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Showing posts from December, 2010

Connectonomics & the Human Mind

Understanding Behaviour requires an understanding of how the mind works. The wellspring of exhibited behaviour or even exhibited personality has much to do with both your genes and your social conditioning. Its the interplay of Freudian and Neo-Freudian theory, combined.Scientists are now trying to build a complete map of the human mind by deciphering the gene and social conditioning. The field, at a very nascent stage, is called connectomics, and the neuroscientists pursuing it compare their work to early efforts in genetics. What they are doing, these scientists say, is akin to trying to crack the human genome — only this time around, they want to find how memories, personality traits and skills are stored. They want to find a connectome, or the mental makeup of a person. Wow.Read more about 'Connectonomics'here.

The Doctorate Downside

For someone who is currently at his Doctoral studies (that's me), this comes as a downer.

'PhD graduates do at least earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree. A study in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management by Bernard Casey shows that British men with a bachelor’s degree earn 14% more than those who could have gone to university but chose not to. The earnings premium for a PhD is 26%. But the premium for a master’s degree, which can be accomplished in as little as one year, is almost as high, at 23%. In some subjects the premium for a PhD vanishes entirely. PhDs in maths and computing, social sciences and languages earn no more than those with master’s degrees. The premium for a PhD is actually smaller than for a master’s degree in engineering and technology, architecture and education. Only in medicine, other sciences, and business and financial studies is it high enough to be worthwhile. Over all subjects, a PhD commands only a 3% premium over a master’s…

The Herd & Wave in Stocks & Goods

Bob Prechter's reasoning behind the Wave Principle makes good sense. Before I state my comments, a quick take on the 'Needs vs. Desires' distinction as applied to goods and services vis-a-vs stocks. Responding to basic needs is primal. And such responses are tagged 'basic' need-responses. Anything beyond what is a primal need brings with it an element of 'desire', of course in varying quantums. At times even basic need responses are desire driven responses. For example, food's a basic need. Yet blowing up a lot of bucks over a meal at a Michelin star restaurant takes the hunger response beyond the realm of primal into one of desire. So the 'desire' phenomenon isn't restricted to stocks. It operates in goods and services territory, even 'basic' goods.Coming to stocks, bounded rationality rules. To the average retail investor, what's 'known' about the stock business is minimal. And therefore its natural that what's not …

Internet catches up with TV

NY Times: Americans are now spending as much time using the Internet as they are watching television, and the amount of time people spend on the Internet has increased 121 percent over the last five years, according to a survey published Monday by Forrester Research.

While people younger than 30 years old have spent more time with the Internet than television for several years, Forrester’s survey shows that this is the first year that people in older age groups are also doing so. The amount of time spent on the Internet for personal uses tails off among older groups, ranging from about 12 hours for adults under 30 to about eight hours for people over 66 years old.

Say Tata, Bye Bye to Rajeev

Do I think its a good idea for RatanTata to have responded to RajeevChandresekhar in the manner he did? No. Why? Because the latter jumped at the opportunity to respond back by saying RatanTata's trying to make it personal. Which of course isn't true, but the larger public won't ever know because they won't ever read RatanTata's14 page response that includes Rajeev's 2002 fax, and Ratan's response to that. Currently in the eyes of the public, it seems like a personal spat's on between two corporate guys. The media too is playing it that way.

Now what should Tata then have done, or do?

Before I give my recommendation let me state what I feel about the Tata Group. I don't think India has seen or will see a more ethical and principled business group as the Tatas. They have done more for India than any other business group. They have done it sans an eye on publicity which is what most other businesses seek. As Aakar puts it, 'This is not CSR (corporat…

The lesson most marketers won't learn

The video above teaches marketers lessons they may find very difficult to learn. Especially the biggies who fork out millions to do commercials no one wants to, or watches on TV.The first one's about the power of surprises. Everyone loves it, won't ever forget it. Two, its about how ubiquitous social media is. Use it well and you get results no other media can promise. Three, and most importantly, its about how marketing messages travel better and faster if the propagator is the consumer.The video above was sent to me by my brother. I've watched it, twice now, and Alphy too. Boy, did we grin through the whole of it! Oh, and yes, we now know AlphabetPhotography. And if you're reading this, you'll know too. :)

Stupidity, Arrogance, or both?

Either its plain stupidity or brazen arrogance. Or maybe even both.

Let me explain. The other day I take my Chevy Optra for a service. They tell me it'll take a day and a half. I am all right with that. But the next day, it turns out it'll take more time than what was stated. What am I forced to do? Wait till the service is complete. The wait proves quite long, plus it turns out to be no good. The car supposed to be washed lies in wait. I can't wait any longer, so take the car away sans the wash. But then I realise I was better off than a few others. For while waiting for my car, I overhear two other customers bemoaning the lack of spares at the center. One of them is hopping mad. He's spent 15+ lakh on an SUV. And in return a hitch in his vehicle gets him to visit the service center numerous times. Plus those visits don't do either him or his vehicle any good. Amidst all this drama, guess what takes the cake? The service center guys telling customers, 'don'…

Trust has hit the bottom

What did I say? Shutting up's better? You bet.

Web reactions to Barkha's bluster on TV show most are unimpressed. This is what a viewer had to say (WSJ Blog), “BarkhaDutt’s response was not convincing at all. I will have serious doubts about her judgment calls in all her programs from here on. Also, you can’t shout down a point against you as Barkha tried to do. Moreover I did not see any evidence of a smear campaign against Barkha. Behaving as if you have been injured in an unfair battle would not get Barkha out of this.”

The larger fallout to Barkha and Vir on the tapes? A further breeding of distrust that I had talked about in my earlier post. A Mail Today Trust survey reveals that journos have hit the barrel bottom when it comes to trust perceptions. Here are the results -

The 'lowly' scribes

•Two- thirds of the 375 respondents believe journalists linked to scams must quit and submit themselves to an inquiry.
•Only 25 per cent say they will trust the journalists named i…

Shutting up of Shooting off?

Right to privacy, a fundamental right? Absolutely!

But what about racing to the apex court to have conversation laden tapes barred? Terrible PR, I must say! Why did Tata then do it? Simple. The act wasn't just about suppressing two people's conversation from hitting the public space, it was, and is about trying to protect the image of a business group that millions including me have deeply admired over years.

Now what about Barkha Dutt losing her cool and acting smug with a superbly combative Manu Joseph? Simple, its again an erosion of image that she was trying to limit. Terribly though, I must say. And finally, what about Vir Singhvi blubbering a 'sorry' on TV? Same story, another setting. The poor guy was doing his best to keep an image intact. Lousy try is my verdict.

Its natural that we all try and protect an erosion to our personal equities. Brands do that too. But the problem is when our attempts make it worse for us. Far from salvaging our images, it further deepe…

It twinkles & it matters

It's one thing to say a product's packed with a lot of features and another to have those features either matter to consumers, or help in differentiating the brand. I suspect that's why there's acute brand switching when it comes to smart phones in India.

Features or functional characteristics aren't good enough to differentiate and earn brand loyalty. Instead what's commonplace is what what all marketers loathe, 'commoditisation of brands'. Features, easily copied aren't enough to sustain and hold consumer interest long enough to term it loyalty.

What's the way out? Segment, target better, and achieve psychological connects with consumers. Case in point for the former? MicromaxBling Q55 with its Swarowski elements and its target women consumers(though currently its run into trouble with Bling).

The latter? Apple, of course! Data Chart: Gartner/B&E