There is something weird happening to the way we remember things. And the way we forget them.
In a digitally-driven world, almost everything we upload/share/email/blog post…whatever, is cached somewhere without any expiry date and floats around in ghostly cyber-space waiting to be touched again by a human being. Unlike the history of earlier times – captured through folklore, twisted by kings and triumphant tribes or exiled forever when a storyteller died – it’s almost as though we’re all in a mad hurry to record every stupidly trivial detail of our lives via 140 characters or silly status updates.
And then we live in fear, having forgotten what we said, where and when. But knowing full well that Google knows it all and will make your spur-of-the-moment slur available on demand for a potential employer or, worse, a suitor. Which is where a tool (drop.io) allowed you to put an expiry date on everything you shared in the cloud. It would have had immense value except that its owners went in for valuation and sold out to Facebook. Mover over Google, Facebook doesn’t want you to remember and retract.
But that’s not the weirdness I alluded to, above.
My worry is that we are now a generation of people (digital migrants and natives alike) who simply cannot remember many things that some of us did in the pre-mobile, pre-Google era… like birthdays and phone numbers. Wasn’t there a time when you could recall every phone number you frequently dialled straight off the top of your mind? How many can you remember today? Two, three, four perhaps and they’ll probably be of people you love. There may be the odd phone number or postal address from a decade ago that’s indelibly etched; but not too many, I’ll wager. Is it because we no longer actually dial (or punch in) a number? Or is it because we’ve handed over the responsibility of remembering to ever-growing memory chips that sit inside our mobile and computer hardware? Will we need an app soon to tell us who we’re fond of?
I have a crazy time remembering things I’d like to forget about. It’s worse if you forget the things you should remember.
Update (March 10): Even NYT agrees with me in a funny way
Mohitoz’ Law #267
Courtesy Ron Mukherjee
When people feel gypped, it is pointless cutting out their ‘e’.
Mohitoz’ Law #245
Sorry for the in(box)convenience.
Mohitoz’ Law #207
Colours of the lingerie posted as status updates on Facebook will evoke a tit-for-tat response.
Mohitoz’ Law #152
An Apple a day keeps Ballmer at bay.
Mohitoz’ Law #117
The Bing-Google face-off may be defined as Search ka Saamna.
Mohitoz’ Law #94
Vacations will be preceded, and followed by, high levels of stress that are actually self-created and totally avoidable.
Mohitoz’ Law #82
If you want to win the rat race, grab a mouse.
Mohitoz’ Law #77
Tweets on holy cows will be milked by the media.
Mohitoz’ Law #58
Conventional advertising agencies will not cross the digital divide but will complain that profits don’t multiply.
(For all those who love Don McLean and have anything to do with advertising…watch this; thank you Anjali.)
Mohitoz’ Law #53
The last slide of most Powerpoint presentations will invariably say “Thank You”.
Mohitoz’ Law #6
On a data card, the internet connection will snap just as you’ve crossed the 90% mark while uploading or downloading a file.
Corollary (August 31, 2009):
Unless you’re on a Photon+ data card, downloading files can be snail-ish.
Mohitoz’ Law #3
If you’re socially networking from office, you’re not working.
Mohitoz’ Law #2
The strangest people will send you friend requests while the most attractive ones on your friend’s friend-list will ignore your requests.
They are three characters who have co-existed alongside each other for over a century: two of them are neighbours, the third lives just one row away. But they do meet these days in a manner and frequency that would have surprised Christopher Latham Sholes. He didn’t create these three fellows; merely ordained where they should be.
The ones who are close look down – literally – at their occasional companion with a look that smacks of superiority. Individually, they perform very different tasks and were created for specific roles that have, somehow, lost their meaning in today’s hurly-burly careless world. They may have disappeared from the permanence of paper but have been infused with a new vitality digitally with the poor guy at the bottom jumping out of the keyboard and initiating the existence of all three as one team.
When they do come together, these colourless, cold characters can light up a forlorn face in the twinkling of an eye. Some days, you just wait for them to appear in a rare reply to an email or to an SMS (perhaps it’s the rarity with which they come together that makes the trio even more valuable).
Maybe they should be brought together more often and sent out to someone waiting for a smile.
Or a : – )
On May 8, Gul Panag launched Samsung’s new touchscreen phone, Star. Before and after she did this, she was tweeting away about her trip to Hyderabad where the launch took place and about an awful experience on a Jet Airways flight.
What seems to have gone unnoticed is that she was promoting the Samsung launch (not the phone) from her iPhone… is Samsung aware?
Don’t believe me? Hit this tweet of hers…and notice that the update was sent from PocketTweets (an iPhone app); of late she’s moved to TwitterFon, another iPhone app.
Or, see this:
Samsung Tweet via iPhone
So long Samsung… is your Star is being two-timed by the star?
A couple of weeks ago, I joined the league of people who tweet away.
It started as an exercise in educating myself to figure out what the 140-character-microblogging syndrome was all about. And to see if it could be put to any productive use because it seemed like an addictive distraction. Some of it is useful – especially if you follow NYT, Economist, Wired, O’Reilly, GigaOm, Guy Kawasaki and a few real-life acquaintances who aren’t busy tweeting about inane stuff like going to the loo or listing out what they ate for breakfast (before they went to the loo)! And it could be more useful if Maruti Suzuki evolved its Traffic Beat service from FM radio to Twitter to tell people which roads to avoid in real time, or if a helpful Jat could update others on shops that still stock beer in Delhi/Gurgaon when the temperature’s hitting 43 Celsius and there’s no Kingfisher to be found nearby…or even the best deals on veggies in the morning (why does Pizza Hut insist on wasting paper slipping in offers into newspapers?).
But, yes, Twitter can be addictive and distracting. In this multi-tasking era of hyperactive thumb-texting, it’s a fad worth considering only if you don’t get carried away: interestingly, a research reports that over 60% of Twitter users drop out after the first month.
On a particularly distracted day – alternating between Facebook and Twitter and between their web and mobile versions – I realised how unproductive life could be. Which is how the term fwittering was coined and submitted as entry no. 13 to Urban Dictionary: ‘a verb which describes the act of frittering away valuable time between Facebook and Twitter by posting status updates or tweets on both.’
No pun intended but go thumb it on UD.
On February 3, I observed that LK Advani and the BJP seemed to be digitally ahead of Rahul Gandhi and the Congress.
The young man still doesn’t seem to have an official website… although there is one with a .us domain. Strange but true.
His party, however, has an election-specific website called Vote for Congress.
I went a bit deeper, into the third tab titled ‘Leaders’, and this is what I saw:
Where are Congress' leaders?
In case the image isn’t large enough for you, here’s a close-up: it simply says ‘No Leaders’!
Where are Congress' leaders?
This one was found by friend Neeraj and I’m sure the Congress will find its missing leaders as soon as its site development team locates the content; but, until then, thankfully there’s this screen-grab
So much for Lead India.
UPDATE: APRIL 15…
The Congress Party has found its leaders – in the nick of time! Here.