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Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

Youtube and nostalgia

Posted by Kunal on November 25, 2008

An essential part of being a desi grad student in America is watching old Indian television ads. By old I mean late 80s and early 90s, when people of my age were growing up. The monopoly of Doordarshan on the television meant that we all have grown up watching the same things. Youtube, the great time waster, is as usual more than happy to provide tons of old ads and suggesting other relevant ads. I have experienced quite a few of these ad watching sessions in my house. Memories. They come flooding back and the jingles are still surprisingly fresh in memory.

For a country that produces mostly formulaic movies with an utter lack of creativity, the television advertising industry is a class apart. In my limited experience of watching american television, the ads are very dull and stupid here. Perhaps it is due to lack of interesting subjects :)


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Second ammendment

Posted by Kunal on June 26, 2008

Justices Rule For Individual Gun Rights

I don’t know what to think of this. On one hand, my libertarian leanings make me think that gun-control is wrong; the civilians should be able to carry out a armed revolt against the government. It is admirable that the United States had such a radical/revolutionary clause in their constitution. On the other hand, guns in the hands of people just doesn’t make sense. People argue that guns in the hands of people who can’t use them responsibly gives gun-ownership a bad name. But when you live in Atlanta and hear of students getting mugged at gun-point (with a sawed-off shotgun no less), gun ownership seems just wrong. Guns probably made sense in the USA 200 years ago but it doesn’t make any sense in the present day to me. It is an antiquated idea that should be disposed off. Make love not war :) Perhaps my libertarian friends can disabuse me of my notions.

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But Why?

Posted by Kunal on October 23, 2007

I am a big fan of open standards and open source in general. As a consequence, I get a lot of questions like “Why would anyone give away valuable software for free?”

Boost provides an excellent answer:

Businesses and other organizations often prefer to have code developed, maintained, and improved in the open source community when it does not contain technology specific to their application domain, because it allows them to focus more development resources on their core business.

Individuals contribute for the technical challenge, to hone their technical skills, for the sense of community, as part of their graduate school programs, as a way around geographic isolation, to enhance their employment opportunities, and as advertisements for their consulting services. There are probably as many reasons as there are individuals. Some of the apparently individual contributions come from employees of support companies with contracts from businesses or other organizations who have an interest in seeing that a library is well-maintained.

While it isn’t very difficult to imagine why open source software works, it is much harder to explain why Wikipedia works as there are fewer incentives at play. Very few infact. But wikipedia still works and it serves as an excellent starting point for finding information about absolutely anything. Maybe it is the sense of giving back to the community that makes it work or maybe something else. I can’t put my finger on what makes it work. The following joke I think sums up the mystery of wikipedia perfectly

The problem with Wikipedia is that it never works in theory, it only works in practice!

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P2P

Posted by Kunal on August 12, 2005

Om Malik on Why P2P is here to stay. Regarding the generational gap between Hollywood ( which is suing downloaders and networks) and the digital natives (the downloaders), he says:

Hollywood mafia, is being unrealistic in their desires. Their century old business model, just like the telephone business, is being upended by a demographic shift, and technological changes. The digital natives have grown up with a culture of sharing and swapping. This is a new reality which the older generations cannot comprehend. Landsman says this is only going to result in secret sharing, sub rosa activity, the underground emerges in response to the new state of affairs. This a result of the changed legal and social implications of sharing. They want to change generational behavior instead of their own broken and highly inefficient model.

A few thoughts on the P2P file sharing. Firstly, the Hollywood bosses are nuts if they think prosecuting teenage downloaders is going to put an end to file sharing. Technology will always have the upper hand. First it was Napster, then Audiogalaxy, Morpheus, Gnutella, Kazaa, eDonkey, Bittorrent,.. the list will go on and on. As Om says, more and more downloaders are from Asia which makes it impossible (?) for Hollywood or RIAA to prosecute them.

Anyway, coming to music, data collected by Cachelogic shows that audio accounts for only 11.34% of all file sharing activity. This could be in large part due to success of online music stores like iTunes. Going by the buzz in blogosphere, many people seem to be downloading legal music. So, logically Hollywood should develop a good online business model. Good, no?

It makes complete sense if you are in the US. What about India? There should be a study about the effect of file sharing on Indian music industry. The industry already crippled by physical piracy should be in a stinkhole because of online music piracy. But hardly anyone is talking about it in India. If you buy a new assembled computer from your neighbourhood dealer, one of the perks you get is the huge music collection preloaded on your computer (ofcourse, along with windows, office and other pirated software). Coupled with the fact that people are shifting to broadband because prices are dropping. Going by initial reactions of people after getting broadband, it seems that the download party has just started here!

Things definitely don’t look hunky dory for the Indian music industry, do they? (I bet they don’t even know what are BitTorrents!). What is the solution? Online music stores? It is difficult. In India, online shopping never took off due to many reasons and it doesn’t look like its going to take off any time soon. Also, I think music is overpriced. (I don’t fancy the idea of buying CDs for 400Rs. Heck, I have stopped going to music stores nowadays ) Besides, if people can get free music easily, I don’t see anyone buying music readily. So, online piracy has to be curtailed which is very difficult going by the track record of Indian cyber law enforcers. One major thing which contributed to the success of online music stores is the popularity of mp3 players like iPod. Again, mp3 players have yet to catch up in India. Unless we have cheaper alternatives from Creative and other companies, I don’t think mp3 players will be popular in India.

I think online Indian music stores could be worth a try. Any solutions?

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