Friday, August 19, 2016, 2003-2016

Univision has bought Gawker Media in for $135 million in a bankruptcy auction. It will shut down, the flagship website and will run the group's other websites: Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku and Lifehacker. Billionaire Peter Thiel pursued his vendetta against, and funded Hulk Hogan's suit against the website, and a jury awarded a $140 million settlement to Hogan, causing Gawker media to file for bankruptcy. Although, the settlement is still to be challenged in higher courts and could be reversed or reduced.

Three things I thank Gawker for:

1. For 'sticking it up' the elites, for 'punching up', and for fully practicing the maxim that no one is above an investigation and the self-important should be brought down a notch or three.

2. For the good writers: Elizabeth Spiers, Choire Sicha etc left to fidn their own publishing success. I shall miss the writing of Hamilton Nolan, Sam Biddle and many other Gawker writers who provided that rare thing: Good, highly readable writing, with no pretensions. I wish them the best.

3. For putting the story ahead of the advertising budget, and refusing to Buzzfeed's model of 'lists, fluff, and sponsored writing masquerading as actual articles.' Gawker did the high-traffic sensational pieces to support the good writing elsewhere on the website, which is something other websites must follow.

Sadly, Gawker will become more famous for being a victim of a vengeful 1 percenter Peter Thiel, a cautionary tale for reporters to not antagonize the rich and the powerful.

Gawker will keep its archives online and a selection can be found here and here. I would like to hope this is not the end of news blogging.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Introducing The Success Manual: The Ultimate collection of the best advice on 200+ important skills

The Success Manual, my latest project, is an easy-to-follow encyclopedia of advice with everything, yes, everything, you will ever need to know to succeed in any career you choose, starting with how you manage yourself: create a targeted resume, get a job you want, get a raise, get a promotion, manage your boss and the politics, communicate your ideas and messages clearly to the relevant people, negotiate and persuade people, start and run a business, freelance your skills, establish a personal brand and stand out by doing great and useful things... and all the other important things you must do to get ahead.

There are 290 guides, helpfully arranged across 13 skill categories, on all the skills and tactics a professional will ever need to succeed.

This all-in-one resource is a must buy for a fresh college graduate or a seasoned professional. There is just so much we all need to know to survive and succeed.

Note: The Success Manual exists in offline forms since 2004. Now it has been updated massively, and has its own website, where you can read all the chapters and more.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

100,000+ Online Tests taken on has crossed the 100,000 test takers milestone. That means, if you create something useful, people do come. So far we have not done any promotion, save a couple of blog posts (such as this one here) for Basicversity.

I guess I need to more than that now - add more online tests to existing 2100 (approximately), do some promotion...

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Who took away my Qwerty Android phone?

Many of us have gone through this. We were in love with our Qwerty/Blackberry phones - we typed and typed on them; we were in love with the tactile feel. Even when the Touch smartphones arrived, we were the last of the tribe to go for them, dreading till the last moment how, in the name of all the phone gods, were we going to type fast on them.

Much battery juice and data plan bandwidth has flown by till then. Who knew typing on a Touch smartphone was going to be so easy?

But, tell me this: who knew we were going to miss the soft tactile crunch of the real keyboard? Friends tell me they buy Touchscreen phones for themselves and gift Qwerty phones to their parents, who have always voted for solidity in all things in life, including phones. Some friends see young people chat away on WhatsApp, and they miss their BBM messaging and SMS-chatting days of past. They say typing on Qwerty phones is faster and familiar as they are with working on computers.

Which brings me to my central point: There will always be a demand for Qwerty phones. Let me correct myself. There will always be a demand for Qwerty smartphones - bringing the best of both worlds of Smartphone Touch OS and the likeable click-clack of real keypads.

Be that as may, most of big smartphone brands have sort of given up on making Qwerty smartphones. The last big brand model in this corner of the mobile play field was HTC Chacha. That was a cute one, that phone.

Tentpole launches from big brands give heart to other players to play catch up and launch better-priced phones and then the market is better and more wholesome for it. Where is my Samsung Galaxy Qwerty version, one might ask?

Thankfully, mid-sized phone brands have not given up on Qwerty phones, and I thank them for it. To be trying to keep a tradition of Qwerty alive, they deserve something of a Nobel prize of Mobility.

And the market has responded well. It was heartening to see the positive response to recently launched Qwerty Android phones. Take for example, the Stellar 360 from Spice Mobiles, which I hear is selling well. Here's to more Qwertified times.

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Friday, January 03, 2014

How bad TV news is (and what to do about it)

And I thought TV news was bad only here in India. Here's Jeff Jarvis on the  pervasive 'badness' in TV news and how it is sliding surely and noisily into irrelevancy:

TV news is stuck holding onto its orthodoxy of inanity. It wastes resources trying to fool us with stand-ups at sites where news occurred 12 hours before and where there is nothing left to witness or report. It repeats much, saying little. It adores fires that affect few. It goes overboard on weather. It gives us BREAKING NEWS that isn’t breaking at all but is long over, predictable, obvious, or trivial. It gullibly and dutifully flacks for PR events created just for TV. It presents complex issues with false and simplistic balance. It speaks in the voice of plastic people. It stages reality (no that guy in the b-roll isn’t really typing on his laptop). It has little sense of the utility of what it presents. And did I mention its pyromania?

Read the whole thing here. It also covers the innovation being done with news video


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twitter as the noisiest medium in history (and what to do about it)

As this year 2013 ends, I find out I haven't used Twitter much. Maybe just every three months or so to keep the account kind of active. Have no time. Have no inclination.

Seth Godin puts the supposed importance of Twitter to task - all that noise making it useless most of the time:

Do you actually believe that Taylor Swift has 33,000,000 million (and counting) people eagerly waiting for her next tweet, ready to click on whatever she links to?
In fact, less than one in a thousand people who 'get' one of her tweets will click. Most of the 33 million won't even read it, making the word 'get' worthy of quotation marks.

So what do we do with this Social media behemoth, which I suspect is fast becoming a wasteland roamed by shameless self-promoters?
You can play at Facebook and Twitter, and make them work. But they will only work if treat them like a cocktail party, as an opportunity to eavesdrop and layer general connection and value and insight. 

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Monday, April 08, 2013 Test your basic knowledge of anything

I had been working on for a year. Now, it is live and running. BasicVersity is an online education site where you can practice and test your basic knowledge of all topics -  basic maths, it-skills, business skills, soft skills, certifications, health sciences, engineering, as well as standardized tests including, but not limited to, SAT, CLEP, AP, DSST, GRE, GMAT and many more.

Currently there are around 180,000 questions in 1500 tests across 700 topics.

I shall not forget to mention that it is all free. If you think you are up to date on online marketing, I suggest you go test your knowledge on BasicVersity right now!

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Staying in touch via Facebook is over-rated

Surprise brings delight in relationships. Tina Brown of The Daily Beast (19 million pageviews/month) says about her non-existent Facebook usage:

What about Facebook?No, I don’t use Facebook. I absolutely don’t want to stay in touch with everybody in my past. I really believe in falling out of touch with people.

...There’s something very healthy about not seeing someone for three years, not knowing what they’re doing, running into them, and finding that they’re now utterly changed. You know, they have gray hair now and they’re divorced. If I was on Facebook, I would know all those things, and I don’t want to know them.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Anonymous way of organizing peaceful protests

The June 9 OccupyIndia protests by Anonymous teaches you a lot about organizing peaceful protests. These were the instructions, reprinted verbatim, from Aonymnous:

You can wear the GuyFawkes mask during the protest (download the printable version from here).
Protesters may not use vehicles to protest as this may cause accidents, please keep vehicles out of the protest crowd.
Please bring placards, Banners etc that you can prepare so for the cause.
For whom it is possible, Bring cameras and record events, Or better use your smart phone to stream it online using ustream. This will give a proof if something bad is attempted at the protesters.
Play the pre-recorded anon Msg to the crowd via loudspeaker (download from here).
Stand in one horizontal line and chant in union

However there were those who weren't pleased with how the protests went, in Mumbai, for example. The writer gives these tips for future protest-organizers in India:

1. When holding a protest, take the local weather into account.

2. When planning a protest, don’t pick a venue without shade.

3. Give clear, specific directions on how to reach the site.

4. Prepare activities or speeches in advance, and try to get the crowd involved.

5. Last but not least, ensure that people show up, by hook or crook–even if it means forcing your friends to attend.
Now, there you go, how to organize peaceful protests 101.

Related: Gene Sharpe's 8-point method of non-violent revolution

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

100 Acronyms that teach us: Now available as a free Android app

100 Acronyms that teach us is a chapter in the Success Manual, my 600+ page compilation of business and self-improvement advice. Now it is also available as a free Android App. It is an early version, an updated one is on its way.

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