A new paradigm: Social Investigation through Social Networks

Uncategorized

Disclaimer: This post makes a reference to the death of a young girl in Mumbai. I never knew her but I wish that her soul rests in peace and I really hope her murderer is found and duly punished. However, this post is about the interesting phenomenon of ‘social investigation’ I have observed around this ‘incident’ (if I may call it so).

The Incident:

A 24-year-old Tata Consultancy Services engineer was found dead on Monday morning in a hotel room in Andheri, where she had checked in with a male companion on Saturday.
Koushambi Layek, a systems consultant with TCS, was found dead in room number 202 of Hotel Sun-n-Sheel in Andheri (East) when the hotel staff opened the door with a duplicate key after their repeated calls on the intercom went unanswered. She was found lying on the bed soaked in blood with two bullets wounds.

[Indian Express]

The reaction:
She belonged to a cohort which is very active on Orkut and this incident is being heavily discussed online. Her scrapbook is being filled with messages of peace and condolences and rage for the murderer. Communities have been created to discuss this incident and make sure the message and investigation stays alive until justice is done.

Social Investigation:
Interestingly, her friends have launched a social investigation around this incident. The accused is also active on Orkut. His scrapbook and posts made by him are being actively scanned for pieces of evidence linking him to the crime. They have already found quite some interesting bits of information:
Social Investigation on Orkut
The above post shows how they found the accused individual frantically requesting phone number of another individual which has raised doubts about the potential involvement of someone else. The police too has been actively monitoring these communities to find interesting or implicating evidence.

Remarks:
Can this information be used as hard-evidence? Does this incident highlight how social investigation can possibly help law enforcement in the future? It surely highlights the importance of scanning social networking sites in addition to emails and web-access records to gather evidence. Is it harmful for investigation proceedings and speculations to be publicly available like this? As our lives become more public through these social networking websites, we probably want to reflect on what information about us people may get at in the future and whether we are comfortable having our information available in ways we do not foresee today.

The sanctity of a complete album

Uncategorized

Does having playlists of mp3s in random order mask the “full album” experience that we used to have a not so long time ago? Back in the tape days, I would have complete albums which I would play and get used to – discovering more songs, hearing the artists’ (or music label’s) version of what they value and in what order.

Anyone who has heard albums like “Dark Side of the Moon” by Pink Floyd would probably feel unhappy when they meet people who have only heard an individual song from that album. Unless one has experienced the continuity of the entire album, the heart-beats and voices in between songs, one can not fully appreciate why it was one of the longest running albums of all times (It was on US Billboard Top 200 for 741 weeks).
But today, more and more people are listening to only individual songs. I always felt like an old purist debating the sanctity of the complete album, but I just became aware of how our listening behavior can actually destroy the concept of an album altogether. This gentleman has explained how the science of economics will catch up with our listening experiences.

Maybe individual songs could be priced in such a way that it would be cheaper to download a complete album; that would be one incentive to make people still download all songs from an album. Or maybe people can use one of the subscription services from Yahoo or URGE. [I am working on a comparative review on Yahoo Music Unlimited 2 Go and URGE All Access To Go. I have used them both, but currently am siding with URGE for reasons I will explain in the review]. These services do allow complete album downloads and URGE seems like a savior since it really retains the flavor of the complete album; it even throws in an album review from All Music Guide in the mix.

I sincerely hope the album does not die. But I am not sure if I am simply resisting a good new-age trend or am concerned about the loss of an experience which is too valuable to forgo.

Wikipedia asking for what content should be freed

Uncategorized

Jimmy Wales is asking people to come up with ideas and suggestions about what premium content they would like to be freed up and made available in the public domain if they had the money to do it.

Dream big. Imagine there existed a budget of $100 million to purchase
copyrights to be made available under a free license. What would you
like to see purchased and released under a free license?

Seems very interesting.