Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Grandmother and the billion dollar company

As we write, Twitter is likely to be valued at 11 billion. Facebook's current market cap, according to this article, is at 100 billion.

If you were an old grandmother somewhere in (any part of the world), who was a nosy Parker and knew something about everyone's affairs, obviously you could guide a traveling salesman to the house that is most likely to buy the stuff he peddles. But the question is, how much would that traveling salesman be willing to pay you for that information?

And the answer is - 100 billion? 11 billion? 340 billion?

What is the point? Bear with me while we explain this.

The economic value of social capital is a very new phenomenon for the human civilisation. Social capital has always existed, and has helped society immensely - as traditional medicine, gossip (and what would we be without gossip?) , product recommendations from friends (remember Amway and Avon?) .. et al.

For the first time, we see a price - a very substantial, tangible price, being put on the notional value of this information.

Is this information, inherently, worth the price we put on it? How much more do companies sell on targeted advertising vs generic advertising?

I do not have an answer. Given the size of global commerce, the numbers could be too low, or too high, depending on that crucial factor - IS the grandmother's knowledge of which house to go to, leading to a sale?

And i really think we should pause and ponder.
Social capital also has a social cost.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

aaj / ਆਜ

ਆਜ ਕੁਛ ਔਖਾ ਲਿਖਨ ਦਾ ਵੇਲਾ
ਆਜ ਮੇਰੇ ਹੰਜੂ ਚੁਕਦੇ
ਮੇਰੀ ਉਮੀਦ  ਦੀ ਅਰਥੀ

ਆਜ ਧਰਤੀ ਮੰਗੇ ਪਾਣੀ
ਜਿਂਵੇ  ਰੇਤ ਵਿਚ ਗੁਵਾਚਾ ਮੀ
ਆਜ ਨਦੀ, ਜੰਗਲ ਤੇ ਧਰਤੀ
ਪੂਛਨ ਮੇਰੀ ਪੀੜ ਦਾ ਮੋਲ.

ਮੈਂ ਹੰਸ ਕੇ ਓਨ੍ਨਾ ਨੂ ਦਸ੍ਯਾ
ਇਕ ਅਥਰੂ


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

बाबा / baba

तुम ने  बाबा,
बडे बडे हाथों में
छोटे छोटे मेरे सपने
कितने प्यार से   सहेजे थे।

तुमने बाबा
उन लम्बी बाहों को तान कर
बनाया था पेड
नीचे चारपाई लगा कर
बैठा था
पूरा परिवार

तुमने बाबा 
जेब की टॉफ़ी के ज़रिये 
बांटा था 
उम्र भर का दुलार 

bad translation :

Dear Dad
in your big, big hands
My tiny tiny dreams..

Your arms
like the branches
of a shady tree.
The family
stretched out
in the shade.

Dear dad
in the toffees that you carried
in your pocket
was contained
a lifetime of love.



Sunday, October 06, 2013

my intolerant india

Why is it, that its perfectly legit to criticise some religions, and "intolerant" to even discuss some others?

I demand  the right to discuss the principles and practices of all religions with equal freedom. Not as a politician, but as a sociology student. These principles and practices affect the tapestry of the society we live in. Why can we not discuss them with candour?

Likewise, I think there is need for open debate on the various cultures from different parts of India, and how they contribute to the country that is India. Why is Bihar among the poorest? Why did Bangalore become the IT capital and not Hyderabad? How can we learn the lessons if we dont even speak! ?

All dimensions of society - religion, language, region, caste and others - contribute to the weave. We have a right to discuss each one of these dimensions - freely and openly. Not in closed drawing rooms where the negatives are whispered and the supposed positives are highlighted very loudly - without conviction.