Jared Diamond and his societal theory

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I recently, actually accidentally, happened to explore Jared Diamond and his theory of societies. I heard about it from more than a couple of friends and the book, Guns, Germs and Steel is the place where i need to end up. 480 pages did not seem to be a big deal compared to the classic unabridged version of ‘War and Peace’ which counts well over 1200+ pages in both the volumes which i have set out to read recently.

Too lazy to actually read the whole thing over a book i touched upon the video version of it and asked youtube. "Can you help ?". The answer has been ‘Yes’. 18 parts of the national geographic version spread over 3 episodes and 4 hrs of effort. Not so time consuming.Actually the theory is quiet old and did not interest me when i saw that the videos were uploaded in Nov 2007 at the beginning. However, i went ahead and started watching it.If you want to do the same thing just follow this link, it definitely will not give you the same impression of the book, however, it works for some of us to get the gist of it and move on.

Jared’s fascinating 30 year research comes down to just one concept, geographically "well-off" lands (natural resources or kind of vegetation) produced more food which went on to feed the population which in turn increased the productivity of the locals. These productivity levels helped them to create new methods that helped them to reach the next level in areas like cultivation, raising cattle, looking for even more alternate sources of food and engineering. He started with New Guinea.

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Most of his theory, ( as per the video ) revolves around Europeans conquering the world and as far as my history knowledge goes they have succeeded in doing so. Conquests happened because of natural resources, unless we are talking about a mad campaign that was originated because of ego clashes. I think his theory is good but it cannot be extrapolated in the world of Trade policies, IMF, World bank etc. International diplomacy plays its role in the modern world. Germs are there still, H1N1 is an example for that.


RFID upgrade for native systems

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I was recently reading a research report from Aberdeen research about RFID and how it can improve the company’s performance in terms of inventory management and hence improve the operation efficiency. Current bar code systems are to be replaced with the RFID systems going forward since they are more efficient in many ways.

1. Information in the barcodes is limited

Lets take a specific example of a new book. The publisher takes an ISBN number for the book and then creates barcodes with that specific 13-digit ISBN number. For example,

Details of Book: The Wealth Of Nations

Book: The Wealth Of Nations
Author: Adam Smith, Alan B. Krueger
ISBN: 0553585975

ISBN-13: 9780553585971, 978-0553585971
Binding: Paperback
Publishing Date: Mar 2003
Publisher: Westland Limited
Edition: New title
Number of Pages: 1264
Language: English

9780553585971, becomes the official search for any thing linked to the book. If you see the supply / inventory management models linked to the book.

               How to Convert an ISBN to Barcode     Buy The Wealth Of Nations, Adam Smith, 0553585975

                  ( Image courtesy : Flipcart.com & eHow.com )

But this model only hold information about a number which they have globally referenced. Places like a electronic store where more information on a particular capacitor is required this system is not valid because it is limited to books. If you have an RFID linked to it you can have more information on the spot.

Information storage : RFID tags > 3D barcodes > 2D barcodes

2. Inventory management is not so easy

In case where there is store manager of a popular chain like big bazaar, at any given time he will have 10,000 to 25,000 items in his store. Thousands are sold each day, lot more are brought in as inventory. In case the systems are integrate using bar code systems, there is a latency to collect up to date information.

3. RFID tags are convenient for tracking purpose

RFID tags can be used for tracking goods that are going in and out of the store. Baggage systems, packing systems etc will have great deal of advantage if they tend to use the RFID’s.

Now coming back to the report, though the report clearly mentions the usage of the RFID tagged systems is the best way forward there are some things which must be taken into consideration.

Educating the staff, bringing in inventory management systems that are based off RFID, process change etc are some of the main action points.

Lets look at the steps one has to take to upgrade the same,

1. Identify the right RFID system for your business.

Depending on the system you are working on, your requirement for an RFID will be different, Container shipments will have different RFID tags and reader requirements than an grocery store. Go for bulk purchase of the RFID tags.

2. Identify if you really want to move from barcodes to RFID’s.

Volatile inventories needs RFID kind of technologies, if you sell vacuum cleaners that are sold 1 in a day, i don’t you need an RFID upgrade on the warfront to implement in the next 3 months. you might as well wait.

3. Identify a RFID solution partner

You will have to upgrade you inventory management etc to take a full fledged move into RFID systems. All your real time decision making systems like SAP or likewise should support such systems. Identify a partner is very important. For example Roll of 15,000 (ALN-9654-FWRW) promises to give 15,000 tags for $1000. They are also reusable in nature. If you are moving 15,000 products in 1 month from your store, $1000 is definitive investment.

4. Make a slow transition

If you go an overhaul on emergency basis your system efficiency can break, first experiment on your low volatile inventory. Items that are sold less frequently. Then move on to the volatile elements of your inventory.


As the research report says you can see that non-RFID/Auto ID systems are showing a clear difference in all operational / productivity respects. As RFID tag prices showing promising decrease in the future, it can be said that Retail, inventory, shipments will slowly move into the RFID based mechanism.

Be advised, there are IP related concerns in the usage of such systems as they have been patented, like METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR RFID INITIATED INTERACTIVE RETAIL MERCHANDISING

With mobile phones and smart card readers hinting to come with this support, the consumer and the merchant seem to have favorable situations with the use of the technology.

Judging on labor and capital

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On a regular basis, producers ( of anything ) are questioned on the method they would adapt to take a decision to meet a particular production target. This is as much true for white collar industries ( like software etc ) and blue collar industries ( like manufacturing etc ). There are two major constrains on which the outcome or your choice of method of production depend.

  • Quantity
  • Cost


Quantity of production is the target to be achieved. Lets take a problem statement of a cotton factory owner who has 100 spinning machines and 150 man power trying to decide a particular quarter produce. The quantity of the production will be decided on supply and demand rules, however there is a target (X) to be achieved in time (t).

Before we jump into any sort of economic analysis, we need to be clear on the system. Some generic items would be as below.

Is there only one quantity i usually produce that make 100 people using 100 spinning machines running constantly for 8 hrs. Productivity is 1 kg cotton per hour.

Total = 8 hrs * 1 * 100 = 800 kg per day.

If my production target is 100,000 kgs this quarter, then the math goes something like this.

100,000 / 800 = 125 day = 4 months 19 days ( including holiday to be as non working ) for final production.

What if i have only 2 months to do the same thing ?

Ans : You have to increase both spinning machines and labor.


Coming to cost, it means that i set my limit on the capital i can invest or i have to spare from various resources ( loans, investors, advance capital from customers etc ).

I have allocated $10,000 for this project and i will have to finish it with the maximum amount of resources.

Isoquant (Quantity) and Isocost (Cost) analysis as i have understood, suffice this research of the companies who are trying to optimize efficiency for production of goods. Actually, my study started with the Theory of the Firm concept and eventually when i started digging deeper i have come to the mathematical models of Isocost and Isoquant which depend upon the production function.


Image courtesy : seattle.edu

If you look at the figure above the curves convex to the origin represent the isoquant lines and the tangent to the curve represents the isocost line. This optimal point is at ‘e’.

You can red more about the what the slope these lines represent and what implications can we draw from the production point of view in the here.

Coming back to production function, in plain terms it can be mentioned as below.

Q = x1 + x2 + x3 …

Q = Total quantity that can be produced

x1, x2, x3 .. are the inputs are the resources that are available to be spared. In the industrial view point the function will be modified to increase efficiency of the system.

Q = min ( x1 + x2 + x3 .. )

Well, i cannot say i have understood completely the concept of capital contribution vs labor contribution. But i can try to derive the conclusions based on my observation.

1. Capital contribution is the input that is required from the investment point of view.

2. Capital contribution involves any technological advancement costs for increasing efficiency.

3. Labor costs are also involved in the capital calculation

As seen the chart above, Q1, Q2 and Q3 are different outputs of production you can expect from a facility depending upon the capital vs labor allocation.

Depending upon the production function of the system under evaluation the implication change drastically.

Newspapers soon to become obselete

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Breaking news Oct 9th, 2025 :

“The government has requested the National Museum of india to collect all the known popular newspapers print publications and officially archive them for generations to come!”

Very much possible. India added 18.18 million mobile subscriptions according to a report from TRAI. Rural broadband is under implementation from BSNL ( i assume they are going to take some time ) and others will soon consider. If you look at the global scenario, in  2009, US newspaper industry was badly hit.  When it went down, it took the classifieds, the advertising, the circulation which is literally all of it, down with it. No part was left. Hence all the news paper publishers concentrating more on revenue models on the internet.

“Total advertising revenues (both print and online) declined 16.6 percent to $37.85 billion, according to the latest figures from the Newspaper Association of America.  That is $7.5 billion less than in 2007.  Print advertising alone declined 17.7.  Classifieds were down 29.7 percent. And even online advertising was down 1.8 percent to $3.1 billion.” – Tech Crunch

There are even more concerns raised. Will journalism take a turn and become something else the world has never seen ? That is a question only a Chief Information Officer or the guardian CEO can answer. The second big question is differentiating in the world of internet. If you ask me if there is a times.com, hindu.com and other news papers have an online version of the website, i will personally choose to use Google News which instead gives me all the news in one shot. There is no way to differentiate. Moreover, it is very hard to say what is the difference between popular-newspaper.com and news.rediff.com in days to come.

It is very likely that everybody blames google, but in the interview the Google CEO mentioned that its company’s core business is  pointing users to the quality content and not making content themselves. While newspapers hold the respectable backend notion of journalism, advertisers are who kept the industry going. Lot of them started moving into internet based advertising models since the news paper industry is going for a radical shift. While the picture is not all that bad, there is still some +ve side to it.

” Likewise, they are more inclined to spend money on what they already pay for, rather than on what they currently get for free.”

Percent of global online consumers who have paid OR would consider paying for various types of content online – Fall 2009
Music 57%
Theatrical movies 57%
Games 51%
Professional produced video (including current television shows) 50%
Magazines 49%
Newspapers 42%
Internet-only news sources 36%
Radio (Music) 32%
Podcasts 28%
Social communities 28%
Radio (News/Talk) 26%
Consumer-generated video 24%
Blogs 20%
Source: The Nielsen Company.  n=27,548

42% of the online paid consumption is still with the newspapers. Online advertising and paid subscription model are the way out. Magazines and news papers are already taking that route. Almost all the newspapers are giving it for a minimal fee though it does not match with the print publication.

While online advertising looks like a promising option, RSS feed readers are a night mare for the newspaper companies. User does not visit the site to monetize the revenue. May be they should put ads in the RSS feed as well.  Lets hope creative destruction pays off in the end and journalism is not disturbed. in times to come 🙂

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Inbound GPS systems – really !!

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I read a new article in NewScientist that they are trying to create new innovations around Inbound navigation systems. While the concept does not seem so attractive it has its own merits. For a usual technologist,, it would look strikingly similar to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or for that matter any of the short range communication systems. I would not deny that.

If i understand it right, it might be something like this, when you are talking about the GPS systems you get the co-ordinates. In the same way, you restrict yourself to a sphere of lets say 10 mts radius and then

Like a lot of fantasy ideas i have seen in the past couple of years, this one also includes bringing lot of players to the table and then convincing each one of them that it would profitable for ‘them’ and then create an end-end product.

Lets take a typical example, how do i use inbound navigational systems in my home ?


As the example seems ironical, how can my refrigerator move over time ? It is in the same place since the last 4 years. Right, your refrigerator is still but you are not. The controller for this GPS systems can be your watch or your mobile phone for example. Then as your watch / mobile phone moves out of the range of the GPS systems, the temperature is kept moderate in the room / refrigerator. If you walk into the perimeter, it will start to make ice.

One more example is that, you can configure your system such that as long as the remote control of the TV is not in 1 meter radius from the TV it is assumed that your watching it. Put the Remote 1 meter closer to it to switch it off. Not a very good use case.

These are couple of examples. It may go well with Stadiums, Theaters, Music Shows, parking lots etc etc.

Making sense of Ad-Sense

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I did not blog in a while, the reason being, i was trying out both the twitter part of the micro-blogging and other tools like that. Trust me, you are limited to express there. At least that is what i thought.I have been exploring a bit of ad-networks and sites lately. Search engine to Ad-Sense was a very big leap.

I was late to learn in depth about these networks. Basically, there are publishers who publish their advertisements. There are networks where they publish them. More and more theories come how to make an advertisement more relevant to the person seeing it. On what criteria should i show this advertisement on this website etc.

Very briefly, A website developer wants to put ads on his website, he embeds the java script code into his site and it automatically gets the ads from the Google servers.

Publishers who use the Google Ad-Sense ( GA ) are also supposed to be selling goods online. At least that was my understanding of a “Vacuum cleaner “ advertisement on the website. They wanted people to buy stuff online.

Is there really a difference between a TV-Advertisement and a Google Ad-Sense Advertisement ? Its not the same. You broadcast a TV advertisement without knowing much about the person watching it. One can know more information about the personal visiting a website by the content on the website he is observing. There is a huge amount of difference.

The google adsense blog is a good place to get more information. Click here !

Here is a video on how to integrate google adsense into your own wordpress blog.

Greenspan & China and the Growth Story

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China is one the hottest economic destinations now, if you see the latest reports it is having a 9% GDP growth and an FDI inflow of $108.3 billion. The mammoth nation is growing too fast. Greenspan had a story to tell here about how china has slowed imparted capitalism into its political system by modifying it a bit !

The growth of nations like China and India which have huge populations have been on the slower side. They seem to have picked up only in the last decade. Investment Freedom, Financial Freedom and Property Rights are way below the average. If you see the turn of things which have had such an impact you need to go all the way back to the origin of the country. China started as a central planning state. Not to mention in such a situation, the market prices and what the market should be supplied with ( not considering the demand into picture ) is all decided by the state. Orders just flow in the hierarchical manner. In the process, the producers have to be in favor with the officials who are in direct contact with the market. And then comes corruption into picture. As the market forces grow stronger, they had to stop influencing the market which they did.

China took the first hit in the 1978 drought which has proven central planning to be less effective and immediate measures were to give the property rights of the farms to the producers. They have realized that property rights are a crucial part of the economy. It generates a monetary inflow by giving the owner a chance to sell the property at a higher prices which in turn generates cash flow and people are also free to borrow money on the property to invest it somewhere else. Imagine a drought has hit and the farmer needs capital for the next season, he is going to lend money on the property. This gives the producer the opportunity to move on. But Marxism says otherwise, state ownership on the property is always a good sign. State virtually holds all property rights which gives control over the producers and production and eventually a central control on the society’s ability to produce wealth. Eventually ownership has been replaced by regulation by economists for a better functionality of socialism.

Deng Xiaoping is the Chinese economic reformer who had a great impact on the Chinese economy for decades. He developed a theory which was known famously as Deng Xiaoping Theory and suggested that Mao Theory ( Marxian thought ) must be modified a bit to uphold the socio-economic conditions in china. He is also clearly against the Liberal state of the markets or free markets in general.

Later china went for major reforms on the currency exchange norms and trade regulations and what we see today is a sensitive balance between the political system and the economic system which they are ready to change if necessary. The Chinese export industry is the probably one of the best in the world. Next to it comes the rest of the similar Asian countries, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea etc. And one more serious problem they have been dealing with is the urbanization leading to decrease in the rural population. When industrial areas are paying better wages, there is no point in depending on the agricultural production which is heavily dependant on the most uncertain thing, weather. This is a problem with other developing nations as well. In such a situation if property rates, government spending and subsidies are not increased over time, there will be bigger problems to deal with in these nations. Chinese rural to urban population is at 1.4 % annually and it has also proven to increase the productivity of china. One more advantage with market economies is the disturbances in the markets are easily adjusted with the variable interest rates, but in china  the central banking system holds the interest rates and only modifies them in case if any disturbance has shown up. Adjusting anything at that point might also be counter productive. Chinese leaders are, i guess are busy thinking about these things as well.

But the problem with china remains as long as the party sticks to its philosophical roots when they are in such a strategic advantage compared to the rest of the world. Almost every one is out matched to its labor power ! Can the party compromise over time to Market Capitalism ? That would a serious change something only time can answer as of today !!!

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