I’ll be speaking at Facebook South Asia safety summit in Delhi on Monday.
Right now, I’m in Delhi and preping for my first talk in Pecha Kucha format. It’s simply creating 20 slides of 20 seconds each. Total speaking time of 400 seconds or 6 minutes 40 seconds. Slides should preferrably have images and may be few words. No bullet points.
Brevity and sharpness is real hard work. I thought 400 seconds is easy. I am completely wrong and rudely surprised.
There’s a famous story about Einstein.
When he was requested to do a 10 minute speech he had asked for few days to prepare. The organiser then asked “how much time would you want to prepare if I asked you for a 2 hour speech?”
Einstein had said “if it is a 2 hour speech I can do it right now.”
Brevity and clarity is extreme hard work. I had to keep on removing ideas and thoughts until there was nothing to remove. Some of the ideas were hard to let go. But that is exactly why I have to do it.
As Dileepa Abeysekara said in his workshop,”to be a good editor you have to let go of your darlings.”
I went there primarily because I wanted to personally thank him for the fabulous Sinhala translation he did for ‘chinaman’. Big Fan.
That was a very rare occasion a speaker/moderator got my 120% attention for all 90 minutes he spent with us. I wanted to write one big post about my learnings. But then again I thought some of the insights are worthy of short single blog posts. I will write a few. Here’s the first.
“There’s nothing original”
Yes, there’s nothing original. We think the thoughts crossing our mind or that music note glides out of nowhere is our divine skill. Dileepa says it is not. Everything that we create are a combination of things in our consciousness. Past experiences savoured from our six senses collide to provide something unique ( that we think) , but it is just a combination of some old patterns.
He asked “ Have you ever tasted a cheese popsicle?”
Dileepa: “Cheese popsicle is a novel idea. It may not be palatable. But this new idea is a combination of cheese and popsicle, both of which we know very well.”
He concluded, “ We are not gifts of Gods as we are trained to believe from our childhood. Creativity is a learned journey as we toss and turn through life. What we make of it, and create is what makes us creative.”
The panel had the 2 creators ( Lakmal and Dhamitha), 2 actors ( Thumindu and Yureni) and the official from ITN (Wimal) who made sure Koombiyo got the air time. Wimal has played a major role, because Koombiyo was refused by many parties, because it was not main stream.
They were brutally honest and candid with their responses. They appreciated the complex changes happening in society, attraction of online video streaming services and social media. Everyone could feel their energy resonate inside the dome of the Empire ballroom of Mount Lavinia hotel.
The creators mentioned the fuel for their creativity was never the money or the desire to get it aired on a TV channel. Rather they wanted to do something ultra fun (අපි ආතල් එකට මේක කලේ). Come to think of it, ‘Koombiyo’ is the only Sri Lankan teledrama I watched again and again since ‘Palingu manike’. Fun fact: ‘Palingu Manike’ was created in 1985.
I was particularly impressed with answers the creators gave to the question; “ When will we get to see Season 2?”
Dhamitha said “I don’t think we will do season 2. It is nearly impossible to do a sequel when this much fandom has been popped up. When we did season 1 we had nothing to lose. Back then we were kicked in ass and we could not even stand up. But now, we have everything to lose. If we do not do something better, we will lose all the hype we created.”
Lakmal said “I have to tell you something. I want to do season 2, but this guy ( Dhamitha) pushes me down.” ( Laughter from both)
I think what made ‘koombiyo’ that much entertaining with a script that is almost made in heaven is due to the creative dissonance, the tension the two creators have for almost anything that they say and do. In normal life, we think agreement is better. But I found out from them that healthy argument is what makes something beautiful.
One last thing. The actors were humble and very approachable for the fans to get selfies and to do small talk. We never felt they were celebrities. Their individual brilliance have been collectively driven towards a dream that is “koombiyo”. No wonder they have created ripples in TV and social media.
I would like to see Season 2. But I am ok if they decide not to.
Yesterday I ordered my first Uber Eats. A vege fried rice got delivered in 35 minutes. Very impressive service. What uber and pickme have done to taxis, was not a thing until it was introduced. Now it is the new normal. Uber Eats and Pickme food will change food industry with in 2 years, that we will not be able to think of a colombo with out 30 minute food delivery.
Right now, both are serving a very small area in Colombo. Testing times for both. Burning money for both, I guess. Because Uber eats did not charge me for delivery. Idea is to get more people try the service. These services need thousands of users to make it viable. Scale is the game.
While we customers enjoy the convenience, most of us have no idea what a rough sea this delivery business is. Pizza hut do 30 minute delivery with their own cadre of delivery army. They do pizza hut delivery only. They are fondly called ‘suicide squad’ by taxi drivers, obviously because of the way they drive to deliver with in 30 minutes.
In Uber Eats and Pickme Food, non-employee freelance riders are connecting multiple restaurants to hungry customers. It’s a rougher sea. Tech and People are needed to be in perfect symphony. Customers are getting grumpy and impatient by every passing minute. Welcome to the world of convenience driven by Gig economy.
But this convenience comes at a price. Some issues are now coming in to surface. Majority of Uber and PickMe taxi drivers I drive with are not happy. They do not get many rides as they used to, because there are many vehicles in both services. Price per Km is fixed, even though fuel prices are in the rise ( inflation) .
It’s way too early to tell what will stick and what will not. Is Gig economy the new evil? It is easier to condemn new things as a fad. But Gig economy is here to stay. Can we make it work for betterment of every stakeholder by balancing the benefits?
A brave new wild world is waiting to happen. What do you think?
Yesterday I started helping a friend of mine to recover his facebook account. The process is still on. His account is hacked. The linked email account is hacked too. The hacker is sending messages to his friend list asking for weird things.
This can easily happen to you. There were recent hacks in to many accounts of FB. But hey, it is not just FB, there are multiple breaches every day in many digital services.
In a brainstorming session at a recent workshop, I listened to a banter between two participants. It made me laugh. It was also profound.
A: “It’s a dream you are proposing. It’s impossible. How can we make impossible happen?”
B: ” You mean, you don’t know how to do the impossible?”
A: ” yes, that is why it is called impossible”
B: “well the way to do the impossible is to do it. “
Later in that day I watched “First Man”, the movie about Neil Armstrong. As a kid, when I learnt about Neil, it was just a fact. Neil was the first man on moon. On that day in 1969, 530 million people watched him take the ‘giant leap for mankind.’
The movie shredded my perceptions about landing on moon. I never knew the hardships in many fronts. How Neil struggled at home with sick kids. His daughter died at age two suffering from a malignant brain tumor. Never knew about his wife’s enormous strength and endurance. How he lost 3 of his fellow astronauts from a fire in a testing capsule. Never knew he escaped near death in many a missions. How thousands of NASA team members worked day and night to achieve the impossible, while citizens marched against mega budgets dedicated to moon landing, which could have gone in to pressing needs in America like poverty and racial tension.
It was impossible to go to moon, until that very moment Neil landed on Moon.
The more we run from our fears, the bigger they get. Yet, when we go right in to them, fears evaporate and vanish.
Youtube is flooded with celebrity state tech reviewers. I watch a lot of them. I learn a lot. But there’s a catch.
A new phone comes to market. They rush to do the ‘first-to-do’ unboxing and reviews. I found out all those new giga specs on paper that is celebrated , seldom translate in to durable performance, let’s say after 6 months.
So what we really need to watch is phone reviews after 6 months of usage. To do that, reviewers actually have to use a phone for 6 months. A rarity. There are plenty of reviews from not-celebrity tech enthusiasts. If you are frugal about your spending on phones, and you want good value, those reviews are your life savers.
I am so much happy with Galaxy Note 5, which still serves me well for more than 2 years. How did I make the decision? I watched a ‘Note 5 after 6 months review’ in Youtube, two years ago.