Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In praise of the written word

A word, said, is like the air that carries it... there, but ever changing. You know it is there, but 'which' air? May be it was made of something else the moment it was said. But now the memory has mutated the word with memories and assumption. It dissolves into maybes and blank spaces.
What were you saying? Sorry the word didn't reach my cognition. Maybe it crashed against my ear and fell down. Let me look for it, while you go on with utterly temporary utterances that die right after they are born.

Without a keen ear, a spoken word is a still born child.
Keen ears and intelligence are the oxygen for meaning making with words.
Unless one writes them down. 
A spoken word is seldom alone. It carries with it movements, loudness, intonation. They are made of worldviews and emotions... exceptionally unique worldviews and emotions. exceptionally untranslatable unique worldviews and emotions.
The rational word is but a small actor in the grand theater of emotions and utopias.The uniqueness of theater gives a false sense of completeness of thought. "They don't understand me." The ego protects the worldview by hiding inconsistencies in the thought behind the spoken 'word'.

There is only one way of  finding out the inconsistencies - write it down.

A word, written, is as firm and permanent as the medium in which it is written. For the here and now, when the context doesn't change all that much, a written word remains where it was supposed to be. Preceded by and followed with other words, the written word is a prisoner of linear meaning that has been made. If a common language is understood commonly (and that is one big IF), it is even possible to say and convey and be understood in exactly the manner one intends to.

A written word helps not only in conveying a meaning, but also in arriving at one.
We humans are still quite primitive. Still grappling with meaning about self and about other things. We wonder and we ponder. Our wondering and pondering remain enigmatic questions. We get comfortable with the vagueness of enigmas. We return to these enigmas like one returns to bed, instead of operating on these enigmas with sharp curiosity.
Enigmas remain enigmas as long as we do not nail them down with written words.

More urgently, as an advertising person, i see the relevance of written word even more glaringly. I see people filling up with optimism with ideas and words spoken among people who can imagine things. the imagination supplements, bolsters, buoys up the unformed ideas with optimism and assumptions.
And then things come crashing down with bitter disappointment when inconsistencies become apparent. If only one wrote down what one thought and one thought through what was written.

I have gotten into a new habit at work, that i think is a good habit. putting thoughts into a mail or a document right after a meeting/ briefing. Committing thought to written words before springing ideas to a gathering of people.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

World is stupid: We have got our Law all wrong all along

Law intends to govern behavior of a people.
Yet, the people seldom know the laws that they are going to be judged by. How could they? If Tesla had sex with lady Madam Curie. and their children were Einstein and Hawkins and so on.. Even then, only the 10th generation of this magnificent gene pool would probably have brain large enough to comprehend the constitution in its entirety and to be able to keep in in mind at all times to actually be able to behave in accordance with the laws and by laws and in laws and exceptions.

One assumes, that the laws are based on universally understood moral principles. They probably started with simple understandings such as 'killing is bad', 'don't steal'. But the principles have mutated into a gargantuan puzzle which requires professional parselmouths (lawyers) to decode and game the puzzle.

Essentially, what two lawyers and a judge engage is in a queer game in triad of meaning making. Each employs specialised words and chosen facts to make their own arguments. It is not a game of truth seeking, it is a game of conviction played with bureaucratic levers and pulleys. The lawyer with larger access to these levers and pulleys, wins. 

Effect of complexity:
1. Power to elite:
Because of complexity, justice is a costly, long and uncertain affair. More often, it is simply not worth it. Unless, you are rich or well connected. In which case, you can appoint the right powerful lawyers, expedite processes and so on. Look at it - Salman Khan, the douche, gets a bail within a few hours of sentence. Whereas poor undertrials spend years behind bars simply because they can't afford the bail amount.
Essentially, the complexity renders the system without justice. The system simply is unjust.

2. Run away from law:
Common man never goes to a police officer or to the court for help as a first resort (mostly). It is always the last resort. The natural reaction is to avoid getting involved in any activity that might involve interaction with police or judiciary. This is one of the reasons, why a human of 21st century chooses to be a bystander to injustice rather than a person who tries to stop the perpetrators of injustice.
Once you get dragged into the black hole of judiciary, say bye bye to life. Simplest of arguments can drag on for decades.

The business of law making, upholding, breaking is tragic. 

Ideally speaking:

The law should be more accessible. That means, firstly it should be simpler to comprehend, to communicate, to administer and to measure.

Design Thinking:
Imagine if designers, user interface creators wrote law. Imagine if the writers of law were as passionate about 'end users' and 'user experience' as designers of the web.
We need a bit of design thinking for Law. 

Strategic communications:
We need strategic communicators to communicate laws to people. People should not only be aware, but also be able to 'use' law. Right now there is only a begrudging effort at making it simply accessible. That is a bare minimum.

Forever beta:
Law should keep up with time. Digital technology can enable rapid monitoring, adoption and mutation of justice's algorithms according to actual dynamic facts of the state, not assumptions and hopes.

Open and accessible:
Law makers and law practitioners should be open to public scrutiny in most cases. and digital can allow for making transparency possible. The typical bureaucratic spam attack of burying facts under useless papers can be thwarted with efficient digital systems.
Digital can allow making redressal, filing of complaints and reviewing case facts possible remotely and efficiently. so that being a witness doesn't remain a liability.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Earth takes a break

Earth is annoyed with its children.
She wants to take a break. Go travel to some other solar system for a change. Perhaps check out that Andromeda Galaxy. She has heard great things about it for ages. She never gets to travel anywhere. What with all the suckling fumbling good-for-nothing children of hers. Arrogant and up-to-no good.
She sighs. She shudders. She melts. She thunders.
No matter how hard she tries, nothing seems to get across to her children. She thinks, its a phase. The children will grow out of their teenage angst. The shut doors of perception will open some day. hopefully.

For now, it is getting too much to handle for her. She is taking a break.
Mars agrees to babysit.
People wake up to find they can't breath on mars.

the end.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Justince is an imaginary concept

The only reality is power.
and the powerful will always have more leverage with tools. No matter with what intention those tools were made - internet (democratising force), judicial system (equalizing force), democracy (equal voice)... all these tools ends up serving the rich and powerful.
 Take for instance the brutal massacres that Ranveer sena assholes kept on perpetrating killing hundreds of marginalised people - Dalits, Muslims, low-caste persons.

A decade on, the perpetrators have been declared innocent by high court citing such intelligent reasoning -
"When the killers came with intention to kill everybody, how the witnesses survived?" 
 The high caste judge reasoned that presence of witness is proof of the innocence! and if the killers had been efficient? then in absence of witnesses, killers would have been deemed innocent.
Heads I win, Tales you loose.
And the unstated rule of land will always remain 'Heads I win, tale you loose' with the ruling class. As long you are in the service of the system, you prosper. When you start becoming inconvenient, you are a liability that needs to be dealt with - either violence, intimidation, bureaucratic quagmire or pure and simple exclusion.
History is written by the ruling class. The ruling class keeps creating narratives of injustices that they face and they conquer against. Their heroes become everyone's heroes. Their demons become everyone's demons. Take Ramayana for example.
These narratives help keep a lid on real injustices. This massacre, like a hundred other massacres in India, never get the coverage that a mild traffic jam in Delhi would get. Because traffic jam in Delhi concerns the ruling class. Dying others does not.
It would be honest if the ruling class honestly says it out loud - these are others that we don't care about. But instead they will sing the song of unity and nationalism.

The nationalist forces such as RSS, BJP and even Congress are tools at the disposal of the rich to vanquish inconvenient voices and pacify the masses who might revolt against the injustice.

Dangerous ideas about caste, nationlism and convenience based imagined histories must die. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

The one ring to rule them all

The only truly successful meme of 21st century is that of 'Money'.

Successful because no other idea has been accepted with such unanimity as the idea of money. A paper with little value becomes fantastically valuable with a photo of Mahatma Gandhi. (or a fish or watch tower if you are from Norway.) And this transformation happens because humanity has collectively agreed to bestow imaginary value upon real substance. 

No other idea comes close to the level of acceptance that the idea of Money enjoys. More and more people identify themselves as atheists (so there goes religion). Not everyone believes in equality (the idea of caste refuses to die, The idea of class remains a reality. People are forever trying to find imaginary cues to set themselves favourably apart from the masses). The rise of ISIS and resurgence of Nazi sympathies tells us that idea of democracy and human rights are not as strong as we think they are.

Money is the one ring to rule them all. 
Ideas that serve the idea of money will prosper. Ideas that pose a threat to money, will be reduced to insignificance. Take the example of the idea of Human Rights. It will forever be an underdog: Little islands at the margins fighting the battle against bigger interests at the center. Ideas like these will never die (well, at least until humanity exists), but they will never assume center stage as well.

So what exactly is the idea of money? 
Essentially, it is a medium of transaction. From paper, plastic and now to bitcoins..  the concept is moving from material transaction to conceptual transaction. For the idea of money, a material person is not essential anymore. A virtual 'want' is enough.
Is it essentially convenience of transaction. Transaction between humans. So what does it mean for humanity? For it to be irrelevant materially, but relevant existentially in the age of virtual worlds?

Centrality of banks
No wonder, bankers are the highest paid mammals on the planet. They control the flow of money. They control the idea of money. And with globalisations and digitisation, banks are central to all human activity. Without them, the system as it currently stands, will fall down.

Power at the centre
The 0.1% of the human population controls the world. The one ring gives them all the power. To fight them, support alternate ideas of money.
An alternate Future is P2P
Bitcoins and other p2p mined virtual currencies operate outside the banking system. But how resilient is the idea of p2p transactions? The nascent system has had its share of troubles. But the idea seems to be inevitable.
If there is global centralised banking at the centre, then there must be P2P virtual money at the opposite pole. The future of money is bipolar. and we can't afford either of the systems to be too powerful.

The new science of economics
Economics as a subject to be studied is a fairly new idea. That tells you something crucial about money. This means that the momentum behind the idea of money is fairly new. With globalisation, money became important. Which means, it wasn't that important earlier. Which means, the idea of non money-centric life is not that far fetched. that there is a possibility of money to be reined in.