Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why I can't replace paper ?

I read a lot. I try to find every ounce of time that I can squeeze from my schedule to read. Reading definitely does not mean, carrying a book everywhere, but finding every opportunity to go over a written piece of online and offline text. This means a greater challenge for me to find out the items worth spending time reading on. So I necessarily divide a part of my day into finding things to read and then going over it as I get time. 

Ever since I bought the Amazon Kindle, the graphite version of the stellar product back in mid-2010, its been a part of some of my reading time if not all. 6 months into Kindle, and I was still finding myself going over a shiny new printed paper. Find me in a bookstore, and I am hypnotized to get my hands on to the written text. Reading a PDF in the Kindle was always a pain. I still email most of the PDFs I wanted to read in my free time to my free kindle email address. Kindle has been a quite member of my reading journey since last 3 years. And I still see myself buying a lot of printed books, with some contribution of the easy-to-order online stores promising me 1 - 2 day delivery with good discounts. Then came the iPad, third of their iteration in the apple value chain. iPad with retina display promised me the world of color texts, something I missed in my graphite kindle but was not interested to move on to the Kindle HD. I again found myself syncing PDFs of text, book purchases through the Kindle app and DropBox account with the iPad. Yes, its a disruption. But do I still need Paper. Hell Yeah. 
I believe the advances in electronic displays and online publishing has definitely created a dent in the printed text industry. It mirrored the fine nuances of a printed paper, but the feel of holding a book, with the smell of the printed pages is a costly proposition for digital technology. If reading was all about going over a written text, the current state of the art would have been enough. 
I believe we need a hybrid shot at this. A system that allows us the impression of holding a book (and not a library of them) at one time. Similar to what we do now. We need the accessibility, Search and portability of electronic displays and online text, but with the ability of making a real world bookmark, highlighting and marking the written text for notes, and the feel of holding a paper. 
Is it merely a part of the old experience that we crave for or is this a marriage of the real with the virtual world ?
The onset of technologies like Microsoft Kinect with its multi-point Camera, Leap Motion device, feedback touch interaction that can be mashed up to create such an experience. And if this all can be packaged as one small device, well, not sure if it would create the same buzz the same as Google Glass these days.
Paper is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Interactions would evolve and create a hybrid form of human-machine contact. A contact which is human, and yet in its functionality transcends the current limitations of the earlier interaction.

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Monday, February 04, 2013

One Question to rule them all

Lately I have been interviewing, especially people with technical skills. One question that lingered in my mind for sometime is that of "the" question which would help me get the maximum out of an interview. How about one "big" question, that provides me all the layers of the candidate. It's like an elevator pitch version of interview question.

Out of all the questions I iterated through, I found one. One elegant question. One question to rule them all ;-)

Question - What are three things in your career till now you are proud of ?

Why I believe this is the elegant question :-

1. It proves that the candidate works for purpose

2. It proves the candidate is ambitious, risk taker and values his / her contribution

3. She / he cares for the work

4. Being proud of one's career highlights does not just translate to achievements or successes. It could manifest into learning points, experiences, impacts and influences.

5. The candidate thinks 

6. The candidate is upbeat, optimistic and reflects on the learnings of past.

I think this will be my question of choice in any interview - be it hiring for tech guys, managers, security guards, chefs etc.

What is your question of choice ?