Taste of India

I’m just back from my first visit to India – and it was a quick great whirlwind.

First off – saying “my first visit to India” is only slightly less ridiculous than saying “trip to Africa”. India is a country of 1.2B+ people, 29 states, 7 union territories, 22 “scheduled” (or “official”) languages, and as a result is definitely not a unified experience or place.

I was in Delhi for a few days. Delhi itself is a city of cities (including New Delhi), and is home to ~17M+ people. Specifically, I was staying in Gurgaon, one of the “new” cities within Delhi. I had a few short expeditions into other parts of Delhi as well.

This post is basically to give my family a link to photos with some context, not much more than that. Enjoy it (or don’t) for what it is.

Day 1 (linked to photos) – I arrived, checked into the hotel, had an awesome lunch, and headed to Old Delhi to meet a colleague. We checked out the Jama Masjid (a really cool old Mosque), wandered through a mazy bazar, grabbed a rickshaw (aka “tuk tuk”) and ended the day like colonialists, drinking a gin & tonic at the Imperial Hotel. Some video.

Day 2 – We had some team meetings in the morning, and then a colleague and I headed to get a SIM card for a phone we had to test out various local services. What we had hoped/expected would be a simple task turned into a ridiculous (but fun) little adventure around Gurgaon. Apparently one can’t get a SIM anymore without a passport & local address – neither of which we had. After a lovely time bumping reggaeton in a rickshaw driven by “Jaq” all around Gurgaon (including having to stop to get my photo taken at a photo stall, copy my drivers license, and change a flat tire), we got a SIM which was to become active in a “few days”. Ha. Good times. We retired to the hotel to explore, have a pool side drink, and a team dinner out with some local contacts. Some video.

Day 3 – All day meetings with local contacts – our worst smog day yet – and dinner & drinks with local contacts including a too-sweet-Negroni and a SouthAfricanAmerican beer.

Day 4 – We spent the morning working as a team at the hotel with a few short meetings. Then we headed out for streetfood lunch and tourist time in Hauz Khas, a cool area of town built (in an unplanned, chaotic way) around an old fort / castle / school / tomb. Wild parrots & peacocks & peahens were all around (look closely at the photos you may see one). It was super interesting to be around buildings built in the 1200/1300s and have them just be part of the everyday life of people. Some video.

On Saturday, before I left I got hipped to a great book about India – Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal. I grabbed it at the airport – great plane read on the way home!

Some general notes. We were staying a ridiculously lovely hotel, though at a great price. Hotel had yoga every morning, which I took advantage of – heavy on the breathing & chanting – so a nice change of pace from US ashtanga stuff. The smog was also horrible. Dangerous horrible.

I did a little fun project for Elena, taking one of her little toys on the adventure with me. See that adventure here.

Black & White Grammys

I wasn’t the only one noticing the lack of black faces on stage being given awards, while black faces were the larger number of performers on the evening.

Some coverage of the Grammys that says it better than I can. Starting off with a juicy quote in relation to Kanye up-staging Beck.


Rap is being parceled off and sold for scraps (see: 808 drums in country songs, Iggy Azealia, Macklemore, twerking classes, and the overarching effort to homogenize Hip Hop while demonizing its community of origin) and Rock N’ Roll in its original (read: blackest) form is what we’ve come to call R&B (even though Sam Smith and Adele singing R&B is called “Pop” by labels and radio heads alike).

from Boston.com

And these:





But Beautiful

I’m settling in to read “But Beautiful” again. Alli gave this to me last year for my birthday, I started it (and loved it), but didn’t make it through. Here goes take two, as birthday rolls around again.

Since it is so intimately tied to music, I wanted to listen as well – either as I read, or in between readings. And now since I have motivation to create some Spotify playlists, I thought I’d do so. I am not the first to do this.

This guy (Jason Boog) made a short playlist.

This guy (Thorsten Funke) made a longer playlist, of all the songs mentioned in the book – it’s pretty great.

I am going to make at least 1, maybe 2.

The first is a collaborative playlist so anyone can help me find this stuff – I’m taking the “Select Discography” section of the book and going to try and add as many of the albums that appear there that are also on Spotify. I’m not checking labels, so if some of this stuff is now Public Domain there may be non-original labels getting the spins, but … that’s for my retirement I guess.

The second playlist would be the “best of” that discography, so will, by defintion, be rather personal.

Anyway, a fun project to go along with a great read.

Zoe Keating

Reading the “Music Ally” newsletter today, they had this sad bit at the end:

Something serious, not silly today. We’ve written regularly about musician Zoë Keating’s willingness to talk about her digital income for the benefit of other musicians. Now her husband has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, amid wrangles with the family’s insurance provider over paying for his treatment. She’s taking donations from her website, and we think that if ever there was a moment to show the power of the online crowd, it’s this.
This had me wondering – could we do a “Vulfpeck” for Zoe? What if we coordinated a campaign on Spotify – “Listen to an album a day for Zoe“. This would need to be *in addition* to donations directly to her & her family since payments from Spotify will take longer to get to her.



Accra hack-day & ideation seminar
Thursday – 9th May, 2013, 8am to 4pm
AITI-KACE (Kofi Annan ICT Centre)
Are you a coder or developer for feature phones apps and web apps?
Are you an entrepreneur interested in creating new business models on mobile?
Then we want to hear from you. In association with the Nike Foundation, Vodafone, AITI-KACE and the British Council, HACCRA is a one-day hack day and ideation seminar looking to find the most exciting new ideas that can be built to prototype then production.
The session will include:
Visual prototyping
Powerful ideation techniques
Business model generation
Competitive analysis
Customer profiling
The session is led by Andrew Missingham, a UK-based entrepreneur and management consultant whose clients include Nike Inc. the BBC, Bacardi, the Royal Academy of Arts, UK Music and Sony.
The session will take place at AITI-KACE (Kofi Annan ICT Centre), starting at 8am sharp. Free entry (subject to capacity). Lunch and coffee will be provided.
Vodafone have generously provided prizes for all participants, and a special prize for the most entrepreneurial, innovative contributor BUT HURRY.

Music Services & Facebook

Digital Music News recently published some promo fluff from Facebook about music services on the platform. With a teaser at the top, it is followed by some “statistics” showing how engaged Facebook is with music. Looking through these statistics, I was struck by just how “NON-statisticy” these statements/numbers are – they are essentially a list of positive benefits that music services can get by engaging with a social network that has massive amounts of traffic. They don’t point to anything of substance – they don’t show that Facebook is a good place to engage music fans or artists, they don’t show that usage on the site is anything other than a byproduct of normal social networking.

Only 2 lines interested me in this article:

– Facebook-connected users listen an average of 20% longer than non-connected Facebook users.
– After integrating with Open Graph, found that Facebook-connected users were more than twice as likely to become paying users.
The first – from Songza – shows that there may just be a hint of value in integrating with Facebook – perhaps users of a service will use it more if they are connected to Facebook – perhaps because music is inherently social, so that sharing with friends may cause people to engage longer/deeper with a particular service.
The second – from Spotify – is very interesting because it also shows a real value proposition for music services in terms of engaging with Facebook. If Facebook connected users become paying users at a higher rater, I as a music service would pay very close attention to this trend.
I’m still convinced that Facebook has NOT done a great job at becoming a positive place for artists, or a positive place for people to experience music in a social setting – and these two small nuggets don’t really move me from that position.

News Press v Sports Press

I have been musing in the late night hours of newborn awakedness about many things.
As the election progressed, I kept being reminded that we have become a very insular country, and have stopped getting really good reporting from the rest of the world. We thus don’t always understand what is going on elsewhere, and this lack of understanding certainly contributes to some wacky positioning by candidates vis-a-vis foreign policy.
I am especially reminded of this when I visit other news sites from outside of the US (particularly the BBC & Al-Jazeera). I know that Al-Jazeera has had correspondents on the ground all over the world (including in Northern Mali throughout the rebellion up there).
Our large papers, radio & tv stations / wire services used to have correspondents based in other places around the globe – people who knew what was going on and had local contacts. When stories needed to be told and conveyed with depth & nuance and in a way Americans could understand – that could be done. These people have been brought back stateside, or those positions converted to stringer positions where folks on the ground hustle and sell stories to whatever media outlet wants them.
Contrast this to the explosive growth of sports media. 15 years ago there was not much in the way of sports coverage – certainly not in the way we know it now. Now – our news organizations all send multiple people to major games in many major sports all over the globe – even for sports Americans are not traditionally fond of watching. I’m sure there are probably at least 10-20 reporters for American outlets at major European soccer tournaments.
What does that say about our willingness to be distracted by sport? Are we willing to pay to be distracted, but not pay to be informed? How do we expect to stay ahead of what is going on in the world if we don’t pay professionals to dig out stories and tell them to us in ways that help us better understand the world around us?
Being now in a data frame of mind – I’d love to get real numbers around these things – how many foreign positions existed 5/10/15/20/25/30 years ago? How many new sports journalist positions have been added by US outlets in the past 5/10/15 years? Did this shift happen only in the US – or are other markets affected similarly?