World For All

Saturday, January 08, 2005

eMusic or m(usic)Bay

I had earlier mentioned that I think Music creation/distribution should evolve with the internet. I do not like the current system (where Recording labels control everything and charge a fixed high price!) and p2p sharing of that music (which is piracy/stealing!).

Current system of music distribution - where recording labels spot the artists, get contracts signed with upcoming talent (on their terms in most cases) and then promote them - it involves lot of upfront payment by the recording labels and gives them lots of power and if their selection of artists succeed then lot of profits to them. Current system has comparatively less concern for the music talent (they can pick and chose from the good ones - and not necessarily promote the best if it does not make financial sense!) and even lesser concern for the the music listeners (what other choice do they have if they want to listen to the music - they better pay a lot!).

A twist can be made to the p2p sharing - and it can actually be made even in a for-profit venture. This twist can redefine the way Musicians will get opportunities and make money and music lovers will get much more/better(artistic,variety)/economic music.

The twist is:

1. Provide opportunities to Musicians to distribute their music (not the one coming from Labels!)

2. Listeners can download the Music and using Rating system, they can provide stars/feedback

3. Stars/feedback tracking system will ensure that the good music (in all categories) will get the visibility.

4. Listeners should be encouraged to make small-payments (I am thinking 25 to 50 cents!) for the music that they like. I think that once listeners can see good music on these forums, they will not mind paying small monies for the good music to encourage more of that!

5. Music talent, if fairly compensated by the users, will actually love this sytem where they will have their own freedom and much greater glory!

The more commercial version of this twist will involve establishing recording studios across the country for the emerging artists to help them create their own music at low cost. The more such facilities are available, the more variety and good quality music we will get from the upcoming artists.

This kind of forum can also provide opportunities to the Musicians from across the country to come together and join the forces.


Monday, January 03, 2005

PBS/Nova programs - Origins and The Elegant Universe(Theory of Everything)

Two fascinating PBS/Nova TV programs that I had seen in last few months:

Origins (~4 hours): It tells a lot about the theories regarding Origin of Universe and Earth. One of the most eye-opening thing mentioned is if the life of Planet Earth is considered to be of 24 hours period, then primates (leave alone humans) had appeared in last 15 seconds. Well, if people simply remember this fact when they get angry or when they think that they 'failed' or 'lost', I think they will realise the insignificance of the 'failure' or 'loss'. On the other hand, they should treat life as a journey and enjoy! More details about the 'Origins' are on the PBS/Nova website:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/origins/

Some other amazing pieces of information from 'Origins':

- An important role in protecting Earth from the bombarding of comets and meteors has been done by Jupiter. It is this protection that has enabled life, as we know it, to flourish on Earth. So important is the role of Jupiter, that in search of Aliens, Scientists look for other Solar systems with a Jupiter like planet first!

- Water, more likely than not, has been delivered on Earth from outer space by the comets/meteors that had struck Earth in the early stages!

- In the early stages, Earth was full of toxic and poisonous gases. It is bacteria that worked for most of the existence of Earth to produce Oxygen, etc. enabling other life, as we know it.


The Elegant Universe (String Theory or Theory of Everything) : In the 3-hour program itself, Scientists themselves exclaim - is it Science or Philosophy or that this Theory, if true, then it claims a number of things which better fit Science Fiction right now. One of the fascinating predictions is that we are living in a 11-dimensional universe (though we can see only 3-spatial and one time dimensions). As of now (program itself was recorded in 2003), Scientists are finding it challenging to test and confirm the predictions of the theory. But if confirmed, it will be a giant step in what we know about the Universe. It will do what Einstein wanted to do (One Theory explaining everything!). More details are on

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/

If you haven't seen the programs and are interested, these should be available in Public Libraries. The Elegant Universe is even available online on this PBS/Nova site.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Disaster-relief Volunteer Army (DVA) - Online set-up

I had written about some of the things that can be done earlier. But an equally important component can be an online connected group that can act in much more impactful manner rather than lots of people acting in quick-reaction to the disasters and (probably) not building up on the lessons learnt in the earlier disasters.

Some ideas regarding the online group:

1. There should be an online site bringing volunteers from across the world (every country - every zipcode kind!)

2. No advertising. And absolutely no money should be asked or accepted except by small close group - more of in-kind (server hosting, code dev., spending time developing content during the disaster, etc.) for the web-site - but then people should have the ability to do for each other (example, some volunteers funding the travel of a volunteer who wants to do physically be on-site to help by providing his skills to the affected population).

3. If it can become a world-famous site for the disaster - then volunteers can rush to the site to give/receive info on the disaster - or better still, I believe individuals run better sites/blogs/yahoogroups - but this site can be a good known first stop which provides pointers (I think that this will be better place for both the contributors and the readers!)

4. Over time volunteers can give/receive feedback (ebay style) - so that others can accordingly weigh/filter their suggestions

5. Website itself should be developed on inputs of the large volunteer community and should provide features prioritized by the volunteers

6. Volunteers should be able to provide ideas at the time of the crisis/disaster to best utilize available manpower/resources (Continuous feedback on the ideas (number of stars, etc.) can make sure the best ideas emerge at the top and catch everyone's attention!)

7. Website should provide info. on people missing/looking for (right now, lots of media and lots of blogs are doing it - but ideally one volunteer driven well-known site would be much more helpful)

8. Website can act as medium to bring volunteers together - some, who can give money, and some who can give time and some who can act as local facilitators, etc.

9.This kind of site can empower individuals to do a lot - in their own geographical areas, if required, and elsewhere if they want to.

10.It can provide a good forum to collect the lessons learnt by volunteers and will enable replication of the best relief/volunteer ideas from disaster to disaster.

11.Can help officials to get their point across (probably more than Media does) by effectively communicating to the volunteer forces.

12.Some volunteers can specialize and feel good about providing online coordination!

13.Will provide medium to lots of volunteers to do more in preparation of the relief work rather than actually feeling bad about the situation for few days after a disaster.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Freecycle is very Good! Better than recycle!

I had stumbled upong this sometime ago - concept is simple and yet very very good.

Visit www.freecycle.org to get more details and locate your local freecycle group or start one!

NYT Op-Ed "The Ends of the World as We Know Them"

Good Op-Ed in New York Times (NYT) for the theme 'World For All' - talk about the reasons why societies that were very powerful for some time or long time and then disappeared!

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/01/opinion/01diamond.html

NYT requires registartion (free).


While this NYT Op-Ed has rightly focussed on Environment as one of the main themes, I often think of another unique attribute that has helped US to come to the top in world more than 100 years ago and is keeping it there ever since. While everything US has (large land mass, natural resources, large oceans on two sides, democractic form of government, etc.) has really helped, but the sheer idea of letting immigrants come in from all over the world and give them an equal opportunity to excel and even rise to the very top, if they deserve, is such an unique idea now and in the history, that I think this can help keep US at the top of the world for long long time.

My thinking is that, to use the cliche, only constant thing in the world is 'change'. Different civilizations have been at the top of the world and then replaced by another. The inability of any civilization to remain at the top for ever is a great eye-opener! Why could they not maintain their superiority when they had gained it for once? Most of the times, reason is that while they got the superiority, mostly military power, they did not keep up with the change and there came another civilization with an advancement that overcame the military power of the earlier top civilization.

For US, by letting the best of the people from all over the world come to this country, we are able to create that constant changing force within the country. This constant changing force causes lots of pain for some individuals, mostly for some time, but for the country as a whole, it always ensures that world superiority. I certainly hope that immigrants always continue to be welcomed in ths country even if it means that it may cause some disruption to easy daily life for me or people around me. At the end, I am confident that all of us will come out better off.