This is how we work in life; this is how we find what we want. And yet, the online world is anything like this. Most often the search, or more precisely Googling, is a one way process. Wherein we put in a keyword and thanks to the wonderful algorithm and the scores and scores of servers, the search site puts out a veritable lists of things that might be of interest to you.  It is basically information inundation. Going back to the scenario earlier, a hungry you, are presented a telephone guide of all the restaurants that are in the area.
So, while Google has become an integral part of our lives, it is surely not the best solution that we have. What we need is a new search engine, a new idea, a new concept that kind of maps our real life and mimics our offline life on the online space as well. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

January 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Posted in Ideaman

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The Best of the Web (courtesy Time)

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Around this time every year, I eagerly wait for the annual specials from Time Magazine, be it the person of the year or the numerous other specials like the top 10 technologies of the year, top 10 films, etc. Dubbed as the ‘best and the worst lists’ they give a unique perspective on how the year has passed and what has been the high or the low points. But besides these, I really look forward to the world’s top websites listings. The reason is not all that hard to guess, because in it you will finds one of the best gems of human ingenuity, web ideas that were always there in the making except that no one did. This year’s list (www.time.com/time/specials/packages/completelist/0,29569,1918031,00.html) is no different, there are scores and scores of ideas that not only seem worthwhile (to use) but also great (to emulate). So here are a few chosen gems from the Time 50 list of best websites for 2009. If you desire more, log on to the Time site and check the complete list.

Now, I know Tripit as an application in LinkedIn, have often seen my network friends listing their travel with it, what I did not know was that it is much more than a LinkedIn app, it is a web-portal, where you can put in all the travel related documents, for instance flight insurance number, hotel reservation desk, etc. and then access it over your phone or Web in case of need. How often when we land in a new place on not find a car from the hotel, hunt desperately for the hotel’s number here and there. All this could be saved on Tripit and easy accessed on the cell. And then, there is the social networking or rather the LinkedIn aspect as well, bumping into an old friend, who might be travelling to the same place via Tripit.

If you need something specific in your place or region, whom do you ask  — your friend or Google? Well, Vark takes it to search to that level. The idea is simple, why query a bunch of machines that can only understand meta tags and evaluate keywords, when you can pose the same to your friends. SO, next time you want to know where to find the best Mango Kulfi, don’t Google, Vark it by synching your FB contacts, so the question will be sent to your network only and no more. Now, what should we dub it as; social search?

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Written by Shashwat D.C.

January 9, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Idhant's milestones

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Little Sunflower

  Raising a kid is like working on an amazing job; there might be loads and loads of fun, but at the end it is a job nonetheless. The difference is that you don’t get paid (on the contrary, you have to do so) and there is never a break from this one, no PLs, CLs, or sick leaves. There is never a time when you stop being a parent, and being on the edge becomes a habit or so. Suddenly, dust, mites, cold, fever, mosquitoes, et al become your enemies, while crocin, colimex become the trusted friends.  

Are there any KRAs for the child rearing job? Of course, the difference being  that they are called as milestones. These milestones usually turn into an obsession for many parents, as they do not want their ward to lag early in life.  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Shashwat D.C.

December 26, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Lonely Monkey