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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Careers in Social Media

I attended the Careers in Social Media session at the Social Media Week in Bengaluru today. The main reason I went for it was that I am frequently asked by youngsters, what jobs they can hope to get in online media.

Here below are some of the points I gleaned from the talks by the members of the panel and answers they gave to the questions from the audience.

Types of jobs

There are three types: Creative, Communicative, Analytic.
Creative jobs have got to do with design and visual appeal.
Communication refers to textual content.
Analytical jobs are about crunching numbers and analyzing them.

How do you know you will fit into this type of job?

Ask yourself if you have a passion for working on these lines. You should be comfortable with online social media. May be you should intern in one of the companies and check out if the job excites you.

What does the job involve?

It's about managing a company's social media presence. The generic designation is Social Media Manager or Director, who has a team that looks into various aspects of how business is publicized through social media, and how people respond to it.

What qualifications should an aspirant have?

A good knowledge of the domain area. If you are into creating textual content, then you should have good command over the language. A formal degree would no doubt add value; but what will matter is not the degree but how good are you at work.

How big is the demand?

Social media management is still evolving. The requirements of different companies are different. But the fact is that all companies are trying to scale up their social media presence. And, all of them are looking for competent hands. There is lot of opportunity out there. There is a huge demand.

How does one look for jobs?

Make sure you yourself have a good social media presence. Lot of recruitment nowadays take place via LinkedIn and Twitter.
Update your LinkedIn profile, with lot of details of what you do. Use the right key words, so that your profile shows up during search.

How good is the pay?

It's getting better and better. Right now, there are people who have been hired for around Rs 3 lakh. However, pay varies from company to company, and depends on what job you are actually doing. In about 3 years time, Social Media Managers can hope to be on a par with software programmers. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vanishing ballpoint pen refills

You don't get them in most stationery stops.

"That's weird," my friend exclaimed, when I told her about it. "Students still use pens, so you should get it everywhere no?"

Though near the place where I stay, there is a well-known college and a school, the stationery shops there don't sell them.


Lack of replacement refills has led to accumulation of unusable ballpoint pens in my house.

So, today I took them all to the Supreme store near Ulsoor bus stand. The shop is popular as they sell stationery and binding material at very affordable rates.

But, even he has only refills for Reynolds.

I asked my friend's question to the shopkeeper. This is what he said, "When there are cheap use-and-throw pens, no student will bother to go around hunting for refills. And many college students use Gel pens."

These one-time-use ball pens come for as cheap as Rs 3. And if you buy in bulk, you get it cheaper. These may not be stylish, but they are good, and serves the purpose.

So, no surprise it's very difficult to get ballpoint pen refills.

The flip side of use-and-throw pens is environmental degradation. But when did anyone put ecology ahead of convenience?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review - Steve Jobs: an Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs: an Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson is a well-researched life history of a rare icon of the software industry. The author has interviewed hundreds of people -- ranging from Jobs' relatives and friends, to colleagues and competitors -- for this book, and not surprisingly the book has lots of details about Jobs: the person and entrepreneur.

My knowledge of Jobs was all picked up at random from articles on him, especially a surfeit of them that appeared when he passed away four years ago. But nothing to beat this book in terms of the depth of details.

The book is worth reading because of the innumerable anecdotes and quotes that reveal who the real Steve Jobs was.

I found Jobs a paradox. Because, he had traits that were quite conflicting. He had plenty of negative habits in his personality, that we all associate with sure disaster. But probably because of the strength of his positives, Jobs was able to not only get away with all that, but even reach commanding levels of success.

In many ways, Jobs isn't the typical role model. Rarely showered, and had a strange belief that if you are a vegetarian the body kept itself clean. He had erratic food habits -- sometimes he starved himself, sometimes he indulged in a few chosen food which he abandoned altogether later.

He had a fiery and unpredictable temper; and was very bad at managing people. Very often he was curt and rude. He could easily make people dislike him rather than like him. He curtly rejected new ideas for no rhyme or reason, but accepted them later when it came from someone else. Worse, he sometimes appropriated as his own, some ideas of others.

What made him successful in spite of all these, was his sharp focus and determination to achieve his goals. He wanted his creations to be different, and he was obsessed with details, with a sharp eye for design.

He was a shrewd businessman, and knew which side of the bread was buttered. He was fiercely protective of his products which he wanted to look good as much as efficient. He had near contempt for anything other than Apple. He wanted the users of his products to get everything from the Apple ecosystem. He hated to let anyone else in to the Apple Store.

Jobs differed with Microsoft's route of licensing Windows. He also had contempt and strong hatred for Google's philosophy of open source. That in fact laid the groundwork for one of the most intensely fought software battles. The world is divided on those lines: to be open and accessible to everyone, or be protective, exclusive and privileged.

The book also deals at length with Jobs's struggle with cancer. Even while he was losing the battle there was only one thing that brought a sparkle in his eyes: Apple.

Jobs was a completely complex personality. Definitely one of a kind. He knew often he wasn't being fair in the way he was dealing with people but he didn't know any other way to deal with people.

But at the end of it all, he created products that achieved cult status, products that dramatically changed the way people read books, listened to music, communicated with each other.

Isn't that a great legacy?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

AAP landslide victory: random thoughts

Surely even Arvind Kejriwal and AAP supporters never thought they would win all but 3 seats in the Assembly. That's almost 96% of seats. Is that a record for any election in India? Remember, AAP didn't win a single seat in Delhi in the Lok Sabha elections.

This is what the voters said: "Dear Aravind, you asked us to pardon you. We have done that. You said we didn't give you a clear mandate, last time. We have given you that now. Let's see how you deliver on your promises."

Kiran Bedi and BJP leadership in no small way contributed to the party's rout. She was crticising BJP and Modi till a few months ago. She walks in to that same party, heaps platitudes on the party and Modi; and gets anointed as the party's chief ministerial candidate. Huge goof-up by party leadership.

This is not the first time voters have spoken decisively. In 1977, Indira Gandhi was swept out of power, and totally untested Janata Party came to power. When people saw that the alternative simply didn't work out, in the first available chance, in 1980, they voted her back to government.

Another example is the defeat of the urban-centric trio of Atal Behari Vajpayee at the Centre, Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh and S M Krishna in Karnataka in 2004. Anyone following the media -- that was bristling with the India Shining campaign -- would have felt that these three would easily come back. But it was not so.

Even now, the voters have said that they know clearly the difference between Central government and State government. Many, especially the BJP thought that having won the Lok Sabha election, it should be a cakewalk in Delhi. Complacency has done them in.