30 Jun 2010

Why e-governance won't work

No organisation can function the way it is supposed to when the 'job responsibilities' and 'job skills' of functions don't match the actual work they are doing. Government in most democracies are a case-in-point.

The prevalent understanding of e-governance only serves to perpetuate an absurd situation.

I'll explain.

In a democracy...

- Whose job eligibility is based almost solely on his / her ability to relate to the common-citizen? Ample people skills, oodles of personal charm and charisma are essential for success. Technical knowledge and academic qualification are, perhaps rightly, not critical factors.

- Whose key job responsibility is it, to deal with any issues that the common-citizen may have?

- Who is appointed directly by, and obliged to report directly to the common-citizen?

And now let us consider...

- Whose job eligibility is based almost solely on his / her technical knowledge and academic qualification? People skill is not a prerequisite. And thankfully, charisma is not a criterion for career advancement.

- Who is (technically) appointed by, and therefore obliged to report to the 'state apparatus' (or government)?

The popularly propagated myth is that the public is obliged to deal with the bureaucracy, which is actually in the service of the state (or government). And it is also taken for granted that elected representatives, whose sole responsibility is to serve the public, will be unavailable to the common-citizen after they are appointed.

E-governance will never work as long as it is meant only to enable public interaction with the bureaucracy.

E-governance may help improve efficiency of the government apparatus - but in it's current form, it does nothing for democracy. Nothing. Nil. Nada. Null. Naught. Zero. Zilch. Zip.

What are we to do with social media?

A very pertinent point-of-view by Clay Shirky. His concluding line says it all.

27 Jun 2010


What should a company do when its services are disrupted?
a.) Pretend nothing happened (it's temporary, maybe nobody'll notice)
b.) Hide under a rock (what if someone says something bad)
c.) Turn it into an occasion (see below)

Grooveshark.com started a live feed of the mayhem at their office till they were back online! And they called it groovesharkisdown!

Watch live video from groovesharkisdown on Justin.tv

23 Jun 2010

What's going on on the Internet?

This is taken from a lecture before the Harvard Natural History Society by William James on Great Men and their Environment. It was published in October 1880.

"The community may evolve in many ways. The accidental presence of this or that ferment decides in which way it shall evolve. Why, the very birds of the forest, the parrot, the mino, have the power of human speech, but never develop it of themselves; some one must be there to teach them. So with us individuals. Rembrandt must teach us to enjoy the struggle of light with darkness, Wagner to enjoy peculiar musical effects; Dickens gives a twist to our sentimentality, Artemus Ward to our humor; Emerson kindles a new moral light within us.

But it is like Columbus's egg. "All can raise the flowers now, for all have got the seed." But if this be true of individuals in the community, how can it be false of the community as a whole? If shown a certain way, a community may take it; if not, it will never find it. And the ways are to a large extent indeterminate in advance. A nation may obey either of many alternative impulses given by different men of genius, and still live and be prosperous, just as a man may enter either of many businesses. Only, the prosperities may differ in their type."

Now think of all the trends - right from web-mail, to video uploads - that started on the Internet, and went on to become integral and near-ubiquitous facets of modern social interactivity. This is evolution happening before our own eyes. And it is faster now than ever before - simply because anyone with access to the Internet can now profoundly influence society!

Can Social Media change society?

Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing some research on the larger relevance of the digital tools of today and what it means for human society.

What I've seen and read has opened my mind wide. (Actually, it sort-of knocked my mind's door clean off its hinges!)

Most revealing were the lectures of two 18th to 20th philosophers. The Philosophy of History by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770 – 1831), and Great Men and their Environment by a man who claimed that it was only when he was under the influence of nitrous oxide that he was able to "understand Hegel", William James (1842 – 1910).

Huh? How do either of these gentlemen have anything to do with the Digital Age? Nothing. But they have a lot to say about 'change' in human society.

Well, if tools were one of the key basis to determine the evolution of the human race, then we live in a profound time: A time when even the creators of the tools seldom grasp the capabilities of their tools!

So what is the very ultimate, far-into-the-future influence that digital tools like the Internet and Social Media can have? How great could the effect be, for example, on government - perhaps the single biggest influence on society?

We all love the stories of how the 'little guy' made a huge government apparatus sit up and take notice (in a positive way, of course) using nothing more than 'ones and zeroes' and a Social Media community? Can Social Media be geared specially to make it happen more often? What if there were a Social Media institution that brought people and government together? A meeting place of sort for 'community' and 'government'?

What if it was taking shape right now? Well, it is...

The concept is a somewhat different from what Tim O'Reilly was talking about in the previous post on the Gov 2.0 Summit. But it is just as ambitious.

If it works the way it is hoped it will, this Strategic Social Experiment can be potentially scaled up to include one-sixth of all humanity. It could fundamentally change the concept of 'government'.

And that will change macro-level aspects of society - and THAT, will change everything.

22 Jun 2010

So, you think you know Social Media

Facebook fans and Twitter followers notwithstanding, the power of Social Media is yet to come.

But have you got an hour to spare?

14 Jun 2010

Think Money

Apple is bigger (in market capitalisation) than IBM, Intel and even Walmart. In fact at $213.98 billion, it is bigger than ALL other companies in the US, except for Exxon Mobile at $319.21 billion and Microsoft at around $260 billion (if Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer's share are taken into account).

The S&P Index actually put Apple Inc. ahead of Microsoft Corp. because Gates and Ballmer don't trade their stock. (About 87.7% of Microsoft shares are publicly floated, vs. 99.2% of Apple shares, according to FactSet Research.)

This is a long way to come for a company that had to be theatrically rescued in 1997 by a competitor, Bill Gates (live satellite feed captured on the Time magazine cover, above)!

I wonder how much longer Apple can live up to its 'Think Different' image - because, like it or not, a huge proportion of the current generation of Apple's fans still believe it. Apple has always been the 'creative' underdog - taking on IBM (then called 'Big Blue') and later Microsoft (via the PC).

Yes, their products are better than most. Yes, they have corralled users into a iBookstore, iTunes and App Store - and deviced the clever concept of iAd. Yes, they have Steve Jobs. But...

Apple is now just another ubiquitous, Made-in-China product... assembled by about 200,000 workers - largely, women - toiling 15 hours a day.

And they are somehow 'different'?

8 Jun 2010

What's wrong with Mr. Creative Director?

This may seem like mere symantics, but we're currently reconsidering the core role (and designation) of the Creative Director.

I don't think it's trivial at all... Because hasn't a CD's role evolved into more than just the directing of creative elements or execution? Isn't it more about identifying and delivering effective solutions to meet a client's business objective?

And if this means coming up with a non-advertising solution - for instance, developing an internal communication programme, a website or a PR drive - well, then so be it.

We're right now mulling: Director - Creative Services.

I honestly don't care for a designation to establish where I stand in a hierarchy. I want to define a role to live up to, and give others an allusion of what to expect from me.

I would really appreciate your opinion on this.

3 Jun 2010

Teacup in a storm

We're scheduled for a rendezvous on Saturday, 5 June 2010... Which also happens to be World Environment Day!

Coincidence, you think?