Monday, December 17, 2007

The declining cost of communication ..

Technology has been known to drive costs down and increase efficiency. You see it everywhere from hi-tech machinery in huge manufacturing plants to simple technology in your home/office. But there's one area where you could argue that the declining cost has actually made it more inefficient. I'm talking about the cost of communication. Now, dont' get me wrong, I really think that cell phones, email, fax etc help us work and live more efficiently.

But I'm pointing more towards the social aspect of communication. Usually the cost of communicating to somebody is a signal of how important you consider that dialog to be. For example, There is a difference between taking out time to go to a friend's house to say hi, compared to writing a two liner comment on somebody's myspace/facebook profile. Now it might seem that I'm comparing apples with oranges, but lets look at how most teenagers and a lot of people in their twenties are managing their social network.

I keep in touch with my 100+ friends using facebook. 60% of the people are those that I haven't talked offline in years. 30% of them are people that I barely know and have met only a couple of times. But I usually never forget to wish them on their birthdays because facebook conveniently reminds me on the right day. And all I have to do is put in a quick 'Happy Birthday' on their profile and Im done. I find out about their graduations, weddings, kids being born .... all right away and I get to congratulate them by putting comments on their pictures or posts on their profile. If I feel like I haven't talked to somebody in a while, I feel obligated to send them a short 'Whats up' message every couple of months and they reply back with an equally obligatory reply which doesn't say much but satisfies the requirement that we keep in touch. So in effect I communicate with my close friends/family in the exact same way that I communicate with friends I barely know. I can post about all the drama in my life on my blog instead of discussing it in person with my closest friends/family.

You see where I'm going with this? If you take away this whole social networks/IM thing, I would be forced to narrow my close friends/colleagues circle to about 20-30 people and actually meet them or talk to them on the phone more often. The socialization would be real (and not fake), deeper and more healthy. The fact that technology has made it so easy to communicate, it's becoming harder to express the effort or thought that you've put into that particular dialog.

I guess these are some of the negative side effects of making it so easy to communicate with the rest of the world. Now I've seriously thought about quiting facebook (because it can get addicting) but then I dont do it because I dont want to be out of touch with about half of my family/friends who live on the other side of the world. Plus, I need to something to do to waste time while I'm at work .. right? :P

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Feeling Benevolent ?

So lets say you came up with this great business idea that was pretty low risk and required very little investment. To add a twist to it, lets assume that you're a poor widow and have 3 little kids to take care of and live in a small rented place in a third world country.

Now, I might have gone overboard to paint that picture, but that is usually the profile of most borrowers at It's just a brilliant idea where Kiva is using the global reach of the internet to make short term loans to people like those. The incredible thing is that out of the $2.3 million that they've loaned out, they have had a 99.80% recovery rate. Try comparing that to the bad debt provision of your local credit union who loans out money to huge corporations ?!?!?

So check it out, you can loan as little as $25 and you can choose the business/entrepreneur you like. And you get your money back within 12-24 months. Now you can touch the lives of real people who need help with a few clicks of your mouse

Cheers :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Things to do: Buy a drum set!

So ... I realized that with a full time job, grad school in the evenings, working on some side projects like and Webcentric Solutions -- I needed something else to consume my almost non-existent free time.


People who know me will be rolling their eyes at this moment .. but I don't really care ... because you all will be scrambling for seats when me and my future local band will be playing a gig at a local amphitheater under the stars !!!! lol .. (See .. I'm not even dreaming BIG this time .. all I need is a LOCAL band and a small gig at a LOCAL amphitheater with an audience of a couple of hundred) Is that so hard to give GOD ?!?!?

A couple of issues here:
  • Do I want to spend several hundred dollars on something that I might never learn to play?
  • Are you even allowed to have a drum in an apartment?
  • Do I even have a knack for drum beats?
So while I ponder about those things ... Lets just enjoy this short video :

Word of the day: 'Nuclear Family'

NEW DELHI: Indians who neglect their aging parents could be jailed under a new law passed by parliament Thursday ... Elderly people are increasingly being regarded in India as a burden as nuclear families become the norm against the backdrop of rapid economic development that is fast breaking down traditions. .. more

I heard about this on the radio this morning (And yeah .. you can call me a FOB but I do listen to the desi radio station in the car sometimes -- they usually have good music on there ;)

Anyway .. I started thinking about how Pakistan is always trailing behind India by a few years. A lot of social and cultural changes that happened in India a few years ago are now slowly appearing in Pakistan. So I wonder how soon will we be seeing similar laws about neglecting parents coming to our country. Although I doubt such a law could be effectively implemented in any country.

Unfortunately, these 'nuclear families' are gradually gaining ground even in Pakistan. I guess it's the price one has to pay for 'modernization'. I'm not sure where I'm trying to go with this post ... but I just get ticked off when I see people not providing their parents with an adequate living while they themselves live a much luxurious life. It just doesn't seem right!