Friday, February 25, 2005

India:Indian Idol and crowd factors

I have not followed any Idols around the world, except the first few episodes which are sometimes genuinely funny. I found out there was an Indian Idol only last month. There had been earlier talent shows on Indian channels. I think Sa Re Ga Ma was the first one, followed by Meri Awaaz Suno which was a one time thing. Sunidhi came through one of these only. I am not aware of any other names which participated and made it big.

Last few day Amit Varma is doing excellent pieces on Indian Idol. I started reading his blog during his Indian Ocean Tsunami dispatches, and he is a wonderful writer. Most of cricket fans would have read his 22 Yards blog at Cricinfo. His first story analyzed the psyche of people voting. Though this was about just Indian Idol voting, but can be applied to any other type of voting. The whole question of voting because of affiliation instead of talent came into spotlight. Suposedly, horrible Ravi lasted long because of sustained campaigning in Ludhiana,(My city, though I am not living there at the moment). Probably, because Ludhiana has the highes PCI in India and that means more mobiles, and computers to vote with.

Further anlaysis is about how vote-bank of losing candidates shifted to othe candidates. A large number of elections worldwide are held with losers dropping out and then voters revoting for the revised list. This usually calls for very deft strategies and picking right people to attack. My friend's involved in bidding for University tournaments can ascertain that. I will try to get piece out of them regarding this.

Lastly, he talks about how both the finalists are excellent singers and how the voting for last round is going to pan out. The factors include the looks, bechara factor (Amit came second in last round and has a sore throat supposedly), and the last round decisions like Song, dress etc.

In the second post, among other things he talk about the book Wisdom of Crowds, which does into a long list of books I have to read, which says Group decisions are often better than individual experts. You mean like voting for Indian elections? Or is it the standard Jury vs Judge clash. Hmm may be in another post. Another book I intend to read on similar topic is Smart Mobs. Some day. Hopefully.

As my father says pessimisticly, Sanghe Shakti Kalyug.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Computer: Apache on Playboy

One of my friends raised the question of goodness of open-source, cos someone he knew who is knowledgeable in OSS got frustrated implementing Linux enterprise solutions and downloading Apache from random servers like Playboy. Below are my comments.
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My guess is basically trying to say OSS is not good enough for two reasons. I will disregard PGP comment cos this is a perennial problem evreywhere. There are checksums available, people do not use it. Cannot really fault OSS process for that.

1. It is actually not Enterprise Ready.
2. Source Code is crappier than what people think it is.

I will handle 2 first. Of course, there are thousands of OSS products in various stages of maturity. All of them, surely will not have same level of checking, testing and number of people involved. There are going to be projects which are crappy but thing is because of inherent
nature such projects will get wielded out. It is absolute meritocracy. Or that I would believe.

Enterprise ready is a different beast altogether. It needs to be more formally put together. I do not think there are many truly enterprise OSS applications. Probably some CMS, ERP, Web Admin modules. Most of the enterprise applications are provided by Vendors and they charge for it. If you are not getting what you want, you can let them know and I think the way OSS-based vendors will respond will be similar to closed source vendors. Both are basically business men and will act within their constraints.

I have two points of mine to make which sort of makes me deviate towards OSS

First, the way MS destroyed Netscape which can best be said as questionable practices. After they were done and dusted and had gained the share they have done precious little to improve the browser because it does not bring them anything. That kind of thing would not happen in OSS. Imporvements will keep on coming. And no stoppage of devt. It is for anyone to pick up and develop. Firefox has been the idea of a guy I think 19 year old who has been working with Netscape from the age of 14.

The second thing, is the nature of OSS. It takes the power away from the big corporations and removes the egos, and marketing drivel. It allows companies like Sun, IBM, Novell, Red Hat and John Doe\'s with each other and develop things together and then earn money based upon how good one can sell it. The only competition between companies is
who can submit best code for the product and who can provide best service.

There are few more ideas in my mind, but will it for now.