gloomy, thinking

Measuring swings

What is depression? What causes it? Why am I so worked up? Why can’t I see an obvious way out of this?

In trying to articulate it today, I had an epiphany. If we are social beings, then our sense of identity: of who we are, is shaped by our social interactions: of how others react to us.

You will agree that you expect to have this sense of social standing, of balance, in all your interactions with fellow humans. You will be polite to the senior and at ease with the peer. You will size up every person who appears in your field of vision to decide how to react. You will do this unconsciously. When someone fails the unconscious classification, or if recent events have led you to believe there is more than meets the eye, you will become attentive and careful.

These interactions over an extended period define your social standing. They become you. You may have trouble articulating this definition, perhaps no better than the crude wording in the Objective paragraph of your resumé, but it doesn’t matter because this all works without thinking. You instinctively know who you are, and all is good.

And what greater source of identity could there be than your daily routine? The place where you work everyday, the things you do there, the people you hang out with after? What more common disruption could you have than to change all these at short notice? Common, yet devastating?

I no longer write here. Twitter doesn’t let me say it like it is. The people I work with have changed. The work has changed. The people I hung out with have moved on. There are new people, nice people, but as yet unfamiliar people.

For long months I wondered what worried me so. Now I know.

Making sense of soap operas

David Foster Wallace on Television:

TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests.

(Via Vinu.)

Surrounded by computing devices

My MacBook Pro cost me close to a lakh of rupees less than a couple of years ago. I use it all the time. I don’t know if I’ll ever spend that much on a single computer again.

My life is increasingly more dominated by some form of computing interface. My work involves a computer, as does my photography, entertainment, and increasingly so, even my reading. Being able to switch contexts while looking at the same screen, however, is not getting any easier. Flitting from one context to another is increasingly effortless, and staying focused with something dreary increasingly harder.

The answer, it seems, is to surround myself with multiple computers, each dedicated to a specific context.


If you have a Mac and aren’t on Leopard yet, do yourself a huge favour and upgrade. If you don’t have a Mac, do yourself a huge favour and get one.

Man, this has got to be the best OS upgrade ever.

An evening of song and music around the virtual fireplace

Also at Barcamp Bangalore 5 were Nithya and Prateek Dayal of Muziboo, an online music community. This morning after watching Shourya’s vidcast with Prateek, I went to have a look at the site.

There’s something about listening to a homemade amateurish production, reading the comments, and then moving on to another recording wherein the performer improves based on earlier feedback that is strongly reminiscent of sitting around with friends, unwinding at the afterparty, wherein someone strumming a guitar breaks into song and the others chime in, each doing it for the exhilaration of letting it out than with the intent of a musical production.

Muziboo may be on to something if they can build an environment that caters to such emotional release.