Is WhatsApp serious about being the complete messaging platform?

whatsapp

As someone who has recently started using WA on the web after a few months on the mobile, I have become a convert to the WA experience. I was extremely keen to try the WA on the web not because of the novelty factor but going solely by the utility.

What do I mean by that?

a. All said and done, typing is easier on the desktop or laptop as compared to the mobile.  And we can truly leverage this ease by using WA on the web.

b. Further, it is now extremely easy to share something that we have discovered on the web thro WA on the web than on the mobile.

c. Yes, it is a pain to have the phone connected to internet for us to use the WA on the web but for the benefit of instant sync that we get, it is a small price to pay.

d. If you have not tried using WA on the Web yet, here is the way to do it.  Incidentally, it is only available for Android and Chrome browser as of now.

Btw, this post is not about WA on the Web.

I am quite perturbed by the recent updates from this company (possibly on account of it being bought by FB) because it displays confusion and lack of clarity of purpose. Rather than make the messaging experience more compelling and useful, WA is going in a totally different direction ie calling!! Perhaps it has been compelled to do so because of the other players.  So the giant has become a follower!  There are already free options to call like Viber.  So what’s next? Video Calling?

On the contrary, I would have loved WA to focus its energies towards making the messaging experience more fulfilling.

For example, it is a real pain to share a message with a number of individuals on WA.  It doesn’t make any sense to create groups for a one-off communication and if the group members don’t find value in being part of a group, then they will leave it.  There is also a problem of the limitation on the number of members in a group.   WA may argue that we can use the broadcast option but that also is irrelevant when I want to do a one-off share.

A much easier to use option is having a simple interface where I can choose multiple contacts when I click on the forward button as compared to the single contact selection that is available now.

By the way, the same solution would work beautifully as well when I want to copy and paste because currently I can do that for only one contact at a time.

Are Jan Koum and Brian Acton listening?  Or should I pose this question to Zuck?

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Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, e-mails, sms & Life

On a regular basis, we get emails, sms and calls and those of us who are active in the social media, get a barrage of notifications from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to name a few.  Some of these are in response to our own initiatives and some others are on their own. There is nothing we can do about the latter, except perhaps switching off the phone or not opening the email, in which case we needn’t have bought/got into them in the first place.

The real question is: What do we do about these inputs we get from different sources?

We can respond to each one of them as they come in, ignore them totally or deal with them selectively.  What most of us do is the first or the second, depending on our moods, whims and fancies.

  • If we get entangled with these inputs on a constant basis, we sometimes realize that we have wasted a lot of time and effort but continue to do it because we are addicted and conditioned.  How many times have we found ourselves reading an update on FB, then the comments from others, write our own and respond to the responses to our comments?
  • If we ignore them completely, it is akin to cutting ourselves off and that puts off people who are keen to interact with us.  Man is a social animal, so they say and hence there is an element of social interaction that we need to have.
  • The most appropriate option is to selectively respond, depending upon the merits, the relevance and our own priorities.

You might be wondering why I am stating the obvious!  This is an analogy to the root problem of our lives.  Allow me to explain

Neuro-scientists claim that on an average day a human mind deals with 65000 thoughts.  Now where do these thoughts originate from?  They come from everywhere in the cosmos, some as response to our previous thoughts and some on their own, very similar to the emails etc that we saw earlier.

watching

The key question is not whether it is desirable to have such thoughts but how do we respond to them.

 

  •  Unfortunately and unconsciously, we end up mentally  responding to most or all of these thoughts.  In the process, we get entangled in worries, doubts, feelings of anger etc.  It is not that we allow our mind to do so but we have become so habitual that we do not even realize the self-destructive path that we are in.
  • Can we afford to ignore these thoughts altogether?  That’s virtually impossible.
  • So how can we deal powerfully with these myriad of thoughts that reach us every second?  By watching the thoughts as they come and choosing the ones to deal with and ignoring the rest, in a way very similar to selecting the posts, tweets, emails, sms etc to respond.

Watching the thoughts as against following them indiscriminately is also known as Meditation.

So let’s use the powerful weapons of Awareness and Choice to lead a powerful and peaceful life 

Is Twitter dumb or am I missing something?

Twitter

Although i have been on twitter since early 2007 (i did my first tweet on 30th March 2007 and it read “starting the day with a blog on reservations and nz wi match”) I have tweeted only 1300 times in these 6 long years.

Inspired by a post by Neil Patel about building a quality traffic to my blog using twitter in a strategic manner, I recently (in fact yesterday) started following relevant people.  Soon I started getting email notifications about people following me.

twitter (1)

Perhaps i am a bit pampered by FB and LinkedIn which show me if my friends/contacts have accepted my invite!  I expected to get an inkling of people responding to my tweets either as responses or as retweets (the greed getting the better of me) but my twitter interface showed none of it at all.  I had to click on ‘Connect’ and see if there has been some action on new followers, responses or retweets or mentions.  Likewise, I had received some emails about some Direct Messages (DMs in twitter parlance) but there wasn’t a hint of that when i logged into my account.

Is everybody facing this problem or am I doing something wrong?  Is there some setting that I didn’t address and hence those notifications are not getting triggered at all? Or if everybody is having the same experience, how come they have all kept quiet all this while?

Expecting some enlightenment from the twitterati folks!!

How crazier can this get?

I attended a management event recently and exchanged cards with a person seated next to me.  He later wrote to me recalling our meeting at the event and then sent me a request to connect with him on LinkedIn which I accepted.

Today, just after 2 days of getting connected and just on the basis of our brief interaction at the event, this gentleman has endorsed me for 4 skills “Business Development, Management, Marketing and Strategic Partnerships’!!!!!!

linkedinprofile

Should I feel great that I am oozing out all these skills that others can easily and quickly recognize?

I always thought (and still do) that endorsing someone requires personal interaction and thoughtful consideration.

Every time when I am asked by LinkedIn prompt if I think X is good at ‘something’, I reflect on whether I have enough interaction with X to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and unless it is a strong ‘yes’, I do not click on ‘endorse’.

This is worse than ‘likes’ in Facebook.  I only hope that LinkedIn will not look at the number of endorsements of a profile to determine the ranking or listing!! If it does, then emails will fly between contacts asking each other to endorse on a quid pro quo basis.  Perhaps this is even happening as I write!!

Or possibly, LinkedIn will come out with an ad program that will add to the ‘endorsements’ which will in turn upgrade my profile, if it has not done so already!!

 

Everything (well, almost) is in the headline!!

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the intended systematic denigration of Vaishnavism by Actor Kamalhasan and did nothing more than the usual links in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google +.

I was amazed by the large number of views for the post, especially via Twitter where the reader has no visuals to aid him, nor a summary or the starting lines (like the other social media where there is a thumbnail of the image in the post, if one wants to use)

It is not that every tweet of mine about my post has generated these many responses and so I do not have any illusion that it was my tweet that generated so many responses!!

I see it primarily a combination of two things.  One, it was topical because Kamal and his latest film are in the eye of a storm and secondly, the title of the post being ‘Kamal, don’t do this please”.  If I had given the title or the headline “Planned Religious Assault” or  “Is this secular?” or  “Attack on Iyengars”, I may have not attracted the attention of the twitterati enough for them to click on the link and view the post.  Why do I say that?

Because, I wrote a post day-before on the police security in Karnataka for Viswaroopam.  It too was topical but it generated only a miniscule number of views because the title “Why waste valuable resources?” was so inane and insipid.  Perhaps the people who saw the tweet thought it was about Rainwater harvesting or Solar power or zillions of those uninteresting (but possibly important) issues!!

So just because it was topical does not mean that it will attract attention and to do that you need an arresting and catchy title!!

The biiiiiiiiiiiig learning for me, personally is “Invest in the title or the headline as much as in the contents”

headlines

As an aside, to be fair, the contents of the post were not exciting or possibly relevant for the viewers to comment (the usual 4/5) or likes in FB (3) to really make it viral as is evident by 0 ReTweets (RT) or 0 shares in FB.

Thank you folks at twitter for giving this very important lesson for me (and the material for this additional post 🙂 )

4 takeaways from an unexpected traffic

expect

Once a while, I would check my blog for site stats and any comments.

when I did the same today, I was shocked, pleasantly though, when I saw 143 views because in days when I don’t post, the number of views would be between 20 and 40.

And when i looked at the posts that got the maximum views it was a post that I wrote in May 2012 titled “All Words, No Action” and it had 128 views.  It just didn’t make any sense until I saw the source of the traffic.

There were 138 views referred by Search engines of which 128 was for a search phrase “New Year’s Resolutions”.  That particular post was about our unwillingness to stick to the new year resolutions and so there was some connect.

So, what I am taking on from this experience?

a.  We can only do our bit in terms of writing and at best letting the world know about it via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google + etc.  What happens thereafter is totally beyond our control.

b.  The life of a post is as long as it is indexed and shows up.  Just because I wrote a post last year does not mean that it will not have any readership.  In fact, my posts on Sandhyavandanam or Booking Tatkal tickets have regularly and repeatedly got views (including today) even though they are not recent. In fact, the Sandyavandanam post was written in September 2010!!

c. Our own views about our posts may have no correlation with the reception they receive.  For example, I wrote a post on Kannadasan’s immortal lines “Ninaipadhellam Nadandhu Vittal” and I thought it was a fab post that will have a viral effect.  To my dismay, there weren’t many views for that.  Likewise, I thought I will ride on the Kolaveri Di bandwagon with my satirical post “Thalaivari da” and again I was disappointed. This can also be taken as a corollary a as above.

d.  Be prepared for the unexpected, either compliments or brickbats.

 

Facebook & my birthday

facebook

I arrived in this planet many years back on this day (22nd Dec).

My early memories of my birthday gifts were the ones sent regularly by my mother’s uncle Shri S S Sundaram (affectionately called Dehradun Chittappa) which would come in cloth bags sealed with a red substance called ‘arakku’ (in Tamizh).  I also remember getting a tri-cycle from my mother in which I would zip across the home for quite some time.

I would also get my birthday dress (those were treasured moments unlike now when we buy clothes every now & then) and a special cake ordered from a bakery in VM Street, Mylapore, Chennai

I would call a few friends in Lloyds Colony (where I spent my formative years) for a brief cake-cutting function and the day would come to an end after opening all the gifts.

Those moments faded away as the years passed by and the magic of the birthday became dormant.  There would be that pair of shirt and pant which continued but then there was no celebration of sorts.  I would get a card or two by post (I still retain a few as memories of yester years) and the day would pass by without much a fuss.

This year, it was like going back to my childhood.  I cut a plum-cake that my wife and sons bought, wore a new dhoti and a new shirt and got greetings via few phone calls, some sms, couple of emails and many on Facebook.  In fact, Facebook triggered a phone call as well from a dear friend!!

It would be no exaggeration to say that Facebook and other technologies like sms, email etc have brought people closer because they make reaching out so easy and effortless.

The greetings I got on Facebook, for example, were from cousins, friends, ex-colleagues, classmates, professional acquaintances whom I have had the privilege  of knowing at different stages of life.  I have not met many of them for decades but am instantly touched and moved by their warm words and expression of love.

Thank you for making my day! Keep smiling!!

Beware of the Title!!

A lesson I learnt this evening, perhaps the easier way!

This morning, I wrote a post about how I converted the power-cut nuisance in Chennai to my advantage, added a sweet carton and on an impulse gave the title “Tamasoma Jyothir Gamaya’.  I patted myself on the back for the work, published it and shared it as usual in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter besides sending an email to about 6 people.

After that I went out with my mom to look for some suitable gifts for her staff ( a practice that she is following for more than a decade), then dropped my younger son at Pizza corner for his friend’s birthday party and my elder son at his IIT preparation classes.  I returned home and checked the stats of my blog to see the number of people who had read this above post.

I was shocked at the perfect round figure of 0!!  The post did not even figure in the list of posts that were viewed!!  I suspected that the post got deleted somehow but when I checked it was still there as a Virgin Post (Hope Branson doesn’t sue me for abusing his brand!!!)

I was clueless about this total boycott despite being in the social media for more than 12 hours and that too on a saturday!!

I then thought that perhaps the title sounded too Sanskrit, Vedic, Brahminical or Esoteric that it had deterred even the normally curious people from taking a look!!

I swung into action.  Changed the title “An Inconvenience Rightly Considered is …), changed the cartoon to a picture of a power line being cut, deleted the old post in FB and shared the revised post.

Couldn’t hold the suspense for long and so I checked the stats after 20 mins and there I found one view. Nothing great but better than what the previous couldn’t attract in 12 + hours!!

Too early to pass a judgement yet but I have learnt the lesson! I am not a Seth Godin (yet) (who incidentally got away with a ‘one word’ post).

I realized that while the content may be great, it is useless unless someone reads it and that someone sees the title first!!

Besides teaching me a great lesson for life, it has also given me a material to write a post!! What more can I ask for?

An inconvenience rightly considered …

This particular post may resonate more with people in Chennai (not even to rest of TN).  Yeah, I am referring to the scheduled power-cut phenomenon!!

The attitude of most people especially in Chennai towards the 2-hour daily power-cut is one of resistance or resignation.  That seems to be the opening remark of people when they meet or speak to each other and compare notes about which 2 hours is affected in their locality.

Some practical people, specially women, have adapted to it and modified their lives accordingly by scheduling their cooking or washing accordingly.

A few people have decided that they cannot manage even those 2 hours perhaps due to their health conditions and have gone in for an inverter or a generator.

You would know which category you belong to!!

Now all of us  can become ‘enterprising’ and make a huge difference to our lives by just a small shift.  Like I did this morning!!

In this month, November 2012, power-cut happens in my locality between 8 am and 10 am.  I checked my emails and messages just before 8 am and at 8, I was smiling because the next two hours can be a huge blessing without the temptations of internet and TV.  So I started working on a very important project about the future of my business that was pending for quite some time but  was triggered by my meeting with my mentor yesterday.

(Those who work on PCs especially online would know the constant demand on their time by emails, Twitter, Facebook etc, more so related to their work.  And before they know what happened, its lunch time and likewise time to leave the workplace.)

Coming back , I saw this power-cut as a huge opportunity to take on many pending jobs at personal and professional levels that were not getting the ‘time’ thanks to the preoccupation with the various gadgets.  I can also use this period to take on some inner reflection and introspection that I keep putting off.

I did not even notice or feel the lack of air circulation and I was amazed at my productivity and output in the 90 minutes (30 spent in telephonic conversations I could not put off but I am working on that as well either by putting the phone on silent mode or letting know people that I will not take their calls during this period).

New openings became available and ideas flowed as a torrential downpour during this period.  The rest of the day is now a breeze.

I am feeling wow & am now looking forward to 8 am tomorrow (what an idea Sirji!!!)

I saw the inconvenience as a blessing and life is a bliss.

(I am yet to think of a way to transform human lives during the looong 8-12 hours of power-cut elsewhere in the state of TN and hence the disclaimer at the beginning of the post and let us remember that the  power-cut in Chennai is between 8 am and 6 pm which is broad-daylight)

So what do you want to take on today, tomorrow and rest of the period when you face a scheduled power-cut?  Please share for the benefit of others who can now get inspired!!

The Power of Sharing

 

When shared, sorrow reduces and happiness increases!!  


While this has been our experience at many times, we are still not fully expressed in sharing our triumphs and disasters with others.

One reason for the phenomenal success of Facebook is that it provides a platform for people to share their lives with their near and dear ones from the comfort of their homes.  Which is why we find people sharing photos, videos etc of their children or of their vacations and then check for updates and eagerly wait for likes and comments!!

At the same time, most of us are very reluctant to share a personal  breakthrough with others because either it is not big enough even for us or we think that others will scoff at us for being so trivial.  And for us it should be atleast winning an Oscar or a Gold medal at the Olympics to be worthy enough to share!!  Since we demean ourselves and slight our own achievements, we hold ourselves back and that creates a vicious circle.

A friend of mine who is normally shy, took courage in her hands and made a bold request to a client (after a lot of coaching from my end) and to her surprise and shock, he actually accepted her request and did what was required.  While she shared it with her husband, she wasn’t comfortable in sharing it in front of a community that we are part of, wondering “idhu enna periya vishayam?” meaning “What’s great about this?”.  She did not realize that by her sharing, she may inspire someone to take courageous actions and the world will not be the same again.

I experience the same reluctance amongst visitors to my blog who call me and say that the post was good or they didn’t agree with what I have written for such and such reason but wouldn’t put that in the comments.  Adding a comment has two beneficial results: one is that it creates an opportunity to have a conversation and second it can open up something for someone else who has been grappling with a similar challenge or thought.

Our experiences are not physical commodities that would become scarce when we share but on the contrary will enrich us and others!!

Let’s call/meet someone today & share something with that person.

 

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