Sunday, July 15, 2007

For Shrimati Sonia Gandhi and her co(terie)

Related post - All The Presidents Were Men

Related not as in brother-in-law or someone's husband. Well, not really.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Long Tail in radio

I'm no rocket scientist(I've never wanted to be one), or an economist(which I've sometimes wanted to be) or a social scientist(which I want to be), but one doesn't need to be any of the above to figure this out.

For Jaane Do Na from Cheeni Kum, Illayaraja uses one of his earlier compositions, Jothe Jotheyali from the Kannada film, Geetha. An earlier version of the same is Vizhiyile Undan vizhiyile from Tamil film, Nooravadu Naal. Been listening to lot of FM radio and happened to make this observation. The observation being - while Jaane Do Na was played across different radio stations, the Kannada original was played more frequently. Much like this from Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. Here's an excerpt which talks about a similar phenomenon -

In 1988, a British mountain climber named Joe Simpson wrote a book called Touching the Void, a harrowing account of near death in the Peruvian Andes. It got good reviews but, only a modest success, it was soon forgotten. Then, a decade later, a strange thing happened. Jon Krakauer wrote Into Thin Air, another book about a mountain-climbing tragedy, which became a publishing sensation. Suddenly Touching the Void started to sell again.

Random House rushed out a new edition to keep up with demand. Booksellers began to promote it next to their Into Thin Air displays, and sales rose further. A revised paperback edition, which came out in January, spent 14 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. That same month, IFC Films released a docudrama of the story to critical acclaim. Now Touching the Void outsells Into Thin Air more than two to one.

What happened? In short, recommendations. The online bookseller's software noted patterns in buying behavior and suggested that readers who liked Into Thin Air would also like Touching the Void. People took the suggestion, agreed wholeheartedly, wrote rhapsodic reviews. More sales, more algorithm-fueled recommendations, and the positive feedback loop kicked in.

Particularly notable is that when Krakauer's book hit shelves, Simpson's was nearly out of print. A few years ago, readers of Krakauer would never even have learned about Simpson's book - and if they had, they wouldn't have been able to find it. Amazon changed that. It created the Touching the Void phenomenon by combining infinite shelf space with real-time information about buying trends and public opinion. The result: rising demand for an obscure book.

While Jothe Jotheyali is by no means an obscure song, Jaane Do Na definitely helped to bring it in the popular public realm. And how did The Long Tail work here? The radio stations can store all the content they want and with smart methods of organizing such content and information, it helps them serve their audience better. All this and more without having to spend extra resources and still being able to find that one song which a caller might ask for during a request show.

Here's the Kannada song from perhaps the best example of The Long Tail -

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

All The Presidents Were Men

Ah yes, tried playing on this. As I cleared my Deep Throat, I felt the definite need for it.

With our Presidential election having come down to the streets, we, the villagers of Domlur couldn't be far away from it. Now that there looks to be a distinct possibility of Shrimati Pratibha Patil Shekhawat becoming our President, the grandmother in our neighbourhood remarked - 'Nodi, Ee kaaladalli hennu makkalu yaariginthanoo kadime illa. Namma Mahila Mandalada Presidentoo hennu magale, eega deshada Rasthrapatinpoo hennu magale'. Meaning - See, women are second to none. The President of our Women's Club is also a woman and now, the President of our country will also be a woman. Just that, the President of the Domlur Women's Club(if such a thing exists) has to be a women. Oh yeah, the grandmother part is definitely made up. Do not take anyone in our Domlur for granted. And do not take Domlur itself for granted. Nothing less, it has a Wikipedia entry.

What makes me feel sad is that a lot of people enjoy such nonsense, they're missing out on much better fun - our Presidential election. Reading about this in the newspapers, hearing about it and watching about it in these news channels, with these pretty dumb things on air, is immense fun. For example, let's start taking everything they say literally. Pratibha lashes at critics. Imagine our future President with a whip and lashing her critcs, and they squealing on every lash. Or even if you take the phrases that these guys and pretty dumb girls generally use, mud slinging, for example. Imagine Shri Advani and co. on one side and Mrs. Gandhi and co. with Comrade Karat and co. to her Left (and no one to their left, because they are the Left) throwing mud at each other and the winning party candidate becoming the President. Wake up and realise, it is for nothing that they call this dirty politics. Huh, the Dhobis in Delhi will have a nice time.

It was not long back that the Left propped up Capt. Laskhmi Sehgal against the joint Congress-BJP candidate Dr. Kalam. Things have changed and how. And again, it is not without reason that they say politics makes strange bed-fellows. Now, taking that literally would be taking it a little too far, no? No wait, this piece in Outlook will make that clear as well -

Shalini Sharma, close to Shekhawat when he was Rajasthan CM, was accused of supplying women to powerful BJP ministers. Shalini was made VP of the state social welfare board by the Shekhawat regime.

The Congress and the Left would think they've effectively checkmated Shri. Shekhawat's chances by fielding Shrimati Patil Shekhawat. Fielding of course, in the cricketing sense, can add lot of fun too. Imagine Ahmed Patel running to 10, Janpath, panting heavily and breaking the news to Soniaji - 'Madam, we've caught Shrimati Patil'. Mrs. Gandhi will say - 'Good fielding Mr. Patel'.

So while those supporting her will think they've checkmated the NDA and allies by choosing Shrimati Shekhawat Patil to be their candidate, imagine what will she say to Shri Shekhawat(not her husband Mr. Shekhawat, of course) if they were to come face to face. 'Shekhawatji, check my mate - he's a Shekhawat too!' Huh, killing two birds with one stone. Take it literally? Not quite, we're non-violent people.

So while there can be birds, can horses be far behind? No wonder we hear about horse-trading around such events.

To me, the first memories of President of our country will always be Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma in his penguin-like walking style taking rounds of the different ghats laying wreaths to pay respects to our departed leaders. Such fun, those days were. Geetanjali Iyer, Usha Albuquerque, Minu, Avinash Kaur Sareen, Neeti Ravindran and I can go on listing those wonderful DD news readers. And man, the Sukanya Balakrishnan. And now you have these pretty dumb things. And yes, not to forget those commentaries during the Republic Day and Independence Day parades. And now you have these pretty dumb things.

And as far as the Prez election goes(hate the use of the Prez term as much as the pretty dumb things), I'll be happy if Mughal Gardens gets a good care-taker. Hoping Mr. Shekhawat(either of the two) will take good care of the wonderful flora there. The President's post was for someone scholarly, someone erudite, someone who is a true ambassador of India and someone who brought a lot of dignity to the post. Was, is the word now. For all the talk of a woman President or a masses man becoming our President, as a nation and as a political system I was quite proud of, we've lost something along the way. Sad.

Monday, July 02, 2007

What sex is Bangalore?

Indian definitely promises more than it can deliver. Also that it underwent something close to a sex change operation recently, new logo and all.

And after the wonderful flight, here's what the air hostess(if she still remains she) will announce -

And yes, in honour of Shri Balaji, who reminded me of the existence of my photoblog eye5, I'm resuming posting on eye5.