Finding symmetries in an unsymmetrical world ..

Archive for September 2012

The larger Question and the meat of it thereof :  Wouldn’t the user pays subscription model work as well for Quora ? 

Here’s what I mean – As a user , I navigate about 10-20 questions in Quora every time I take out “time” I am willing to engage myself in. And then I go back and start to work on something, hit discussions in a multitude of channels and I forget – and that is when I want to refer to the same fact – in the organized way I first saw it in its context. 

  I think, that is part of the opportunity for Quora. As Achilleas Vortselas mentioned (at Quora) , “Quora as middleman”,  I envision the next layer of structuring and personalization to build on top of the collective knowledge of the community. 

 I want to (and I hope that other users want to, as well) organize this information in a useful way. And that could be highlighting the pages, that are only “specific to me” , like individual page reads.  Similarly, as a user I would be willing to pay for premium services like organizing my knowledge and contacts, and since it is personal, non-obtrusive to any one else. It’s my personal learning dashboard, that I can cross refer years from now, since I find information in a tier based fashion. One, by meta tags AND/OR (Quora) Boards, and two, by my personal notes. 


[Hypothesis: Since we are building social capital here, the content management, will take care of itself. ]

Challenge & opportunity  : Information retrieval from the end user’s perspective.  

[The Public Good…]
With literally tons of CEO’s and Executives engaging in this model – subscription should be able to make money. May be, in the future, Quora would make part of its revenue from firms funding their top employees, that is the future of Crowd Sourcing Revolution that we are beginning to see.  

  The future of this will be – the firms sponsoring employees/ committing resources to work on abstract problems and new concepts and “Grooming Aggregators” , since it will be far cheaper than the Home-Grown Talent model , difficult to source, retain and keep engaged all round the project. 

In some sense, it is how Rating agencies make money. Everyone else pools in, because everyone else does, and that is the social good at its BEST. 


[Hypothesis: Knowledge workers have always and will continue to pay for tools that make them more efficient ] 

Challenge & opportunity  : Of course that needs high computing and read-writes to store the user specific Information,and engineering a solution that can scale as well. Which is where the guiding rule of making money comes in. Make money roughly equal to (Revenue-Cost of engineering the solution), and should be positive.


So my Quick points here – 
User pays subscription model 

a. User specific page read/write(s)  and features to organize and personalise the information retrieval for later use. 

b. Putting structure in YOUR personal Network – listing and saving personal content/notes for lookup to organize the contacts from mere “followers and people who follow” paradigm . 

c. The Public good :  Rise of Crowd Sourcing and Social capital.

Business opportunity :  Innovating on the user specific needs(Behavioral & Business needs) and tailoring subscription plan that match these needs . 

PPS: Don’t pick me on words 🙂 Make money is dirty rule, but that’s what we are taking about here .

This article is a part of my original piece at Quora here .  Cosmetics and Technical updates/stack probe in progress.



(Dear God, please tell my Mom I am doing very fine, and I still think that studying Quantitative Economics, and flying over 16 countries all the way was worth this Education)

Last week I was on my longest flight so far from the far west to the far east, and on my way back I bumped into a Gentleman  who was coming back from Mongolia (the capital , Ulan Bator, to be precise). Talking with him made this trip one of my most shortest trip ever. He was into Marketing side of Construction and myself a bottom up economist and auto-didactic.  So what could we talk about ?

   I had no clue of Construction, or Marketing in construction business or even Mongolia . All I knew about Mongolia was that they have huge deposits of coal . Some people might hit a stalemate at that, what can you really talk, while I was like – tell me more about it !

     We talked about the Mongolian empire, how the Mongols built the Monasteries all the way to Hungary(We could not agree whether the Mongols came up-to Hungary , but that is for some other time), it’s comparison with the Romans and the influence of Mongols on food. And seamlessly, we moved to the Chinese dynasties the Han empire, the Qing dynasty and how the emperors had tried to bring Buddhism to bind people together , and then we moved to the dispute over Tibet and Taiwan , and what I had learnt in the Harvard Project for Asian & International relations, in Taipei , Taiwan, that I was just coming from.

 Come to think of it – it was a powerful  conversation(and I really learnt a lot).  Now that is the thing, finding CPI , or the common point of interest sets you apart from the rest. And come to think of it, it’s really an art. For once he did not tell me what a superwoman I was ( I like telling myself that I am one) – but I instantly knew that he enjoyed talking to me, as much as I did.

    This being able to talk to people “about them” has been my journey of the last 4-5 years. I have practiced and matured it on CEO**’s and Prof’s – but that is not to brag- the point is about learning. 

So my quick take-aways –

1. People are always willing to “Teach” you, once they see the intellect + energy + enthusiasm in you  to learn .This is how we grow, and is a more sustainable way of learning rather than feeding some decaying facts into your  brain.

2. You never choose your mentor. Your mentor chooses you. Point. (Borrowed from Indra Nooyi)

3. Always push meritocratic people, even if you have to go out of THE way to get them some limelight, and then just keep passing the ball.

4. You don’t ask, you don’t get. Under –rated, over-said, but true.

5.  No matter what you want to learn or know, stop the foreplay, and get to the CPI , quick enough to hold them.

6.  What goes around comes around – Gratitude can not be taught, practice it.

7. There  is no single character that can beat your Genuineness – you will know it when it has arrived to you.

8. Push & stretch yourself, and then stretch yourself a little more.

9. You are beautiful, because of  your words and your self awareness and that is something that sets you apart and a Brand “YOU” in this dynamic very competitive world.

10 . We are more than the organizations , and schools we represent – and in some way the hierarchies of power are shifting bottom up . How YOU speak really defines your School, your community and your organisation and your people.

11. NEVER stop learning. 

12. Everything around you, has always been there, but when you meet people who have been there, done that, it sets a context that you can build on, like things, people, places, empires have suddenly started to exist in your conscience.  Beg, Borrow, steal, but GET that context right in your head, you will amazed at how much you can really learn, after-all . 

13. Stop being mediocre, and stop when you have made your point. And, hold your drink,  if you don’t have that super take-away 🙂 

(Emerging ideas from my book – 2o’s is the new 30’s , planning the dots, you will want to connect backward, Dedicated to Annie Fan, a superwoman who knows how to listen, and listen well)



** John Kearon, CEO, Brainjuicer that even shaped 4 months of my work – My Master’s Thesis – On how we think we think, is not how we really think .  In some ways, that is THE bit about connecting the dots. 

Hey there, would be nice to have you around !

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September 2012
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