#saveinternet

#saveinternet

Here we go again! people have found a new cause to attach themselves to. In my post about Causvengers, this is precisely the kind of behavior I had talked about.

Neutrality of internet. People just want to vent themselves on the net. I call them keyboard Kingkongs. I have a keyboard and I have an opinion.

I want to ask all these people. If tomorrow, Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter charged you a fee to use, will you stop using any of these services? If you will.. why? After all, these companies started these businesses… they are in it for profit and if you want to use them, pay for them…if you wont then why bother with what telecom companies want to do.

People do not seem to realize that internet and all internet related activities are moving towards a monopoly.

Tim Wu has written a book called “The Master Switch”. Without getting into too many details of the book, will just key in the back page info here:

“The Internet Age: On the face of it, an era of unprecedented freedom in both communication and culture. Yet in the past, each major new medium, from the telephone to satellite television, has crested on a wave of similar idealistic optimism, before succumbing to the inevitable undertow of industrial consolidation. Every once-free and open technology has, in time, become centralized and closed, as corporate power has taken control of the ‘master switch’. Today a similar struggle looms over the Internet; as it increasingly supersedes all other media, the stakes have never been higher”.

Companies wait till the knife is deep in. You are addicted and then they twist the knife just a little to see how you react.. how addicted you are… Deep enough and strong enough, you start paying for your addiction…

And while I am not taking sides, let us look at telecom industry in our country. From 2003 onwards, we have one of the most cheapest call rates in the world. Same goes for data too. With mobile internet driving the internet consumption in the country (the government did nothing till then), it was but natural that a large population would shift from voice to data. Why pay for  a normal call when the same call costs fraction on Skype. So how do the telecom companies make big profits? they are not here for charity.. are they? And do we really believe that if some websites became chargeable, the telecom companies are going to pocket all the money? Have a look at the websites or apps that the telecom company wants to charge for. Obviously these sites, knowing how many people use them are aiming to monetize that.

And how come government is picking up cudgels on behalf of net neutrality?? We all know that at a hint of a controversy, they want to ban sites or apps or certain stuff (AIB roast a case in point)

And contrary to some tweets I have seen, internet is not free.. is it? Sure we have the freedom to voice our opinions on the net (that is free) but you pay for the internet cost to voice your opinion!

And coming back to causvengers, look at all the people who are tweeting about or writing about saving the internet.. their few seconds of fame!

This post flies against everything that is being said but hey people.. welcome to the real corporate world. They are all about making profits else why will you invest in their shares. Plus the fact that if more people need to get on the bandwagon, infrastructure is required and infrastructure costs money. You scream against these companies for asking money… how come you are not up in arms when governments levy surcharge and cess for various losing ventures??

Nothing is free or neutral in this world. it is just false sense of freedom you are living in… so wake up…

Causvengers


Been a very long time that I have posted anything. Lack of time, too many things that I wanted to write about and a writer’s block… add them all up and that is the excuse… the real excuse.

Hopefully I will get regular again.

So coming to the title of the this post. I am not very good at coining terms but this one is kind of a mix of scavengers and avengers. scavengers for a cause is how I arrived at this term. I think it becomes quite evident as to where I am going with this post and I could stop right here but then, like I was telling someone the other day, very rarely are my posts less than 400 words.

We have become a society of Causvengers. Not because we believe in a cause but because linking up with a cause gives us some mileage and a traction in social media. From an individual to brands to corporates, we are constantly on a search. Is there any cause that we can latch on to… make it go viral.. have it trending.. let the data show how well we did. How many retweets… how many likes… how many shares… Once that is done, hunt for the next one…

This really is a cycle. Some start the trend… some ride the trend and create their own ‘followers’.

The single minded objective is ‘social visibility’. We don’t really bother about the cause once we have moved on… Just like the news channels of today. Arnab Goswami will rant about an issue for a few days or even just a day and then move on. It makes for good TRP.

Create a controversy… and there will always be people taking sides and keep the conversation going.

Often the governments do that. A mindless controversy to keep the attention away from real issues. Start a fire.. sit back and let the media and social media keep stoking the fire…

There will be enough and more causes to latch o n to.. and if there is nothing that quite fits in with what you want.. create your own…

Road rage killing? Road rage will trend for a while. Meat ban in Maharashtra? hell yes! now that should be good enough for a couple of weeks at least… Nothing ever gets achieved beyond a lot of hot air… the life goes on… Internet has not only cut down our attention span, it has also led to this ‘click happy’ activism.

So next time when your fingers are itching to click or tweet or share.. ask yourself why are you doing it…

Reclaim your life


Title courtesy Ogilvy’s campaign for Tata Safari.

Life is not about how many people liked your status on Facebook.

Life is not about how many people shared your link.

Life is not about how many retweeted your tweet.

Life is not about the number of comments or views of your blog.

Life is not about conversing with the brand in the social space. They don’t listen anyways. They are there because supposedly you are the one who is living a connected life and they want to be part of your life.

Life is happening around you while you are walking, driving, in bed or wherever.. on your Facebook, on your twitter, on…

Life is happening around you when you are sitting in a coffee shop with friends but eyes are glued to the 4″ screen.

Are you listening to life? Are you looking at life? Can you smell life? Can you sense life? Nope you can’t because what you really think is life is actually a matrix created by these corporations who want you on their platform so that they can show numbers and get the brands to come and talk to you. For these brands, trending has become an obsession. They think they are in touch with their consumer and it makes everyone happy.

Check out the movie – Trouble with the Curve starring Clint Eastwood and you will know what I am talking about – about hearing life.

Go ahead.. switch off those gadgets and step out. Step out without the pressure to upload where you been and what you been doing… Just step out. The 3 degrees temp on the phone screen. Don’t look at it and shiver. Step out and feel the shiver. Feel your nose go numb and your fingers too…

Join the protest march because you BELIEVE in the cause and not because the Media is covering it. Light that candle with your emotions and not take help from another candle…

It’s time you reclaimed your life… your real life and not the fake one you live on the virtual pages..

All about privacy


Way back in 2009… yes 3 years back I had written two posts – “Privacy would be a new luxury” and “the window needs to be shut”. Probably way ahead of the times I was. I was reminded of these posts when I read the Brunch yesterday (its a supplement with The Hindustan Times every Sunday). It was all about privacy fears, about data mining and building a complete profile of a person by the way he or she uses the web or anything that helps her stay connected. For those who want to know what I am talking about, grab a copy of Brunch or read my posts… The threat is real and it is happening. It may not happen to you because you think you take all the precautions but some day it will…

 

Privacy would soon be a new luxury

Posted: August 7, 2009 in Advertising & MarketingSocial Media
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Luxury products are usually very expensive and affordable by a very few… the reason they are luxury and command a premium.

The way the world is going… soon there will be a new product which is going to be the ultimate luxury. And it is called privacy.

In the age of information explosion (and we ourselves add so much to that), nothing is hidden from anyone who wants to know more about us. If anything, we encourage information to be available about every waking (or sleeping) moment about us.

Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, MySpace, blogs, slideshare…. the list goes on… We are on display… or let me rephrase… we have put ourselves on display. Of course, most of it has been need driven… part of the social need set. But as we are slowly finding out… what goes on the web.. never really disappears. It would probably be there forever… in some form or the other… All the privacy issues that Facebook faced a while back… the furore was not so much about profiles not being deleted… it was about the future… and I will come to that later… The point is that we have taken this social interaction to a level where nothing.. well almost nothing is private… if it is not visible on the homepage or profile, it is visible in a text box of a mobile phone… in chat or e-mail… Nothing is hidden…

While this is what we do… there are organizations that are profiling us… banks, hospitality, mobile service providers, insurance… you name any organization… and they have a profile on their customers. In some cases we feel proud that they have a profile while in other cases it is an irritant…

And I also know that most recruitment consultants, the moment they get a resume, they get on the LinkedIn and all networking sites to check out the candidate! scary huh? people better watch it what they put up on ‘social’ networking sites and how much time they spend over there…

And trust me… while Google Voice is sounding so exciting right now… can you imagine the wealth of information that Google would get about your communication habits?

In one of my earlier posts – “Life in the Blue Nowhere” I had touched upon the fact that the more we are wired, the less is likely to be the privacy we would have… and it is true…

Now this is the case for a common man… celebrities too indulge in giving out very private information about themselves – case in point a little snippet I read about Angelina Jolie badgering Brad Pitt about the burial plot… Geez! And then the celebrities have issues with papparazzi chasing them! If you hang yourself out to dry… how can you complain about people knowing everything about you….

Slowly but surely… we are going to reach a stage when there will be a slew of products which would promise to protect your privacy… And these wont be just of the firewall type… they would be lot more complicated (and expensive) provide ways to erase a whole lot of stuff (stuff which sounded great when it was being posted or put up) from the web. Isolation is going to be packaged and sold (and there would be people who would buy!) and would be sold at exhorbitant prices… We would be craving for isolation… we would be ready to pay top dollar for it…

Letting go of all the gadgets and equipment is going to be tough (there would probably be de-addiction centers for that… for mobile phones there already are…) but we are going to surely try…

We try even now… couple of days away from it all… I know of a friend who had put up a message on facebook that he would not be responding to anything for a week and the comments he got… made for some interesting reading…

I bet there are organizations already working on such products… if anything they are right now feeding this whole “connect” frenzy so that when the time is ripe… there ‘isolation’ product would generate the kind of demand that would surpass the mania that was witnessed for iPhone…

The window needs to be shut

Posted: November 7, 2009 in Social Media
Tags: 

 It has been a while that I have posted anything. Work pressures and many other pressures. Been meaning to write this one for quite sometime now.

Read this book called “The Broken Window” by an author who is soon turning into one of my favorites – Mr Jeffrey Deavers.

At one level it is a gripping read and at another level, it is an indictment of the new culture that web access has spawned in terms of virtual lives taking over from real lives and more importantly, every little piece of information gets stored deep down in some server and then is mined to build a profile on the individual.

Any organization can build extensive profiles  and can have access to the most intimate details basis the purchase that a person makes using a debit/credit card or shopping online or essentially any activity that involves a transaction which is connected and if you read the book, it will send a chill up your spine. You can read more about the book at:

http://www.jefferydeaver.com/Novels_/Broken/broken.html

But the reason for this post… almost like a continuation of earlier posts about “Life in Blue Nowhere” and how “Privacy would be a new luxury”… we are reaching a point where everything that we do and a whole lot of that is online can be captured and used to build our profile. And that profile can be used by corporates to target their offerings. It can be used strategically to modify our behaviour. And it can be used for some really dangerous stuff as mentioned in the book.

I have really started wondering if  “going off the grid”  is a concept whose time has come. The way things are, using a debit card or a credit card may not be very prudent. Can you imagine, you buy a whole lot of stuff and pay through cards (wonder how many have noticed that at the cash counter, while the card gets swiped for transaction, it also gets swiped into the outlet database), the cross tabs of what you have bought can be very informative to a data miner.

Staying endlessly on facebook, twittering and everything else to be socially active on the web would soon lead to people knowing everything about you. Read another book by Mr Deavers and it uses what we say on social networking sites and as comments on various blogs to create a scenario where nothing is private. A person with a little elevated skills of data mining can unearth so many  things that it is scary… your fears, your passions, your insecurities… it is all there for everyone to see.

Rambling of course,  but I do believe that sanity is required in terms of how we use our conveniences and more important, there needs to be a control on how data mining is used. Till that happens, I am going to figure out ways of slowly dropping off the grid.

The glory and misery of youth


Been thinking of doing this post for a very long time.  A lot of what I type here has come through observation, interacting with youth and lot also through reading, watching movies, commercials, ads… Most of it is all there and I probably wont be adding anything new… it is just my perspective

Every time I enter a mall, I feel old and dated and completely out of sync with the world. I read stuff on the net and wonder what transformation has happened over the last three years. Actually I should make it last 8 years. Eight years because 2003 was the year when mobile telephony really opened up and mobile phone came easily into the hands of the youth. Coupled with the fact of easy access to information and many other things over the net, the youth grew up. My daughter and son are lot more mature than what I was at their age (at times it feels great but more often than not it is scary).

But coming back to the mall or any other hangout for the youth (movie halls, pubs,  night clubs, social networking…) one sees this congregation of youth in the fanciest and trendy attire. You look at the clothes and you know that an effort has been made to either look good or to even look grunge or whatever the word is to dress down. They talk a language you don’t understand. Their views on many things are shocking.. to say the least (for an old foggy like me). And am a big cynic of the so-called research about youth. It is not even close to what reality is… specially in the metros.

The images that I see of youth having a wonderful time… parties, clubbing, riding out overnight to some place and coming back (and all of this is not a metro phenomenon… it happens in small towns too.. it is just that youth over there do not have too many public hang out options) and striving to do something for their future… they show an optimism in life. That gets reflected in the questionnaires that get filled up. Also gets reflected are the family values (sound politically correct too)

Look at them… specially from the eyes of the old.. and you would imagine that this is the best time for the youth. And it at times makes you yearn and wish that you were in this age bracket again. Life seems to have passed you by…

But all of this is just a facade. It hides a lot of things. And the biggest among them is fear… fear of failure.. fear of being mocked… fear of not having a social life… fear of not being ‘with it’… fear of not being good enough.

I have posted the link of a song which typifies all of this and part of the lyrics are:

I don’t care if it hurts
I want to have control
I want a perfect body
I want a perfect soul
I want you to notice when I’m not around
You’re so fucking special
I wish I was special

But I’m a creep
I’m a weirdo
What the hell I’m doing here?
I don’t belong here

Acceptance.. to belong drives them and their actions. The brand choices they make… the friends they make… the places they go to.. the time they spend on SNS… the ailment of SUS (status update stress) they suffer from. It all needs to make them part of the group. The New Year Eve’s party invite.. a big thing… “who will invite me… how many invites will I get.. Will I get to party hop… And the excuses I will have to think off if I spend the eve watching trash on tv”… The number of pictures that are posted of parties and wild parties on SNS… it is not so much about having enjoyed… but about having been there…

Back in the old days the stress was in real life and now the youth have carried this stress into the virtual world. It is not enough to be on Facebook and be connected with close friends. It is about how many friends are there on the list. And leads to a lot of stress if the count is low because then their life is up for ridicule for the wide world…

Earlier it is used to be smoking that was a ticket to social acceptance among peers… then it was about drinking and then drugs and now it is about getting inebriated and making out… and keeping count of how many one has made out with… Because not doing so.. would lead to them not getting invited to further parties and being called whatever the slang for prude is now…

The unfortunate part in all of this is that brands, peers and many other influences have exploited that one feeling which leads to all of this… It is loneliness.

This generation is lot lonelier than the previous generation… Being connected through mobile and the web… it has perpetuated a life that is not real… what happens now in real life is what their communities says is the in thing in the virtual world. The youth have become slave to the technology. I have seen these people at various places.. hanging around together.. but no one is talking to each other.. they are all over the phone talking to others who are not there… seriously.. what gives??

This loneliness has driven the youth into many things which deep in their heart they do not want to do but force themselves to do them because they want to belong. Contrary to what Graham Brown and Josh Dhariwal of mobileyouth.org say : “As a brand are you helping me belong or become socially significant”… the urge is still to belong… The ones who want to be significant are part of the group that is leading to yet another of the change that is happening with the youth… selfishness. Being significant is about how I can become more important and better than others in my group. Is their something that would make me the one that the group looks up to and follows..

We are heading towards times when this lonely and selfish generation would grow older.. have children… what will they pass on to their children as values… What are we doing as a society to take cognizance of the pressures that are killing the youth today… Forcing them to change their behavior.. forcing them to stop doing a lot of stuff is not going to be the answer… if anything.. it would lead to further distancing them from us… As brands.. what are we perpetuating… nothing at all… we only feed on their anxiety and fears to make our balance sheets look good. And the biggest example of this… the latest Airtel communication – har ek friend jaroori hota hai… why?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyHkhiXatvk

And here is the link to the song by Radiohead – Creep

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkzRNyygfk&ob=av2e

Convergence and Privacy(or isolation)


Two technology trends in three days are indicative of how technology is going to polarize how we are going to communicate or wish to communicate in the future. And a pat on my back for having predicted the trends a year and half back.

First of course is the big news about facebook and their intention to monopolize the mind of their users. If everything can be done through facebook… why login to any other website to email or connect. And not just connect on email but infiltrate every mode of communication. The facebook generation which spends endless hours over there… all the more reason to shift their entire life to facebook! Imagine the eyeballs and the money that can be made through advertising on facebook. But…

Am just wondering is it really such a good idea. To play a devil’s advocate… hack into a person’s account and you know every single detail about the person and everyone else who forms the eco system of that person. I think facebook is creating a monster which has the potential to invade a person’s privacy like no other. In my past posts on social media, I had commented how there is a darker side of internet which can take over a person’s life and identity theft would probably take an all new meaning. It is time Mr Jeffery Deavers penned another book. All the information about the person in one place so no need to even troll the net to get more. facebook has made things so easy for people with devious intent! I know one person for sure who is not going to put all his eggs in one basket for sure and that’s ME!

The other piece of news is tucked in the top right corner of page 21 of The Times of India today. Called John’s phone – its a mobile phone launched in UK which only makes calls… Thats it!… only calls and nothing else… not even a sms (now that I find a bit of extreme) but even more extreme is that the phone doesn’t even have a phone book (it’s  got a note-book and a pen tucked behind the phone). But importantly, this is part of the trend I had predicted in one of my post last years “Privacy would soon be a new luxury”. This phone would increasingly appeal to people who want to ‘unconnect’. The pressure of staying connected will soon start taking its toll.

Just like with the environment… after having abused it for ages, we are now talking green and eco friendly. A hundred years back or maybe 150 years back… we were green and ecofriendly and then under the garb of development and progression we created products that made our lives oh so easy to live and took the toll on the environment… Now that we are done screwing it, we want to bring the green back and make this planet habitable for the future generations.

Same way… we went ahead and embraced technology and used every possible mean of connecting and putting our lives on display but like the environment.. there is a price to pay and sooner than later we are going to realize it. Technology is a fad and has always been one… It is always the next big thing that seduces us and takes over our mind and our lives. I have been guilty of buying into it too…

But this launch of the phone priced at US$ 50 I think is indicative of a trend that is going to catch on. Not because it is cheap but for the ‘features it does not offer’… And the first ones to buy this phone are the people who would indulge in reverse snobbery… the same people who had made snobbery an art by buying the best in technology are the ones who would buy the most basic in technology… And while Sarthak on Hit 95FM said that this would be the phone for technologically challenged, I think this phone would be the one for people who have been there and done that and want to forget it all…

Wonder if the brands are going to catch on to these trends and perpetuate them or continue to exist in here and now because it is all about the bottom line in this financial year…

100


yes this is the post number 100!! I guess it is a huge achievement for me. In the past too I had started blogs but never went beyond couple of posts so reaching the three digits is a big surprise. To a regular blogger perhaps it is not big deal. Seth Godin writes one everyday… sometimes two posts in a day!

I think the trick to writing is to write something everyday… anything… as long as there are a few lines posted… which a lot of us are actually not able to do… including me. I mean I started a year and half back and ideally there should have been over 500 posts on my blog but here I am getting cheap thrills on my 100.

I think these posts are like a legacy I would be leaving behind once I am a doddering old fool who can’t see the typed word on the screen or can’t type. Like I had mentioned in many of my posts on social media, these posts would stay on the web forever and would continue to show views of a common man on everything that happens around him.

Now I am not very sure if my posts make a lot of sense to many who actually read them (they make sense to me). There have been close to 2000 views of my blog but only 100 comments. This could be indicative of two things:

1. People do not think my posts are worth commenting so they read and move on.. or

2. In a typical behavior that is demonstrated online, we are logged in for ourselves and think it is a waste of time to comment on a blogger’s post. After all the post is not a facebook status comment or even a peep into the private life of a person so why waste time commenting. On few occasions I had actually mentioned on facebook that comments if any, should be on the blog and not on facebook… never worked lol

And as one of the related articles says – a blog without comments is still a blog…

But what the hell! all those who read the posts… A BIG THANK YOU! and to people who took the time to comment… it has been pleasure to read your comments and there have been occasions that I have not responded to the comments because I could not think of a cool enough or intellectual enough response to the comment

My next big target is 500. And it shall be achieved… if I am still writing and if wordpress continues to be a popular blog site because in the virtual space nothing stays popular for long.