Friday, January 15, 2010

Social web is not an ordered set

With social web, it is often easy to conclude that it is a mess - just point to the fable of a million monkeys on a million keyboards. Extrapolating from here, aggregating islands of mess will only make it a bigger one. Right?

Could we be more wrong and more right at the same time ?

Social web is not an encyclopedia of human knowledge. It is not meant to be. It is the collective noise of the human race, each saying "hello, am doing good. how are you" and a zillion variants of this same message. To expect order in this is futile. To claim that this is cluttering our otherwise prim-and-propah lives is akin to calling the Tajmahal a white building.

But, as we all know, there are golden nuggets hidden in this humongous data mine. Just because it is so big or so difficult, should we give up looking? Should we not try to decipher patterns here, infer who are potential friends, what they are up to, what they have in common, or how our relations can be strengthened ? Should we not seek to better our lives by exploiting technological possibilities?

I think Yahoo is doing the right thing. The purpose of aggregation is not to seek nirvana (neither intellectual nor commercial), but enable easier social contact over the web. The nirvanas mentioned may arrive (ref: but even if they don't, the purpose of social networking would have benefited.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Is Shashi a tweet chap ?

Jug believes Shashi Tharoor (ST) is a "tweet chap". I'm not sure. There could be more to ST's tweeting than meets the eye...but I'll leave that for another day. For now, let me question Jug's belief.

ST has the right to tweet and the right to disagree. However, as a minister, he has the obligation to retain in public, the sanctity of the governmental view on policies. In private (within the four walls that SM Krishna has mentioned), he has the obligation to criticize policy proposals and ensure that the country gets the right policies.

In his eagerness to use his rights, either he clearly has forgotten his obligations, or (worse), has discovered that his views and policy criticisms do not seem to matter.

There's nothing wrong in ST tweeting, nor is there anything wrong in the message itself. But there is clearly something wrong when a minister chooses to go the public route to criticize a policy. Either he is naive enough to be unaware of decision making loop (and hence is unable to contribute his valid positive criticism of the policies while they are still being prepared) or has not earned the trust of his fellow politicians so they disregard his criticism (even if it is presented well in advance of the public announcement of the policy).

Jug, you could do your old buddy a favor by reminding him of his obligations..and advise him on how to go about achieving his obligations. He clearly doesn't need any support for exercising his rights (and wrongs).