Friday, January 11, 2008

A change of furniture

Woodworm decides to kick, but will burrow a different piece of wood.

Have moved to wordpress. See you there.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

To be (a Lazarus) or not to be

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.


[...]


And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.

That is not it, at all.”

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Two concluding lines and a closure

After a long time, I watched Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" again yesterday. After one and a half hours of absurdist comedy, Michael Palin announces that the "meaning" is nothing special, really...
Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
A few days ago, I also watched "The Big Fish" by Tim Burton, which ends with a line I found very uncomfortable:
"A man tells a story over and over so many times he becomes the story. In that way, he is immortal"
It somehow brought me back here, and I realized to my un-surprise that I have not posted anything for the last 9 months. I knew myself this time, and I realized that it is not as if the sea has dried up, just that it refuses to mark its tides anymore.

Anyway - as absurdist comedies go - having read the above two lines (and of course the title), some of you must have sensed that this is where I bid adieu. Well, thats what this post is all about. Having pleasantly mellowed down to my own comfort zone of late, I find that not talking (in more ways than one) is a very addictive habit. So here's me bidding a formal adieu, when no one is watching, with a whimper... I don't think I will post anything here again.

So long folks! Great knowing the lot of you!

Friday, March 31, 2006

An arbit post written for seemingly no reason at midnight

It is ALWAYS fascinating seeing people unravel before your eyes - pleasantly sometimes for the better, nastily sometimes for the worse but interestingly either way, even when what you see doesn't concern you. Often, it is just your own prejudices which is falling apart, but there are unmistakable moments, when the sensitive eye can pick up the signals dropped, unwittingly or consciously, that the mask is being lowered and the person either has become incapable of sustaining the earlier image or is just sick and tired of doing so all the time and has stopped.

The much celebrated modern "virtues" of attitude, cynicism, righteousness, eliticism, panache, - all notwithstanding, it is fascinating how there ALWAYS comes a point in everyone's life that reveals to the observing world, and more surprisingly to oneself - the pulse of ordinary mortal, flawed, human blood that runs in the stream... Even when it is unpleasant at times, these moments are strangely reassuring.

Maybe I had written something on similar lines here and there...

I just couldnt resist one of Sara Teasdale's gems.

When I have ceased to break my wings
Against the faultiness of things,
And learned that compromises wait
Behind each hardly opened gate,
When I have looked Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange -- my youth.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Howdy blogworld?

Its been a real long time...

But I am in a position where I can no longer promise to post regularly or ask people to keep checking my blog, coz blogging has slipped quite a lot of places in my list of priorities these days.. and it is expected to be that way at least for another year. That's till I graduate..

Things about Wikipedia will remain unsaid for some time. A big heated debate happened around the last post - something to do with the article "Woman" in the encyclopedia and the presence of some objectionable terms in the article. Remind me to narrate that sometime.

Quite a lot of interesting things keep happening around anyways. So it transpires that I am (so far only nominally) a part of a kick-ass blog called "Sthreeling". m's brainchild, it is aptly captioned "Pulling in the opposite direction" :) Bookmark it folks.. its going to be real stormy!

And yes... at the risk of this post becoming too political (well, what's wrong ?), please also visit The Blank Noise Project. For all those interested, there is a blogathon scheduled on March 7th on eve teasing and sexual harassment in the streets. So what do you do? Simple. Just vent out your thoughts on the issue in your respective blogs on March 7th. And maybe drop in a comment in here or at sthreeling so that we could link to you. And yes, spread the word around...

A million posts on my head now.. but all for some other day.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wikipedia at crossroads

I have always wanted to talk about my fascination with Wikipedia at some point. Having been a moderately active contributor for over a year and a half, and a content administrator for sometime, I have had experiences, both pleasant and unpleasant. I have marvelled at the way that a totally open encyclopedia is still able to make sense overall. Helping to build articles from scratch, and seeing them come up excellently is an exhilirating experience. Well-written articles not only are featured on the main page and gain superbly in Google ranks, but are replicated at various mirrors all over the web, and also available for citations and references in various academic works around the world. Believe me, it gives you the kicks to see your work get that level of footage. However, I have also been party to ugly disputes, which have left me high and dry. Building consensus and objectivity on politically sensitive articles is not a very easy thing, and unless you are very dogged, patient but also open-minded, there is a very good chance that you would lose your steam quite early.

In time, I lost touch with Wikipedia, but a recent controversy has rekindled my interest in the concept again. I am talking about the Seigenthaler incident which has indeed shaken Wikidom a bit. It all started when a prankster edited the entry for John Seiganthaler Sr. and suggested that he was at one point investigated for the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy - a false allegation. Probably by suggesting that "nothing was ever proven" along with the insinuating lines, the prankster got away with the edit, escaping the eyes of the usually watchful administrators, who are constantly on the prowl to revert acts of vandalism. The edit went unnoticed and unchallenged for four long months, until a close associate of Seigenthaler fished it out and brought it to his attention. Some furious calls to Jimbo Wales, founder and the "benevolent dictator" of Wikipedia later, the editions were removed.

But, the damage was already done. Seigenthaler went on national television and other popular media to discredit Wikipedia as a "flawed and an irresponsible research tool". He also went public on USA Today, with a scathing attack, suggesting that Wikipedia is a tool that can be used to promote evil gossip, and also expressing discontent that there is no legal recourse to compensate for damage in such an environment. This had an avalanche effect of convincing other mass media players to pounce on to the story, and over the last fortnight, several newspapers and television channels covered the incident. Wales and Seigenthaler had an interview with Kyra Philips on CNN, not much later. There have since been unconfirmed reports of memos being circulated at places that work with information (like news agencies), not to trust Wikipedia as a reliable source of information.

Jimbo, on his part, took the unusual step of not only reverting the article, but also of deleting the edition from the edit history log, so that the damaging lines for all practical purposes, were "truly deleted". He has also announced a significant policy change of not allowing unregistered users to start new articles. When Jimbo Wales acknowledges the incident as a significant setback, it really things to perspective, and is a good indicator that Houston sees a problem. The incident has not only raised questions on Wikipedia's authenticity, and its legality, but also on if an open source encyclopedia is a fundamentally feasible concept.

In my personal opinion, the incident itself is a minor aberration, and there is no refuting the fact that Wikipedia is simply the most complete and largest repository of information or pointers to information on the web. The fundamental premise of Wikipedia is provision of information that will never be perfect in content, and it works under the best-effort . The difference between Wikipedia and other encyclopediae is that the former does not have systemic errors. There are no overpowering vested interests that would try to shape opinion one way or the other. In other words, the system being open, is designed to eliminate systemic errors. However, that comes with the cost of not being able to avoid random errors like the one that has caused the recent furore.

There is a reason why there is a big gaga over Wikipedia. Wikipedia takes the open source software model to the next level. The kind of knowledge base you need to attract is a million times more complex and diverse, that any restriction on who can/cannot contribute would have defeated the purpose. From the very begining, Wikipedia has strived to go for volumes - more information here than at any other single place in the web. And as long as you are a user with an internet connection, nobody is going to stop you from starting/editing any page on the web. You do not need to be a regsitered user. All you need is an IP address. If you are behind a proxy/firewall/dialup, that doesnt even say anything about you. Wikipedia has opened itself to such a diverse community of people around the world in close to a hundred languages, that if it works today as a credible source of information, it is nothing short of a miracle. And a working concept like that is a very credible brand ambassador for the entire open-software/free-content community.

Wikipedia, as a free content project, is by design nutured and sustained by criticisms. The single, largest promise that open-source/free content projects provides us is the refusal to go into the denial mode. We simply refuse to build cathedrals. If necessary, we should be willing to tear down anything that remotely seems like an edifice that cannot be sustained over the next few years. If necessary, we should start from scratch, change the way we have designed the system.

It would sound counter-intuitive, there are enough reasons for us to be happy about the Seigenthaler incident, because this is an oportunity to think of this and a few other issues about the way Wikipedia operates presently.

What are these issues? Is Wikipedia still workable? (Ok, you must have guessed that I do think it is workable ;-), but why?)

More on that in the next post(s)...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Is analysis worthwhile?

[...]

Lost, is it, buried? One more missing piece?

But nothing's lost. Or else: all is translation
And every bit of us is lost in it
And in that loss a self-effacing tree,
Color of context, imperceptibly
Rustling with its angel, turns the waste
To shade and fiber, milk and memory.

- James Merrill, Lost in Translation

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A scene badly written in which I must play

Two eventful months - bizarre, wild, confusing, draining... how do I put it? Flaky bits and pieces of me fell apart. I was at my aimless best, doing things I could not explain to myself, talking stuff I dont mean.

But just when that cynical bit rears its ugly head, and you are about to resign yourselves to becoming a flotsam in an emotional jet-stream, there comes the realisation that there are some things and some people you know you can always latch on to - reminding you that your life so far hasn't been exactly meaningless. And once you know that, the storm has been miraculously weathered.

Life is either an elaborate Monty Python movie, or a beautifully crafted Zen Koan. Either way, never makes sense while you are at it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

An alternate therapy for the tongue-tied

You can think of the offending moments as not passed
And those painful words as never escaped.
You may try and explain away the strangest behaviours
Which could starve-heal the wounds.

Try to file your thoughts to a sub-altern cellar
And turn in the keys to your future nightmares
For a quieter disposal.
If anything in you rebels against such dishonour
Retort angrily by trivializing your emotions
(Try moralizing...it usually does the trick)
And shut them for the night behind a bar of silence.

During post-operative care
You should wear the whitest clothes,
Listen to 4'33" for music
Eat the blandest soup for dinner.
And in choosing an appropriate emotion,
You may have anything as long as it is numb.

Will you do me a favour
And having read all this
With cynical wisdom
Think of it as never written?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Profundity in two sentences

"We must accept our existence to the greatest extent possible; everything, the unprecedented also, needs to be accepted.

That is basically the only case of courage required of us: to be courageous in the face of the strangest, the most whimsical and unexplainable thing that we could encounter."

-Rainer Maria Rilke ('Letters to a young poet')