Monday, April 12, 2010
Online anonymity is overrated.
The "real" and the "fictitious" identity socialize in cyberspace.
Deception online may not be a morality issue when everybody is doing it; when everybody EXPECTS you to do it; and sometimes, mass deception becomes fantasy, when everybody WANTS you to do it.
When it becomes routine social practice, it becomes the norm.
Masquerades become carnivals, become temporary and recurring pleasure. "tootsie23@" tells her story for everybody to read. Is it really relevant to know how authentic "tootsie23@" is? Can we use the same moral compass that we apply to books and journals, newspapers and all other kinds of conventional print to online pontifications? The sacredness of print reminds us of its age, its stature - it provides the comfort zone.
Even in masquerades, when we reveal ourselves in plain sight, we are still part of the carnival. We are still playing a part. As long as the carnival is going on, we are seen in costume, whether it is true or not.
Perception is reality.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
An enthusiastic student comes into my office - he's one of those die hard Apple fanatics, the lifeblood of this industry. This fruit lover makes a compelling case to transform academia for the students through simple Apple software. He wants to tape the lectures through his camcorder and upload it on the Apple video site for students to watch and learn. He argues (point well taken) that students can refresh their memories on certain concepts covered in class and basically grasp material better. He says that he gets that universities are inherently bureaucratic and for immediate action, students need to take initiative. He promises that students will appreciate getting this material through a range of mediums and applications -podcasts to Facebook, listening as they commute or when cramming in study groups.
Yes. So true. Although nothing original here actually. It's already being done in some universities, albeit the sexy brands expanding their reach through new media. TED speakers today have a worldwide audience; some lecturers are gaining celebrity status. Besides, this phenomena expands democracy in education by providing access to the great and well, not-so-great minds as they pontificate on micro specimens to urban design and 16th century art. Mediocrity has a place here..in fact, its the very substance of such online academic democracy...everyone gets heard across board who are CHOSEN to be heard.
So why hasn't this caught on?
Couple of reasons...
1) Academics are human too - we fumble and stumble and bullshit our way sometimes through material...this promises to capture that vulnerability. How does one "erase" miseducation and misrepresentation when captured through online posterity?
2) Academics are narcissistic - the last thing we need is to be reminded that we're aging and nerdy and have high pitched or flat monotonous teaching styles. God forbid, we watch our own lectures online and fall asleep through it!
3) Academics are forced to perform- this is a sort of academic whoring where we are meant to appease to a larger audience when being filmed; the camera creates a self-conscious performance, sometimes geared more towards form than substance.
That said, students are more forgiving than we'd like to believe. Besides, fear of such possibilities are NEVER a good reason to turn such ideas down. The camera may just teach us something in turn. And who knows, we may one day start to enjoy our online alter ego!
Friday, July 31, 2009
We’re all labeled apparently; income level, sex, age, single, married, children and more. To sum up, we are seen to add up to nothing but a cookie that travels with a click of a mouse. WE are our own worst enemy. Naïve about our journeys online, we have supposedly become a gold mine for the government, advertising companies, and more who want so desperately to get to know us better. We are, literally, worth knowing. Our web choices, our little escapades into online dating and shopping are being tracked and profiled. This seems like our fate. The world is spilling with our data. There are no coincidences anymore. You don’t just happen to see online that there is a sale at Macy in San Francisco or that SRK, the Bollywood king just came out with a new movie. It’s all part of the design of public life online. But before we really get caught up with this Big Brother Orwellian notion, let’s take a moment to think of ourselves in all our complexity. I love Beatles, old Hindi songs, Aamir Khan Ads, burritos, Spanish tiles, Oaxacan chocolate, Irish folk music, and Timbuktu bags. I can be cheap. I love free events in New York. But I like spending my money on good winter coats. I love Paris and I love Almora, a small town in the Himalayas, India. What can you say about me so far? What cookie jar do I belong to?
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Facebook warns you that you can choose your Username only once…you’re pretty much stuck with “iWearNeonUnderwearToBed” as a sign in..best of luck on getting that job! As employers, colleagues and friends that you haven’t yet gotten around to de-friend check you out and scrutinize your moves and shakes online, are you forced to live with your mistakes? Really? I see that with the Kodak mafia threatening to make my online photos “disappear” if I don’t order some prints from them..their threats have become part of my monthly routine and yet my photos continue to live a long and supposedly healthy life on their turf. I get it. There’s no free lunch…until someone else comes along to offer you free food? Do threats really work in this online business? If you threaten, you’ve got to see it through otherwise you lose credibility. If this is the new cat and mouse game between online users and producers, what is the prize?
Friday, July 24, 2009
Enterprise Ireland surely knows how to woo you! In little brown conference bags you find Jameson Irish Whiskey to take you through for the rest of the evening in Palo Alto. Mainly Irish and Irish American entrepreneurs and venture capitalists gather to plot and plan how to chase money from pennies to dollars in this economic climate. Some good advice spews forth from a venture capitalist…if someone asks you, “will you be my mentor,” I say “No” …much of this is equated with dating…you don’t ask to get married on your first date, do you? Now that’s good advice. But they also demand face-to-face courtship. What then should we make of all the LinkedIn and Facebook chase that goes on with relative strangers? Does that go far at all? I personally have befriended several researchers, professors and practitioners in my field online. Over the years I would say some of these have become genuine relationships as we exchange Real favors in Virtual settings. So is Venture Capital in Silicon Valley just conservative? Is this the way of the Economic priesthood?