Sunday, June 21, 2009

Social Networking- Where from Here?

I am afraid it is a non-starter. I cannot even use a bicycle pump.”
• When asked whether she uses e-mail.
Judi Dench : in Times, 13 Feb 1999

Social Networking is ‘The Buzz’ on the Web these days. And everybody seems to smitten by this e-bug. Twitter, Facebook, FreindFeed and a host of other websites are the places to be these days.

As dynamic as it's growth is, social networking mushrooms on one simple idea- bringing people closer to each other. The keynote storm started about two and a half years ago, a period when social networking sites were literally multiplying by the day. Now that we have so many of these websites, do we really need more?

I think the way forward would be exploring ways of linking the present socio-net sites to provide a user with richer experience of social-networking and give a new meaning to the phrase ‘being on-line’. The point I want to stress is that, every possible contour of web-based socializing has been explored (well, under the restraint of the present technological know-how.), so it would na├»ve to pile on content on a single web-page. Instead, clever tie-ups with other sites would make the user-experience better, redefine ease of use and set bench-marks for future.

Here, I would like to point out the striking resemblance of the growth of social-networking with the growth of internet itself. During its early stages, organizations and groups developed computer networks exclusively for their firms (Arpanet et all). But soon enough it was realized that the strength of a network lies in the number of workstations it syncs. That small realization back then is the main reason why internet is the big monster that it is, today. And the same goes for social-networking. The techies should dig deep and ensure that socio-net’s future is bright.

These are early days for socio-net. There maybe divided opinions about its future, some different than mine. What’s your perception? Drop in a line.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

India's crystal ball

In the race of development, it is a well known fact that the U.S. is lapping quite a few countries.

India used to be one of them, but now, with global economical meltdown the American juggernaut has slowed down. India cannot catch up with the U.S., but the current scenario has thrown up some interesting possibilities.

India won it's independence from the British rule about 200 years after the U.S. won theirs. This effectively puts Bharat 200 years behind America. Globalization, significant economic decisions and healthy development have helped us shorten the divide.

All these factors stack up and put an interesting picture, where the U.S. has become a model economy for India. Look carefully and you will find that India as a nation is going through a lot of things that the U.S. has already experienced. The Great Depression, the bouts of moral policing are some of the red-flags in the comparison.

Here, I would like to clarify that I am not indicating that India is an U.S. re-breed, but the point I want to drive home is we can use U.S. as a scale for our development and skillfully avoid the roadblocks that they have stumbled on.

Who knows, we may be setting the pace someday?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Game for Life

Gaming is in its best phases. Stunning graphics and stupendous sounds make for an amazing experience. But as we tap away on our PSs and Wiis and not to forget PCs, we forgot what joy and thrill of gaming is. The joy and thrill only a video-game could provide. Yes, the very humble predecessors of today’s gaming monsters. Nothing beats the simplicity of game-play and sheer satisfaction that these 2-D games provide. Here is a list of things that form a collection I fondly call ‘Hall of Game’:

Oh Mario!- First he walked into video-games, then into our hearts and now he also comes in 3-D. Mario and his brother Luiggi have become the face of the gaming industry and the Mario Bros. game has become an all-time classic. Easily the best game I have ever played, it is the boundless possibilities of the title and the surprise-element it offers that makes it a memorable game. (Try cracking the 7th level....)

What to do? - No directions here! Unlike today’s games which come fully equipped with directions and tutorials, games of the yesteryear were mysteries until you actually played them. I still remember frantically tapping all the keys on the game-pad on my first brush with Contra. Which reminds me....

Contra Craze- While the Mario brothers were hogging the limelight another twosome were making ripples. These gun wielding, bare-bodied cousins of Salman Khan were on a rampage, literally. Contra caught our imagination with its flair, awesome action and never before seen sequences. And the game-play was captivating to say the least. The double-player mode was a revelation as well. Subsequent titles kept the flag flying.

Para4 9999999- Have you ever seen a name ‘Super Mario 9999999’? Well, this is one of the numerous crazy titles that you find on a game-cartridge. We kids used get really excited on seeing such names, only to find the same old game, what a dud!

Green Chaos- As we grew familiar with video-game consoles, to break open the cartridge cover came naturally to us. The little, green circuit boards were easier to carry, hide, and share sans the bulky cover. I still find it hard to believe that I could recognize exactly which game-cassette (the local name) has which game, when I was young.
These memories are hard to forget.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot the honorable mentions. These did not make it to the list but are worth a mention:
-Islander game series (Beautiful game environment and brilliant colours)

-Plug-pins (12 pin and 36 pin plugs were more common to us than the table-fan plug)

-Gunman (I still don’t know how those game-guns work....)

-Jumbo-Combos (Go ahead and press any and every key and brace yourself for a move never seen before)

Do you have any fond memories of your halcyon gaming days?

Drop a line then!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Picture Perfect

Animation and visual effects are the toast of the moment. And the rush is to make them more real. But this is what bugs me. Crazy? Wait until you get around my way of thinking.

For years, directors have been banging their heads on getting the visuals perfect and mind you, some of them are stunning (the visuals that is….) and producers have been spending the moolah. But is it worth the trouble? I had to do a lot of soul-searching before finally deciding to write, because I know this piece will open a Pandora’s Box. What I think is- you can’t perfect what you don’t know. Everybody knows that Super-Man flies, but nobody has SEEN him flying.

SO, should we stop visual-effects? Of course not. These guys do a great job and totally rock. I am a big fan of such movies as well. I know many would fancy kicking me at the moment but they have two reasons to do otherwise- (a) They should give the idea a second (and thorough) thought and (b) The internet shall not house physical-touch (or kick) technology until the second dot com revolution.

Coming back to point, it is neither the quantity nor the quality, but the entity that brings forth the true brilliance and vividness. So it is not the humongous force-fields or giant alien tin-nutcrackers kicking human butt, but little tweaks here and there that are etched in the memory forever. The 3-D Dumbledore card in first of the Harry Potter movie series is one of my personal favorites.

I would love to see a director make a movie which is full of such tweaks instead of larger than life sequences. It’s all about being within you and still trying to outdo yourself. It’s about stitching together a beautiful picture instead of buying one. I am sure it would be a huge hit.

It’s easier said than done, but it is surely worth a try. Isn’t it?

I would love to know what you think. (The ones who wish to kick may consider reading the piece again.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mapped-Writer's Brain

Recently I realized how much I banged my head on what I should write. I also realized how much our writing is influenced by our presumption of readers’ perception. I believe that a writer’s mind has what I call scopes (well I tried ADize the theory ;-), one that urges the writer to write what the readers want to read, one that urges him to pen down whatever his inner thoughts and feelings suggest and one which is a bit of both.

The first one is the safe mode. It tells you to write was the audience wants and is generally associated with rookies. I have to admit that even I was in sync with this scope, and its vestiges continue to exist in me. More often than not, it ensures that you are loyal to your readers, but the success depends heavily on grasp of the language and muses. Good way to start off, given that you don’t get the knack of it.

The second scope is the hard to hit and few have such a mind-frame. Can’t write much about it, I have never been in that mode. What I can tell is that it is comparable to subconscious brain, very powerful but equally hard to connect. Your work may not have many takers but it does manage a cult following.

Third and final scope is the purple patch and what I mean by ‘a bit of both’ is a mix of both styles of writing. THIS is hardest to achieve. Why? Because you have to volley between to mindsets with poles-like contrast. Having said that, most writers, (well, at least the ones who have gone through the grind) are in this frame of mind. Strange, but it is a fact.

Initially I had thought of ending it here, but later I had conflicting thoughts on the idea.
It came to me that a writers mind is too complicated to map and that there is a fine line between the second and third scope. In fact it is so fine that can’t be considered a line. Hmm.... food for thought. What do you think? Drop in a line.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Last Annual Day

It was my last Annual Day in the Middle School and I was excited to be a part of it. But all forces of nature seemed to be against this. I was feeling full, and that was obvious as I had gorged myself on any and every thing that was edible. By 5pm, my head was feeling wobbly.

I and my friends were discussing the taekwondo formation that we were part of. And suddenly,
A blue rabbit jumps out of thin air with a grey carrot in its mouth, glowing butterflies, psychedelic patterns, monkeys playing banjos, nana na na nah nana na nah........

I wake up leaning against the backstage wall. “We are due in 3hrs....” one of my friends mumbles to me. “Don’t worry.” I said. I tried my best to keep up, but I wasn’t feeling good. My stomach was odd and bouncy (bouncy??). I tried talking to my friends, trying not to think about my tummy. But it was useless. I was wishing my friend luck for his next act when
Four white crows flew in and perched on my head, crackers, blue rabbit’s back, goblins, turtles running fast. Why? Seagulls, pink fishes, Daffy Duck, Justin Timberlake, goofy, oh shit......
Pretty face..... I’m on the lap of the girl I had crush seventh heaven, ma’am talking to me....asking to quit.....yeah.....WHAT?! I can’t quit. Oh great I back to my senses.
After a long argument with my teacher (well not exactly an argument but something a shade milder than that) I went in for my performance. We were good. Nobody messed up his or her moves and the act went smoothly. After the usual indifferent clap for the bored audience we came back, and I was the man of the moment. My friends and teachers congratulated me for being able to carry myself well on stage. After the event was over, I rushed to parents and the very next second I was in their arms.
While returning home in our car I sat at the back soaking in all the praise for my courage. But why is Dad wearing a sky blue Santa hat. Oh shit....