Thursday, September 03, 2015

The irony of the relationship between technology and idleness

One of the purposes of everyday technology (mobiles, laptops, etc.) is to make us more efficient. But we rarely use our 'freed up' time to 'be' but instead occupy it with more 'do'. And in modern city life, this means occupying ourselves with more technology.

Ironic, the thing that was designed to free time is now occupying time (and is quite efficient at it).

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Mixed Race

I always wanted to know why 'brown' people didn't feature in the three/four-race theory. Well it turns out it's because the British didn't know how to classify Indians (and I guess the same would go for the browns elsewhere in the world like Central and South America and other parts of Asia. The races of Indians can be any of the following: Caucasoids (mostly North), Australoids (mostly South), Mongoloids (mostly North-East), Negritos (mostly the Andaman Islands).
Either way scientific racism as such was discarded as a valid framework a long long time ago, and now the we humans are classified into 5000 ethnic groups.
To know more on South Asian ethnic groups:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Principles of Democratic Structuring

I've been running Sirius Interactive with two of my closest friends for almost 6 years now. Nice to see time pass so smoothly and successfully. More than a company, we work like a cooperative. Three editors with similar skills, pooling our resources and sharing our profits. This month, we're re-thinking who we are and who we want to be. It's quite a tough question, how to stay small (really small) and still make some reasonably nice amounts of money.

These principles of democratic structuring by Joe Freeman are very helpful for who would like to strive for democracy among partners (applies to a whole range of situations):

1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored. 
2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised. 
3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills. 
4) Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person's "property" and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job. 
5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of "apprenticeship" program rather than the "sink or swim" method. Having a responsibility one can't handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one's skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process. 
6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one's power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion -- without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be. 
7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members' skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.