Pain, Pleasure And The New Culture Of Small Bits

The year was 2004, and we used to wait for someone to write in our Orkut scrapbooks. Broadband connections were nowhere nearly as fast as it is today, but we refreshed our scrapbooks every few minutes.  The arrival of each scrapbook entry made us happy. It’s easy to call us losers, but social networking websites met a fundamental human need. There was a time when I used to wake up at 6 to log into my Yahoo mail account. My internet connection was too slow that I couldn’t read mails before 8.  But when I could, I felt happy.

I spent many hours every day in Yahoo chat rooms. The boys in my hostel found this a waste of time. But I was instantly a hit with chicks. I metamorphosed into an online Casanova. Jocks in my college were worried. They said I was cheating. The plain truth is that I wrote well. Always on the lookout for great genes, teen girls didn’t miss this. Nerd is the new man. I felt pleasure when I was flooded with offline messages when I logged into Yahoo Messenger after many days. When I did not see enough of them, I was sad. Such pleasures and disappointments are what the internet and social media are all about. It is easy to call all this trivial. But this is big deal, because social media is our culture. For a nerd, the cost of sending out an instant message isn’t much, when compared to walking up to someone. Through small chunks of text I sent out and took in, I was creating a whole world inside my mind. My understanding of human nature became deeper over a long time.  Read More

My Book List

This is not a list of the best books of 2014, but the books I read, or reread in 2014, and liked.

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Steven Pinker-The Sense Of Style

Alain de Botton-The News: A User’s Manual 

Antonio Damasio-Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain 

Gregory Clark-The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility

James D. Watson-The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA

James D. Watson-Avoid Boring People

H.L. Mencken-A Second Mencken Chrestomathy

H.L. Mencken-Happy Days

Nicholas Wade-A Troublesome Inheritance.

David Livingstone Smith-Why We Lie

David McRaney-You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways Youre Deluding Yourself

George Serban-Lying:Man’s Second Nature

Oliver Sacks-An Anthropologist On Mars

Avi Tuschman-Our Political Nature

Paul Bloom-Just Babies

Paul Bloom-How Pleasure Works

Paul Blumberg-The Predatory Society

Arthur Melzer-Philosophy Between The Lines

Simon Baron-Cohen-The Maladapted Mind: Classic Readings in Evolutionary Psychopathology

Matthew D. Lieberman-Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

Toshio Yamagishi- Evolution, Culture, and the Human Mind

Chris Anderson-Free

Chris Anderson-The Long Tail

Chris Anderson-The Makers

Clay Shirky-Cognitive Surplus

Clay Shirky-Here Comes Everybody

David Weinberger-Everything Is Miscellaneous

David Weinberger-My Hundred Million Dollar Secret

David Weinberger-Too Big To Know

Joy Hendry-An Anthropology of Indirect Communication

Jonathan Glover-Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century

Kishore Mahbubani-Can Asians Think? Understanding the Divide Between East and West

Alexander Luria-The Mind of a Mnemonist

Simon Winchester-The Professor And The Madman

David Agus-A short guide to a long life

David Agus-The End Of Illness

George Orwell-All Art Is Propaganda

Patrick French-The World Is What It IS

Graham Vickers-Chasing Lolita: How Popular Culture Corrupted Nabokov’s Little Girl All Over Again 

Vladimir Nabokov-Pnin

Vladimir Nabokov-Selected Letters

Vladimir Nabokov-Strong Opinions

The Mind And The Conscience

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The Meek Shall Inherit The Earth

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Why Ayn Rand Holds Sway On Indians

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Atlas Shrugged Of The Left?

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Encroachment On The Right To Privacy

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