Friday, December 08, 2006
Open Source at 90 MPH.
A new extension to the "openness" idea. Interestingly, when I was visiting universities during my job search, Dr. Roger Calontone at Michigan State made a very intriguing comment on the notion of what's really "open". Given that the "openness" comes from the sharing of IP, he said, we could actually break down any tangible product into bits and pieces that constitute the core IP. The openness logic that seems so obvious in software product development becomes very obvious even in traditional product settings when we reconceptualize the notion of "openness" at a more subliminal IP layer and not the product layer.
This is similar to Dr. Richard Dawkins' notion of the Selfish Gene. It is not about the species or the organism, but it is about the "gene". Simialrly, for openness, it is not the product, but the underlying idea or concept.
For instance, today I answered the phone in the afternoon and a very Indian voice greeted me and introduced himself as Mr. Brian Smith from Chase Bank. He was trying to urge me to sign up for the credit protector service from Chase. What's funny is that I can hear so much noise in the background, so typical of an Indian call-center (I have visited one of these, and I can relate the background and settings). I could hear Indian languages being spoken, while our Mr. Smith went on with his speel. The best feature of the call is that the guy never even asked me if I am interested in the service. I let him go on for a while and then rejected the gracious offer which tried to strip me off 8 dollars a month (with a guarantee that they will protect me upto 25,000 USD if I were to die or lose my limbs :)).
I am not trying to make mockery of the thousands who get employment in the call-center industry. However, what I think funny is that Chase believes that its customers would listen if the rep had an anglicized name and a put-on accent. What's to hide? Let your customers know that it is Mr. Ritesh Gupta calling and that if Gupta calls, on the whole the costs for Chase go down, thereby allowing it to focus more on what it is good at devising financial offerings, rather than focusing on making phone calls to manage service.
I don't want a Gupta masquerading as Smith. Either I want a Smith or a Gupta. Period.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
BBC NEWS | Business | US drops plan to open up airlines
The overwhelming need of the US customers to have better choice, service and lower prices (aim of the free market), is apparently being run-over by the societal need for greater security. Institutions at work ... illustrating the importance of grossly neglected view of economic sociology.
The Rational Fool: Caste = ex
Monday, December 04, 2006
I came across an interesting reference in Amartya Sen's "The Argumentative Indian". In a broad argument that stresses upon the indian pluralistic tradition, Dr. Sen discusses the heterodoxy in religious thought in ancient India. He refers to an interesting conversation taken from the indian epic of Ramayana, between Lord Rama and Javali. Javali is a sage who gets considerable attention in the epic as a worldly wise man with an atheistic view towards life. I am citing from Dr. Sen's book -
[T]the adherents of Hindu politics -- especially those who are given to vandalizing places of worship of other religions -- may take Rama to be divine, but in much of the Ramayana, Rama is treated primarily as a hero -- a great 'epic hero' -- with many good qualities and some weaknesses, including a tendency to harbour suspicions about his wife Sita's faithfulness. A pundit who gets considerable space in the Ramayana, called Javali, not only does not treat Rama as God, he calls his actions 'foolish' ('especially for', as Javali puts it, 'an intelligent and wise man'). Before he is persuaded to withdraw his allegations, Javali gets time enough in the Ramayana to explain in detail that 'there is no after-world, nor any religious practice for attaining that', and that 'the injunctions about the worship of gods, sacrifice, gifts and penance have been laid down in the sastras by clever people just to rule over [other] people.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Popkowski-Leszczyc, Peter < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Dec 2, 2006 7:51 PM
Subject: [Marketing Society] The passing of a legend - Professor Frank M. Bass, 1926-2006
It is with great sadness that we report to you the news that Frank. M. Bass, the Eugene McDermott Chair at the University of Texas at Dallas has passed away on December 1, 2006. Frank has been one of the founders of our field and his list of accomplishments is long. He has received many major awards, including a nomination for the Nobel price. He will in particular be remembered for his papers, especially the Bass model, published in Management Science, which has about 600 citations and is the 5th most cited article in the journal's history. He will also be remembered for the supervision of close to 60 Ph.D. students, many of whom are established researchers in the field of marketing.
His wife Portia Bass has provided information concerning Frank's funeral arrangements on his website at: http://frankbass.org/fmb/fmb.aspx (an obituary will be posted soon). A request has been made to not send any flowers; instead it was Frank's wish that contributions are made to the Frank M. Bass Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas http://som.utdallas.edu/bass/ ).
He was our friend, colleague and mentor and he will be missed a lot,
Peter T.L. Popkowski Leszczyc
And the other 50+ Bass students
Peter T.L. Popkowski Leszczyc, Ph.D.
and Ashutosh Joglekar's rebuttal here.
My thoughts -
The pro-free market advocates (some) confound the necessary intervention of institutions created by political governance mechanisms with anti-free market forces. What they don't realize is that institutions that oversee the so-called "free markets" are not self-evolving structures, but are entities, often created by political and economic interests, to safeguard the interests of society in general. Free market forces cannot operate in the absence of such institutions and their presence cannot and should not be confounded with the absence of true "free-market forces".
Ashutosh's point in his rebuttal here is valid that " What distinguishes free markets is that they give incentives to every person in their purview to gain that purchasing power. That is really the nature of the free market soul."
But, what he really misses is that this true soul does not come about itself - but is in fact erected by the institutional forces which are often not part of this true free-market but are structures erected by non-economic interests such as the government for instance to oversee the free-market.
Left to itself, free markets are not going to solve the world's social or political problems. It would not be prudent to think that an economic solution would somehow solve these interrelated problems, by merely blowing the free-market horn.