Monthly Archives: February 2014

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A Freelancer’s Idyll and the impending collapse of the Age of Cubicles

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(The post is slightly reworked from the original post written in 2010)

While I was a corporate cog, I was forced to live in a city. My income and location were tightly coupled. I was more or less bound to my ‘office’ like a serf in middle age was bound to his manor house.  As soon as I became a freelancer, I realized that my location and income had no coupling. 

Vedic conception of life and living is based on the fundamental premise that our body and I-ness are also in reality separate. The coupling can be overcome through practice. Death is not de-coupling of I-ness and the body but an event in the constant bodily chande  where the coupling leaves one body (which is lying dead) and attaches to another body. 

I visualized an idyll like this : 

1. Habitat : In farmlands where one can grow one’s food – vegetables, fruits, nuts and all those eatables that are nutritous and sustainable. The first identity of a freelancer would be an agriculturist. It is no wonder – the first culture was agriculture. One can buy in various areas in a country some tract of land and build a small home. Try to be as near a running stream or river. This search for habitat is very important.

2. Work : Use internet and access Google, Skype and Paypal. Occasionally go to the downtown bank to withdraw some money to buy what you cannot grow. A true freelancer would create work rather than his / her boss telling what to do.

3. Re-Creation : Not entertainment – but re-creation. Wake up with birdsong. Tend your garden and foodspace. Walk. Sit and think as the civilization as we know perhaps cankers away. Remember what St. Fredentine of Mexico has advised : Give to Ceasar what you must, keep what you can, only loyalty to family, friends and common decency.

4. Transportation : A person with such a life (and temperament) needs little running here and there in search of entertainment or adrenaline rush. Use bicycle.

5. Hobbies : Plenty. Read the greatest minds of the world – better read those who are dead. Read the living ones with caution. In the evening, after a fulfilling days work, open a bottle of wine and call the greatest of musicians of the world to enrich you. Recommend : Bach.

6. Education of Children : Homeschool them. Tend the plants and the children. Both are same in terms of their growth. Give them open space, sunshine and water. Rest is not in your hand. Every man has a destiny. For a change, you can send them in a school for few months. They would not go second time.

7. Pets : Keep some pet. Keep a cow – it will give you the best nutritional drink for decade : Milk. Prepare all else from the milk. Keep  a dog, a cat, few chickens. If you have a pond, keep some duck. If you observe them swimming, you will find a strange watery coolness inside you.

8. Security : The price of freedom is poverty. Be poor but not squalid. Let the neighbours know that you have a kingdom which is not in some bank’s computer thousand miles away but in you and within you. Share and Enjoy.

9. Holidays : A Life led this way does not need a holiday as generally people need.

10. Vocation : An unexperimented Life is not worth living. Experiment everyday.

11. Medical Support : You wont be needing anti-depressants, drugs for respiratory illness, drugs for sexual dysfunctionality, stress related syndromes and psychoses. For other maladies, please note that you will die one day.

Afterthoughts

I recollect that in Ancient Rome there was a concept called Private Citizen. Many were very capable people and they served the Republic or Empire, depending on perspective, quite well. I am sure, at the end days of the Republic, many just withdrew and slipped away. They reasoned that the system merited less and less attention and care and was beyond repair. It had to be re-newed and any renewal needs a complete, overwhelming collpase.

Many such capable people, across the globe find themselves in the same mood. They find that the current system merits less and less for its perpetuation and this slipping away will hasten its collapse.

A growing number of men and women are not mouring. They are aware of the inner law and the opportunities in the new age. Most are clung by an unholy attachment (মোহ in Sanskrit) to the corpse. And the most dubious, most venal are selling the limbs of this corpse as a profit to the Unwashed.

Schone Welt, Dost du bi ?

Beautiful World, Where are you ?


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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What as a freelancer you can learn from Sherlock Holmes

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I was fortunate that I had read Sherlock Holmes while I was a boy. It has been one of the pleasant memories of my childhood other than having a very quiant life in small town of North East India. I became a freelancer on my late twenties after eight years of working for a corporation. Here is a list 

  • Be good and try to be excellent in what you do.
  • Do not stuff your brain with useless items. Most men stuff useless items in their brain and this causes two problems : a) they lack space to put useful items b) the useful items do not have space to connect with other useful times
  • Discover connections between things rather than things themselves. 
  • If you find yourself sometimes depressed or down, please wait with hope that a new case, an interesting one – an interesting assignment, an important contact is bound to happen anytime soon.
  • Choose your association and friends carefully. 
  • During times of slow business, prepare for fast business. Study and research
  • Be dramatic in life. You can practice this all the time in small events and communications. 
  • Be artsitic : do something strictly for the future
  • Be courteous but firm – say NO when you think you should say No to a project
  • Always keep faith : you shall get quality information
  • Be curious but usefully curious
  • Have varied hobbies
  • Never speculate without capital data. Instead of guessing, balance probabilities
  • If you have committed yourself to a project, do not monetary consideration in the middle or any stage hold you back. 

Work in your domain with such a passion that people may say : ‘He /She is the last court of appeal in this domain’. 

The domain may be as narrow it can be. The domain can be as unconventional it can be. And the domain may be as un-official it may be.

Do not be a good professional only. Create a profession for yourself. Write your own Job Title.

Sherlock Holmes called himself Consulting Detective and that inspired me to take a title Consulting Life-Deisgner (Freelance)


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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Big Data and Business Destiny – Six point rule

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The more I read about Big Data from true thinkers, mercenaries, 90-degree visual writers, meaning-challenged data-coolies, I find a faint voice inside me telling me : ‘Simply, simplify’.

What is the destiny of a business ? It has actually 6 destinies only based on its inception charcater 

  • Birth (start-up) – an individual or a group or another business will be causa proxima for the birth
  • Growth – It will be like an engine. It will take input and will generate desirable and undesirable outputs. 
  • Maturity : It will reach peak where input/output/desirability will have either an intensely brief period, brief or considerably long peak-plateu period.
  • By-products : It will create many by-products – other similar or dissimilar businesses
  • Dwindling : It will have some internal or external or combined issues and the input / output / desirability will be disturbed 
  • Vanish / death / un-manifested : The business will cease to exist in its form of inception and may either vanish, morph, close or being taken up inside another business which by the way is under this six point rule. 

No business can ever escape these 6-point rule and these rules are stringnent to the extent than no business, however smart can escape this.

Let us consider the issue of BIG DATA (whatever it is) in context of transforming business in the framework of Six point rule. 

  •  A reproducibile, acorss the segment experiment / theory needs to establish the relationship between success in handling big data and overall business success. Currently there is none. It reminds me of initial euphoria of Internet where some people genuinely thought that as people will connect and interact seamlessly, there will be more international harmony. It did not happen. 
  • Data first or Business first ? 
  • Presuming we have the best BIG DATA engine, can we influence behaviour ? If yes, to what extent ? 0% ( no impact on a person’s free will) or 100% (complete negation of free will) 
  • Are there any previous historical model of Big Data ? 
  • Will more and more improvement in hardware, software, data capture, analysis, velocity, veracity will lead to a situation where the engines will be ‘intelligent’ enough to behave like an intelligent person or an an intutive engine ? 

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Let us visualize two stories as a reward for pushing your brain hard. 

Story I  (circa 2014) 

In Bangalore, India in a software giant’s boardroom, the CEO poses a problem of dwindling sales, less margins and seeking to develop a strategy. Head of Big Data, impeccably dressed and a prodigy from one of the Ivy League universities of the US enters and he sits and pushes some buttons and massive fans started  roatating and the screen started crunching all the Data stored in its 24 storage centres, 200+ terbyte real time pipelines, all senors from every employee, all recordings from the hidden listening posts near the water cooler and canteens, also 3rd party listening data from competitors. The room temperature recorded slight rise and then he showed a screen like this 

————————- Takeover by Fagin Solutions expected within next 800 pentabyte data cycle ——————————

No one understood anything ! CEO asked what does this mean ?

Fagin solution is making a hostile takeover bid in next 3 days. 

Story II (circa 2014)

In Silcon valleys largest company’s boardroom, the same problem is being discussed. Head of Big Data was also present. For last 3 quarters, his pentabyte++ models did not provide much clue or turnaround regarding the dwindling sales and falling margins. It was a tense atomosphere. The CEO was grim and Head of Big Data felt that his own destiny in the organization may prceede the business destiny. He made his customary and boring statements which were little less sonorous than sound of fans and such as was happening 12 hours before in Bangalore.

Head of Strategy excused himself and went out and came back shortly after. A man of Indian origin was with him. When his turn came, he requested his audience to hear the insights of the man. The man opened a strange looking device – a scroll kind of thing. He also opened a directory like book. He opened the device in the table and went on checking and calculating. After 30 mins of intense concentration, he announced 

—- Mars and Saturn Conjunction reaching peak in next 7 weeks, 5 days, 31st min and 5th sec and means Friday 11:32 hours. ——

What this may mean ? 

None but the CEO understood the accuracy of the meaning. He has been secretly tipped off by the shareholders that he is going to be sacked in next month unless he can show some improvement. 

 

 

 

 


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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No user should escape !

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In more brutal times of history, an empire wanted to make everyone living as the subject of the empire like Dropbox founder reportedly saying about his product in wired : the product is needed by everyone having a pulse (wired stood corrected at the end of the article of wrongly telling the quote as being – everyone having a nipple).

As a freelancer, I have the opportunity of hearing a talented bunch of professionals in Salt Lake, Calcutta educating me about success in the Age of Measurement as built by Analytics and Big Data which can be summarized as below

User + Geometric progression + Exponential connections + Viral Growth —–> Millions of Users —> Hundreds of Millions of users. 

After that, what happens is no guesswork but matter of history. So be it ! 

The more I heard about the Age of Measurement  ( the evolution of the Age of Empire ), the more I started to get some occult (= cannot explain) connection between Big Data, Analytics and Vedic Astrology. These thoughts made me write another esoteric piece – a synthesis between Big Data tool-kit and Vedic Astrology as trending techniques.

I was asking myself as why no user should escape has become such a critical aspect of a start-up business or any business of this age of measurement. Why companies are so serious about tracking user footprint – in email, in social media, in digital walks. Why anticipating user behaviour is becoming so important ? Is it because of the fact that we are able to measure it or is it because of the fact that we have suddenly become hyper-concisous about customer satisfaction or we have now a measured linkage in terms of money available between user behaviour and keeping track of it ?

I suspect the first and the last one, that is having some incentive to track this the deciding factor. 

No user should escape business model will give rise to increasing automation on one hand and higher revenue / employee ratio. This increasing automation will be called as technological progress (which is a malleable term and can mean anything with suitable parameters put in to measure progress) and the higher revenue / employee ratio will be considered success or leverage where with employee =1, the revenue will reach the combinbed GDP of some 100+ countries. 

But managing, anticpating and keeping 100 million users for months or year after year is a job demanding tremendous skill and strain on the best manager’s management abilities. History has proved that every such configuration has been unstable and either withered away slowly (Holy Roman Empire) or imploded ( Communist Russia).

100 million users or human animals impinging on a mesh can only be managed with a theory we have at had and that is the kinetic theory of gases and the behaviour now can only be meaningfully told in statistical terms. 

Currently, we have no such theory and some honourable men, like Chris Anderson have announced an end of theory by arguing that correlation is enough to satisfy our curiosity for causation and denying us any higher aspiration for knowledge or searching for causes. 

This end of theory is neverthless a theory !

Extension of this ‘no user should escape’ with more Big Data will usher us into an age of statistical witchcraft and as soon as we admit that our ability to handle huge data sets will allow us to have knowledge of inner mechanism of a phenomena, all higher questions related to self will be forgotten.

One such self-referential query is : Why do I or my company want that everyone should be the user of my service / product

In spite of having the historical proof of finding this aspiration defeated after a brief phase without a single exception, why does this adamantine will exerts itself ?

In another way of expressing : Why finding the inevitability of Death, why do we feel a sense of deathlessness within us ? 

No user should escape or I should be or am the Lord of all I survey   is a human behaviour should give us more valuable knowledge about us rather than correlating data sets more efficiently. 


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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End of Theory by Chris Anderson is a theory related to BIG DATA pointing to a super-human origin of human beings

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In 2008, celebrated editor and excellent prose-writer Chris Anderson wrote a provocative piece in Wired magazine with a more provocative title : The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete

The article needs careful study because Mr. Anderson is a very knowledgeable man and he has enormous experience in the domain he is speaking. More important, he writes excellent prose with a rapid pace that entertains, informs, sways but unfortunately mis-guides where it matters most. The rebuttal is about those areas and this is true ‘correlationally and causationally’ as the rebuttal will show. 

Before we start the argument, we need to make some terminological cleansing.

Theory : A model, a mental view of the reality to be tested.

Date Deluge : Volume, nature, formation speed, structure, mix of data which cannot be conceived through traditional methods and devices. Also known and marketed as BIG DATA 

Scientific : Observation, Hypothesis, Testing

Here is the grand opening 

Sixty years ago, digital computers made information readable. Twenty years ago, the Internet made it reachable. Ten years ago, the first search engine crawlers made it a single database. Now Google and like-minded companies are sifting through the most measured age in history, treating this massive corpus as a laboratory of the human condition. They are the children of the Petabyte Age.

The word ‘human condition’ is very suggestive. What is meant by human condition ? If this means humans of Pentabyte age only, then are there fundamental differences between humans of kilo-byte age ? Are human beings of successive ages getting different in a fundamental sense with each age ? What is the fundamental sense of being a human ? Mr. Anderson does not say anything about this most-important question and remains busy with the processes and data created by human beings. He is not asking the question that is the signature of human being and human being alone among all living beings  : Who am I ? Am I a data radiator, to be captured and analysed ? Mr. Anderson does not halt to ponder this question and hence he is so free and happy to go next. 

Speaking at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference this past March, Peter Norvig, Google’s research director, offered an update to George Box’s maxim: “All models are wrong, and increasingly you can succeed without them.”

Agreed that all models are wrong. It implies that attempt to make any model will fail to interpret reality. But what is meant by ‘success’ then ? If I ask Mr. Norvig what is success for me as a human being (considering the fact that I have educated myself well not to make further models). What is the success of a human being then ? If we believe Mr. Anderson, we have progressed with the formidable achievement of ‘end of theory’ but left with two questions that are pricking us : a) What is a human being ? b) What is success for a human being ?

This is a world where massive amounts of data and applied mathematics replace every other tool that might be brought to bear. Out with every theory of human behavior, from linguistics to sociology. Forget taxonomy, ontology, and psychology. Who knows why people do what they do? The point is they do it, and we can track and measure it with unprecedented fidelity. With enough data, the numbers speak for themselves.

Here is a passage that is the key – the magnet that is holding everything together. Since none knows what is a human being (co-related with Who knows) and not interested to know the why (cause), the end of theory era is increasingly simple, insipid, and linear. We hear numbers and then do what….I ask a question now : Who created human beings ? This who and emboldened Who above bear a relationship and that relationship is critical. Without knowing the manufacturer of human being, studying the activities of human being, using however large data sets and engines will give us incorrect results. For example, let us consider an unfortunate boy who is not sure who his father his. He can approach BIG DATA, Google or other big data vendors but none can be trusted to be the ultimate authority. Who is the ultimate or no better authority : Mother. 

Scientists are trained to recognize that correlation is not causation, that no conclusions should be drawn simply on the basis of correlation between X and Y (it could just be a coincidence). Instead, you must understand the underlying mechanisms that connect the two. Once you have a model, you can connect the data sets with confidence. Data without a model is just noise.

 

But faced with massive data, this approach to science — hypothesize, model, test — is becoming obsolete. Consider physics: Newtonian models were crude approximations of the truth (wrong at the atomic level, but still useful). A hundred years ago, statistically based quantum mechanics offered a better picture — but quantum mechanics is yet another model, and as such it, too, is flawed, no doubt a caricature of a more complex underlying reality. The reason physics has drifted into theoretical speculation about n-dimensional grand unified models over the past few decades (the “beautiful story” phase of a discipline starved of data) is that we don’t know how to run the experiments that would falsify the hypotheses — the energies are too high, the accelerators too expensive, and so on.

Very logical. We understand that the mental model of a scientist or a group is only limited version of what the reality is. Now bio-logy, the models are caricatures of the complex reality. But in that caricuature also, there was some attempt to penetrate into an ‘inconceivable’ aspect of creation and ‘human condition’. None of the models were fully true but they ‘mimicked’ something. Whom did they mimic ? 

 

There’s no reason to cling to our old ways. It’s time to ask: What can science learn from Google?

 Here the old ways means the old way of science and why so ?

Learning to use a “computer” of this scale may be challenging. But the opportunity is great: The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all.

This was expected… and all Sankhya Philosophy with an agonistic or atheistic philosophy will finally reach this voidistic or nihilistic conclusion. Pentabyte age and the philsophy thereof is nothing new – it has been quite ambient. Mr. Anderson is not aware of it and hence he delights so much.  He mentions science can advance but what is advancement for science ?

Mr. Anderson and all people he quotes and refers to have no idea at all because of the fundamental take-off point for them : They are not asking the source of all this, they are checking the process somewhere in the middle and then trying to invent or predict the future. 

 

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The Theory Mr. Anderson has unconsciously felt and in a sense re-dicovered 

a. Human beings suffer from four kinds of fundamental and irremovable defects : limited sense perception, propesnsity to commit mistake, to be illusioned and propensity to cheat. 

b. Human beings are under stringent laws of nature. These laws operate in their own way irrespective ofatalogued th whether you have discovered the laws, named them, catalogued them or understood them. Your body with inconceivable amount of BIG DATA functions well without our understanding of them. No science or BIG DATA can create a human being but a human being can easily create another human being in a biological test-tube with the sexual pleasure as a great incentive. The four such laws under which we are completely controlled are : birth, death, old-age, disease. 

c. The whole reality is so vast and complex that we shall not reach any conclusion on our own ( models, data, correlation) just like a boy will never reach the correct conclusion regarding his father without approaching the supreme authority in such matter : mother.

d. Mr. Anderson’s ‘end of theory’ is nothing but propunding another theory. His no-theory is a theory of testing teality. The ‘scientific advancement’ in this approach (or using this theory) is also bound to fail. If that is the case, why bother just like he admonishes us not to bother with the traditional scientific models. 

e. There is a theory and that is the theory where we need to approach an authority who is beyond the four fundamental defects.

f. As for bio-logy, our very propensity to theorize and create a model shows that we share the same propensity with someone who has created us. Co-relation with the whole cosmic situation as the laboratory and eternal co-relation is no longer an error but a rule or law. An eternally co-incident happening is causation.

g. Mr. Anderson is very close to something very important – it is infinitely more valuable and important than the pentabyte childishness. His ‘end of theory’ points to the ‘Theory of God – the Supreme Person who has inconceivable potentcies.’

His end of theory is a great and purifying read but he could not take us there !

 

 

 

 


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com


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A synthetic study on Big Data, Trending, Vedic Astrology

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I presented this post in the form of a webinar in Wordsmith University last year entitled : Freelancer’s Feast and Famine cycle.The webinar effectively dealt with the problem of cyclic variation of freelancer’s income and ways and means to predict or understand the ‘trending’ of it. 

Recently, Mr. Sushovan Mukherjee, CEO and co-founder of Prime Infoserv LLP gave me a series of telephonic lectures on the subject of Big Data, Trending and Analytics. These concepts were at the core of the radical venture he was founding –   Health360plus and I have been also a humble contributor. The post, quite long below tries to connect these domains as well as leave various questions and also some germinal business ideas. 

 

 

 

Image

 

Please see above figure : Then first is the curve of a specific stock in NYSE for forty years, next is solar emission over 50 years and the last one is the cosmic radiation intensity in a point for last 30 years. The graph at the right is a hand-plot of a freelance translator’s income over four years. 

These diverse processes : individual, corporate, solar and cosmic processes show a strikingly similar pictoral similarity. The factors that influence these processes surely lie at the domain of fashionably called BIG DATA nowadays.

The question we can ask now :

a. What will be my income-trend in September 2014 to March 2015 ?  [ this is the question which has potential business hidden in it]

Image

The first picture is of genetic code, second is the convoluted brain and the third is the Schrodinger wave equation predicting with certain level of probability the ‘destiny’ of an electron. 

Image

 

The above picture is a horoscope as detailed in Vedic astrology. This can be considered as a combination of a specific genetic code (a person) and an encrypted signature. The encrypted signature above takes initial condition (date / time / space of birth), the genetic code ( the person’s manifestation), compresses and convolutes HYPER-BIG DATA.

The question is : do we have a tool-kit to unpack this BIG DATA towards future and do trending ? 

The answer is YES. Vedic astrology provides the tool-kit. 

Image

 

One of the very powerful tools Vedic Astrology provides is cycles and epicycles. The whole HYPER BIG DATA is squezzed into a 12 house diagram with initial conditions put in. The 12-box diagram now provides infinite number of time series. The series is now interpreted just like an analyst interprets the DATA. There is a possibility, in some cases where the analyst’s very actions can impact the nature of the data. Example : Insider Trading where few individuals collude and gather information and this in turn changes the future course of events and sometimes with catastrophic result to the horoscope of the analyst / actor (From Boardroom  to Jailhouse : recent insider trading)

What is Vedic Astrology ?

Vedic astrology is a life-management tool and an astrologer is trained to interpret this HYPER BIG DATA, balance the probabilities and draw meaningful conclusions. Just like two SEO experts do not 100% agree on the same question regarding a client whereas working on the same Google searches, astrological opinion vary. 

The predictive power of Vedic astrology

Vedic astrology is a very vast domain of knowledge, experience, benchmarks, theories and empirical lemmas. Most of its seminal texts are written in Sanskrit. There are ample number of charlatans as well. 

Comments and some ideas :

a. Vedic Astrology is an abused term just like yoga is. 

b. The discipline needs same way of training as any discipline does

c. The data / factors it handles are vaster than any BIG DATA engine we shall ever make.

d. The algorithm of google is made by a consicous being – a person. The algorithm of Vedic astrology is not man-made just like law of gravitation is not man-made, men have only observed and codified the law and then drew a series of conclusions which worked.

e. As a trending tool and if we admit its power to do so, it is exceedingly cheaper than the BIG DATA architecture. 

f. The cycle / epicycle can be reolved into a resolution of minutes / seconds and here BIG DATA engines can be used to test the finely resolved time units. 

Finally, unlike Big Data engines of today which is too costly and can be used by very rich men and corporations as of now, the Vedic Astrology was available more or less free to anyone and it still is. 

As Indian IT industry’s golden days are gone and new horizons are breaking, I think it is reasonable to research into this area where we have a long tradition. 

Endnote 

Some hundred years back, every Brahmin in India used to know little bit of vedic astrology. Some used to be a full timer and they used to earn their living. They were dealing with something like BIG DATA, nothing else. 

I have been a student of this great discipline and may be one day, I shall start company that will compete and complement the current researches in BIG DATA. 

 

 


Source: wordsmithofbengal.wordpress.com