Data Movage

Kevin Kelly of ‘The Technium’ recently posted a illuminating piece on the concept of “Movage“:

Digital continuity is a real problem. Digital information is very easy to copy within short periods of time, but very difficult to copy over long periods of time. That is, it is very easy to make lots of copies now, but very difficult to get the data to copy over a century. For two reasons:

1) Formats change. Because of rapid technological evolution the “language” which one storage media speaks can become obsolete (incomprehensible) in only a few years. Or the hardware that speaks that language becomes so rare, it cannot be accessed. Who can read the data on ten-year old floppy disks?

2) The storage medium itself can decay. Turns out that paper is much more stable over the long term than most digital media. Magnetic surfaces flake, peel, shatter. And the supposed durable CDs and DVDs aren’t very stable either.

Is there a solution to these unique problems posed by modern-day media?  Fortunately, Kelly’s essay also provides the answer:

The only way to archive digital information is to keep it moving. I call this movage instead of storage. Proper movage means transferring the material to current platforms on a regular basis — that is, before the old platform completely dies, and it becomes hard to do. This movic rythym of refreshing content should be as smooth as a respiratory cycle — in, out, in, out. Copy, move, copy, move.

As it turns out, without knowing about the concept of “movage”, I was already exercising it!  And today, when I look back, the only pieces of digital work I can access from my past 10-15 years are the ones I bothered to keep moving to current media formats…

Are you doing enough to keep your critical data moving?

Kawasaki and the Art of Innovation

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of attending a Business Leadership Seminar organized by a couple of major technology companies, in Mumbai.  This particular event was remarkably different from others in two respects: 1. Renee Mauborgne of “Blue Ocean Strategy” was one of the key speakers at the event, and 2. Guy Kawasaki was the keynote speaker, scheduled to speak on the Art of Innovation!

Now, I would’ve travelled all the way to the other end of Mumbai, at 8 in the morning, to hear any one of them speak in person!  And, here I was getting two for the price of one!!! 

Needless to add, the trip downtown was well worth the time.  Both Renee and Guy were outstanding.  And we, the audience, were left completely enthralled.

Since that day, I’ve been meaning to take the time to write a post about my key takeaway from those two speakers.  While the one on Blue Ocean will have to wait, I’d like to be able to share the essence of Guy’s speech, here…

I googled and discovered that Guy Kawasaki has posted the key points of the Art of Innovation on his blog, for the benefit of his readers.  It’s an educative post that speaks about some of the rules you need to follow, if you want to stay ahead on the Innovation Curve, and includes just gems as “Don’t Be Afraid To Polarize People” and “Think Digital, Act Analog”.

But, a bunch of words posted on a page cannot adequately capture the thrill of listening to Guy deliver his presentation.  It’s such a pleasure to hear the man speak! 

So, I was even more delighted to discover that someone (Zentation) has taken the time and effort to put together a page that not only captures his delivery via video, but also captures the actual slides he presented, so that you can get the full experience!  I’ve been through this version, and it includes 99% the content that I had the benefit of witnessing in Mumbai. 


Kawasaki: The Art of Innovation (blog post)
Zentation : The Art of Innovation (video and slides)

Collateral Damage

It was about 10 in the night, on 26th November 2008, when television news channels first started airing reports of Mumbai’s business district – Nariman Point – being taken hostage by terrorists.  Multiple blasts were reported at the VT station (now called CST), Madam Cama hospital, a popular cafe in Colaba (Leopold’s) and the prestigious Taj Mahal Hotel and Oberoi-Trident.

Like myself, many of us in Mumbai, having witnessed multiple serial blasts in the past few years, did not know how significant was this strike…. Was it over already?  Were there many casualties?  This was certainly not designed to cause mass destruction; otherwise why would the operation be scheduled for so late in the night?

At that time, many of us would’ve believed… wished… hoped… that this was just a few fundamentalists running amok with guns or grenades, and the worst was already behind us.  After all, most of the city was already tucked away, safe in their homes with their loved ones.

But, we were wrong.  As it turned out, the initial TV reports were simply the beginning.  8 hours later, the drama was just getting warmed up.

Throughout the next day, the gunshots and explosions continued.  800 army men and over 100 NSG commandos were deployed.  An unidentified number of hostages were held captive across the Taj and Oberoi properties, with many of the assailants still hiding within the hotel rooms.  Of course, it did not help that both the Taj and Oberoi had hundreds of rooms to be searched.  It also did not help that the terrorists were armed with AK-47s and grenades, while the city’s finest were well-equipped with .303 rifles – a World War II classic!

Meanwhile, SMSes and calls started pouring in from friends and family all over the world, to make sure that we were all safe.  Political leaders across the globe issued statements condemning the attacks and offering support.  Famous personalities lamented, once again, about how Mumbai pays millions of rupees in tax to the country’s coffers, but receives very little by way of security, infrastructure and support.  Even our esteemed Prime Minister made a ‘robotic’ television apperance uttering words that were only noteworthy for how forgettable they were!

Schools and offices were closed for the day.  Mumbai’s stock exchanges also remained shut.  Predictably, most of the city stayed at home, watching the tube.  Not so predictably, my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter added a new word – terrorists – to her fledgling vocabulary!

As always, the city’s administration and media did a splendid job of managing the mayhem.  There were no helpline numbers that citizens could call for information on missing friends or relatives.  There was no visible means of obtaining the names of those who had been injured or killed.  Even telephone numbers of places where volunteers could donate blood to help the victims, were only flashed on TV channels, an entire day after the madness began!

What would you do if your wife or child or parent was in one of those locations, at that time?  Who would you call to find out which hospital they’d been taken to?  How long would it be before you’d know if they were ok or not?  All of us want answers. But, answers, and accountability, are hard to come by in this country…

More than 36 hours after the first gunshots were fired, defence personnel and police were still attempting to rescue all the hostages and bring down the terrorists.  Of course, for the benefit of their viewers, all the news channels almost covered the entire operation live!  Watching the news that day, it would’ve been difficult for any one to distinguish between Bombay and Beirut…

Once again, a “Black Swan” event had taken the world by surprise!

The following morning, as was expected, the “resilient Mumbai spirit” was back in action.  Some schools chose to remain closed, just as a precaution.  And, the government ordered cinema halls closed until further notice.  But, office establishments resumed work.  The stock market was thrown open in a move to boost investor confidence.  And, our streets were once again filled with private cars and taxi cabs, instead of army trucks and police vans.

The only thing different was that the security guard at my office gate – who usually wishes me a cheerful Good Morning – insisted on checking the boot and the hood of my car, before letting me through the gates.  And, the door attendant – who usually greets me with a smile – insisted on going through my office bag before letting me through.  And, my daughter, now had a new word in her vocabulary!

Long live the resilient spirit of Mumbai !!!


Update : 10th Dec 2008

Thanks to an email forwarded by my good friend – Satish Venkata – I came across an incisive commentary on the Mumbai attacks by Tamil writer Gnani Sankaran.  The essay makes some interesting observations on the way the media and the security forces went about doing their jobs.  Read the entire piece, here.

Read More:
UK’s Guardian : A map-based summary of the events
Indiblogger : All posts related to Mumbai Terror Attacks