Ok. i’m lying.

My sister wrote a Book. She’s this horrifyingly overachieving woman who is an inspiration to all, and a pain in my ass. She’s one of the youngest Women MDs of an MNC in the world. AND, in the 2 month between her switching jobs, she managed to write a book that got picked up by Penguin!

Its called Alice in Corporateland and its kinda chick-lit with a twist. It takes the route of fairy tales to give guidance to young people on how to build a strong career.

It’s actually pretty good. I hate to admit it because, y’know, Sis.

So she’s launching it in Mumbai on the 3rd (this saturday) at the Crossword at Kemp’s Corner. Anupama Chopra is in conversation with her.

The invite details are below… msg me on @probablytrippy (Twitter) if you can come? Free autographed copies for all attendees!

Also, because, i can shamelessly ask you, because its for Sis and not for me… can i count on your help in trying to get the word out about it (IF you like it and IF you don’t mind). Obviously, its her debut so she’s very excited and like i’m her brother so i’m excited for her etc..

Do RSVP to me on twitter if you’re coming to the event – also, once the book is launched i’d love to give you a copy and ask you to say nice things to it to your gazillion contacts you social butterfly you.

Alice in corporateland invite (2)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Participate in a Live interaction with industry leaders at IIML

Tonight and tomorrow, My Students at IIML and i have invited Leaders from the entertainment to have a videoconference interaction with us.

This interaction is also going to be streamed LIVE via ustream, allowing ANYONE (yes that means you!) to watch AND to ask the speakers questions

The schedule is as follows

Jan31st (today)

2035 – Clay Shirky (Yes.. THE Clay Shirky) on “The Future of Industry”

2130 – Alok “Rodinhood” Kejriwal – Noted Gaming expert and serial enterpreneur


Feb 1st (Tomorrow)

1720 – Siddharth Roy Kapur, MD, UTV on FIlms

1830 – Vijay Nair, CEO, OML on the “Indie Scene”


Dont miss this opportunity to listen in to these awesome speakers and ask them folks any question you want to!

The Live stream will happen on http://www.ustream.tv/channel/collectivity –  if youre there on time, but cant see the stream, just press refresh. Use the social chat box to type in your questions to the speakers!

This is going to be FUN!!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Simple Quiz for kids

This is a simple quiz for indian schoolkids class 5-7




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The New Wealth – Reputation, the gift economy and the #AD2012giveaway

Economic Theory talks about a society being comprised of the “Base” and the “Superstructure” – The “base” comprises of what are the true “forces of production”, whereas the superstructure is everything else – a society’s culture, its instititutions, its political structure, rituals etc.

SImply put the base is “What you do”, and the superstructure is “how you do it”. Both inform the other.

Any economic activity occurs within a superstructure, and the two evolve. For example, currently our economic base is primarily “Industrial”, and the superstructure is “capitalist/democratic”. Some 200 years ago before that, the base was “agricultural” the superstructure was “imperial”.

Given the base and superstructure, there is also a subtle change in definition of “wealth”. While wealth will always remain “the control of factors of production”, those factors of production have evolved – in the agricultural economy it was “Land”, in the industrial economy it is “capital”.

Everytime one system evolves, we can say it goes through a phase transition. And, as with any phase change, this evolution is accompanied by a period of turbulence.

The Russian and French revolutions, Asia and africa’s struggle for independence from the imperial yoke – all of these can be seen as “turbulence” that accompanies the phase change of economic systems.

There’s no reason to believe that the base and superstructure has magically stopped evolving. As a matter of fact, i believe we are on the cusp of another phase change right now.

A few days ago, @anaggh announced the #AD2012giveaway – he looked at the stuff he had in his life which he did not use and decided to give it away. He made up some simple rules and used twitter to announce it. Some other folks decided to join in as well, and they gave away some stuff of tangible value –  stuff like mugs, ipad cases and iphone covers, leather wallets and so on.

A few months ago @boozeandshooze and others were responsible for #booksontoast – an initiative where they collected old books from the library of many folks on twitter, and sold them at rock bottom prices, using the earnings to buy comic books for streetchildren.

We may give these attempts names such as “crowdsourcing” or some other moniker, but for me there was a deeper insight. For me these are perhaps clarion calls of new phase change in economic systems.

We moved from an agricultural age to an industrial age. And now from an industrial age, we are moving to the “Informational age”. And as an economic system evolves, the base, the superstructure and the measures of wealth of that system evolve with it.

what could the potential evolutions be in the informational age?

Firstly the factor of production in the informational age is “Human Capital”, or what clay shirky calls “Cognitive surplus“.

How will this Human Capital be organised? Well, the above examples, and many other 2.0 examples give us a hint.

The Base could evolve from “industrial” to “mass personal” – More and more people will be able to mobilise the factors of production – crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are umbrella terms, they couch something more fundamental – how people are generating value in the informational age, how they are organising themselves is changing.

And the superstructure may well change as well – more and more economists are looking seriously at the post-internet resurgence of the “Gift economy” an economic superstructure that is completely different to the superstructures of the previous ages.

Wikipedia defines the gift economy (or gift culture) as a “mode of exchange where valuable goods and services are regularly given without any explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards (i.e. no formal quid pro quo exists)”

As opposed to the other economic systems, the concept of a “transaction”  is turned on its head – you give something of value (money/time/some resources) without expecting anything in return. And others do the same. And within the system… it magically works!

Both #booksontoast and #AD2012giveaway demonstrate a new economic structure. In a sense they can be seen as prototypes of the new “organisation” in the informational age, with the Base as Mass personal, the superstructure being “gift economy” oriented and the factor of production is “Cognitive surplus” – the desire of others to altruistically participate in your goals.

At the start of this long post, i had given wealth a definition – wealth is the ability to control the factors of production. If “cognitive surplus” is the factor of production of the informational age, then wealth is the ability to control that cognitive surplus.

in other words, the truly rich in the informational age are those who are able to get as many people as possible to contribute their cognitive surplus to their cause.

What is the measure of their wealth? Well, simply put, it is their “Reputation”. The more of a “reputation” you have the more people will listen to you, the more they will participate in your actions, the more trustworthy “information” you will have the ability to generate.

Both @annagh and @boozeandshooze have shown that they are “rich” in the informational age – they have enough of a reputation to mobilise factors of production.

Do you have the same ability? Does your brand? Your company?

If not, how are you going to compete in the new era?

PS. Most of the links on this post are from wikipedia, a shining example of all the concepts ive underlined about the Information age – The base is Mass personal, The superstructure is gift economy, the facor of production is cognitive surplus. And its wealth/reputation within the informational age? Well, you know the answer to that, right?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Misleading campaigns – Gillette India’s Shave or Crave

Data is like a beautiful woman in a sari – what is concealed is far more important than what is revealed.

Gillette’s “shave or crave” campaign is just like that sariclad woman. what it reveals is quite eye opening  – 87% of women like their men cleanshaven in the evening. ANd this is AC Nielsen data!

From this data, Gillette goes on to imply “If you want to get luck tonight, you better shave”.

Well men  –  lets go out there and by more Gillette razors and shave of them beards, right?


Because, like a woman in a sari, what Gillette is CONCEALING is far more important!

The unstated caveat of gilletter data is that Gillette is ONLY TALKING ABOUT WOMEN WHO PREFER CLEANSHAVEN MEN!!

And THAT my fellow males, is quite a small proportion.

A spot quiz i did recently  shows it clearly.


As a matter of fact less than 1 in 5 women like their men clean shaved. The overwhelming majority wants you NOT TO SHAVE.

So, adding my data to gillette’s the ACTUAL learning is this

87% of the 20% of women who like cleanshaved men, or approximately 17 out of 100 want you to shave in the evening!

its funny no, how 17% can be made to sound like 87%, no

I dont blame gillette per se – they need to sell blades, and data show that men are shaving less. Plus, we are generally data challenged and headline hungry – so “87% Women want you to shave!!” sounds so much better than reality.

One way of looking at it is outrage etc. Another was to look at it is “Oh, its good marketing to ignorant sheep”

Could Gillette have had a different marketing strategy? Maybe not use the “sex” bait, rather use the “success” bait – you know, something like

“What do JRD Tata, Mukesh Ambani, and Bill gates have in common?” “Lots of money and no beards 🙂 ”

Whatever the case may be, i really do feel that Gillette, at best, is engaging in misleading advertising, by cherrypicking data and misrepresenting it.

your thoughts?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Your favorite physics Funda

I love Physics – sometimes i dont understand it, but often i do. And when i do, i see it everywhere – i see it in streetlights, and coffee machines, and pool tables and juhu beach and sunsets …everywhere.

At some point… some physics “Funda” really clicked for me. Like… How linear waves turn into concentric waves when they pass through a barrier – My teacher showed us a harbor, and things made sense.

Or using a rubber sheet, and placing a heavy ball bearing in the middle, and rolling balls towards it, demonstrating a gravity well.

Or the visual of a man tossing a ball in the air inside a train to explain relative motion (to the man the ball seems to have moved up and down in a straight line, to an observer outside the train the ball moves in a parabola)

Sometimes – some “funda” of physics just clicks because of some experiment you do, some image youre shown sometimes even an innocuous sentence a teacher has said.

SO my question to you is this

“Can you actually remember one Instance where some “funda” of physics became clear to you? And what happened precisely to bring about that Eureka moment? was it something the teacher said? an experiment you did? what?” DO try to be as detailed as possible?

I’d really really love to know!

Please do comment below!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The real Size of India’s Scams

So, there have been three major scams in India over the last few years – the “2g” Scam, Coal-Gate, and the emerging Thorium scam. Numbers like “20 Lac Crore” are thrown around. If we take the figures at face value, i just wanted to get a clearer idea of what those figures meant.

Estimated Values of Scams

2g scam – 2 Lac Crores – 2 Trillion

Coal-gate  – 11 Lac Crores – 11 Trillion

Thorium – 48 Lac Crores – 48 Trillion

The Estimated Value of the 3 scams – 61 Trillion Rupees or 61,000,000,000,000 Rupees.

What is this figure? What Does this figure *mean*?

I tried to find some ways of giving it some equivalence –

In dollar terms that is approx 1.1 Trillion Dollars (USD). Thats money that should be part of our national exchequer. It should be used to build roads, improve education, provide health care, utilities, perhaps invest in fuel independence. Instead, the concept of a scam implies that, rather than being part of the national exchequer, this money has gone into private bank accounts.

India’s GDP is estimated at $1.8 tn. So, apparently our scams equal some 60% of our GDP!!

What would that money buy us?

– Well, it is estimated that some 32.7% of india’s population, (some 500 million people) lives in abject poverty – less than 60 rupees per day. The scam amount, if shared amongst those people, would give each person some 1.5 Lac rupees!

– 1 in 7 people on this planet is suffering from extreme hunger. It is estimated that it would cost $195bn a year to ensure noone in the world starves. Our scams would pay fr TEN years of feeding the world. it would save 150 million children who would otherwise die of starvation in that same period.

– India spends 4.1% of its GDP on education every year. This scam money would pay for our entire nation’s education for the next 13 years! An alternative way of looking at it – We could give a 2 Lac rupee education endowment to every child under 15 in the country

– Even at 100$ per barrel, this would pay for our entire country’s oil consumption for the next DECADE! ie, it would give every individual, household, factory, carowner among us FREE petrol/energy/electricity/cookingfuel for the next 10 years!

THis money would pay for every indians income tax, AND every company’s corporate Tax for nearly 20 YEARS! Imagine, no more income tax for the next 20 years!

Lets bring it closer to something we can identify with. If every single indian on facebook got a share of the scam money – we’d EACH get 11.5 lac rupees!

The sheer size of these figures go on and on. It begs the question – what is the true impact to us due to these scams, due to the revenue our exchequer would have had, which it has been denied? Would our petrol prices have still risen? Would we still have to pay such high income tax? Would children die of starvation? Would half of our country be on the streets?

I think that this is yet another example of the cabal between the capitalist imperialists and the government, which is ostensibly supposed to protect its citizens from exploitation.

Our politicians are bleeding the country dry while we watch reality TV and outrage about apple vs samsung, and gleefully celebrate kasab’s death. Those are just distractions, keeping us from focussing on real issues.

We need to wake up.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments