Monday, March 29, 2010


" SixthSense is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information."

- Pranav Mistry, Inventor.

Human beings rely on five senses to live life and survive. To be able to feel textures, taste sweetness, smell freshness, hear laughter and see the beauty that surrounds us are things MasterCard advertisements would describe as priceless. Money can't buy love or happiness but it can buy convenience.

Such convenience comes in the form of technology - a product of our creation and innovation. We have made things cheaper, faster, bigger, and better. Such innovation has changed the way people now live their lives and communicate with each other. Technology has made the world a boarder-less community; transcending distance, time and boundaries. It has brought the world together on the world-wide-web and allowed people from all walks of life to interact and communicate with each other. To share more and learn more.

However, with the sweet there is always the sour. Like many doubled edged swords, Technology also has its ill effects. As connected as it makes people, it also isolates many. We now interact more with our computers, programs, hand-held gadgets, and the internet than we do each other. We SMS instead of call. We e-mail instead of snail-mail. We Skype instead of meeting face-to-face. We blog and make our lives public instead of keeping our personal thoughts private. We now do many things differently that take us away from each other. More walls are created than transcended and people are more disconnected than ever. Alot of Technology has taken us away from the physical world and dulled our senses than once helped man survive.

To solve this dilemma of integrating technology and humanizing it more - Pranav Mistry of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) has created the SixthSense. Say goodbye to all the hardware we so desperately depend on to communicate and entertain ourselves - soon, all you will need is a mini projector and color markers (in techie jargon - visual tracking fiducials) to access the digital world, while still being engaged with your environment. No longer will you need to be confined to your desktop or constantly remember not to lose your phone or laptop to stay connected. With the SixthSense, a gap is bridged and the world at your finger-tips - quite literally.

Such Technology is revolutionary. The digital age is headed towards an era of virtual reality. Innovation and invention will soon be not only for the purposes of convenience but also to engage or enhance one's senses, with a SixthSense. Think Minority Report/The Matrix/007 - movie magic will soon become a reality.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

GLOBALization: The Bad, The Good and The Beautiful.

Globalization is a broad term used to describe an ongoing exchange of ideas, languages and cultures. It is the integration of regions and countries through a network communication and trade spanning the globe.

It is easy for many of us to criticize and condemn, however, it takes twice the effort to compliment and appreciate - blame it on human nature. It is even more so when one is on the losing side with the short end of the stick in hand. The struggle for power that we have seen in volumes of history books and stories passed onto us by our ancestors is and always will be part of the balance of life. What goes up, must come down and where there are rich, there almost always, the poor around the corner. In economic terms, resources are scarce and for the market to work - some must lose out on opportunity costs for there to be a balance of power and for resources to be utilized efficiently and effectively.

There have been numerous articles written and commentaries made on the evils of Globalization. Rallies and protests over the many years have also been held against organizations that promote Globalization like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Both the Pro and Anti sides have valid reason to be fighting the good fight for their ideals. It is true that Globalization fosters economic development and brings in opportunity for many in disadvantaged countries - opportunities that would not have been there had it not been for the opening of trade doors. However, it is also true that with great power comes great responsibility - large multi-national companies (many from the USA) have been largely unregulated and have had the opportunity to exploit local resources for monetary gain and leave these communities to waste after. The debate over good and bad is endless and as with many issues, there will always be differing perspectives and the indifferent.

Personally, i see both sides of the coin and it is a double edge sword. However, i would be a hypocrite to sway against Globalization. It affects so many aspects of our everyday lives, much of the time unknowingly. From the things we use to the media influencing us and our culture. It has undoubtedly changed the fabric of society throughout history and is increasingly doing so through improvements in technology and communication. The internet has made it possible to connect and stay connected to people all around the world. Such accessibility and convenience has done more good than bad if one thinks about it. Much of the world's progress can be attributed to Globalization. The proliferation of media has made human beings more knowledgeable and aware of themselves and their surroundings. People have become more cultured and open minded to each others differences as we learn about the ways of the world. It has made the human race more civilized and free from ignorance. As the world, societies, economies and cultures progress and develop - so do individuals. This change empowers people to do more with the world and within their lives as they gain more control.

To imagine a world isolated and protected from the outside is a romantic notion. Unfortunately, as human beings, it is in our nature to be inquisitive. We will always wonder of whats out there and if the grass is really greener on the other side of the fence. This constant search for meaning and thirst for knowledge is insatiable and is in essence the reason why Globalization started in the first place. No man is an island and therefore seeks connection to survive and flourish. This is everyone's right. Maybe this is the answer to World Peace. Maybe it is just pure capitalistic propaganda to take over the world. Whatever it is, i am grateful for it as it has made the world my oyster to discover.

If it wasn't for Globalization, i wouldn't be sitting here in Singapore after growing up in the Philippines and studying in the International School system despite being born in Taiwan - i am a product of Globalization.

Friday, February 26, 2010

500 days of like, love and heartache.

"Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't."
"This is not a love story. This is a story about love."

Boy that falls in love: Tom Hasen
Girl that doesn't: Summer Finn

Written in narrative form, Tom Hansen reminisces back onto the 500 day relationship he had with Summer Finn- the story is told in a non-chronological order - as we typically remember fragmented memories of the past in random flashbacks.

Tom Hasen is your typical average romantic joe from New Jersey. Summer Finn on the other hand is your cynical girl next door from Michigan. At the greeting card company where they work in LA, Tom meets Summer and falls in love with her. Summer on the other hand is someone that does not believe in relationships or boyfriends. Inevitably, the stars align and they become more that just friends. Summer still insists that she does not believe in Love. After 290 days, Tom and Summer break up after they watch a film, which Tom thinks shows true love. Summer quits her job at the greeting card company and falls into a deep depression as he wallows in self-pity insisting that summer was the 'one' for him. Eventually, after living off alcohol and junk-food, Tom quits his job. After a number of random encounters post-break-up, Tom and Summer finally meet again to talk on day 488 at their favorite spot in the city. Despite not understanding her completely, he finally reaches a point of acceptance and moves on with his life. 12 days later, he meets another girl, named Autumn.

In this coming-of-age story, we see Tom and Summer's relationship progression through the days, weeks and months. We see him being drawn to her in their first encounter in the lift as they find common ground with the same taste in music - an attitudinal similarity between the two in preferences. Despite Summer's cynicism towards love and relationships, destiny brings them together as their proximity from each other at work provided more opportunity for interaction. They enter a stage of self-disclosure and find out more about each other. Conflict arises as their different views on love put a strain on things. They break up and Tom goes into denial and depression.

Some people say it takes 'half the time you were with someone, to get over someone' - not. The act of 'getting over' is one of those things that is easier said than done. When someone is heartbroken, it consumes that person and debilitates them mentally, physically and emotionally. They become paralyzed and as described - broken. The path to acceptance for some, is a social process in which they seek advice and consolation within their social network. For others it is an internal process of 'Grave-dressing' as they try to figure out 'what went wrong' to find closure.

When tragedy strikes when you least expect it to, it is human nature to cling onto whatever you can salvage. This makes it very hard for someone to 'move-on' in their lives without reason. Time frames vary to the degree of the relationship and the ability of the person to rationalize and be objective. Tom, eventually finds closure and happiness again within himself. This opens him up again to the other possibilities of connecting and loving someone else, other than Summer.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Knowledge vs. Communication? - is POWER.

Question Of The Day: 'Knowledge is Power' - or is Communication more powerful? How close is the relationship between acts of communication and power?

It is one thing to be knowledgeable and well versed in a specific field, but another level to be able to communicate such knowledge effectively. The power to influence and persuade comes through being able to speak, write and express oneself through some sort of medium eloquently. To be able to articulate ones ideas clearly, in its simplest way possible for all to understand. The key to persuasion is in the details, the simple ones.

Generally, people are more receptive to things that are significant to them that they can relate to - no one likes to be bombarded with incomprehensible jargon or the complexities of things alien to them. Adding a bit of color to the black and white makes things just that much more interesting to capture people's attention - in their hearts and minds. This is when charisma comes into play.

Charisma is something that can be nurtured but most of the time, comes naturally to a select few. Rooted from the Greek word 'kharisma', which literally means 'gift or favored by the divine/Gods'. Charisma is the magnet that draws people in. It is the 'spark' that ignites passion and fervent devotion or loyalty of others. Simply put, it is Prince Charming's kiss that wakes sleeping beauty up from her slumber to bring her back to life.

Many great leaders all have one thing in common - they are all 'blessed' with this ability. Leading not only through example but also through 'charming' the public with their words and being. They have the ability to be detached and attached on a personal level to almost anyone, at the same time. Somewhat of an oxymoron if you may or walking contradictions of detailed-simplicities.

Arguably, one of the most influential writers of all time that embodies such talent is Paulo Coelho (see photo on top). The world renowned Brazilian author of 'The Alchemist'. A book that has sold over 65 million copies worldwide making it one of the most best-selling books in history. Translated into more than 67 languages, the book found its place in the Guiness Book of Records for being the most translated book by a living author. In 2007, Coelho was named a 'messenger of peace' to the United Nations.

His chosen medium - prose. Sometimes philosphical, other times just mere common sense. Paulo Coelho's magic lies in a mystical world of story-telling.

His writing heavily influenced by his background, culture and life experience. He writes about the harsh realities of life, the beautiful mess we all live in. Of the pain, suffering, joy, happiness, chaos and peace we all experience, only to vary in degree and circumstance. But the emotions are all the same in essence. This is how he connects with readers and 'charms' them in with his words. Relating with readers on such a level gives them a sense of affiliation to his stories. Helping them understand themselves better on a deeper level and rationalize their thoughts, fears and emotions. Through his powerful prose, he reaches out and touches many lives, both young and old.

Answer: Without effective communication - the magic of Prince Charming's kiss and some color sprinkled onto the black and white, Knowledge IS Power-less.


Friday, January 15, 2010

| TIME | Haiti's Earthquake Destruction. [Note: Contains Graphic Images]

Haiti's Earthquake Destruction: TIME Exclusive Photographs

'To see IS to believe' and another way to communicate, visually. As an aspiring photojournalist, i believe in the power of photography. A frozen still moment in time has the ability to capture imagination and convey and evoke an array of emotions through the simple use of composition, color and light. Through pure rhetoric and imagination, one is contained within the limits of their minds and comprehension of language. However a photo is a universal language that transcends all boundaries of culture and language.

One might suggest that a photo can also tell a lie through skillful manipulation. However, it can also reveal the raw and harsh realities in its coldest and bloodiest form. Cliches are cliches because they speak the truth and as the cliche goes, 'Pictures speak a thousand words'. As the framed shot stands frozen on its own, it, like all forms of communication, stand the test of one's prejudice and perception as we try to comprehend the context and put meaning to the visual message presented.

In TIME's exclusive photographs of Haiti's Earthquake Destruction, one need not know facts or statistics to understand the extent of damage caused by Mother Nature's wrath. Through this short photo essay which combines gut wrenching and bone chilling photographs with brief sentences on its context, a complete picture and more is given to the audience, all around the world. It is not only a powerful tool but highly effective as well. When tragedy hits our neighbors, one can only imagine the grim reality that comes with it and we can only sympathize so much. To hear on the radio and read in the newspapers of the grief and sadness in a surviving Haitian's eyes versus seeing those eyes through our own affects us very differently. Recognizing pain and suffering versus reading and hearing of it brings a different sense of consciousness to one's being.

The emotions then become more palpable and poignant in our imagination and hearts. When news initially broke of this disaster, the world's attention was still scattered and engaged by the many focused distractions around. However, the world stopped in its tracks when this hair raising photo of a Haitian woman stuck in the rubble reaching out for help was shown.

The shock and disbelief in her eyes in seeing the destruction and death around her, numbs her from her own physical pain and suffering. Within a matter of minutes of the earthquake, just as fast as it came and gone, her life crumbled onto her, losing the little she had to hold on to in a country plagued with suffering and hardship. These photos give us a taste of hell on earth.