Sunday, December 20, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
The nice thing I noticed today is seeing Gandhiji on Google India search page. Let me post the nice image from that page, right here:
Long Live Gandhiji...
Sunday, September 6, 2009
The process of meeting a stranger and then successive meetings or other interactions with him/her which transforms our relationship is a complex one and we very seldom think about it using our conscious mind. The fact is we may not even know if someone is our friend or still a good acquaintance!
Social scientists struggled to find out the answer, the reason being - first, surveys are expensive and second, people are error prone when they try recalling their own behavior. If data can be available cheap and recorded, then it would solve this mystery. So they used cellphone usage data!
Researchers have used such data to map out people's social networks, utilizing the duration and frequency of calls between pairs of people as a measure of the intimacy of their relationship. Doing so has revealed patterns of people's contact with each other both in time and space, which is crucial for modeling everything from gossip to how flu viruses spread across populations.
But the question that arises is how accurately do call patterns reflect the intimacy of relationships? After all, so many times even very close friends rarely call each other, while some people who are talking kind call just about everyone (even if not a friend).
A team led by Nathan Eagle, an engineer at the MIT in Cambridge, gave mobile phones to 94 MIT students and faculty members. For 9 months, software on the phones kept track of the volunteers' location and logged all calls made between these phones. Over the same period, the researchers also gathered social data from the subjects in the traditional way, asking them whether the other subjects were friends, acquaintances, or strangers. Finally, the subjects rated their job satisfaction, which has been shown to strongly correlate with the number of workplace friendships.
Just by analyzing the calling patterns, the researchers could accurately label two people as friends or nonfriends more than 95% of the time. But the results, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the mobile phone data were better at predicting friendship than the subjects themselves. Thirty-two pairs of subjects switched from calling each other acquaintances to friends in the traditionally gathered survey data. These are most likely new relationships that formed during the course of the study, say the researchers, and they left a clear signal in the mobile phone data. Friends call each other far more often than acquaintances do when they are off-campus and during weekends. The pattern is so distinct that the researchers spotted budding friendships in the phone data months before the people themselves called themselves friends. This is the surprising thing and shows how complex our social behavior is!
Finally, the team compared people's self-reported job satisfaction with their networks of friendship at their workplaces. Because the mobile phones kept track of people's proximity to each other, the researchers had a clear measure of people's daily contact with friends at work, not only through calls but through physical proximity. As predicted, the more contact people had with friends at their workplace, the more highly they rated their job satisfaction. And conversely, the less face-to-face contact people had with friends at work, the less they said they enjoyed it.
Source of the study : ScienceNow Magazine and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The link to the study is given above.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
In my days of growth from childhood to adulthood I found many such people. They complained and rejected the "growth" of society which was more and more inclined to physical luxury and getting rid of community feeling. One uncle was particularly angry the way more and more individuals were turning into "selfish, not-caring-for-community" kind of people. I had different understanding of what he said at different age slots of my life. When I was a child I did not understand a word he used to say. When I was a teenager I thought he had some mental problem and laughed at him. When I matured I had a very different feel for his concern. I started to learn what he meant - his concern was not that much odd at all and there was a case for deep thinking on the issue. Then one fine day I sat and pondered on his main points -
He complained how the modern individual cared about himself, the height of selfishness, according to him. He gave an example of power outage problem, people buy backup power inverters in their houses to counter the problem instead of finding a solution for their entire community. Then there were other examples of the kind.
Unlike my peers who shrugged off these things, I thought about them at every incident that struck my radar. There was a real "crisis" and it was only getting worse. Later, when I learned about the concepts of German sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies who gave the idea of two social systems: Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, the root of the issue became clear. It was economical betterment of society that led to the downgrade of Gemeinschaft.
Gemeinschaft ("community") refers to a small, rural, low-technology, face-to-face community that is relatively poor and based on informal education at home.
Gesellschaft ("society") refers to a large, urban, heterogeneous, high-technology society that relies on electronic communication and formal, school-based education.
The economic boom in past decades has benefited Gesellschaft to the limits. The recessions in these times could not show a case for "community" centered approach but this ongoing Depression has turned things, at least it seems. The Global Economic Meltdown is changing course of the social behaviour and Gemeinschaft is in vogue again! Many of those who have lost jobs or those who have suffered because of this ongoing crisis, have become community centered and are more involved in community work. If this Global Depression has one big positive, then this is it.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Now imagine the same scene with a bit different requirement. Think about your colleague in need of your co-operation - not that there is something you can do related to his/her work - but, he/she requires you to NOT do something that is creating troubles to his concentration (e.g. you may be listening to hard rock when he/she needs complete quietness). You may not be bound by your office rules for such an occasion but being a human we somehow know this fact that our actions should never be an act of obstacle for our close ones. Sometimes this is just a mutual understanding, other times it is a binding and rest of the times it is our conscience that makes us co-operate.
In last four months I had been extremely busy with a project and that made me a villain in the eyes of my dear wife. When I was working hard day and night my dear wife was unhappy at best. Then, one fine day I asked for her co-operation. I explained her why that thing was important to me and how my success or failure could affect our future. She understood and since then she did her best to co-operate with my work. Things changed suddenly. The workload which looked like a mountain transformed into a small sand rock and today when I have finished the project, I owe a lot to her co-operating nature. I tell this story to demonstrate how easy things turn when we in our relationships learn to co-operate with each other.
Co-operation is not unique characteristic of humans alone. Ants and bees are bigger examples of co-operation and their very survival is dependent entirely upon it. The conclusion is we have to respect co-operation and co-operate with each other in order to survive.
After posting my thoughts, let me not forget what I promised to my friend Alec of www.learnlovemakinglessons.com. His blog is a must read for those couples who want success in their relationships.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Apart from so many applications we also discovered some hidden usage (in fact sms was also discovered by chance). We also had some significant changes in our lifestyle some good some bad, like dependence on "always on" communication, lieing where we are etc. One particular lifestyle change that is the center of discussion in this post is COMMUNIFAKING.
Communifaking is the term we have assigned for a behaviour by cell phone users according to which they "fake" a communication. To put it simply when a person pretends to "talk" on cellphone, he/she is communifaking. According to a recent survey, the number of cellphone users who communifake outnumbers those that don't. The research by British mobile operator 3 has found out that 74% of people from 18 to 24 age group admitted to communifaking. The reasons mostly told by communifakers are either they want to avoid someone nearby or they find it useful when waiting for someone.
The psychologists have more reasons though. According to Patricia Wallace, a psychologist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, following are important reasons :
Demonstrating Connections: If we are sitting lonely at a place like a pub, we communifake in order to show we are not alone.
Show off: Many of us show off our handsets just to impress others. Mostly boys do this to impress girls.
In my personal experience, I saw few cases when someone communifaking was caught red faced when in the middle of "conversation" actual bell rang and exposed the communifake. Even I have communifaked few times and I admit sometimes it was just the feeling of insecurity. I remember an occasion when I had to "do" it just because I had nothing else to do and it was a place full of strangers.
If you are one of those who communifake or feel the need for it, there is nothing wrong as long as you don't use it for show off. Communifaking when you are waiting can be an innocent behaviour and you should not feel guilty if you do it for this reason. However, I would like to utilize "any" spare time like waiting to do something creative.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Charity, donations are good part of modern day world despite the inter-human competition getting bigger. I do not mean it is "only a modern" phenomenon but I mean even in today's world of cut-throat competition, there are good stories of people donating their money and resources to the needy. Its our relationship of a very different kind, where a feeling of pleasure emerges from inside and directs us to help others who we don't even know.
A person ready to sacrifice his / her life for the cause of his / her society is understandable but there can be incidents where someone does this for totally unknowns. However, such incidents are rare and general attitude of a common person is being selfish.
Even a terrorist who has been brainwashed into doing "anything" for a "cause" might get into the act of laying his life. He may be doing a foolish act which is in fact against civilization but in his understanding he does it for "his" people's cause.
The sacrifice for the cause of one's own people is not limited to humans and their are examples from animal world which tell us that this characteristic is prevalent in as mundane a species as an aunt! The Brazilian ant Forelius pusillus is one of that kind. The ants need to seal off the entrances of their nest with sand after sunset and in order to do that, some of them have to remain outside to complete the job. Scientists have found out that they do this willingly. They sacrifice their lives for their society !