Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Google's "U-turn" on "Do No Evil"

After a long break, I am back to my normal critical self. This time its none other than my once-upon-a-time favorite company "Google" under the axe. Let me give you my perspective on what I think made Google so big and famous - "Do No Evil". Google was not the first search engine on the web. Google was not a perfect search engine either. What differentiated Google from the rest of its competitors was that it provided the search engine with only the aim of providing the best service and not with the aim of getting the best margins or revenues out of the service.

This particular strategy was driven by a core value - "Do No Evil". Larry Page and Sergey Brin were not interested in monetizing the search engine but were more interested in providing the users with the most relevant and best search engine. Ad Revenues and the corresponding Google dominance in the web space was a by-product of their service offering and not the primary objective. The co-founders had even fought a long battle with the VC's to ensure that they didnt get into the game of making some quick bucks and exiting the space. When Microsoft was continuing to bundle its products and using its muscles to keep the competitors away, Google was concentrating only on providing the best service in every space it entered. What happened next is history, Microsoft has and is still completely out of the online market space.

So what has changed my perspectives on Google? Its nothing but the realisation that Google has stepped away from its core value - "Do No Evil". Its not the awful performance of "Google Chrome", "Android" and many of its other recent offerings but Google's persistence to convert its search engine users into consumers of these awful products. Its one thing to come up with bad products but its another thing to try to force the consumers to use the awful offering. It is exactly what Microsoft had been criticised for a very long time now but to see a company like Google do it is nothing short of shameful.

To microsoft's credit, they are atleast open about it bundling their offerings and say that they will do anything to keep the competition away and to have their way. Google, on the other hand has been marketing its "Do No Evil" crap all this long and slowly moving into Microsoft's strategy of bundling and forcing the consumers to use its products.

I (and am sure a million other users) have been personally disappointed by Google's shameful efforts to market Google chrome inspite of it being a completely crap browser. I hope they realise their true value offering and concentrate back on providing superior service or else the day is not far when we shall see the demise of this tremendous company. Beware Google.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Racist India

For the past 30 minutes, I have thought over and over again about the title of my post and how critical it might sound. It was not because I had any doubts over the message I was trying to convey but because I feared that the bold title might prevent the readers from fully comprehending the true message behind this post.

So lets begin with the basics - According to UN International Conventions, "the term "racial discrimination" shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life."

Ask yourself one simple question, does this definition hold any value in the Indian context? Because for me, each and every time I ask this question I always tend to come up with the same answer .. YES..

We discriminate people based on caste .... we discriminate people based on color and we also discriminate people based on ethnic origin.. So why is it that the most diverse country in the world fails in recognising the flaw that exists in its society ?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Clash of Civilisation - A Critique

If there is any single essay that has shocked and dominated Global Politics and Foreign Affairs post cold war, it is the Clash of Civilisation by Samuel P. Huntington. The argument put forth by Huntington is that the world will be divided along the lines of religion and civilisation and this divide will further increase due to globalisation (alienating people due to the cultural gap) thus leading to major conflicts between civilisations and nations. He predicted that the dominant source of conflict between nations would be cultural and not economic or ideology (referring to communism, democracy or autocracy).

With all due respect to Huntington and his understanding of Global affairs and politics (given his credibility in that field), I think he vastly underestimated the role economic growth and politics play in influencing conflicts. Huntingtion, very conveniently states Western Europe as a single civilisation whilst some time ago it was one of the most unstable regions in the world. This very region has turned into one of the most stable regions in the world only due to one initiative: The constitution of European Union.

So what is European Union? Why has it been able to turn one of the most unstable regions in the world into a region where there has been zero conflict in the past 50 years? Is it a miracle or is the EU following a well-grounded strategy?

The EU which was completely devastated after the second world war has turned into a super economic power only because of Jean Monnet and his brilliant foresight. His reasoning was based on one theory: As the economic ties between nations increase and as they become more interdependent for growth the probability of them going on war with one another decreases tremendously. Nations are governed by political leaders and leaders do not want to delve their country into poverty and suffering primarily because it undermines their power. This brilliant insight led to the formation of EU, free trade and finally now - the single currency system.

Isn't the success of EU in direct contradiction with the theory by Huntington? I do think so. So the next question is why isnt the rest of the world trying to implement the same? The answer is simple, its incredibly tough and requires tremendous discipline and foresight.

I do remember the proposal of a single currency system in South East Asia by the member states in a summit and not surprisingly it failed. What people dont understand is that the EU didnt begin with a single currency system, it began with economic ties, free trade, clarifying border conflicts and then moved into a single currency system and not the other way around.

Coming back to the discussion of Huntington's Clash of civilisation another interesting criticism of the theory has been put forth by Amartya Sen in his book- Identity and Violence: The illusion of destiny. A very interesting read indeed.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Existence - A Tribute to Hesse

Although this post reiterates my understanding of Hermann Hesse's ideology on existence, I feel immense pleasure in sharing his thoughts. Let me step back at this moment and reaffirm you that at no point am I claiming to have demystified the mystery of existence. All I am doing is sharing with you the point of view of a person's ideology on existence according to my understanding and this posting is a tribute to his ideology, his intellectual capacity and his spiritual heights.

Right from my childhood, I was closest to the Hindu religion (I although claim to be a full fledged Atheist) where the purpose of life has consistently been questioned and the Gita (The Religious book of Hinduism) claims to have answered it. I although am more convinced by Hesse's theories on Existence.

So what is life? what is the purpose of our existence in this universe? what is the purpose of every living and non-living things around us? what are we meant to achieve or pursue during our journey through the enigmatic path of life? Is it wealth, is it love, is it values or is it one of the numerous materialistic or spiritual things that exists around us?

The purpose of life is to think, feel and breathe thoughts of unity of all life. Even wicked people, theives, robbers, prostitutes have children, love them and are loved by them. The purpose of life is to regard people in a different light: not very clever, not very proud and therefore all the more warm, curious and sympathetic. The blind love of a mother for a child, the blind foolish pride of a fond father for his only son, the blind eager strivings of a young vain woman for ornament and the admiration of men, the blind path of a river, the voices of the hovering trees. All these little simple, foolish, but tremendously strong, vital, passionate urges and desires are what make life so special and beautiful.

To tie it all up my understanding is that existence by itself is meaningless. Life is meant to be felt in the unity of surroundings be it living or non living and to enjoy the harmonius existence of all matter in unity is the purpose of life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

God - Myth or Reality

Over the years, I have often wondered at the magnificance of God and Religion. Is the concept of religion different from the belief that a single supernatural power exists above all of us guiding and keeping a check on our morality? I dont think so. I think the reason why God was created or exists is to guide and make sure that everybody acts morally. Lets think about the ancient past when no laws, no control existed. How on earth and most importantly why on earth did the people act morally during that time period. I believe the answer is simple - due to the fear of GOD. My personal opinion is that, God was created by the wise men of ancient past to make sure that people act morally.

So how is it that and why is it that religion was created? What was the need for the existence of different religion, different faith, different beliefs and different values when the ultimate purpose was to maintain morality amongst people? To be honest, I do not know the answer to these questions. I can only think of two reasonings:

1. Many civilisations existed simultaneously and each civilisation came up with their own religion or so-called GOD. I find it hard to go by this reasoning primarily because of the fact that even within the same civilization or sect there existed more than 1 religion. Was it religion that superceded civilisation and community or was it civilisation that superceded religion? I will leave that question to the historians but again I find that reasoning hard to believe.

2. The second reasoning and my personal favorite is based on the core theory of economics - Every Human Being is selfish and acts in his own self-interest. The wise men along with the motive for maintaining morality in the society were also hungry for power, control and wealth. They knew that if people believed in religion (GOD), it could also give them a lever to control the society. As the closest to God (as the priests, pujaris and saints claim) they could gather enormous respect and power from the people. Hence the need for religion, different Gods.

The same selfish need that sends two countries on war, the same need that fuels the arms race, the same need that makes two brothers kill each other. Be it myth or reality, the fact is we definitely need a GOD now to save us all from destroying each other.