There is but one king

Last night, the tech-twitter was lit-up by the shocking news that Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have put in their papers and are leaving the company that bought them for a billion dollars — Facebook. They aren’t the first founders to sell their company to Facebook and then eventually leave the company. Whatsapp and Oculus founders too left the company after spending considerable time under the aegis of Mark Zuckerberg. Mike and Kevin, too are leaving under a shroud of disagreement with Zuckerberg, if media reports are to be believed.  Continue reading "There is but one king"

iPhoneXsMax, now that’s a tongue twister

iPhoneXsMax — When I heard the name and saw it up on the stage, I shuddered. Apple’s name for its newest, biggest iPhone made one Microserf quip on Twitter: “And I thought we sucked at naming. #AppleEvent iPhone Xs Max September Refresh CTP1”

Microsoft and other technology companies were mocked by Apple veterans for their naming conventions. But now Apple is doing the same — fighting hard to come up with names that are fighting Samsung, Huawei, and many others when it comes to being tongue twisters.

It is pretty sad to see that a company that took pride in its ability to communicate clearly and succinctly about its products, the company that was able to name them with such elan and made them memorable, has come. iPhoneX(s)Max.

If they spent as much energy in their naming conventions as they put in say, their, A12 Bionic chip, then we Continue reading "iPhoneXsMax, now that’s a tongue twister"

Social networks & the online reality of identity

Like everyone else, I watched the Washington Social Media circus with interest. A lot of words were used. Crocodile tears shed. Promises made. Bouquets of derision thrown. But no one actually said what needs to be done with the social media platforms and their social responsibility.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that social platforms should take cues from real life social networks – cities, states, and nations. Just as these geographically defined social networks have amenities such a policing, rules and clear identities, our social platforms, and related online social environments to need to add a layer of humanness to the platform. Continue reading "Social networks & the online reality of identity"

There is something about (Elon) Musk

The last month in the life of Tesla and its mercurial chief executive can best be described as a bungee jump from a plane. No surprise, that we have a bull market in opinions about Elon Musk, his behavior, and his actions.

I don’t own Tesla shares. I have no desire to own them. Just as I don’t want to short them. Hell, I don’t even drive.

But you know what I dream of? Owning a self-driving electric car before I leave the planet. And the odds of that happening are way more likely if Tesla and Elon are around.  Continue reading "There is something about (Elon) Musk"

Music helps make memories

I don’t know why, but I like cold, desolate places. I like snow, ice and learning how humans survive in these tundra-like conditions. And that is why I was watching The Last Trapper, a documentary about a Canadian trapper called Norman Winther. It is an okay film — landscapes are hauntingly beautiful, the rest of it is meh. I hate killing of animals.

So maybe that is why I won’t move to Alaska or some such place. But I still love the mountains and the snow. The film had a great soundtrack though. One of the songs — By The Rivers Dark by Leonard Cohen. It is not even in the top ten songs of Cohen. Not even in the top twenty. But it was a song that got me back to listening to Cohen. I went to Spotify, looked up the song, created a playlist and before you know it, I was heading down the memory lane.  Continue reading "Music helps make memories"

Unrelenting tyranny of reality TV

I can still remember it clear as day. It was almost eight years ago, over coffee with photographer Trey Ratcliff (a pioneer of HDR photography) where I theorized about hyper-personalization and how it would one day lead to what is essentially MeTV.

Having been an early adopter of social media, it became pretty obvious that the very idea of “followers” and “subscribers” was a new age label for what the traditionalists called, the audience. Whether it was sharing our words, links, or photos — we were essentially performing for them. The growing influence of the then still young social media platforms would give everyone an opportunity to turn their life — rather online presence — into a reality television show of their own. Anyone could and would become Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian.

Trey didn’t think so — he thought most of us were creating movie reels of our life. Continue reading "Unrelenting tyranny of reality TV"

The bigger story behind big valuations

The New York Times notes that big-money rounds are becoming all too routine in Techlandia, which has led some to wonder: what is the cause of this seemingly irrational exuberance? Valuation, in the end, is determined by an investor’s willingness to suspend belief — or rather how much they want to suspend that belief. There are others who are jumping in after seeing others make a killing. There is a herd-like behavior, and when that happens valuations take a leap.

But focusing on the shifting valuation and check sizes, we are missing the point: the planet as we know it is going through some seismic changes, and such changes mean opportunity — to create, disrupt and re-invent. So let’s talk about the shift. Continue reading "The bigger story behind big valuations"

Serendipity & Summer Doldrums

Did you notice that I had gone missing for a few days? Exactly 10 days to be specific! In case you were wondering, I decided to take some downtime to work on a specific problem — a continuous sleep disorder related problems that were making me get up at ungodly hours and leaving me exhausted for much of the day. As a result, I was unable to think and walked through the day like a zombie.  Continue reading "Serendipity & Summer Doldrums"

Elad Gil on startup advice & his book, High Growth Handbook

About ten days ago I caught up with Elad Gil, a Silicon Valley veteran who has written a new book, High Growth Handbook. Even halfway through the book, and I can already tell this is a book that is a valuable asset for those who are running fast-growing companies. It is equally helpful for those of us who aspire to grow fast. Elad has written one of the best books for the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem. Continue reading "Elad Gil on startup advice & his book, High Growth Handbook"

Why we need sleep + 4 good reads

Do you remember what happened at the start of this week? Me neither! The news is flowing so fast these days, that you can’t really figure out what’s really happening. And that is why misinformation — aka the real fake news — surreptitiously gets embedded in our brains and we start believing that it might be true. The whole thing is becoming a bit of a confusing mess. And that’s the objective of the propagandists. Yet another accurate Orwellian prediction. Perhaps that is why I am sharing these articles today so that when you get a chance to read them, you feel you feel satisfied, at the very least. Continue reading "Why we need sleep + 4 good reads"

Even Leica loves “computational photography”

What I hate about news is that there is too much of it, and most of it doesn’t matter. So instead of writing about the regulation of Google’s monopoly or moral ambiguities of Facebook, I decided to focus on a topic that makes me excited about the future — computational photography, which is simply capturing and processing digital images using computation instead of more traditional optical processes.

I had a somewhat slow weekend — spent pouring over research I have accumulated for my book on photography and camera culture titled The Third Eye. It has been slow going, mostly because understanding the social, cultural and ethical impact of cameras everywhere. It started out as a straightforward exercise, but I have found myself tangled in the thick weeds of morality and humanness. And yet, there is a sense of delight that modern camera — a visual sensor, really brings to mind. Continue reading "Even Leica loves “computational photography”"

Companies, like people, don’t change

Not a month goes by when we hear about another snafu or scandal about Facebook and Uber. And each time I wonder if they will change. It seems both these companies are genetically pre-programmed to obey what their DNA tells them — unfettered growth without consequences. And which makes me wonder, can companies change? Or the culture a company starts with becomes its defining characteristic. Here are my thoughts. Continue reading "Companies, like people, don’t change"

“Fake Followers” are “Social Spam”

Just about 12 years ago, at a costume party hosted by Ruby Red Labs in the SOMA district of San Francisco, I got a chance to talk to one of the now-forgotten founders of Twitter, Noah Glass. He showed me Twitter (or Twttr as it was known back then). I tried it and must have liked it because I went home (admittedly just a few blocks away) and in a slightly inebriated state wrote about the product and Twitter was launched. It is perhaps why I retain a lot of affection for the product, and its co-founders. I am not shy about expressing my displeasure, but in general, Twitter has been a great little addition to my life.

And perhaps that is why I was pleased to learn on my twelfth anniversary of using Twitter (which reminded me of that, obviously) I lost 200,000 followers. I was part of the big fake account and bot purge that Twitter has recently embarked on. The New York Times says that there are about 48 million active users are what it calls “automated accounts designed to simulate real people.)

As The New York Times noted — Oprah ( down 1.4 million), Ellen (down 2 million), Justin Bieber (down over 3 million) and Kim Kardashian (down 3 percent) — lost many more. I would be happy to lose half or even more of my followers if that means cleaning up the service, increasing the signal and dampening the noise. I think the challenge for social platforms like Twitter is that real engagement is being drowned by the noise in the system – fake accounts and bots.  Continue reading "“Fake Followers” are “Social Spam”"

BitCoin & Energy Usage

…the current global power consumption for the servers that run bitcoin’s software is a minimum of 2.55 gigawatts (GW), which amounts to energy consumption of 22 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year—almost the same as Ireland. Google, by comparison, used 5.7 TWh worldwide in 2015.

If the cryptocurrency were to stay at its recent price of $8,000, power usage of the bitcoin network would peak at 7.67 gigawatts (67 terrawatt hours of energy on an annual basis, or one-fifth of Britain’s energy use).