late last year, during my early days in punjab, i was nonplussed to find the state is charging a cow cess on electricity. and then, i found the state also charges octroi on power. which nonplussed me some more. and then, i learnt the state is going to start porting its water and sewerage charges onto its power bills as well. which pretty much formatted my brain. the outcome is this story, which seeks to understand why unconnected charges are being added to power bills.
as expected, there is rationality — albeit a demented one — here.
most of the time, this blog is just an online dumping ground for my articles. this article in the guardian has me breaking that pattern.
Even before I went to jail, though, the power of hyperlinks was being curbed. Its biggest enemy was a philosophy that combined two of the most dominant, and most overrated, values of our times: newness and popularity. (Isn’t this embodied these days by the real-world dominance of young celebrities?) That philosophy is the stream. The stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex and secretive algorithms.
so much of this article makes sense to me. i miss the early days of blogging in india. i grouse at this barrage of trivia (and the attention deficit disorder it induces). as a reporter in this internet age, i wonder about these social media algorithms pivoting around, as the piece says, newness and popularity which have left the information my peers and i bring out facing a very unknown social life. how do these articles travel? given that everyone is neck-deep in news/trivia, how much of our stuff gets read?
by the end of the december bike ride, i had decided to slow down. to spend less time on twitter, check email less often, buy fewer books, certainly not rush to buy new books but wait to see if their fame survives even when the hype cycle exhausts itself, to get the brain to spend longer on discrete (and hopefully meatier) thoughts, and — this is connected through the notion of focusing on more real things — learn to carry out more complex repairs on the cycle like trueing its wheels.
at the end of the scroll project, i have to reach some conclusions re the utility of reporting in this age where social media is strong, the public seemingly more inwards-looking and our regulators (who are supposed to give the press its muscle by acting on its reports) decidedly indifferent.
the brain is idly dreaming of a cycling trip at the end of the scroll assignment.
my friend priya passed away last november. since then, the brain has circled back to her repeatedly. in fond, sad remembrance.
For more on her, two links (one and two) and this old image.
wrote this quick and dirty piece after a day trip from jalandhar to pathankot.