Social Trust Based Transactions in Tanzania

General

  
These are keys to my Lexus 4WD and my 3 bedroom apartment with a view of Mt Meru. I haven’t signed any papers so far. And hardly fronted any money.

CAR 

  • 8am – I text a guy that rents out cars.
  • 10am – he shows up at my door, hands me the keys and leaves. I ask, when do I pay? He says you can pay me later.
  • 5pm – I grab $$ from an ATM and pay him, along with a copy of my passport.
  • Done.

HOME

  • 5pm I stop by to take a look at a house (along with many others)
  • 8am (next day) I decide that’s the one I want
  • 4pm I show up with my stuff and am handed a key to a just cleaned house. When do I pay you? He says: today I’m busy. Tomorrow I am going somewhere. How about the day after?
  • So I will pay him in 2 days.

In Tanzania, trust is important. Relationships matter. The system doesn’t require you to distrust each other. Social reputation systems, and people’s reliance on them, remove the friction (and extra cost) associated with doing things more formally.
Western systems, however, are more universal. Not relying as much on social systems means there’s less biase, better exception handling and more scale.
As technology-mediated reputation systems get better, successfully avoiding all their traps and pitfalls, we can expect more Tanzania style personal, human service at western style scale and access.

Thoughts on the Trayvon Martin case

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Please listen to this audio clip before you continue.

This is a picture of a glacier on Mt. Kilimanjaro which I took when I was there last year. It clearly shows that the glaciers have shrunk in the past years. I believe climate change is real. I believe at a minimum some amount of it caused by humans. The popular documentary “The inconvenient Truth” uses Kilimanjaro as a poster example of climate change. Makes sense? Unfortunately that is bull shit. Scientists have shown that the shrinking glaciers on Kilimanjaro have nothing to do with climate change. Even though climate change is real, Kilimanjaro is a bad example because it doesn’t apply here.

Kilimanjaro glaciers

When we believe something strongly, we are always looking for facts that validate our assumption – that’s basic human nature and scientific experiments show that we are likely to accept something that confirms our hunches than something that challenges it. Using Kilimanjaro as an example of climate change is an unfortunate waste of energy and detracts from actual facts that should instead be considered.

When I first found out about the Trayvon Martin incident I was outraged that they hadn’t even filed charges. I joined in to the Internet activism and was happy to hear that 45 days later they did file charges. I admit I didn’t watch the trial closely but was confident all along that Zimmerman was caught red-handed and of course he will be found guilty.

Visiting Jigsaw Renaissance – a maker space in Seattle

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Lion, Sameer, Dan, Budi, Danny Lion, Sameer, Dan, Budi and Danny

I had been planning to do this for a while and finally got around to visiting Jigsaw Renaissance which is a maker space in Seattle. They have recently moved into a really cool historical building and Lion gave us a fun tour of all the spaces and the very interesting basement. The building owners are giving out spaces to artists and creative types and we ran into many people who already call it home. Amidst brainstorming ways to drill holes to make grid beam sticks efficiently and an incentive system to promote community engagement, and learning we had a great time.

If you want to make something, or want to learn how to make something or just want to see what people in your city are interested in making you should visit Jigsaw Renaissance and connect with others who can teach, inspire and encourage you.

Republic Day of India

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India got it’s freedom on 15th August, 1947. It is referred to as the Independance Day.
The constitution of India was formed on 26th January, 1950. It is referred to as the Republic Day.
Both days are national holidays in India.

26th January 1950 is one of the most important days in Indian history as it was on this day the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly sovereign state. In this day India became a totally republican unit. The country finally realized the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and the numerous freedom fighters who, fought for and sacrificed their lives for the Independence of their country. So, the 26th of January was decreed a national holiday and has been recognized and celebrated as the Republic Day of India, ever since.

[via Tajonline]

Today I feel a lot can be learned from this 57 year old Democracy constituting of 1 billion people. Specifically, the electronic voting system in India is a great showcase of simple genius.


To mark the ocassion, the Indian Students Association at Umich held a flag hoisting ceremony. Only 20-30 Indians were brave enough to show up in frigid weather. They missed the laddoos 🙂

The sanctity of a complete album

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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

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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.