Orkut is great; it gave us friends - virtual ones- but what I love the most is it taught us how not to get off our lazy bums the entire weekend. The social scene of spending time with friends, making new ones and outing with other families has changed dramatically over the past decade. First it was TV, then cable television, then came along Internet, gaming and now the social networking crap. Easy access to Internet from the comforts of a bedroom has eliminated the need of real friends. It sounds so like I’m from the early 1900s talking about hanging out with friends or doing stuff as a community over the weekend, doesn’t it?
From what I hear, the social scene outside India is great. Families plan outings together - go-to parks, have dinners, celebrate birthdays and so on. The social scene in India is pretty dismal, relatively speaking. Early working days for singles are fun because you have a gang of colleagues to spend weekends with. Once they are ‘taken‘ or ‘committed‘ which is usually within the first few months of starting a career, you are pretty much on your own if you are still single. That’s when this Orkut comes as a savior in your life while you add hundreds of virtual friends to your list and start scrapping like a maniac. Reasons to budge out of home on weekends is to keep yourself from starving- ah! I forget there’s Pizza Hut home delivery for such people.
The situation only worsens until one gets married. For some, it doesn’t change even after that. There are two people scrapping now! No figment of imagination. Just turn around and ask your single co-worker what he did over the weekend.
On a closing note, I think those Rotary clubs and kitty parties were not such a bad idea for networking.
I love living in India for one reason - the camaraderie you share with the neighbors that makes you feel alive and human. Every evening when I returned from work, I would knock at my neighbor’s door to say a ‘hello’ despite all the tiredness and the drudgery of the long day. A smile on her face and a little chit-chat was always such an effective stress-buster that no other outlet could ever provide.
Life outside India : The 13 months that I lived in Chicago, I never knew who lived next door, forget knowing their names. Initially, it was a creepy feeling that I got over slowly. Some habits die hard and so did the curiosity of seeing my neighbor’s faces. For the first few months, every time I heard the doors closeby open/shut I would race to my door and peep thr the eyehole to get a glimpse. Call me the nosy prying Indian or whatever you like. But this was result of the lack of a social circle and interaction with somebody human after returning home from work! This is one reason I would never want to settle down in US where you fix appointments to meet friends!
The article titled There goes the neighborhood in last week’s Hindu was an eyeopener that showed where our metros such as Bangalore, Pune with a burgeoning IT population and a cosmo culture are headed.
Continue reading ‘The great Indian Neighborhood..
Reads the article —
There is a an Oriya family next door, two Tamilian families in the floors below me and the couple who are supposed to work day and night at a call centre. I can’t remember any of their names. True, they were all there for our housewarming, but we never seem to have progressed since then.
I blamed myself for moving into an apartment, which cocoons people into their own private cells. Then along came a friend who was from a part of a city that still has something resembling a neighborhood. I asked her how much she interacted with her neighbors. Pat came the reply: “A smile here and there… That too if they and I have the time.”
Blame it all on the lifestyle : How many of you know the names of your neighbors? Intercoms and Yahoo! groups have conveniently replaced face-to-face conversations in apartments - the concrete jungles! The article is true to an extent while I lived in Bangalore. But I don’t agree with it completely. People are quick to respond that there is no time during the week for meaningless conversations. Juggling between their high flying careers, working erratic hours and making time for their kids and finally for their immediate social cicrcle during the weekends keeps their plates and calendars full!
But doesn’t the onus lies on us to create that special bond and take the first step. I have been fortunate enough to have gem of a neighbor every place we’ve lived in. One of the first things I always do after moving into a new place is to go and knock on my neighbor’s door and get introduced. nothing breaks the ice as this. Rather than staring sheepishly and peeking thr eye holes or indulging in nosy gossips, this works! It sure is an effort but one that is worth every penny.
The article further states –
“Back during my childhood days, anything at home would see a horde of neighbors drop in. Even if a neighbor’s relative was getting married, a representative from our house would make it a point to register our presence. I still live in the same house today, but somehow I have not managed to forge the same relationship with the same neighbors,” says Vijaya Sunder, 26, a resident of Malleswaram
Open house :I’m reliving my childhood days when we lived in a small colony where everyone knew everyone else, kids played together, slept over at other’s places if parents went on an emergency and you don’t have think twice before dropping in a for a cup of coffee unannounced without an appointment.
The apartment we live in now has all the characteristics of a small colony - its so touching when the uncle next door enquires about my health every morning or offers to collect the medical report and goes that extra mile every time. We have a open door policy here. During the days no one closes the doors. So kids in the neighborhood are welcome anytime of the day. When I’m bored to death, I just drop in to listen to stories from the granny who stays opposite. Festivals have been fun too like Diwali and Holi when all of us pool in and burn crackers or play holi together. More the number, more the fun!
One night recently around 11:30 p.m. I was in pain and mom was about to knock at our neighbor’s door when I stopped her. She got an earful the next morning from our neighbors when they got to know and the aunty remarked, ” Laksh belongs to the current generation. Don’t you listen o her. just don’t think and knock at our door whatever time of the night it is. what are neighbors for.”
That spoke volumes. It is just a perception that the apartment culture is not healthy and has driven people into their private cells. Its more to do with the lifestyle and the attitude the current generation carries. In the current nuclear family setup in metros it is not possible to spend enough time during the year with immediately family and relatives as they are scattered around the world. So it feels all the more good if you live amongst nice people. Along with consumerism and other traits of modern day, we have conveniently given up simplicity and carefree attitude that we were once proud of! Its upto us to take forward those days what we cherished in our childhood.
“Are you on Orkut?” asked a old friend a few months back. I replied in the negative. For once, contrary to my Aquarean nature, I did not have the curiosity to try this so-called ’social networking’ site that I had heard about in fleeting conversations over lunch at work. Establishing a direct impact on productivity, organizations have gone to the extent of blocking Orkut and other such sites as MySpace, Friendster and LinkedIn.
Anyways, the reason I’m writing this post is because the talk about Orkut has been rekindled with more mentions in the past few weeks from different sources. So I signed up and started exploring and reading others ’scraps’. Note to myself - got to check why they came up with this name ’scrap’.. My only other presence, sorry existence, on the networking sites is in LinkedIn, thanks to Tom B @ Qualcomm. LinkedIn, I guess serves its purpose being a business networking site. ? After a few days of mindless browsing of Orkut and a expression of awe on my face as I saw a few pictures after almost seven years of college, I decided this wasn’t for me.
If you are a big fan of these social networking sites, please tell what the heck is social networking and why do you do this? I’m looking for a better answer than “Oh I found a school friend with whom I lost touch for the last decade. Internet is GOD”.
Here is one cool article on Fast Company titled “What the heck is Social Networking? I think Jonathan does a lot of justice in answering honestly the real motive of these sites —
People sign up who wouldn’t sign up for a traditional dating site. And people seek contact who wouldn’t normally do so. We also hear about the Friendster addict. When people first sign up, there’s usually a little frenzy, but that can’t continue forever. People care about people, and Friendster is all about people. It’s also all hypertext. You see one person, and they have an interesting-looking friend. They have a testimonial from another person, and you find that you’re connected to that person. Some people say that Friendster is ruining their life and that it got them fired.
Well well, he begins with a honest explanation and then it is all promotion which could be true to an extent. Do you have a lot of time on your hands? Is it really about catching up with old friends or finding new ones? Open conversations? Or is it just entertainment - a IM equivalent? Or am I just being an anti-social animal?
80% of my time goes into coordination - communicating with people. The only tools that aid in communication are e-mail, instant messaging and phone. We made an effort to introduce all involved to the concept of Wiki and use it wherever possible to reduce the time and effort spent in writing/forwarding e-mails and communicating the same idea to a million people in a million ways (ok I’m exaggerating here). However all efforts went in vain. A lot of questions have crossed my mind (some of which were addressed in the session) since then. As Peter Quintas points out –
The technology there is the enabling piece of being connected in an effective and productive way. In today’s collaborative environment, there are a few things that are missing. The first thing John touched on: security. Enterprises and organizations require that, but we can’t let security be prohibitive simple fact is what’s driving people to use email more and public instant messaging networks. It’s uninhibited. People flock to what is easiest for them.
This is true. People are resistant to change. Changing a natural instinct to communicate an idea on WiKi page instead of drafting a e-mail addressed to 10 people is going to take time. The concerns of tracing an idea to its source will not be as easy as with e-mail. Only a tool that is easy to use e-mail will gain wide acceptance. The other issue I think is a very sensitive one - trust.
Ross states —
JP mentioned trust. How do you get people to trust one another? If people are able to edit other people’s work, that increases the amount of trust. Same with attention management. When people are able to control how they access information, it saves a lot of time. That can mean $1-2 million a year. We need to find ways to unlock all that value.
I beg to differ on this point. I don’t think this is completely true. Editing other people’s work might only lead to more friction in a diverse work environment than increase the amount of trust. Access control/workflow is the only way to preserve integrity.
I think I agree with Patrick –
Patrick: Another issue is trust. You might trust some of the people you work with, but not all of them. Especially if someone is two or three levels above the people working on a project, if they express themselves, it can be taken as an order, and communication quells that.
This is the best part of the discussion —
And maybe it’s a culture we created ourselves. Just look at email and bcc. Who ever thought that blind carbon copy would engender trust? Look at cc. That’s just ass covering.
Now-a-days every time I ‘cc’ someone on a mail, I’m reminded of the term ‘ass covering’. I’m keen to see how and what tools can improve work place communication.
Connected Distributed Work - Updated (07/30):
This post has been mentioned in a post titled “WhyWikiWorksNot: 2004 Dance Re-mix” on Many to Many. It has spawned an interesting thread of comments. Ross in his post states that he agrees with Adina on how WiKis should have an objective and that it takes time for implementation and understanding. That was exactly my point. WiKi as a concept to be accepted and used is going to take time. Whether or not it will succeed, only time will tell. We had thought through how to use WiKi. Every project during the requirements phase spawns hundreds of e-mails as ideas float. We had setup a WiKi page - give users access, demonstrated how to use and as a proof of concept encouraged them to put in their ideas, so that all the relevant ideas can be collated and presented before the deciding committee. Now the obvious question is why Wiki? Well, so that one doesn’t have to go through 10s of e-mails. The thought process is transparent when all the relevant information is on one page and there are no strings attached when a suggestion/idea is just a suggestion/idea without stressing on the source of its origination. Those of you who work amongst diverse functional groups will understand the politics associated and will be able to better appreciate this.