… then why are they telling us?

why

“But dad … then why are they telling us?” said the 4 yr. old boy. An innocent remark, but a profoundly important one.

So let’s put this into context and start again. This remark was in a small story narrated by our very good Swiss/Greek couple friend over a cup of cappuccino, home-made plum schnapps and Greek candied fruit mixed with yoghurt.

Here is the setting: Last night, my friend and his 4 yr. old son are watching TV in their fantastic little house overlooking the best part of the Swiss Alps, and a news report about some extremely heavy snow in China comes on the TV.

Son – “Dad, Where is China?”

Dad – “Son, It is very, very far away from Switzerland – halfway around the world”

Son – “If it so far away, then why are they telling us about snowfall there?”

Dad – “mmmm…….” (No answer that will make sense to a 4 yr. old)

Now… think about this for a moment, for a 4 yr. old, it makes no difference whatsoever what happens in a place called China (at least not yet), why does he have to be told about snowfall there – there is more than enough of it in Switzerland!

And I cannot agree with him more, this is information overload of the highest order. Information is all around us today – beaming over fiber-optic cables, over satellites, TV, radio, internet, smartphones, signboards, newspapers, blogs (like this one J). Can we make sense of all this information? Does it make us any wiser? Are we just addicted to information, like an addiction to drugs? Do we have to check the online status of our friends every minute? The exact standing of our portfolio (which we convinced over selves is invested for the long run) over our iPhone while waiting at a traffic light? Do I have to watch a continuous coverage over Sky news of a ‘breaking story’ about a cat stuck in a tree in small town outside Ipswich? Nassim Nicholas Taleb said in his fantastic book Fooled by Randomness “I don’t read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants… or parties. If a piece of information is important, it will find you – you don’t have to go looking for it!”

So next time you are told a galactically important piece of information that you could have lived without – put on the thinking hat of a 4 yr. old and ask the question – “Why are you telling me that?” … Say it clearly, but remember to say it nicely.

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Alpine Soundscapes

Switzerland : does it bring to your mind mountains, cheese, cows, watches? Leave these aside for a moment and think of divine tube amplifiers, precision turntables and exquisite speakers than that play music sweeter than Apollo’s harps or can recreate the sound of thunder. These were the images and sounds I experienced when the latest edition of the HighEnd Swiss show beckoned.

 

Read the full entry here …

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Breaking News : This write up has also been published on a leading Audio website – 6moons.com. The first of hopefully many more to come! Read it here

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A day without my blackberry



Yes .. i committed sacrilege today. I left my blackberry at home! … What ??!!!  I can hear some of you scream … and you survived the day, in one piece – without hypertension, withdrawal symptoms, a nervous breakdown, without your company shutting down ?

The answer to all the above is a resounding YES. Blame it on Monday morning blues, a hundred things on your mind as one is rushing off to catch the 7:24 train, or just plain absentmindedness. Picture this – rushing from one meeting to another, you want to check which one of the damned 14784 meeting rooms spread over a 1000 floors you have to get to in the next 11 seconds,? You can alway count on your trusted blackberry to rescue you. You casually reach into your trouser pocket to nonchalantly flick out the blackberry and expertly type in the password one handed, but your hands meet thin air !!  The hair at the back of the head stand up, perspiration start to form at the temples… and you realize that the blackberry is peacefully resting on the bedside table in your house, you look around yourself hoping that your co-workers will not trample you to death because you are the only person in this entire building who does not have his blackberry within 6 inches of him.First things first – the meeting can wait. Rush to your desk, call your wife (hoping you can catch her at home) … curt instructions barked into the phone – “I left the blackberry at home, pls switch it off and keep it where i can find it”.

Suddenly it feels a load has been taken off! I don’t have to to look into that darn GRS every few minutes. You walk around with a slight smirk on your face, silently laughing at all the people around you furiously tapping into their blackberries (their alternative to the cardio-workout – i think).

The day goes by… it actually felt good to not to be attached to that 200 odd gm device representing modern technical slavery.  Yes, i did miss the fact that i could not call people on the move (There you go – another modern malady), but the world did not come to an end, the stock price of my company did not fall by 50% because some e-mails were not instantly answered.

So will i do it again – surely i will! … but will i do it tomorrow?  No… I do like to live life on the edge – but leaving my blackberry at home for 2 days – that’s taking it too far, even for me.

Glowing rectangular screens

Ever wondered how much time we spend in this modern, connected, electronic world staring into glowing rectangular screens ? … ofcourse not, we are too busy staring into them! You are staring into one right now, I was staring into one when I was typing this (my first blog entry by the way) … Why do we do that? Are they more interesting than the people around us, or a good book or just nature. At work I passed by someone’s workstation (By this comment the intelligent among you can guess that I work in a typical modern office with ‘Open Plan’ workplace design that is designed to promote productivity and teamwork – why that’s not true is topic for another blog) … so getting back to that workstation that I was referring to, there were no less than 6 GRSs (Glowing Rectangular Screens) – 3 computer monitors (yes 3!), one laptop, one blackberry and the now ubiquitous iPad! Is he more intelligent, tech savvy and able than the rest of us .. is he just more confused because of the contant data streams that he needs to interpret? While one my way back home in the train, I noticed 100s of people were staring like zombies into the GRS of one of the wonderful creations by the technological behemoths of today – Apple, Nokia, Blackberry

So my muse today .. is there a solution to this modern malady? I think my wandering mind may have the perfect answer – Glowing Round Screens !