Can we have deep abiding friendships with other members of online communities?

“…online communities are driven by common interests and not by shared space. We come together and connect online because we share one, common interests. And the result, I think, is that the relationships we form with other online community members are more shallow. Just as Google might be turning us into “pancake people” by getting us out of the habit of learning and remembering, social media might be turning us into “pancake people” by coaxing us into trading up deep, naunced relationships with a few people for shallow, uni-dimensional relationships with many people.”

A man needed help in moving a couch into his flat but could not bring himself to ask for help from a web friend who was a block away . The latter was a mere online friend and the intimacy between them was not sufficient enough for him to be able to expect help of this sort.

In online friendships can we not expect help when we need it as in friendships formed in physical space ? Actually we can yet form deep abiding friendships with a few online friends based upon commonality of interests and compatibility of personality traits and the relationship could even turn into genuine friendships based upon mutual liking and trust over a period of time.Yes,it is true that you cannot have such friendships with 1000 or so facebook friends who exist merely in the cyberspace for you as mere names ,their interactions being few and far between.

Fodder for thought

Some years ago as were driving from Bhopal to Indore we saw an interesting phenomenon .A large number of heavily loaded trucks were seen on the road with loads of animal fodder and the trucks were apparently moving from the Madhya Pradesh State to the Punjab state .Animal fodder movement across thousands of kilometres does not seem to make much sense in view of the local availabilty of the stuff and what is available here should be available in plenty in Punjab too. What is the logic in transporting such large quantities of the stem and the leaves of the crops after the harvest merely for making it available to the animals in Punjab across several thousands of kilometres ?

On a closer thought we came to the conclusion that the theory of comparative advantage makes eminent sense in such situations.In Punjab the fodder is equally available but it does not make sense there to have it cut after the harvest incurring heavy agricultural labour costs which are higher there compared to the Madhya Pradesh .In Punjab the harvesting is done with machines and therefore it is easier there to remove the stubs of the cut plants by burning .In Madhya Pradesh the harvesting is done manually by cutting the plant at the bottom and after the threshing the remaining part of the plant is diverted for animal fodder.

Between the writer and the reader words are the barricade!

I love these simple lines by Tamil poet Nakulan(translated by blogger Chenthil):

Between the writer and the reader words are the barricade!


The irony is delicious. Words are supposed to bridge distances between the writer and the reader but it is the words which effectively block communication between the two.The poet talks mostly to himself as the words are meant for him,not for the reader.Mesmerised by the beauty of his own words the poet hardly makes an effort to reach them to the reader who alone is supposed to be their recipient.

Obscurity in poetry makes for a better poet-reader connection when the reader is not concerned enough to cross the barricade .Nor does the poet try to remove the barricade because it suits him to maintain an “arm’s length relationship” with the supposed reader .His poetry remains permanently hidden in the annotated pages of anthologies and university textbooks waiting to be discovered by an interested reader.

poetry in obscurity

he wanted to write poetry
in obscurity and ended up writing
obscurity in poetry and
when asked why ,he said
it did not matter ,
which is which.
He grappled with life ,
obscurity and poetry
In that order and at times
for reasons obscure ,
obscurity came first
and life next and poetry last.

Institutions tend to perpetuate the problem they have been created to solve

“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” — Clay Shirky

An extension of the Peter’s principle which says that individuals tend to get promoted to their level of incompetence.Because you are competent you get promoted to solve a problem but because you have been promoted to your level of incompetence you tend to stagnate and hence the problem does not get resolved .The institution created to resolve the problem however remains.

Politicians’ masks

On the masks worn by the Zapatistas in Mexico:

The room of balaclavas is a sign that indigenous people are engaging in democracy without its most infection symptom—elections. Rather than sitting in individual air-conditioned offices in front of large portraits of themselves, these democratic officials serve their communities anonymously, with their faces hidden by the masks of the office they have assumed. The ski masks also serve another purpose. They are a reminder that when you visit the Junta, you aren’t there to see a particular person—you came to see the people. The masks reveal that the most important face in the room is yours.

Forced to assume the visage of the people, the politicians are unable to forge their own, separate brands. In the heat of Chiapas, the ski masks must also represent the burden that the people place on them.

This is taken from the reading notes of aworkinglibrary on the book The Value of Nothing by Patel.

The best prescription for a creaking democracy like India’s with all the ills of corrupt , time-serving ,uncommitted politicians who build their own brands instead of serving the people .

The freedom of not being a sceptic

I do not carry my scepticism all the way.There is this double thing-that delightful piece of unpredictability about what my stance is going to be .

The latest thing I have cultivated for the benefit of others is that I do not lock myself in but continue to explore the other side too.I reserve to myself the right to experience faith,religion and mumbo-jumbo.The only difference is that I want to experience the beauty of the other side and the freedom associated with not excluding it from my world.

A matter of preposition

I ask ,”what do you deal in ?”
In mutton.
You mean in dead bodies ?
No, I deal in goats.
You mean goats’ dead bodies?
No. In mutton.
But they are dead when you deal in them !
Yes,they are dead when I deal in them .
But they are dead because you deal in them
But I do not deal in them as dead bodies
You mean you deal in goats ?
No.I deal in mutton
But mutton was goats before.
But not when I deal in them.
But they became mutton because you deal in them
May be because but not during.