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.