An interesting perspective to Technology

I have been working for the past decade or so, and almost always in the Technology department, in fact, I have headed this department in at least 3 different companies yet. In all these organizations, I hand picked and built the entire team from scratch, was involved in mentoring and training them as well. Yes, I am a technology geek and I am loving it!

Being a geek means having strong opinions about those things … when it comes to technology, yes I like to have a perspective about it from different view points. Notice the difference between opinion and perspective … the earlier has to do something with ego and may not be an open framework of mind to work with, the later is a bit more open and helps you broaden your views. This is one such post … my view about technology has been broadened … when I came to read Srinivas V.’s blog about Technology: A Citizenship Perspective. It’s an interesting perspective to technology, here’s an excerpt –

Technology enables us at three levels.

At the first, surface level, technology is a tool, a convenience, a method of doing things faster, with less effort, more accurately, etc. Using technology as a tool, we can achieve tremendous savings in terms of human effort and removal of drudgery.

At the second, deeper level, technology transforms into an enabler of scale and multiplied capacity to serve. Using technology as a scale enabler we can provide access to millions, provide anywhere-anytime support, etc.

At the third, deepest level, technology becomes an engine for human and social transformation. Technology then transforms man’s possibilities, man’s power to contribute, man’s ability to significantly change the equation between him and traditional systems of delivery and control.

Ahh … it can be a mindful to go through the entire bit, the original post is even lengthier (and I would advise that you read through it atleast a couple of times before you decide to comment!).

So, we all know that an ipod is essentially an mp3 player. It helps us to listen to music that we want to listen to. This would be technology as a tool. If we get stuck here, then we would end up harping about processes, methodologies and functionality.

If we go to the next level, then this same functionality which was being done for 1-2 people now needs to be done for a 1000. It should scale. If we are at this problem … then you are handling scalability. We would end up talking about uptime, users, requests per unit time and so forth. This is a numbers game, how many more can I handle – that’s the question that you would end up asking your system.

The third level that’s being discussed changes the way we normally do things. Apple changed the way we listen to music, Google changed the way we use email, Facebook is pretty much dictating what we do online in our idle time. Technology that changes you.

To be honest, my initial response was to disagree with this, however think about it. When people work on a technology … the approach they are taking decides which level the technology will go to. If they build it to work, it will be a tool. If they build it to scale, it will be a scalable tool. If they build it to change lives, it will be a transformative tool. Most of the awesome products that we know, were created with the change in mind. Not functionality, not scalability … but change. And change they did.

Aside

Mumbai Rain, the Driver’s Pain

While the Twitter world went abuzz with the Mumbai Rains, I was not seeing the big deal with rains. So what?

Then I went to my car on my drive back to home.

  1. Potholes are not visible, you have to look for them and differentiate the pot holes from shallow puddles
  2. The car is slow to react
  3. You come to know nuances of your car when driving in rains, it makes noises that you never knew it could!!
  4. Vipers + Drizzle makes for an irritating screensaver while driving
  5. WIndows and windshield fogs up
  6. Mumbaikars run to their home like madmen when it rains, in cars. So more traffic

All this in one drive back home. Eagerly waiting the monsoons :-)

Aside

Life as a Lane

02040_blackroad_1280x800 I have taken naturally to car philosophy. As I sat behind the wheel one fine evening, this thought came into my mind. That life could be interpreted as a long driving lane with a series of traffic signals, twists and turns, short cuts, the entire works.

  • Some people rest at traffic signals, while others seem impatient to move on
  • Some people jump signals while morality in the form of a khaaki policeman blows a shrill whistle
  • Some people just want to get ahead
  • … those that do, do not know what to do when they are ahead, so they keep on cruising
  • Some people do not want to take risks, so they go with the flow
  • Yes, there are beggars!

I think I can go on and on with this analogy … what do you think?

differences

The Difference in Perspective

I do not consider myself as a blind person.

He said this as a matter of fact.

I have seen the U.S. Open, I have seen the Wimbledon, I like to see movies … I do not know why people think that a blind person will not enjoy all these things.

The operative word is see, he uses it the same way as I do. I am talking about Ashish Goyal, who recently won the National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities 2010. He was awarded by the President of India on 3rd December.

Today, Illumine had invited him for a session and all of us got to interact with him. Hearing his story, and how down to earth the guy was touching … heck, if I had graduated from Wharton (with honors) and working in one of the sought after companies, I would’ve preened. Oh, did I forget to mention that he has lost his eyesight due to a degenerative disorder?

Yes, he lost his vision at the age of 22. But Ashish went on ahead to get into NMIMS, get a job with ING Vyasa and then get an admit into Wharton. He incidentally was invited for this session by the same professor who used to hold guest lectures for him as a visiting faculty in NMIMS.

Ashish was even witty enough to share with us some of his funny moments at Wharton. As the session was concluding, some words he said got stuck in my mind –

Sometimes it takes only a small difference from our end to make a big difference for someone.

I do not want to take the credit away from Ashish (I would have shat my pants had I been in his shoes … I almost had lost my eyesight in one eye about three years back and I had been shit scared). What he has done is really commendable. I am sure that the visiting faculty might not even have thought of this when he recommended to Ashish that he give overseas MBA a try, yet that act of providing advice and hope made such a big difference.

How many of us do such small acts of kindness without looking at the outcome?

LIONs are whores

Scratch that picture of a feline with cheap make-up and gaudy mane!!

I mean the new style of declaring yourself as a LION (Largest Internet Open Networker) on LinkedIn to say that you are open to connect with one and all. In other words, you are connecting promiscuously – a connection whore.

I am not taking a disparaging view of this, since I have on several occasions done this (for building a strong gaming network on Facebook, for checking the limit of friends you could add on Yahoo Messenger, for adding folks on Orkut left right and center, etc).

It’s just funny to note that when you say LION, it sounds like self-aggrandizing.

I am a LION!!

Instead of just saying (and people don’t do this btw) …

I am a connection whore!

Interesting to see that by a simple change in analogy (whore to LION), people are suddenly willing to declare it on their profiles. Well, for me they are still the same … LIONs are whores!