Living from X to X

Its amazing how life is not a string of days but a string of events. Every moment counts.In the infancy its pretty much year to year, birthday to birthday. And then in school, its pretty much moment to moment but majorly a vacation to vaction, summer to summer, class to class.
And suddenly in +2 its a weekend to weekend life. EAMCET mock test, its no wonder life as a whole is just test to test.

Engineering life is a different thing altogether. The freshmen year is pretty much senior to senior, ragging to ragging, class to class, assignment to assignment. The final year is just party to party, session to session.

As a software engineer active life is pretty much weekend to weekend. Any important personal work, social task gets relegated to the weekend. Its a 5 day vacation from every task day to a task day. Its living from week to week.
Being an entrepreneur has pretty much changed it to a day to day activity, at least in the early days. Now I live day to day, a far cry from the 5 day vacation life of the yore. And this journey shall go on hopefully from a day to day to a moment to moment, the ultimate tribute of living in the present, unfettered by the future and untouched by the past.

In oldage its pretty much moment to moment, as then what counts is the blog and a long line of comments from friends he once knew…

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Yet Another Social Networking Site? Go! Yaar?

Was not very surprised to see this article in the CIOL newsletter that a new social network site called Go!Yaar is up which is aimed at the Indian community. I have been looking at Rent-A-Coder to see if there are projects worth working on and I observed that almost every 10th website project is a facebook or a myspace clone.

As I see it, until now the Indian online social community has been pretty much polarised – either you are on Orkut or you arent. And the Indian subcontinent contributes to one of the biggest ethnic and geographical social networks online in Orkut barring otherwise the Brazilians(?). Its almost 4 years that Orkut came online and its now that the Indian social networking sites are waking up to the smell of fresh coffee. No wonder Rajan says India is on average 3 years behind the valley.

Now back to Go! Yaar. Two of the biggest points is about the strategy itself. Its interesting to find what they write about building Go!Yaar on the existing social networks – universities, colleges and corporates; which is to say puzzling. Other than the premier institures in India, say the IITs, IIITs, BITS, etc no other college or university boasts of a email address! So its puzzling which email addresses they are going to leverage. Early adopters cannot exist in isolation in a social network.

Also, though India is slowly picking up on the ecommerce front, it is nowhere near the position where we can monetize the tremendous value in the online ad marketing or sales as did MySpace.

As I see it, Go!Yaar has its tasks very well cut out:

  1. Getting people to first migrate to their site from Orkut. i.e build the intial critical mass of early adopters
  2. Once they reach the critical mass, the other friends would not wait long to join the Go!Yaar site. But how? I dont have a college email id?!!!
  3. Change its name. Too ABCDish/NRIsh name. The target audience because of the name is very very niche, looks like it targets the urban hip hop crowd.
  4. Find ways to monetize the social network. Google Ads or any of the Ad Affiliate programs might not be of much help. We are fools to click the ad once, but twice? Remeber, we as yet dont buy my new camera by seeing the ad.
  5. Think of better ways to get people faster onto their site: Migration must be very easy. Make that migration automatic for me will ya? That is precisely why we see mass migrations to WordPress.
  6. Try to win where others lost out badly. sms.co.in, fropper (have stopped seeing the fropper ads on TV long since, what happened?), friendster, hi5You are the entrepreneur, you find out.
  7. Tries to be too good at too many things. Make each one as seamlessly and perfect apeice as possible.
  8. Get the early adopters (premier educational institutions, corporates) to adopt it with gusto and stay on the site. Find methods to get these early adopters hooked to the site.

The plusses however are it aims to be a very tightly integrated set of online services, blogs, video, email video, photo album, IM. But this one looks like it can be poised to strike big if it can stay afloat without taking that financial hit and also not to speak of the steady migration of the early adopters into the site. Promise of mobile integration is interesting but unless until the features are compelling enough to solve one main pain point of offline social networking aspect, there is no way I will waste my 1 rupee on sms.

It will be interesting to see how this one fares. I have tried to go to Fropper but its too much of a fad to be of really much value to me. As of now, inspite of its crappy server, its Orkut that I am on, all my friends are there only 🙂

Vice Way to Building Social Value

Every haloed inner circle survives and grows by the basis of exclusivity. Exclusivity panders to the deepest desire of every human being: that of feeling special, valued. Inner Circles are just the result of this exclusivity applied to a subset of a social network. Exclusivity is not the only outcome of ‘belonging’ to a social circle, it also sometimes results in providing social, monetary and information value to the individual. Inner circles are a way to Information Asymmetry and as we can  see Information Asymmetry gives power which can then be used to achieve whatever is acquirable & desired.

Every one has at one time or the other always  have faced this demon of exclusivity and more often we (the teetotallers) have to had to deal with this devil of the inner ring. Closed smoking areas quickly morph to power puff tables, with all the bigwigs speaking in authorative tones about the adverse effect of the pithy sales performance on the teams. Dinner social drinking binges quickly giving way to making that quick pitch to the new VC in town or meeting that distant hotshot CEO of a new company of a friend of the friend of your drinking partner, your boss. As they say, good men go to heaven, bad boys go everywhere!

And its these vices that have the biggest potential to build valuable social networks. Think of it this way, you are a nice guy (loser) who works in his parttime in a NGO for kids and you are another guy who attends social drinking binges with your boss or a new colleague. Just ponder over this… who has the best chances to meet the new CEO or to make the grade in a new big project or a new job or a elevator pitch? It hurts but its the social drinker or a smoker. Your vice just became your wisest decision! 🙂

And when is the bigger chance that two new school boys become the best friends. When each worked on their homework together or when both planned and made that big new escape to bunking school and going to the newest Shiva 2006 (what losers!) first day first show? Huh?

Evidently, the most mischievous brats turn to be the best friends. The social drinkers become the power circle. The smokers the haloed cloud of conglomerates. And mom tells me its good to be a teetoller!!! Duh?!

Freakonomics Finally!

Thanks to my school teacher who generously lent me the book from his personal collection, Im now a Freakonomics aware reader 🙂 One word : Awesome.

Some pertinent points that I jotted down

  • “Teach to the test” – basing the lesson plans on questions from past years exams, which isnt considered cheating but violates the spirit of the test. Which brings me to point that most of the engineering student, X class students I know of follow this very same method to prepare for the exams. The lesson plans are however not exactly done based on previous years questions.
  • Economics is a science primarily concerned with incentives: also a science with statistical tools to measure how people respond to those incentives
  • Turning the Klan secrecy against itself, converting precious knowledge into ammunition for mockery…
  • Raw power of information – Stetson Kennedy, …
  • Power is derived in large part from the fact that information is hoarded. This is basically a case of Information Asymmetry at play.
  • Internet has vastly shrunk the gap between the experts and the public. But even in this case the devil is in the details i.e Specifics matter. Every deal can be made to look profitable and information hoarded when the specifics are not dealt with.
  • Absence of Information Induces Fear, the worst of which is the fear of immediate, imminent death. Hence people fear a terrorist attack more than a accident even thought statistically they are more prone to an accident.
  • Bombastic words are used when there are no words worth discussing. Hence we are more dubious about claims about elegant wonderful majestic programs than about 4kb sized program which run in O(n)
  • There are two major types of discrimination : Taste Based & Information based.
  • Dating websites are the most successful subscription based business on the internet
  • People on dating  surfers are very much dubious about the profiles on the sites. Their perceptions are either basically Fabulist, Narcissist, Resitant to the meaning of the “average”, Realist.
  • Regulation of a legal market is bound to fail when a healthy black market exists for the same product
  • If the product is highly potent and addictive (say cocaine), its no wonder hugely profitable markets are created practically overnight
  • The basic reality is that risks that scare people and the risks that kill people are entirely different.

I should say Levitt is just awesome. Many times it has been my doubt that most of the question dealing with human relations, society in general, can be very correctly understood by understanding the underlying economics. And frankly when we see that most of the customs and traditions are in context of the economics.

Like for example, why is it that Hindus cremate while Moslems and Christians bury? Well, Indians are more of a agrarian society and when you bury bodies an amount of cultivable land goes waste; while for nomadic, hilly terrain societies of Christians and Moslems, lands not the premium. Anycase, that was a shameless plug primarily hijacked from my dad.

Anycase, just go out and buy the book and make yourself a favor. And also keep visiting Freakonomics blog.

Business Idea: HitClub [Rank=Genius]

Close on looking at the Stroke Foundation of UK, and frankly that Im now officially jobless and penniless entrepreneur on the look out for business ideas, I had this braintide about implementing a new business idea : HitClub.

Every business that has a very strong correlation to the real life wins. Its as simple as that. So heres the idea.

HitClub consists of two active participants. One the hitters and the others hit-me. Hitters are the frustrated candidates who want to vent out their frustrations of bad bosses, ultra lazy government bureaucrats, idiotic teachers. Now these guys want a way out to vent their frustrations by hitting someone. In real life this can give you a good deal of a coverage for dealing in domestic violence or manslaughter. However we will make it easy for the Hitters.

We have other set of people called the Hit-Mes who are the guys Hitters can use as targets of their frustration. Basically, Hit-Mes charge very prohibitive costs for taking in the punches, kicks et al while the Hitters pay money for helping getting their frustrations out. The business idea is in connecting Hit-Mes to your Hitters and start charing a percentage for each session and lo and behold you have a business in hand! 😀

Anyone who really sees a potential in this idea can contact me asap. Lets work something out ;))