Category Archives: Society


Feb. 10, 2009

Drum Beats And Dancers

It’s about midnight, and a wedding party next door is boisterously dancing to loud drum beats, preventing us from drifting off to sleep.  sethb gazes out at the shadows behind the curtain with wide open, sleep-addled eyes.  Like me, he’s probably exhausted and jet-lagged, but he is curious and intrigued by what he is looking at.  It dawns on me that sethb’s adventurous curiosity will make him a great travel buddy as we do a Mozilla trip through India, hitting the road lean and mean.  It’s our first day in Delhi, and it’s set a high octane precedent for whatever else will happen.  Twenty or so hours ago, Seth got in from Europe, after FOSDEM; I got in at the same time from California and we meet up at Indira Gandhi Airport, Delhi.  We haven’t really slept much.

Earlier in the day, we attended an event at the Indian Social Institute called MozCampDelhi, put together by the inimitable Mohak Prince in just a few short days. Mohak (aka “~~~STigMaTa~~~ ~~~HaLLuCiNaTiNg AmBiGuiTy~~~” in all his emails) is a Mozilla Campus Rep in India, and has a real flair for organization.  Along with a really sharp crew of open source enthusiasts that helped put the event together, Mohak brought together an impressive audience of professionals, students, and hobbyists.  It was a great crowd for a Tuesday afternoon. It was also pretty illustrative of the use of Twitter, Wikis, and the blogosphere in India as instruments of event promotion and spontaneous UnConferencing. I sensed that this was going to be a really smart, savvy and interactive bunch of people, and I remember feeling really elated to be there.

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SxSW ’08 Redux via Epistolary Rumination

Dear Chris, Chaals, and Brendan,

Thank you. For two years, you’ve put up with my jittery nagging a few hours before the panel, and for two years, it has rocked.

Dear Apple,

We really missed you. Our “Browser Wars” panel at SxSWi ’08 was standing room only, with people lining up outside who couldn’t get in. We discussed stuff that was really relevant to Safari, touching on mobility, standards, security, JavaScript, and stuff like that — PC Mag has a rough record of the conversation. People love your stuff — the MacBook Pro and the iPhone were ubiquitous at the Austin Convention Center. And while you are open in your standards participation (working groups like Web API and HTML conduct business in the open), and while you are candid on the Surfin’ Safari Weblog, it would be great if your PR / Marketing department could let you come out and play with us. Maybe next year?

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SxSW ’08 | The End of History (Not)

The grackle birds are out in full force in Austin. They are noisy and obnoxious, but I only visit with them but once a year, when I, like scores of other Californians, descend on Austin, TX, for Geek Camp, aka South By SouthWest 2008.

Young-ish trendy persons with laptops and iPhones and loosely slung satchels meander around the Austin Convention Center. Panels are being held, and the sun is shining (mostly), and the after parties are kicking, and film makers, musicians, designers, and geeks are all coalescing, as per the norm.

Last year, I chaired a panel bringing Brendan Eich (Mozilla/Firefox, and inventor of JavaScript), Chris Wilson (Microsoft/IE, worked on every version of IE in recent memory), and Charles McCathieNevile (Opera — a standards titan who travels the world working on standards) to the table to discuss where the Web was going. It was a great panel discussion which embraced spirited debate.

A year has passed, and PC Magazine thinks we’re about ready to usher in the “boring era” of Web browsers. Really? A little bit like the End of History, where things were supposed to be all nice and boring after the end of the Cold War, but ended up being anything but?

OK, look. I’ll be the first to admit that the term “wars” shouldn’t be used when talking about Web browsers. This year, when I agreed to do the panel again at SxSW 2008, I used the term “war” to pack the auditorium. But let’s be frank about a few things.

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Mr. Gandhi Goes to Frankfurt

So I’m in Frankfurt Airport, after the long continental puddle hop from California, and I’m weary. I can’t see so well, because my eyes are a bit sore. I’m on my way to Spain to attend the Open Source in Mobile conference in Madrid, and I have my Indian Passport and a few sundry papers of visitation clutched tenuously in my hand. I’m merely transiting through Germany, and I’m trying to find the line where I can get my stamp, since I possess a valid visa to go to my next port of call.

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Review of The 12 Labors

Brazilian cinema fascinates me because it marries the vibrancy of the New World (including intriguing racial identities and beautiful music) with stark urban realities. I mention a few of Brazilian movies I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed in a previous blog post.

Ricardo Elias’ The 12 Labors is as watchable as its peers, and shares thematic elements with Black Orfeu. Like the 1959 “cross-over” classic, the protagonist of The 12 Labors, Heracles, is named after a character in Greco-Roman mythology. The connection to mythology here, however, is not as pronounced. As we slowly learn, the mythical 12 tasks of Heracles (which includes slaying beasts, cleaning a filthy celestial stable in a day, and other impossible errands of redemption) serves more of a symbolic role in the story of a black youth in Sao Paulo.

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