Rewinding the mixtape

Papa sure loves mambo. Here is a list of tracks that used to play more than often at home. I’m picking up the international tracks as a lot of indian music was played too. Here are the ones i recall vividly:

Who can not love the Gypsy Kings?

Throw in a little bit of Harry Belafonte!

And who could have got by the 80’s without listening to Foreigner?

Of course not to forget one of the coolest tracks by Pet Shop Boys that came out the year i was born!

By the time we hit the 90’s yes there was more of Bon Jovi but this 80’s song was played more often 🙂

Towards the mid 90’s my musical taste was evolving and gradually i had a few favorites of my own. Here are just a couple of tracks i listened to a lot at the time:

Of course my preferences have evolved a lot more from then. These were just some of the songs i heard lot play back in time.

Summer Rock

I absolutely dig music from the 60’s and the sound that defined tracks from that time. So it’s even better when i discover music by new bands that are inspired by the same style of music. There’s something about those California sun driven beats that makes me feel at ease and calm instantly. Here are two bands that hit that mark spot on:

1. Summer Twins: This sister duo belts out dreampop songs that make for easy listening and make summer more enjoyable.

2. Allah-Las: This 4 member band based out of LA is what i came across on public radio (streaming internet radio). Their sounds are more rock and roll and totally based on the 60’s garage sound. What more could you want with a sound that’s mixed with The Kinks and Lo-fi ?

Heavenly, isn’t it?

Sunday Listening # 2

Been listening to some of my old favorites and this one popped up. I love Thievery Corporation for their world music infused sounds. They effortlessly mix reggae, hip hop, jazz with dub thrown in too. What more could one need to dabble in. The band is based out of Washington and have been belting out great music since 1995. I discovered their music around 2007. One of their more popular tracks is Lebanese Blonde which has got some hindustani music influence too.

Since the band has a take on world issues they have got embroiled in controversies too. Most of this was centered around their participation in a concert to end the iraq war and other issues such as trade exploitation & world food program. But apart from that, this DJ duo has powerful music that has meaning too unlike other EDM artists popular today.

Basically, this the kind of music you want to chill to over the weekend! Enough said.

The New Digital Age : Book Review

The New Digital Age. The title promises precisely what the book delivers. I mean, what else would one expect when two big names unite to share their views and perspective on what digital holds for the world in the future? Eric Schmidt has been at the helm of the ever innovative Google and Jared Cohen who is a Rhodes Scholar and the director of Google Ideas. Cohen also makes it to the Time’s 100 most influential people in the world list this year. Being an avid non-fiction reader, there are many times i’m let down by some books when they really don’t get me as much information i’m hoping to seek. But this book had me glued. I mean, we google stuff so often and hear a lot about the changes that keep coming up in Android / Google Products. However, this book is more of an exploration of the information explosion that has happened over the past few years. Data is clearly the glue that will be binding a lot more than plain business or social media.
The book starts off with an introduction to our future selves. This part talk about education being the base for innovation and opportunity. We are already seeing this take to full force with children using tablets in schools which are aided by an army of apps that are simplifying classes for the masses. It goes on to talk about a better quality of life enabled with the high level of customisation that can be done using smartphones these days and how this will be pathbreaking in health care support. This is followed by the future of identity, citizenship and reporting which covers authenticity of profiles, the level of social uprising triggered via social media, government surveillance etc. We have already seen how several people and corporations handle their online image (reputation). I particularly found the idea of insuring one’s online identity against theft, hacking, fraud etc. I believe the time for this has almost come to try out and agree that online identity will be the new currency. They also go on to highlight the consequences of VOIP and P2P networks that can exchange data more privately (VPN). The AADHAAR program back home has also been cited to indicate the magnanimity of the UID initiative by our ruling government. I believe we know of quite a few scams in the recent times for this as well.
In the future of states, they have covered a variety of countries in the levels of censorship that are being dictated. Starting from China’s blocking of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter to Turkey’s blocking of Youtube for 2 years over a debacle for taking down videos that were derogatory to the nation’s founder. Political & cultural censorship is taken up by South Korea, Malaysia and Germany which i think is a far more effective model.
We have all heard of the Arab Spring. The duo talk about how in riots, the internet lent a way for females to express themselves without being hurt. Also when the government blacked out the internet to avoid the spreading, the setting up of @Jan25voices handle helped in letting the world know about what was happening, albeit without any policy influence. They talk about a model where successful leaders will be able to address the concerns of both virtual and physical constituencies. I reckon this is happening as we speak in the Indian context where there are twitter armies for Modi (BJP) and Rahul Gandhi (Congress) battling it out in the trends and mentions everyday. 
Terrorism is another key issue that is detailed in this book. Activists, local networks, simple start up kits for them to propagate the hate would be enough. This will be a big issue for technology firms in terms of screening content due to the sheer volume of uploads per second across the web. Since most sites work on users reporting abuse / flagging content as abusive, the process will take time for them to actually block stuff. In the future of conflict, combat and intervention they address how a single post / photo/ tweet can be the beginning of something bigger on the lines of a revolution. A scary part talks about the “human flesh search engines” in China which basically means that there are scores of people whose objective is to search and track down the individual posting specific content that could be offensive. They go on to mention combat using robots and the dilemma of machines making an error during a highly targeted mission.
Lastly in the future of reconstruction they talk about how telecom in Somalia is so cheap that people actually drop international calls to call relatives back! In terms of community service, the HAITI campaign is mentioned where “text to donate” helped Red Cross to raise USD $5 million for relief campaigns. An interesting part talks of how crowd-sourcing will enable the culture of accountability. This is the most optimistic part where they go on to hope that creativity and bandwidth will be key drivers of innovation. All in all, i feel that even if you’re not working in digital this book is a great read to know what the frontier of technology looks like.
*image source credit: standard.co.uk

What makes Videos go Viral?

You have heard it, they have and seemingly everyone has. Oppa Gangnam style! Its surprising how this video that basically ridicules the idea of living a Gangnam way of life and parodies nearly every popular dance move can go viral so soon.
It’s difficult to get the killer moves and the catchy tune out of ones head. So what is it at ground zero? Is it the beats, lyrics, moves or the video? I would side with the last one. It’s the video that is addictive, that gets a grip and you don’t tire of the lameness being showcased. Be it the colorful dresses, dance moves in a spa, dumping ground or a parking lot. Now to understand what could have been the reason behind this video gaining a million views, I turn for wisdom to Kevin Alloca – Trends Manager at Youtube.
Not long ago, Kevin spoke at a TEDYouth conference elucidating why videos go viral. In a totally simplistic, example driven session Kevin demystified the phenomenon. Although Gangnam style wasn’t out then, most of his parameters fall right in place for this video. To put it simply there are three major reasons for any video to garner a large number of views (I will put the Gangnam Style video through each of them):
  1. Tastemakers: These are people who share or tweet about a video if they find it interesting, funny or anything out of the ordinary. Now this could also be done by normal people like you and me. But the tastemakers are influencers. They are people who have achieved celebrity status or it’s just that their opinion matters to most people. Once any one of the influential lot share, mention or tweet about a video, link or image, their followers are most likely to check it out and well, re-tweet or share the same. In the Gangnam Style video, the Tastemaker was T-Pain who first tweeted about the video on July 29th. So you see, one big influencer there.
  2. Community Sharing: As traditional marketing goes, we have thought/opinion leaders who are looked up to by fans and followers alike. Hence once the influencer has put his/her thoughts on the wire, other people are bound to notice. When the idea becomes popular within the community which could include more influencers, you’re bound to see an exponential rise in views. For Gangnam, post T-Pains tweet popular blog Gawker put up a post and subsequently personalities from pop culture tweeted about it too. These weren’t strung out kids in a low key indie college rock band. Instead they were celebs such as Katy Perry, Tom Cruise, Robbie Williams and the likes.
  3. Unexpectedness: This I believe is one of the strongest parameters to a video going viral. PSY apart from being an underground hip-hop artist on the K-Pop circuit, has taken on the great social divide in Korea. Gangnam actually means “South of the River”. While Korea has been late to join the affluent mass with infrastructure that towers and tech that has finally come of age, the gap between the rich and poor has only widened. So Gangnam being the business district there which boasts of luxuries, is where every yuppie in Korea wants to be at. This is exactly what PSY is running this cultural parody about. The song is totally about wannabes or wanted-to-be’s as some refer to them as. People who really have no clue about the upper crest way of life but are desperate to pull off stints of that magnitude and have no qualms in being posers. The sarcastic yet funny approach that taken was something unexpected.

Add to these the fact that there have been flash mobs in games to Times Square (for Good Morning America) to a Jail as well. While PSY rides on the path to glory with appearances in SNL, Today Show and every major broadcaster across the globe writing or anchoring about it to Eric Schmidt doing the Gangnam at Google office in Korea, you sure as well now know what’s got it all going.

There you see, it all falls in place. Three simple steps to ensure that your video goes viral. Or are they that simple at all?