The social life of powerpoint

A few years before he wrote Blink, Malcolm Gladwell wrote an article about the social life of paper [Gladwell, 2002]. Published in the New Yorker, the article argued that paper enables a certain kind of cognitive thinking and social process. This is because paper has a set of affordances that facilitate such social and cognitive behavior. For example, paper is tangible – we can pick up a document and flip through it at our own pace. Bits of paper can be arranged spatially to mean something (e.g., the piles on my desk). Paper can be annotated. I recognize what Gladwell is saying on a personal level. My desk is full of piles that go away only to make way for other piles.

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Uzanto Open House in Delhi on Dec 1st

Its kind of a last minute thing. Pretty much the entire Uzanto / Slideshare team is together in Delhi right now. As many of you know, that’s out of the ordinary for us. Generally, we are a distributed team based in two continents. Apart from that, its the beginning of the holiday season. The weather is beautiful in Delhi nowadays. And there are many other reasons to get together with friends… So come by for an informal evening of food, drinks and socializing. This will be between 6 and 9 PM at the Uzanto offices in South Delhi. If you read this blog and are in Delhi, then we would love to meet you. If you are involved with the geek scene in Delhi / care about design/usability, then come by. Just add yourself to the wiki so that we know how much food to order.

Google calendar adds public events but does not get social!

Google calendar is one the few recent Google products that I love and use on a regular basis. It gets so many things right for an online calendar right – it lets you coordinate with colleagues, schedule events, check your calendar, anytime anywhere. The interface is efficient, letting one add and edit events easily. I have thought many times how Google calendar could weave a social events system like Upcoming system around it. After all, they have the basic ingredient for a great social system – a strong personal motivation for people to contribute. I tell Google calendar about my events since it helps me keep my life organized. It already knows about many of the events I am planning to go to. It knows about the people I invite to those events or who invite me to theirs. The social hooks already exist. It would be so easy to create a larger social arena around the information in my calendar that I am willing to make public.

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Heading to India and Singapore

I am heading to India on the 21st. I will be in Delhi till the 30th. I will stop in Singapore on the way back for both family and work. I have not been back to India for a year and half, so this trip was long overdue. Apart from catching up with friends and family, I am really looking forward to working on Slideshare with the rest of the team. We have been hiring and I yet to meet (in person) some of our team members, so this will be great. I will be rather busy, but do ping me if you are in Delhi and want to meet up.

Looking forward to enjoying some gorgeous Delhi November weather and eating lots of Indian food!

Who wants to be a cognitive neuroscientist millionaire

A graduate student – named Ogi – studying Cognitive Neuroscience of memory (that the exact description of what I did in graduate school as well) decides to use his understanding of memory to gain an edge in “Who wants to be a millionaire”. The article written in first person explains how memory works in an easy to understand manner. It is also an interesting example of a scientist using their research on themselves and observing themselves in the process.

For his $16,000 question – “Which country first published the inflammatory cartoons of the prophet Mohammed?”, Ogi used priming (to activate memories of a conversation he had with a friend about the issue) and successfully recalled that the country was Denmark.

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