Saturday, April 12, 2008

Shut Up and Listen!

All of us have met people who already know what we are going to say before we say it. May be I should start talking by saying "Shut up and listen!". These are people who try to complete your sentences or guess what you have in mind. Some of it is to show how fast they can understand your point some of it is just this fast moving impatient new world.

The truth of the matter is there are very few people who are real geniuses who get your point in round one. I call them geniuses because they can understand even a poorly articulated point. There in lies the crux of the matter. Most of us can't articulate our point well. This makes it worse when people try to project that they have understood a badly articulated point even before it is made.

Articulation of what you want to say has 4 parts - the context, the key point, the justification or explanation, and the delivery.
  • The context: This is usually required when you are changing the conversation or starting a new one. It is important to set the context before you share your key insight.
  • The key point: This is your punch line. In this fast moving impatient world it is best to get to your point as soon as possible.
  • The justification or explanation: This is for those who don't get your point from the punch line or there are some key insights that led you to arrive at your conclusion.
  • The delivery: This is the most important aspect. You have to think how you can make your point in the least possible time using the least possible words.

Next time you are with someone who won't listen or won't let you finish, just try to tune your style and see if it gets better.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Role of Technology in Media Censorship

Have you ever seen the ads running during prime time? Watching a game or a G rated movie with your kid requires a constant run for the remote to block inappropriate ads. It is the same while watching a funny video on YouTube with unexpected and undesired content flashing all around you. Today you can block access based on channels or specific time slots but that approach is too coarse grained. We need to look at censorship differently.

There are so many ideas, already implemented elsewhere, that can be applied to this problem. Let's take the phone industry. They can measure every phone call down to the second and decide how to bill you based on the package you have bought.

The key to the solution is thinking cohesively about media creation, media distribution and media access. We rate media in a coarse grained way and hence it is impossible to control it at the access point. Imagine the possibility of having a viewer rating preference button on the remote. While watching a sports game with your kid you switch to the G viewership mode. The access point - TV, IPTV on your computer or your mobile wireless device - detects your viewer rating preference and replaces an ad for an R rated movie with an ad for a G rated movie.

The realisation of such a cohesive solution lies in innovation around three areas.
  • Media creation: Create content with adaptable delivery e.g. Being able to watch an R rated movie in G mode and being able to make this decision half way through the movie
  • Media distribution: Increasingly we are moving towards dynamic content and contextual ads. Take into account the user preference for rating of the content.
  • Media access: Enable the user to have the ability to add rating as one of his viewing preferences
As far as technology is concerned, the media industry needs to get out of the singular focus of how to protect & monetize content. Let's get the technology crowd creative and change the way we get entertained.