Of Tools and Skills

Advertisers are really smart people.

*

Calligraphy pens, circular saws, digital pencils, 4-wheel drive vehicles, to-do apps, are a few examples I can think of. All of these tools and widgets are easily available to most of us today. One or four clicks on a website and they are available to us. We see the advertisement for it, and we want it. Because the advertisement shows how easy it is to use any of these tools. Of course, the advertisers don’t say that you will need some sort of a skill before you can use this tool.

Possessing a tool does not a craftsman make.

The tool doesn’t assure skill. It enables a skill. It will help you hone a skill; you have to have the basic skill, however.

Calligraphy pens don’t enable good handwriting. If you have the patience, focus, and ability to write well, a calligraphy pen will help your handwriting look artistic — perhaps even elevate your handwriting. If you do not have an understanding of brush-strokes, colour — using a digital pencil in a digital drawing app isn’t going to enable you to create a masterpiece. What use is a 4WD vehicle for you, if you do not know how and when to engage the front or the back wheels (Transmission?)  (Pardon me on the vehicle example, I really have no idea how a 4WD vehicle works.) But indulge me for a moment – isn’t it glorious to imagine taking a vehicle off-road, over rocky and rough places and feeling the rush of an adventure of driving on a surface that isn’t a road?

That’s why advertisers are smart people. They know what you feel; they zero in on that. They have 30 seconds to tell you the story, so, they have to edit – and tell you the most important things. About the tool. Advertisers are in the business of selling ‘tools’. The skill: you have to acquire yourself. They do not get the time to tell you, that if you do not know basic carpentry – there’s nothing worthwhile you can do with a circular saw.

Let it be known, I do not bemoan advertisers, at all. For those of us who have the skill to use these tools, advertisers do us a service of letting us know of the ways and means of honing our skill. It takes months, if not years to even acquire a skill, forget mastering it. It is up to us to decide which tool serves us the best, at what time, and for what purpose.

“The tool can do only as much as the skill allows. The skill can be honed, only as much as the mind can train. The mind can train only as much as the heart believes.” 

From an Old Post

Acquisition of a tool is not acquisition of a skill.

The Elusive Truth of Photographs

Earlier, a short conversation ensued.

Something that I have struggled with for a while (and I continue to struggle). This post, is by no means an expression of any finality. Struggles are continuous. We take them with us to our pyre.

Ethics in Photography: Primarily related to manipulation through digital tools.

I first heard of Photoshop in the very-late 90s. I used to take photographs much before that. I never manipulated photos (I had no means to; didn’t have access to a darkroom). Then, with my introduction to Photoshop, I realised what was possible. It was still not easy. You had to get your photograph printed, scanned, and then manipulated.

Cut, to the last few years.

The ease with which we can now manipulate photos is a critical factor of how many photos we manipulate, and to what extent. When it was the darkroom, and the effort was huge, you’d be satisfied with the photograph you took. Most photo upload sites Instagram, for example, depend on manipulation. Notice how the app is created; the process calls for manipulation. As this became the norm, otherwise puritan sites like Flickr (yes kids, there’s something called Flickr, and yes, there’s an app for that) joined the bandwagon, and created a manipulate-first strategy. Like we have mobile-first strategy. The humble smartphone camera, humble, no more, now included built-in editing tools. It’s worth noticing, also, that the editing tools are primarily auto-fix or filters. Not Levels, or Curves, and such (I know some apps have them, so don’t kill me for saying it). Why bother users with complex scientific concepts like a Histogram? Why teach core concepts of amount of light and duration of light? Focus on publishing!

All of the above, only to establish our current environment. No judgement, at least not yet.

Let’s come back to the short conversation that ensued.

A participant in a photography competition withdrew his entry, after it was found that he had retouched a photo to remove undesirable artefacts from the photo — in this case, a straw-like-thingy.

The question that was posed: Ethical Violation or Technical Breach.

My instant response was: Technical Breach. And it was so, because the competition disallowed major manipulation:

The rules of the contest state that “No cloning, montaging or digital manipulation other than cropping, ‘digital spotting’, burning and dodging is permitted,” so the photographer alerted Walkey about the suspicious submission. [Link]

For those of us who think that digitally manipulated photos are an ethical violation, I ask: is cropping fine? Or Burning? Or Dodging? In my opinion, cropping is completely removing a context in a frame! By showing me a photograph that is devoid of some context (by cropping) the photographer is changing meaning. Pretty much like sensational headlines or context-bereft sound bites. Then, are you making the sky look more blue? The leaves more green? Are you, Mr. Photographer, deceiving me? Was the sky really a dull boring blue that was almost white, when you saw it? Were the leaves not as you had imagined?

I am not advocating an ultimate realism in photography. As a person who takes photographs, I know that reality changes every millisecond, and so does context.

Broadly, photography serves two realms: that of documentation and that of art.

If an artist painter, who uses a canvas and oil paints were to paint a sky that was true blue (as most of us imagine it to be) we would never question it. Yet, fact of the matter is, we rarely see a blue sky as blue as we imagine it to be. We applauded the orange-grey-green-blue abstract skies of JMW Turner. When a photographer HDR’ed a sky, we felt cheated. This is the first realm of photography, and that is art.

The ethical questions, essentially come in the second realm — documentary photography. This realm deals with reality, harsh reality. And I am not talking of gory photos of dead bodies and such that we see on social media these days. If a photo’s purpose is to show you reality, and if it is manipulated — to edit meaning or create a new meaning — it is, clearly an ethical violation.

Common to both these realms is how we take photos. Given the means and the ease that has been afforded to us, the line between art and documentary photography has blurred beyond recognition. Whereas, we should be seeing photos as either art or as documentary, we are looking at them as manipulated or not.

“Both those taking snaps and documentary photographers, however, have not understood ‘information.’ What they produce are camera memories, not information, and the better they do it, the more they prove the victory of the camera over the human being.” ~ Vilém Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography

This post wasn’t going to be complete without a quote from my guru.

Where do I stand?

In the simplest of terms, capturing a moment, for me, has always been about amount of light and duration of light. Primarily. That is what makes a good photograph. Now that the basics are covered, a photographer creates meaning. That is what makes an interesting photograph.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the manipulation of photographs; if presented as art. For, if you are photographer, you know that the real manipulation begins, before you click. When you set your aperture, when you compose, when you set your shutter speed. When you choose to include something or exclude something in the frame, that’s when manipulation has started. In a digital editing tool, you are only continuing the process. Even if you add a simple border, that’s manipulation.

Except, if you are documenting. Documentation is essentially boring. There is no need to manipulate that. Just file it, and be done. And when (and if) you manipulate a documentary photo, you are crossing really thick lines.

Here is a case study:

2015-11-03 12.03.06

This is a photograph I took of an AC fan, outside my office, with my mobile phone camera. After a few minutes, this is what I posted, on Instagram.

Do you feel cheated? Or did you just not care, and enjoyed the Instagram? Now that you know the raw truth, what do you feel?

Up in the Air

There’s too much of more. There’s a new fanatic in town, and her exposed argot has more words that end with -er.

Faster, smaller, thinner, longer. Sharper. And the sorts.

In Victor Hugo’s apt words, however, argot is the language of the dark; a language of misery.

Here’s a blurred photo.

1787

It’s blurred. You cannot see much detail. There is hardly any specificity in the image. What does this mean for the image? Not for the photographer (that’s me, and I do not care much about what you think of me). Does it become a bad image because, alas, we cannot see the twist and the weave of the fibre that makes the thread that have revolted out of the binding Rexine?

A friend would take up this argument and talk of test cricket and the T20 format.

I’ll digress. If you don’t want to, skip the marked section.

<Start Digress>

I quit Flickr Pro and moved to 500px because it was a suggestion by a well known photographer. I hated it as soon as I saw the “top” photos. They just do not seem real to me. 500px is a muscle show of post-processing. Not that post-processing is bad. I use it all the time. I was looking for a word when I was discussing 500px with a friend. I didn’t find it then, I have it now.

Synthetic.

Over the years, the 500px platform went through a number of revisions and changes, growing together with technology and photographers, and keeping focus on the highest quality photos. Via 500px  (emphasis, mine)

500px offered a way to sell photographs, but I was not (and am not) interested in it, anyway. I’ve (mostly) quit 500px.

</End Digress> 

There is no doubt that our tastes are changing, our attention spans diminishing. We have lesser time for our friends and no time for ourselves. Enough research floating around to prove that. 2831215 is the phone number of the travel agent of my first company. This was when mobile phones didn’t exist. Now, I don’t even remember my fourth travel agent’s name. Hell, I don’t even remember if I use a travel agent anymore. I have to remind myself to add keywords to her address card. My choice of keywords defines what I will forget about her and what I might use to search for her. It’s exhausting, in a way. Her’e a worthwhile exercise – how many mobile numbers (of close friends or family) do you know by-heart?

I need to travel a bit. But I digress. (I should have warned you)

Adobe recently announced that the Creative Suite will now be cloud-based. To make the news worthwhile they included some super sharpening tools to the CS. (Now you know what triggered this post)

Apart from the irritating plugin that I *have* to use with browsers, I do not use any Adobe products because of their bloated sizes and prices. But this post is not about Adobe, at all. Software is a tool; it makes sense in a way that you use it. I find arguments about tools pointless. As long as you do your work well, the tool doesn’t matter. Hammer vs. Pestle. Mac vs. Win or Can vs. Nik. Same difference. 

This post is about simple questions.

How much sharper do we need our images to be? How slimmer should our phones be? How faster should our computers be? How much thinner should our laptops become?

And while the inanimates around us become more ‘-er’ and ‘-er’, what about us?

What ‘-er’ should we be striving for?

How to Train an Ink Pen

A letter is due.

It has been for a long while now. It has been promised for a while. And it lives, with its honest intentions and desire to be alive. Yet, it does not “be-come.” The recipient of the letter is special. The letter, therefore deserves to be special. In this need of mapping, it lives a ghostly life. It exists, but it does not. It is true in spirit but it is unable to manifest itself on paper.

And paper it shall be. For this one letter is supposed to be tangible. The rough-smooth texture of paper, the blot of ink on it. When I write it, it has to drag at the tissue of the paper, as I pull ink through it – with curved lines that form the words.

The words that form the sentences.

The sentences that form the paragraphs.

The paragraphs that form the body.

The body that holds in itself the world of the emotions that I experience at this moment – that only you are privy to, my friend. How, shall I do that? How shall I make the dance happen? Because it is not just any letter that I want to write – it is a letter that I want to write to you.

My feelings have dried more than the ink in my pen. They are flakes I dare not touch for they will crumble. In their marginal existence – they carry a semblance of expression. Yet, today, I worked with the dried ink. The basin, water, and some help from me – and I have my Camlin screw-top working. I cleaned it well, water, cloth rags and all. I got out my letter-writing pad and I started writing.

Today is not the day – was the first thought that came to my mind. I was to pre-occupied with my ink-pen. Will it stay true like the other times I had written a letter to my friend? Will it participate in the symphony of my thoughts and the ink on paper? Will it move as effortlessly as my thoughts, once I get started? Does the pen remember how we used to write? Will it allow our usual flourish of the strokes and the tails of the letters? Strong stems and sharp corners? Sharp apices and beautiful bowls?

IMG_1345 - Version 2.jpg

After the training I realise that it is not just my pen that needs training.

Mobile, Freedom & Slavery

So this is how it really feels like – to blog in motion. Having gadgets that let you do more and more in ways that you didn’t imagine before, is in some ways liberating. But, as Amit so poetically and clinically scalped this sense of freedom, you wonder if this sense of being unshackled is true freedom or a misleading mask of slavery.

The Trouble of Having an iPhone

Don’t get me wrong.

I love my iPhone.

Over time – more than a year now – however, it has made me think a lot. Especially when I have had folks come and ask me “advice” on buying the iPhone. It usually isn’t that – they just want me to say, go ahead – it’s a wonderful decision. Don’t think! Buy it!

It’s a good device, an amazing gadget and really a fun companion to have with you. But it can get to you at times. A few instances where I wonder why I have this gadget:

  • There is an app (Pandora’s Box) that tells you what apps are available for free. (I have ever only paid for five apps, so I am not the one who contributes to the amazing statistics of app downloads from the iTunes Store). So you, usually, end up downloading apps that you use only for the first five minutes after you have downloaded them. Then they stay there – real-estate is apparently cheaper on an iPhone than in Mumbai – and when you see that app after six months – you have no idea what it does and why you downloaded it. You do waste a lot of time animatedly discussing how cool the app is.
  • When you have so many apps downloaded, and you realise that you don’t use 90% of them as frequently, there is a scramble to re-arrange apps. If you have an iPhone, you know how what I am talking about.
  • Most of the good apps aren’t available in India. In fact, the iTunes store for India is only one-third of the store. We can’t buy music and we can’t buy any video products. Even the sale of their OTA service is through the Singapore store. We are third in priority for Apple; we are a third world country. Nokia, however doesn’t think of us like that. Damn.
  • A friend of mine dropped his iPhone once. he had to buy another. Since then, I have become very careful about my iPhone. To the extent that my movements have become dainty. I wouldn’t think twice if I had to play football with my Blackberry, but couldn’t even dream dropping my iPhone on my desk from a height of 0.116 inches.
  • There are some amazing travel apps on the iPhone. None of them works when you are in Kumbharli Ghat. Heck, a state highway that connects Nanded to the NH4. Then, I love a compass. Any compass (That’s a safe gift to give me, if you were thinking). Now, I have to shell out the new bloated price for a 3GS if I want a built in compass. Gah!
  • I’d like to use Twitter on the iPhone. I have four different apps. Not a single one makes sense. While I have problems using Twitter anyway, the iPhone doesn’t help.
  • I can’t share photos very easily with folks who do not have an iPhone. So I have to go through a round about way of sharing photos. By that time the others have taken photos, shared it, uploaded it, had fun – I am still sending it by email and such. Bluetooth is so anti-social on an iPhone.

There’s more.

Sometimes I have fun re-arranging the apps. They make for some amazing “thoughts”. Not everybody understands it however.

An iPhone Grab

But this should suffice for now. But, don’t get me wrong, I love that thing. And don’t ask me why!

PS: Cross-posted on Selaphor

Stories in a Stream

Sixteen users voted on the first poll I ever conducted on this blog. 75% said that I should merge some of my blog into this one.

 

I was crestfallen with the result: I like having a few blogs here and there and writing differently for them. For those of you have been reading my other blogs and possibly voted against (apart from those who have been reading my other blogs and have voted for, only from a convenience point of view) will know that each blog, over time, has developed a character of its own. It is not just the writing style, but even the mood that defines which blog I choose, and when. I have decided I will not merge the blogs.

Those of you who voted for the merger, do not despair. I cannot not respect your verdict. I found a way in which I could write in different places, yet provide a platform where all my blogs (and more) comes together in a single place.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the newest story-teller on the block.

My digital lifestream is now at:

http://atulsabnis.storytlr.com (UPDATE: The service has now shutdown, this URL is now defunct)

and it seems that I have found what I really wanted.

First thanks, without doubt, is to Mahendra, who is so wonderfully involved in social media, he is an inspiration. His is indeed an unquiet mind and I am so grateful for it.

What is Storytlr?

It is a lifestreaming application and I have got all my blogs, photos, and bookmarks aggregated over there. Now instead of subscribing to all my blogs, you could subscribe to stream and get to read all that I write (and click – mouse and shutter alike) in a single place.

Some of you may find that a bit overwhelming, but I hope you will give it a try. Especially, if you are fatigued by subscribing to multiple feeds from my web-presence.

Of course, if you are following me on Twitter you will any way get all the updates.

Now, allow me to Google a similar application which does the same for my non-digital life.

Remains of the Day: 002

When I wrote Hello, Books, a few days ago, there was that excitement of having read a book after a long time. Amply evident, I guess. It even spawned a good conversation, like most books are supposed to.

Then, yesterday, I blogged about cosmic conspiracies. The theme of books continued. I recently also called off a fiery and an impetuous love affair with Twitter. Some of you may have noticed that I have made frugal, my space in Facebook.

Today, my computer crashed, taking along with it everything that I had put there, all these years. Such an event usually triggers a tsunami of anxiety within; often in a way that I cannot contain or control. No chance of recovery, they said. Have to replace.

I do not know why, this time, I was pretty nonchalant (for me, i.e.). Even when the engineer said it would take half a week, before I got an empty computer back, things didn’t quite bother me. Perhaps, it was because, after the last time this happened to me, I mutated into a backup Nazi. In spite of this, I was randomly accessing what I had done in the last fortnight, which may have missed my backup schedule. Nothing critical came to mind. A few emails here and there, which I could manage.

A doctor and a friend (two different people) once told me that falling sick is your body’s way of telling you to stop, or at least slow down. A way of telling you to take rest.

I have to learn to put advice in context and write complete posts.

Of Excitement

All new things are exciting. In some way or the other. But not all exciting things require that the excitement be overtly expressed. Sometimes you just allow yourself to be one with the excitement.

Perhaps age speaks here. Perhaps the assasination of all that was once exciting before. In the end it doesn’t matter.

You learn to be happy alone.

New Meanings

Turbine Hall

Space, environment, intimacy and depth have new meanings.

When Digital Disaster Strikes

What is the degree of possibility (I know, degree is associated more with probability than possibility, yet) that your life is contained in the binary notation of a hard-disk? It will vary. From you to me. As lives become more digitally stored and lived, a hard-disk crash can account for a major event in your life.

Funnily, an “Invalid Node Error” occurring on a hard-disk is covered by a three-year warranty through an email residing on the corrupt hard-disk. Talk about irony.

I can almost imagine the dialogue when I take the machine to a service centre.

Losing access to your digital self can be daunting. And I have experienced it twice in the last three months. After the initial seven-minute itch, this time however, I was very normal. So here I am, back on paper, writing for an online medium, staring at a handwriting that has gone really bad.

In my mind, I pose a few questions in front of the mirror.

What is the value of an identity? Is it itself or does it become the medium that makes it possible? Do you travel the world from the confines of your desk, or do you go to the world? The classic hardware/software supremacy argument. When and how did the vehicle become more important than the passenger? Why do we admire the vehicle more than the one who drives it? Why do we decide the character of a person by the vehicle he drives, rather than (for example) how he drives it?

My camera wails for a day out.
My books scream to be out of cardboard boxes.
My movies beg to be seen.
My self yearns to live in my land.

In a single day I have experienced a wild roller-coaster of emotion sets.

From a crashed hard-disk to owning my new car in a span of four hours.

The evolution of verbiage in this post and the metaphors, you will acknowledge are just a natural coincidence.

Recently Converted

I have recently converted to diigo.com. Read my post about diigo here and if you do choose to join, happy to link up!

If you are into all things Web 2.0 this is a (new) must-have!

Blogging on Rails

Moblogging takes on a different form here. I am blogging while mobile. Does that count as moblogging? Or do you need a device through which you blog, for the post to qualify as being moblogged?

Doesn’t quite matter, but having Wi-fi access on the train is cute; will be commonplace soon, but cute for now.

Ways of Seeing – 5

The time when I was just about to leave college after graduation was a time when most elders were asking me to get further education. There will be a better job for you if you get post-grad certification, they said. I thought, if I get a job now, earn, I might be able to sponsor my post-graduation.

Seems the time has come.

My recent fascination of making good use of gadgets is iTunesU.

I listen to more lectures online than I listen to music on my iPod. The most open campus in the world! I can choose which lectures I attend. I can choose which university I attend. Nothing beats a formal education and the real campus experience, but I am not complaining.

For those of you who don’t yet know about it, iTunes has a section, called iTunesU. Some very well-known universities have put significant content online for you.

Free.

One of the colleges I go to is the Otis College of Art and Design, specifically their Liberal Arts & Sciences section.

In this section, I subscribed to their course material on Introduction to Visual Culture. This is where I first saw the photograph by Robert Frank, in my previous post.

There is an amazing body of knowledge in that photograph. I know it now because I have heard the lecture. But here is the deal. At one level, this lecture tells you all that this photograph denotes and connotes (the three lectures are about representation, denotation and connotation) and so I know a lot about this particular photograph. I know the depth and breadth of what this photograph may mean, from the lecturer’s point of view. At another level, the lecture opens up a world of possibilities of ways of seeing.Beyond that specific photograph.

I was a bit taken aback at the level at which the lecturer explored meaning in that photograph. The discrete, the abstract. The known, the unknown. The contextualised and the not. How many layers of meaning does the photograph have? How much are you willing to delve and dive in? What is your own meaning; is it clouded by the meaning that someone else has made? Finally, are all the layers truly meaningful or just abstract banter for the sake of it, and therefore, what is meaning?

What you see is limited only by your curiosity to know; what you mean is limited by your means of making your meaning.

In Absentia (BW)

GoodReads – II

At least one friend came over to goodreads. Free will. Speaks volumes.

Goodreads

I think I will start this post with an apology, to some of my friends.

For having behaved like a spammer with access to an address books; when I invited most of them to Shelfari. The initial look and design of the site had me really selecting check-boxes against my friends’ names as if check-boxes were going out of fashion. I usually don’t do it, so, I do feel a bit sheepish.

I am moving away from Shelfari. I have not, however, stopped cataloging. I have decided to move away from Shelfari to goodreads.

Goodreads | Atul’s bookshelf

For one, Shelfari, not supporting multiple search options has bugged me for a while now (I haven’t added my recent books, so I don’t know if they have improved search capabilities now). Then there were the views that were beginning to bug me. Given the image-heavy nature of the site, it also tended to be a bit slow. The most bugging thing however was the interface. On a 13.3″ monitor, that small menu over the cover has annoyed me to no end. I have often deleted books when I wanted to select them.

goodreads is very LibraryThing-like and better!

For one, it doesn’t have a book limit. The interface is a nice change, the features are simple to use. Tagging and classification is simpler, editing is a breeze.

Very 2.0.

Search engines include more than amazon.com. Given that I buy most of my books in the UK and India, it’s nice to have your edition (and book cover) show up, than settle for an equivalent US edition or the equivalent hardcover.

Nitpicking, I know.

What I found really cool, however, is, if you create a “wish-list shelf” (you can create whatever selves you want), keep the link handy, you can access it on your mobile! Helps easily reference the books you want to buy when you are in a book store. The Shelfari site didnt work very well on a Blackberry (needs JavaScript; too heavy for mobile delivery).

I’ll miss some of you, if you choose not to move to goodreads. (No, I am not going berserk with my address book this time). However, moving to goodreads isn’t difficult. You can export your bookshelf as a .csv or a .xls file from Shelfari and import the entire shelf without loss (mostly) into goodreads.

If you do come over, you know where to find me!

In any case, what matters is that the reading goes on! After all, where our books are isn’t as important as much as it is important that we read them.

The Heart of a Conversation

You have perhaps noticed the recent template back-forthing at Gaizabonts. And if you are reading the blog at the site, then you have perhaps noticed that it has reverted to its original. Well, the second original. Or something like it.

In the times of reading blogs off RSS readers, how does it matter – the skin and the template? Unless you choose to comment, you hardly ever visit a blog. (Unless you use RSSBandit, which allows you to even comment from your reader!) Only a half-feed forces you to go to the blog, if at all, to read the other half.

How does appearance matter then? You are on the chat, you are on a blog, on Facebook, or Twittering away or using some such Web 2.0 contraption. No one sees the appearance. The presentation layer is missing. Is that (also) the reason most Web 2.0 sites are bereft of visual design elements?

I don’t visit many blogs at their blog address – this has been the pattern for sometime. However, I read more blogs now, than I did before. Only since I have moved to the Mac, I have started visiting blogs, if I have to comment, i.e. (RSS Bandit folks, you listening? We need a Mac version!)

It is almost easy to believe that people don’t read your blog anymore. Almost easy to believe that your readership index is lesser than before.

I doubt, if that’s the case.

The comments, you say, the comments must be indicators of readership. Yes, to an extent. But most of the times there isn’t much to be said. After a while, you get used to a person’s writing (or get bored with the sameness and such). Either way, there isn’t enough motivation to comment, especially if you know that a comment like, “wow, wonderfully written!” won’t be quite appreciated. Obviously, I am not talking of topical blogs where every other person wants to be heard and has a right to express with gay abandon.

Recently, Amit confessed that his Fine Imbalance needed a balancing act, he called it “TLC for the blog”. Then there is the dilemma that most bloggers go through which was well captured by EU, when delirium struck! The last three comments on the post by Abaniko, Jolvin and The Phish are very interesting in this context. Phish suggests a theory that boredom is the one that breaks the backbone of the better bloggers. In a way, lower readership and lesser comments are a good sign for a better blogger – they are perhaps tidings of the good times that once were?

Elsewhere, motivated by the thoughts of some bright folks, I went down the route of extending the thought of enabling conversations, through technology. Wishful-technology-thinking, you might call it. While the technology itself may be made available to ensure tracking conversations, human will is at the centre of it all. How often you visit a blog, how well you read a post and therefore how well you respond is key.

Most of us think we don’t know how and what to respond – a factor of how well we read and relate to what we read. If we know the blogger well, we might take comprehension for granted – that we understand what the blogger is saying. Like EU says:

I like people visiting my blog. Making blog friends is killing the interaction on my blog. I don’t like that.

Attention spans are shrinking, and though it shouldn’t be the case, our ability to ponder over a thought and respond well, is diminishing even further.

Here’s to better conversations, whether in a coffee shop or a cyber cafe!

When Tools Take Over

MacBooking

It’s like losing the pleasure of capturing an image to lenses, filters, tripods and the mathematics of exposure and shutter speed. When technique takes over the act.

I have been writing and deleting drafts of all things bloggable because I am yet to find the best combination of all blogging tools. I am yet to get used to the new keyboard (slightly wary of punching the keys too hard on the new cute thing and therefore missing out a few letters in the process, using too much of a delete key and missing a separate backspace key)

And the words that shape the thought of everything I see and feel as bloggable are hurting too, they aren’t flowing easily. This time however, the treachery doesn’t belong to the words. It’s the tools.

A craftsman is only as good as his ability to use his tools. Else, all he is, is a person with ideas.

Which isn’t that all that bad, really.

Update:
It’s not always that you know exactly what you want to write, sometimes friends help out. They are thinking the same things, similar things. I know how it ends, I am not sure how it starts.

Being Converted

The last few days were really difficult. Actually the dilemma had been going on for a while, a few months in fact. The turmoil had often come to boil and the leanings had wavered many a time. With each wind that blew from either direction, with its own power.

This one is going to be the slowest post I ever wrote.

Religion, when you free it from the shackles of the rituals and the frenzy, it is just a way of life – a way to achieve a place closer to God. Yet, what remains, if you take away the very attributes that allow religion to it be?

Nothing, the way I see it.

Imagine a religion without a name, without its own peculiar rituals, devoid of its sacred texts, sans the frenzied activity, that allows it be a religion different from another religion. The fanaticism that allows the followers of a religion to regale in its success and community is the mark and the characteristic of how a religion comes to be. While the primary purpose of religion is only a discipline, towards a goal, the paths vary. All the defining and so-called corrupt rituals are just the defining characteristics of the way we get there, eventually. We call them baseless, these acts based on blind faith and superstition so that we are ale to make the path towards the goal easier. And as much as we might look down upon them – these are the very means that allow us to recognise and relate to the religion that we follow. These are the very means that allow us to recognise the religion that others follow. An act, by itself, serves to define someone’s religion – the purpose of it, blurring ever so steadily.

All religions have one goal; we all know that, everyone comes to the same place from different routes. We see the people on different routes. We sometimes ridicule them, wonder why they made things so difficult. Sometimes we envy them, when the path seems simpler. Sometimes we never understand what motivates them to walk on difficult paths. We never choose a religion after a careful study; never an informed decision, more often than not, our religion is decided for us before we are born. We follow it without questioning it, take on the dogma without questioning it. Sometimes we renounce it altogether. Sometimes we just ignore it. We have long forgotten the primary purpose of it.

I converted today.

After having spent nearly all my life with Microsoft-based technology (since I was introduced to the computer), I converted to Mac-based technology with my first MacBook ever. I thought hard about this question of conversion for a long time now. I have questioned others and questioned myself about this change of religion.

I have yet to get used to so many things in this new discipline. All things that I once held as true and familiar suddenly aren’t true anymore. All that I once did with my eyes closed, metaphorically speaking, requires an extra effort and learning. The simplest of the tasks demand that I open my mind to a new way of life.

I am typing slowly and learning it all in this very slowly composed post.

It suddenly doesn’t seem to matter much. I haven’t renounced one religion for the other. I have just embraced another one. While it doesn’t make me any more religious than I already am, I think it makes the journey that much more exciting and colourful and enjoyable.

What a Tomorrow!

Life, as I knew it will never be the same. It is just a few hours from now. My fingers tremble with excitement and fear at the same time. I know there is no way out now.

I am scared, I won’t deny it, and yet that fear is pregnant with hopes of excitement. Such a big change warrants a longish post, and it will be up here tomorrow, with a table spoon of hesitation, a few grams of the unknown, and a pinch (a large one) of excitement. A blind leap by a cook who is willing to experiment. Not obviously though.

And it will come soon. I look forward to it!