सोमवार, १८ एप्रिल, २०११

St. Paul's Cathedral

I love photography. I love technology. I love web technology in particular...I like to visit places...I love art...I love historical art in particular...

This particular application is culmination of all I love in a single place!

St. Paul's Cathedral

If there is nirvana...this must be it!

शनिवार, ९ एप्रिल, २०११

Seven Keys to Happiness

We live in a world where instant gratification is the new mantra. Attention spans have probably dropped precipitously in a last decade or so. If we can’t tweet our thoughts then they are too lengthy to worth any time.
In this brave new world, we will explore the evergreen topic of (well…almost) all human activity –- Pursuit of Happiness. We would explore seven keys to unlock the yet unexplored treasure of happiness.
Oxford English Dictionary defines happiness as state of good fortune or luck in life or in a particular affair; success, prosperity (among dozen or so others).
Before we dive in the keys, let’s make sure that we know how to read important things. Visualize that you are stuck in an elevator. You have given a page that gives you instructions on how you can get yourself out (alive). The catch is the page is going to destroy itself after you have read it once and lastly if you miss one step then the elevator is going to explode, killing you instantly. How would you read those instructions? Got it?
Now to the next part…how would you make sure that you have really learned it? Follow this simple method (not easy just simple!).
1. Read the key
2. Re-read the key
3. Close your eyes and think about what you just read. Don’t repeat the sentence in your head! Think!
4. Find a way to say that same thought in a different way
5. If you were writing the key, how would you write it?
6. Imagine that you are going to give a speech in United Nations on that key. What would you say? What would you highlight?
7. Think of examples where you would apply the key
8. Visualize applying the key successfully in your daily life
9. Last but not least, make a game plan to try it out.
Enough time spent in preparation…let us talk about happiness for real now!
1. Attention: This one key could unlock more than just happiness for you. Attention is our ability to attend to things. Forget the mental chatter that is going on constantly in the background and giving the present moment the center stage that it truly deserves. Start paying attention to minute details of everyday life. It can be as simple as the texture of the soapy water in the bath in the morning or the fragrance of the incense stick or the texture of the anger you feel when the idiot cuts right in front of you on the expressway or frustration of waiting in line for some mundane thing. When you start to be present in your own life, miracles will start to happen. They will be what I call private miracles. You will notice things that you did not notice before. You will start doing things little different. You may react differently or not react at all……and these moments will add up and they will eventually make all the difference.
2. Breath: Have you ever wondered. What is the most important thing in your life? If your answer is not breath, then I suggest a small experiment to convince you.
1. Hold your breath for as long as you can hold
2. Don’t breathe unless you are convinced.
Well? That was easy! We take our breath for granted. We never realize that the one we are taking in right now may be the last one we will ever take. Minding your breath once in a while gives a different perspective. Attending to your breath with the respect it deserves will help you in weird ways. Not sure what it will do to you but it will make things different for sure. At the very least you will wonder about your priorities. Try it!
3. Focus: Most folks confuse concentration with focus, others confuse between focus and attention. They are cousins but not the same thing. Concentration has an inherent intensity to it whereas attention has temporal element to it. Focus on the other hand stands like a philosopher watching stuff of life with a spotlight on a particular aspect. Try to focus on larger picture and then switch your zoom level to focus on smaller details of that same picture. They look different. Very different. Make this a habit. Look at things with infinite levels of focus before acting. Remember “Thinking is free. Action is irreversible.”
4. Postpone: This is continuation of the previous key but we will focus on an aspect of decision making that will save your lunchbox (and in rare instances may save lives!). Postponing things is lot of things but it is critical that we differentiate it from procrastination. When you know what you must do and not do it…you are procrastinating. If you don’t know the right course if you decide to sleep on it or not act right this second…then that is postponing. When you feel weird feeling in your stomach in a situation then take a deep breath…(the one we learned earlier can kill if not taken routinely) and see if you must act!
5. Act: This is mirror image of the key above…sometimes you must act…how do you know when you should act and when you should postpone? Take a deep breath, pay attention, focus on the moment…see what you see. If you must act then you must. This one needs a little practice (or a whole lot of practice depending on how thick skinned you are…). If you practice then you will be able to tell the difference between postpone and procrastination.
6. Let Go: Stuff happens! Bad stuff happens in spite of your best intensions. Remember nothing is permanent! Not convinced? Let’s try a small experiment (this will feel almost exactly like the one we tried earlier but the teaching is different even though the steps are exactly the same…)
1. Hold your breath for as long as you can hold
2. Don’t breathe unless you are convinced that nothing is permanent including the breath you are holding. You have to let go off the one you are done with and take a new one. You can’t take in a new one unless you let go off the one you are holding on to!
7. Listen: Have you ever tried listening? Most people make mistake in thinking that listening involves other people. Nothing can be further from the truth. Anybody who has not learned to listen to their own inner voice has no capability to listen to others (I am assuming that you are more important to yourself than others!). How does one begin listening? Well…Keep Quite! Don’t respond. Listen to the chatter in your head. See if you can learn to differentiate between chatter and dialog. Between noise and chatter. Later you may learn to differentiate between dialog and information…
By this time I am almost close to certain that you don’t feel this is a valuable teaching or it is going to change you fundamentally. Well…I want to break a sad news to you…any valuable learning has a price to pay. Generally things like Happiness need to be paid with your life!
Nothing less will matter, nothing more is required.

सोमवार, २८ फेब्रुवारी, २०११

Capability Incubation & Capability Nurturing

I started thinking about "capability" be it personal, professional or for a corporation a while back.

OED says Capability is "The quality of being capable in various senses"...so I looked up Capable. Among many definitions few of these stood out.."The Quality of having room for any thing" or "ability to to receive or contain". OED further goes on and says..."able to perceive or comprehend" and finally the one I like to dwell more on is..."An undeveloped faculty or property; a condition physical or otherwise, capable of being converted or turned to use"

Incubation in the usual sense of the word means "To sit upon (eggs) in order to hatch them; to hatch (eggs) by sitting upon them or by some equivalent process".

So we can concatenate...to hatch an undeveloped faculty or property by sitting on it or to hatch an undeveloped faculty or condition; physical or otherwise by sitting upon it so that it can be converted or turned to use.

You probably noticed I look at nurturing as a separate capability. Activities involved in both may look same but they are fundamentally different. Nurturing will happen after Incubation.

A capability is incubated then it must be nurtured and eventually turned into a competency which could be later improved upon iteratively.

In a corporation...incubation may involve socializing an idea, getting buy-in at highest levels. Nurturing will involve those activities but at different levels. In nurturing (hopefully) the Sr. Leadership is already on-board and you are evangelizing to the masses now...

I could write another short essay if we use the word competency instead of capability.

We can also spend time exploring the process, steps, life-cycle; if there is any interest.

(I noticed that although these concepts exists to some extent these phrases do not. I wrote this short essay so as to help folks understand what I do...)


रविवार, २७ फेब्रुवारी, २०११

Running Out of Time

I am reading Daniel Quinn's books (Ishmael, Story of B, My Ishmael...) last few weeks...

Few comments.

1. Two words - Mind Blowing.
2. Some books have ability to truly change your way of thinking. They achieve a paradigm shift. These book take you to a higher orbit. You are transformed to a higher energy state....Ishmael is such a book.
3. Message is very simple (not easy) - Our way of life is not based on evolutionary stable strategy. If we don't change our way radically. Right now. We will be extinct in next century or so...

And there you have it...

Publishing 2.0 & Music 2.0 (Part 2)

Before we really start, one small but important detail, I am a passionate follower of Edward De Bono's "Lateral Thinking" for couple of decades. No wonder, if you will find references to Lateral Thinking in further pages.

Thus, my advice is based on my first hand experiences of the similar situation, which you are facing or may face in coming future. So, how about continuing the discussion ahead.

Second prominent example I have observed as a practitioner was rapid decline of film photography. I have been trying my hand at photography for good ten years. Like many of us I started with film. I was obsessed with film, so much so that I was not ready to believe that digital photography will ever catch up. I started investing in more film SLR setup at the beginning of DSLR revolution. I was blind. I was dumb. I thought this whole digital photography thing will never catch up. It will be a niche market.

Who in their right minds will want to replace good ol' prints?!? You can touch it! You can feel it! It almost takes you there!!!

I was mesmerized by the stories of Ansel Adams and "the Zone System" as well as the f/64 club. It is amazing to see what he could achieve with the technology of the time. True father of the B&W photography. My fascination with Ansel Adams kept me blind to the advances in the digital photography.

That brings us to the next part of this story. Kodak and Polaroid was sitting pretty on a huge pile of customers and idiots like me who were burning billion exposures a day of their product worldwide. I am close to certain that almost 99.999% of those pictures never made it past the family albums (and never will). I also feel that may be 10-20% of those shots never made it even on paper because of some problem or other with the exposure and lighting (I know I have been there!).

Digital revolution started in earnest early nineties. It is interesting to note that Kodak came with one of the earlier professional digital camera's (1991) that used to cost around $13,000 based on a Nikon body. In my opinion though that was not the tipping point for the technology.

I think some time in mid-nineties consumers started embraced the format and rest is history.

Film was out of favor overnight. If you ask me that it happened so fast that most filmmakers didn't even realize what hit them.

There are numerous more examples like spread all around us if we care to look. Horse carts to Horseless carts (Yes! That's what they were called). Mainframes to PCs, Snail mail to email, phone call to Instant Message....

Point of the story is...it will keep happening around us. Delivery mechanisms change but the function doesn't change. Aha! What do we have here?

What is the function of Maps (Paper or Digital or Yet Uninvented format)? What is the function of Photography? What is the function of carts? What is the function of computers? What is the function of mail?

Humans like to claim that we have evolved over number of years but if we really look at the core fundamentals the veneer of sophistication is just that veneer. Our core necessities, needs and wants have not changed much. It is easy to show that we keep inventing different ways of doing things around core human needs (and lately mostly wants).

We want to believe that products or ideas are selected based on their need, want, quality features, prices, performance, value, emotion, community value, status...this list is infinite.

My sense is all of the above is true in some percent for every product. Some products share more of the one than the other. For example people tend to care more about their cars (emotion) than say toilet paper (function). At the same time if you have used a cheap toilet paper found in restaurants & compared to the one you used in your home...you would have noticed the difference in quality hence the product selection.

The idea of "Democracy of Selection" is interesting. Folks select because they feel something. I have deliberately kept this sentence vague as some of you may notice that the idea of democracy of selection is infinitely broad. Play some thought experiments and you will be blown away... :)

Let's wander in to Music (& content publishing in general)...

What's going on in that field?

Hope you have been watching rise of iTunes. Sony PS3. Kindle (the WiFi kind), Android phones...

I will not waste your time talking about this often talked subject...instead focus your attention to something more interesting.

Content creators (Musicians, Writers) will soon find a different platform to sell their wares. They were distributed by the middlemen once (record labels, publishers) now they will be distributed by their digital counter parts (Apple, Amazon).

Middlemen exist because content producers don't know how (or don't care or don't want ) to distribute their product.

As long as content producers remember the motto - Content is King. They will do fine.

Otherwise we will see what the title of my blog entry boldly predicts at the very beginning...

Music 2.0 and Publishing 2.0!