Current IT field related information

08 Oct 09 Why Story Matters?

The power of a story lies in its appeal to the human emotions. If the story is good then it makes us empathize with the characters. We feel the pain and pleasure of the hero. Can you connect with a PowerPoint presentation at the same level? Can you empathize with the data cells of an Excel sheet?

This is not hard to do. It is impossible to do, until and unless you are the paranoid Marvin, a crazy robot from Douglas Adams’ famous book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, who often wondered about the meaning of life

Story matters because this is what we understand. Our mind can only process and make sense of things or topics that have some relation with the knowledge we already posses, and a story is a channel that helps in forming this relation. Our mind is not a computer or any data processing device designed to process unrelated information or to churn up numbers.

This is the reason why marketing communications aim to build a story –not an Excel sheet— around the product it attempts to sell. Story is what gives lifeblood to ad campaigns, charity drives, fund raising, and sports event. No one watches any sports event for the numbers, and in the real sense no one cares about the numbers. People go crazy about sports because they witness a story getting unfolded in front of them, of which their favorite sports player is a hero.

In the yester years, there was no PowerPoint presentations or Excel s sheets (I know it is kind of hard to believe now, but it is true), but people still manages to communicate values, rituals, goals, ambitions, and sense of duty to the coming generation, almost without any lost of data during the transfer. This is what provided the base for every written book that we have. Story matters because it is just because of the story that we are what we are.

Tags: , Charity Drives, Coming Generation, Data Cells, Data Processing, Douglas Adams, Excel Sheet, , , Hitchhiker, Human Emotions, , Marketing Communications, Meaning Of Life, Pain And Pleasure, , , Sense Of Duty, Sports Event, Yester Years

11 Jun 09 Power of Story

Since the dawn of the human civilization, we have been using stories to convey the meaning and the message to our peers. Story helps you connect with the listener or reader on an equal level. It is this trait of the story that has kept it alive even in this technological advanced society.

A PowerPoint presentation with objective data, three-dimensional colorful graphs, round-cornered table with drop-shadow effect, and picture of an attractive female provides useful information, which if understood well can fetch the desired outcome. This “if understood” have a big “If” which never get resolved because data, graphs, tables, bullet points, and unrelated pictures fail to make a connect with the audience, and these things can be blamed for the failure of countless meetings and numerous PowerPoint presentations.

Various studies in neuroscience, psychology and human cognition has proved many time that human mind is not a machine fuelled by logic and rationality. On the contrary, it is an organic entity overfilled with the emotionally charged synapses and is flooded with various chemicals that get charged up by the things happening in our surrounding. A good story increases the flow of these chemicals by drawing cues from the immediate environment of the audience, and thus getting the response the storyteller seeks.

A good story helps you cut through the clutter and reach your intended audience with the message you want to deliver, whereas, a PowerPoint presentation, with graphs, tables, bullet points, etc. just adds on to the clutter. A well-crafted story helps you connect, and it will elicit the response that even hundreds of PowerPoint presentations, and reams and reams of objective data working together will not get.

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07 Mar 09 Internet Versions: Fact or Fiction

Things changes pretty fast on the Internet. Its growth curve has been unpredictable so far; the way it was born, percolated, got accepted, took the world by storm, staggered, failed, risen from its near-death situation, and again conquered the world by even greater force, can provide a plot for an Oscar-winning thriller.

Unlike the evolution in any other industry the evolution of the Internet has been rapid. In the context of our technological advancements, the Internet can be said to have changed twice before the time got a chance to blink even once.

After an abject failure of dot-coms in early 2000s, marketers came up with yet new term to mark the shift in the way business is going to be in the post ‘dot-com bust’ world, and they termed it Web 2.0; by effect anything falling before this point of time got piled up under the name, Web 1.0.

It has been close to a decade since Web 2.0 came into existence, and now another term is rolling around in the virtual world; this term, as self-professed Internet gurus claim, marks the beginning of a new era of the Internet. And this new era has been termed as Web 3.0 or semantic web.

After all these name games, the skeptic on the back bench will ask, is it for real? Does these terms has any real meaning, or are these terms just marketing gimmicks deployed to delude people and rake in profits?

Well, the answer to the skeptic’s question is both no and yes. ‘No’ because with any evolutionary product it is hard to locate one point in time and say from here we began changing and anything after this point is new and improved, whereas, anything falling before this exact point in time is old and stale. Things don’t work this way. And the answer is ‘yes’ because we might not agree, and may be rightly so that these terms do have any real value, but we cannot deny the symbolic utility of these terms.

Web 2.0 rather refers to a time span when people around the globe started to interact with the Internet in a manner different from the way they usually interacted with it in the past. Web 2.0 stands for the behavioral change in the way we consume the Internet.

Earlier either you were a producer of contents, or you passively consumed it. The power of interactivity (both spontaneous and induced), the main strength of this medium, was largely unavailable for the common man. The users of the medium had very limited say in this world, and then a time come and everyone started contributing to the vastness of the Internet. Sharing became the essence of the medium. People started sharing their pictures, texts, opinions, videos, and started forming interest-based communities, alliances etc. The Internet changed forever, everyone is now a producer and a consumer at the same time, they can now voice their concern and the Internet took the center stage, and thus was born a term prosumer (both producer and consumer of the content) to define this new individual.

Everything was available for everyone; from classroom videos to MMS, from beach-holiday pictures to the pictures describing the harsh reality of society, from election campaigns to activist movements, from blogs to wikis, from diggs to twitters, from myspace to facebook; but something was missing. And that sense of ‘something is missing’ gave rise to the new developments in the cyberspace, which got termed as Web 3.0 or semantic web.

Now, there are two kinds of descriptions available that claim to define Web 3.0 or semantic web. One definition says:

In the world of web 3.0, the machines can read the web pages as efficiently and as swiftly as we human can do; search engines will be more intelligent and can fetch the desired results, and will understand the human language (natural language processing); semantic web will be the place where our software agents will perform those task for us, which we often find hard to complete on our own.

Another definition of web 3.0 holds that, web 3.0 stands for the expert layer added to the contents of web 2.0. According to the disseminators of this theory, the expertise is that ‘something is missing’ stuff.

According to them, in the place (read web 2.0) where anyone can add anything, the reliability, authenticity and accountability of contents are doubtful. It is just like grapevine communication, where people can say anything they like, whereas, web 3.0 has added one more layer to sharing and that is of expertise.

Now, you know the authenticity and the value of the advices given to you, as you know the credential of the person who is giving them and who is accountable for those advices. This is what differentiates from

In my view, both the theories are right because when things evolve they don’t evolve in one direction. Evolution is not unidirectional, but it is multidirectional. And this holds true for the Internet as well.

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