Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to lessen the load in Indian courts and speed up justice: the idea of neighboring courts

San Francisco has introduced the concept of neighborhood courts to handle cases related to low-level, nonviolent crimes. Under the plan, the accused person will be given the option of going to "neighborhood court," where he/she could see his/her case dealt within two weeks of getting caught.

More on how it works:
...if someone is written up for graffiti, he or she can admit guilt and tell their story to a panel of people living in the community with the new artwork. The panel of volunteers would then give the violator a "restorative justice" assignment, such as cleaning up graffiti. After the walls have been cleared, so will the person's record of that particular offense. The entire process can take just two weeks, said a neighborhood prosecutor, and should cost $300 per crime—just a fifth of the price tag for putting someone through the criminal court system.
It is similar to what the Gram panchayats were supposed to do instead of handing out lucrative contracts. This can also be introduced in every colony in the cities. This can also be a useful crime-prevention idea if implemented honestly.

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The world's most powerful brand is the least useful (and how useless most rankings really are)

Most rankings are only guestimates based on favorites of a very small focus group. But when one such ranking, world's most powerful brands, ranked Google as the number 1, we sort of agreed. Because no other internet service/major brand today is as useful as Google. Whether you were a poor student in Patna or a fashion designer in Paris, Google was your guide to information and actionable intelligence.

Now Apple is at the top of the list Top 100 global brands. But what use is Apple to most of the world? It is the least useful globally.

And, what exactly does being powerful mean? Other than the fact that Apple is able to influence the influencers through various subliminal means, what other power are we talking about here?

In comparison, even evil Microsoft is better than Apple. Just ask all those users of Win XP Service Pack 2 (free, pirated editions) worldwide. What good is a piece of technology if it can't be copied? There, I said it.

So, what explains the rise of Apple? Is it only the rise of mobile devices and shiny tablets? In many ways, the state of the IT industry is similar to the early decades of automobiles, but the difference here is that everyoene is touting everyone else should buy the latest Mercedes Benz and not Model T (and drive only on roads approved by Mercedes). 

Apple the brand is symptomatioc of today's Hyper-consumerism, where 'a son attacks his mom for drinking his starbucks'.


The "greatest of all Internet laws" turns 15 this year

“Section 230”, or the Telecommunications Act of 1996: 47 U.S.C. §230, turns 15 this year. This is the obscure provision that protects internet computer services (websites, social sharing websites, etc.) from being sued for containing stuff that site users put in.  Thus the praise, the "greatest of all Internet laws".


Seth Godin's High School Curriculum

A list of things Seth Godin wants high schoolers to learn (my favorite is at the bottom of the list):
1. How to focus intently on a problem until it's solved.
2. The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
3. How to read critically.
4. The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
5. An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
6. How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
7. Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
8. Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
9. An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
10. Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.


How young people can achieve true happiness: Every course you take should be about who you are going to marry

New York Times columnist and author David Brooks has just written 'The Social Animal: A Story of How Success Happens', where he says that ' the path our lives take is for the most part decided by inner workings over which we have little control. Or little control until now.'

His advice for young people seeking happiness in life:
I tell university students that every course they take should be about who they are going to marry,...They should read novels about marriage. They should study the neuroscience and psychology of marriage. Universities should offer one course after another in marriage. But our institutions are structured based on this false view of human nature, so they emphasise the professional skills, which are important, but they underemphasise the things that seem soft and squishy and frankly unmanly.

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Is Meritocracy a sham?: What happens after you get into an IIT/IIM or beyond

So, you got "coached". Passed the entrance exams. Got yourself on the path to a secure life ahead. But, what do you actually contribute to society? Do you live up to the reputation of how "brainy" you are?

I often hear stories about arrogant IITians in companies who treat students from lesser institutes (as well as people with experience) with disdain, doing little work, bossing over others, and obsessing over EMIs and latest consumer aspirations. Same goes for IIM type people. I wonder how many of these stories are true.

Is this all what the IIT/IIM dream was about? Becoming rabid consumers? Is Meritocracy a sham? Nothing but fancy-word, poster art for the aspirational middle class?

Relevant Read: What becomes of Asian-American overachievers after the test-taking ends?

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Who is Linkedin most useful to?: Not us, for sure

I think LinkedIn.com is more useful to companies and recruiters than actual workers. I have been a member of this so-called 'focused' vertical social network for some time, and so far no benefit.

Random notes on what I think about LinkedIn:

1. Most of the LinkedIn updates I receive in my email concerns past colleagues who have moved into HR (whose bread and butter depends upon making connections) or people who do more socializing than actual work ('I have more attestations than you' kind of socializing). These people love to 'pass time.'

2. Like other focused social networks, your success with that network depends on the amount of time you are willing to spend on that network - attesting others, gathering friends, building groups, answering questions, and so on. Putting in more hours at work would have helped you better.

3. Isn't Linkedin a sort of glorifed Job portal with alleged social features, smartly getting users to all the heavy work? Imagine a normal job portal spamming you to do this and that on the site.

4. Like a good job portal, LinkedIn is now making money via listings etc., the same way that job portals do. But still, I can't understand how LinkedIn IPO shares are priced at 'tech bubble like' $32-$35 per share.

Think about it: When was the last time you receive a job offer via LinkedIn?