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Some from the Bookshelf

UMERTO ECO'S LIBRARY is supposed to be about books on the pending list waiting to be read - a rather twisted argument by Taleb at knowledge assimilation when he philosophises that the unknown is more important than acquired knowledge itself. Perhaps makes sense, if you are a nihilist as well. Frank Zappa almost gave it up saying, "Too many books, too little time". And this post claims to be no improvisation either. In fact, following are a few from the pending list from my night-stand that give a rather sarcastic stare almost every time. Reviews and comments welcomed. The Future of Technology (Economist) by Tom Standage (try here The Future of Technology (Economist) ) This book gathers together some of the best writings that has recently appeared in The Economist on the way technology and its use is developing, and is likely to develop and change in the future. Taking a look at the index was a compulsion of sorts to pick this engaging read. And the opening para a

Depicting Consumption Behaviour in the Recession Era

INTERESTING ILLUSTRATION OF CONSUMPTION BEHAVIOUR in the recession era by Armano on his personal blog Logic + Emotion based on a recent article on the topic in The Economist . Here is Armano's post, and here is the original write-up at The Economist.

TED, Memes, Metaphors, but no Economics?

TED: IDEAS WORTH SPREADING is the welcome line at - an intellectual platform blending Technology, Entertainment, and Design, and almost attaining a cult status. Who's who of the world have marked their presence at its annual conferences starting 1984. This is the stage where Prof. Stephen Hawking urged mankind to colonise neighbouring planets; where the UN peace ambassador Jane Goodall spoke about her 45 years old chimpanzee studies; where Bono won the price of expressing three wishes in a bid to change the world; and where Bill Gates opened a jar of mosquitoes to the audience to spread (with them) awareness about malaria (later, when the panic subsided it was declared that the mosquitoes were harmless for they were cured of the germs. I am not entirely sure though which anti-virus was used by Mr. Gates.) A meme is an information packet with an attitude. For the current young generation world over, and those leaning towards entrepreneurship, TED is the "in thing&

The Dunbar Number and Limits of Our Social Networks

THE SOCIAL MEDIA AND WEB 2.0 (though both are considered synonymous by some) provided the netizens with amazing new possibilities, like a new universe opening up with everyone mingling with everyone else. While the web (no pun intended) of these collaboration network, social in nature, kept increasing in complexity and continued expanding, there was no measure for if it were to follow the same yo-yo model of the actual Universe (try here ) . In other words, it was very difficult to ascertain if the motion was inward or outward, for there were no clear boundaries defined or known. The size of the neocortex of the brain allows humans to have stable networks of about 150. This is known as "the Dunbar number". With the help of Dr. Robin Dunbar’s research, perhaps we now have the first indications toward the limitations of Web 2.0 vis-a-vis human psychology and behaviour. Dr. Dunbar is an anthropologist currently with the Oxford University and has studied primates and humans and t

Atlas' Second Coming, and the Shrugs

THE FINANCIAL MELTDOWN MIGHT HAVE MADE THE ATLAS TICKLE, or so it may have seemed if one takes the metaphor literally. But Atlas, in spite of shrugs, is going strong on its part. Interestingly, Audacity of Hope by President Obama was overtaken by Atlas Shrugged on the sales charts for a while just before the presidency change. This is the second coming of Ayn Rand that started in 2007. Honestly though, I never got this book right. There was always something ultra-right about the acceptance and success of her (cold-war incubated) concepts of having a platonic state of a democracy (where one would be expected to demonstrate as much dexterity with the left hand as the right. Over the past ten years or so I must have gifted her books, selectively and carefully, to at least three people of my immediate reckoning -all of whom fell out of touch. Not so carefully, after all!). Ayn Rand's rendition of the perfect world —much more vividly worded in her previous notoriety, The Fountainh

Geek post: How to use Google Search APIs on your blog

HOW CAN YOU MAKE GOOGLE SERVE YOU BETTER? Customizing Google search to suit one's needs in a more controlled manner has been a fairly less exploited area - at least by the end-users. Perhaps because there are enough 3rd party widgets available to assist a normal tusker with her Blog to do this work. This post, though a diversion from the normal theme of discussion here, is about getting a little hands-on with Google Search API to put a professional looking search-box on your blog - all the while utilizing existing components available on (what's called) the Google OS. How To: Use Google Search Ap Is On Your Blog View more presentations from mutex07 . (tags: technology google ) With a little tweak, this method also works with TypePad . Now, if you have means of posting CSS and JavaScript on your WordPress hosted blog, you can use Step-1 through Step-11 to create your customised Google Search Engine and plug it into your personal blog. All the best! Seel also: Go here for d

Taleb and (guru) Mandelbrot together on Credit Crunch

THIS ACTUALLY TOOK PLACE AT PBS STUDIOS some five months ago when the $700bn bail-out package aka Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was announced at the U.S. Senate. Nassim Taleb features here with his Guru Benoit Mandelbrot in this joint interview by Paul Solomon titled 'Experts Examine Future of Credit Crunch'. For anyone new to Mandelbrot and Taleb or the subjects of Chaos theory and randomness that they deal with, this shall provide a good introduction (and a starting point to what could become a very interesting journey. I have been meaning to post these for a few months now. Finally, the cat is out of the draft.). Below are two excerpts from the talk, followed by the direct PBS podcast: The increased concentration among banks seems to have the effect of making financial crises less likely. But when they happen, they are more global in scale and hit us very hard. True, we now have fewer failures, but, when they occur, I shiver at the thought. -- Nassim Taleb in his

Language, Commerce, and Google Translate

WILL DURANT CHRONICLED IN HIS HISTORICAL COMPILATIONS THAT ancient trade provided the necessity for the invention of the alphabets. A theory contested by many, but not rejected in its entirety. In this guest post, my friend and Language Technology researcher Jason M. Adams discusses the mutual history of language and commerce by looking at some of the ways that each has been changed by the other and how they will continue to shape each other going forward. * * * Commerce is a human convention deeply entwined with language. Economic motivations were among the many reasons ancient (and modern) empires conquered other lands, spreading their languages beyond their natural range. Traders would travel to distant lands, encountering speakers of exotic languages. Recent study of the immediate commerce and trade (focusing mainly around the era of last 500 years of European Maritime expansion) describes the exchange of languages at trade as follows: In cases where bilingual speakers were few t

Remembering Mahatma

[Above: Mahatma Gandhi sharing a light moment with his granddaughters. source: Enc. Britannica ] [Gandhi's] words struck me so forcibly that there and then I committed myself to attempt to make a film about Mahatma Gandhi - a commitment that changed the subsequent twenty years of my life. -- Richard Attenborough, in his introduction to the book - The Words of Gandhi Today, Jan 30, 2009 is the 61st anniversary of Bapu's demise. Update: Added Mahatma's speech on spirituality recorded by BBC at Kingsley Hall, London in Oct 1931 (~5:20 min.). See also: Go here for works of Gandhi at Project Gutenberg. Go here for Gandhi's speech at

Meltdown Graphics

SOME OF THE INTERESTING GRAPHICS recently found at certain online sources, two of which are real and one is creative. [Stock prices of three of the UK's largest banks bite dust. The most hit is Fred's RBS , which was eroded close to Zero pence. source: ] [Three talk-of-the-doom-town financial phenomena: Long Tail , Tipping Point , and the Black Swan . source: ] [Fall of capitalism and the *new* United States by c.2010 (Or, apparently, Divided States?). source: ]

Welcome to

The ideation finally found a worthy digital label, an anchor, a domain name. mind × the + gap claims . [Above: the image *tries* to appear before the image is created through this post; as in Chicken & Egg ; though theoretically it would require an infinite super-imposing of images, the way the rendering Mandelbrot algorithms goes for a Fractal imagery .] Welcome! See also: Go here for

Britain Officially Slips into Recession

ONLY A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO, THE (SO CALLED) LEADERSHIP of the stalwarts from the land of the birth of modern finance and capitalism, namely the money streets of London, seem to show the way to the world, yet again. Leading economists from across the Atlantic cried to pay attention to the novel strategy through which the Britons claimed to wager a turnaround of the global financial crisis: by partnering the financial institutes and banks, not just bailing them out. Today, Reuters shows the data declaring that Britain is officially under recession [See Right. Source:] . Now, there doesn't seem to be a consensus on why this happened in spite of all that happened. Nobody seems to be knowing what's going on, where it came from, taking us where. And apparently, Taleb would be having a laugh. But loosing Sterling suddenly could be much harder than the steady weakening US Dollar - it would probably mean that the hedge would become the target; cover is blown. When George

My Twitter Footprint (Dec'08)

TALKING ABOUT VARIOUS DATA MODELLING TRENDS, my experimental twitter footprint from the microblogsphere over the past 30 days of tweeting shows something like this. Apparently, the patterns show (at least) three trends-of-the-month, if you like: Nassim Nicholas Taleb has been influential ("tbs") A lot of gratitude-filled human interaction took place ("thanks") Cricket was largely ignored (or any sports for that matter) Overall, the positive vibes (:-), interesting, sure, lol, okay, good, ...) clearly outweighed the strains (in spite of having long and stretched work days). Surely, this would have its contributions towards the real-time positive attitude index which tracks people's moods within the twitter system. See also: Go here to get your own Wordle from your twitter-feed via

Blog by A Mechanic

THE WEBSITE IS LOADED with a lot of caveats and disclaimers. That gets me thinking if they mean more fun than business..? After putting this blog through their "Analyzer" the results came back naming me to be a "Mechanic" and showed a brain-map claiming to indicate the areas of my brain that are supposedly activated while blogging these posts. Interesting it may seem, I suppose I would take this simply on a lighter note (in any case, this blog is deliberately focused in certain areas by specifically shoving certain ideas. So, there it goes!). On the other hand it was surely fun to put some of my friends' blogs through Typealyzer (without their knowing) and to find funny details about them..! They most likely would be getting some pointy tweets now :-) The analysis goes on describing the personality traits as follows: The Mechanics: The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding t

2008 in Pictures via The Big Picture at Boston Globe

ONE OF THE MOST REVIVING EXPERIENCE OF THE MONTH was to get the feeds from The Boston Globe's The Big picture compilation for 2008. These high-quality pictures capturing real life events from across the world left many spellbound. Whilst we live in this age of information overdose, and when "sensationalization" by every possible news breaker/baker blunts the senses of amazement in a normal mind, this photo-documentary of the time that we just lived past aroused mixed feelings. Joys & sorrows, triumphs & trials, trusts & traumas: through these vivid pictures of selected events captured within this three-part series of 40 each, I came to be reminded that we hardly seem to live away from the pairs of opposites. Following are just a couple of them that I randomly selected without applying any thoughts (for I would want you to enjoy at all of them). [Kenyan athletes during the 2008 Summer Olympics. Courtesy: ] 2008 was here. Edit: When I came back

Indian Epic Goes Back to the Future: Ramayan 3392 AD

RECESSION, DEPRESSION, TERRORISM AND TERMINATIONS are rife. Someone said, we live in interesting times. And that makes me wonder about the difference between 'desperate' and 'interesting'. The recent data shows that Beer consumption worldwide is on the rise , and the entertainment industry is all set to launch one mega project after another. Re-session!? On the same lines, Scott Thill of Wired magazine reports interviewing Gotham Chopra who is a part of the management team at Los Angeles-based Liquid Comics. Liquid Comics is in the process of re-telling the nearly 500 centuries old Indian (Indic?) story of Ramayana as it would be set in 3392 CE. In other words, their project is to transport a tale through six millennia. [Above: An artists rendition of the "Future" Ramayan where Lord Ram (the hero) is being carried on the shoulders of Hanuman (best supporting cast).] And who knows, if the warmongerism under the shadow of terrorism (or the other way aroun

Google GeoEye: 'Big Brother' for the whole World?

JOHN DE MOL TOOK THE OLD PRISON CONCEPT of confinement, absorbed its mentality, attached psychological strings, created a manipulative environment, introduced conflicting personalities into it, televised it via mass media, commercialised it by asking people to pay by "voting", and produced through Endemol one of the most popular reality TV shows "Big Brother". While the producers claim that the show is not scripted, it surely remains a prompted show. The show now runs to various international formats in nearly 35 host countries, and is broadcast to more than 100. The central concept of the show is that one is always being watched all the time so far as one is within the premise of the designated Big Brother house . You can run, but you can't hide. Expand this premise to cover the whole world, and we get close to the Google GeoEye project. On September 6, 2008, the world's most-accurate commercial imaging satellite, the GeoEye-1 was blasted off into the sp

The Financial Crisis: Who Let the Dogs Out

THE DEAL.COM HAS THIS USEFUL illustration explaining at a high-level chain of events leading to the current US financial crisis. The editor chose to describe it as chain-of-fools: [Above: illustration of chain-of-events leading to the US Financial crisis.] The TIME MAGAZINE for this week features "Depression 2.0" through the following front-page across all editions worldwide. As the cover-story, economist Niall Ferguson narrates why it may not happen: [Above: A B&W photo of depression-era Free soup line in the U.S. featuring as the cover page of 13 Oct 2008 issue of the Time mag.] Update: Embedded this interesting video on the (simplified) explanation on "Crisis of Credit". The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis . See also: Related article: Sub-prime Crisis for Dummies . Go here for WIRED.COM version of "economic explanations [of the crisis] even we could understand" targeted towards the techie community.

The Financial Crisis: Explanations

HERE IS AN HONEST STATEMENT OF ALL by Kedrosky and so I found an echo in his words below - especially the last line: I pity [US] taxpayers wandering into the credit crisis story at this point. It is absurdly complex, and centers on a subject that most people neither care about nor understand. And the last time they looked in they were told this was about subprime and housing, which it no longer is -- at least not in large part. Instead, it is a costly and complex saga involving the unwinding of global credit markets, overlaid with debt syndication, new derivatives, the collapse of the investment banking business, the changing nature of leverage, flawed risk models, structured finance, greed, the housing bacchanalia, savings, paranoia about prior credit crises, and the paradox of thrift. Don't forget, of course, populist political pandering in an election year. Is it any wonder that most of even the most well-intentioned commentary on the current crisis sounds clueless, unhelpful

The Machine is Us/ing Us -- by Michael Wesch

THIS APPARENTLY IS A GREAT START OF THE WEEKEND: watching this very interesting and equally famous clips by Michael Wesch, Prof. of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University. [Above: this 5 minute clip is about ‘Web 2.0’, but it in fact narrates how IT works today, and has got integrated into social human lives. Apparently, this is also food for thought for the next business transformation endeavour...] The 33 year old highly tech savvy Anthropologist also has this another great short clip on the same subject, this time on Information R/evolution - here on YouTube. [Go here for Michael Wesch's personal pages on Kansas State Uni website.] [Go here for the first clip about Web2.0 on YouTube.]