Archive for November 2007

Is formal education killing our right brain?

Back at the MBA classes at PIM, Dr. Travis Perera’s first two lectures for the subject “Measurement in Business and Management”, covered a very interesting area of study, about the human brain. The brain dominance theory, derived from various research studies including many split brain research, is the stage setter for this subject, as per the course outline.

Today, I just completed reading all the recommended reading materials for the topic “Left brain and right brain thinking”, and it was simply amazing to understand how our brain works.

As in theory, our right brain provokes our creativity and imagination, while the left brain push us to be “more rational and organized”. Naturally, people tend to be either right brain dominant or left brain dominant. Our left brain, will always try to intervene with the right brain, asking logical questions like “why so?”, and trying to rationalize everything. On the other hand, our right brain always try to break the limits, by asking “Why not?”.
If a person’s left brain manages to override his right brain in majority of the cases, we call him as a “Left brain dominated person”. The same thing apply for the other half of the brain.

Left brain dominated people are often, more logical and rational in decision making. They seek sequences in everything. They want proof to believe in anything they come across. On the other hand, the right brain dominated people are more intuitive. They follow their natural instinct, more than the logic and rationality.

In most cases, the two halves of the brain work in harmony, when a person needs to solve a problem. The left brain analyze the things that a person see and experience in and around the environment. Suddenly, his right brain start noticing a “flash connection” between two logically unrelated concepts. This “flash connection”, what we call as the “idea generation” is very important in solving a problem.
This can be the starting point of a new business idea, a new product innovation, an award winning advertisement, a story for a blockbuster movie, or a hit song selling all over the world.

Once the idea generation part is done by the right brain, then again your left brain takes control of the idea, to evaluate it’s feasibility. Your left brain starts questioning the rationality, logic and feasibility of the new idea that generated by the right brain.
Ever wondered why some of those people in your company, who always asks too many annoying questions about your brilliant new idea? Well. Now you know the answer. Their left brain is dominant over their right brain. And if you think thoroughly, they are wither from the accounts department, or from a department which involves a highly structured work envirnment (Quality control, production, corporate planning etc).

You cannot argue that, one half of the brain is better than the other. We need the strengths of both halves of the brain, depending on the situation where it requires. Of course, you cannot work in your right brain, when you are doing the annual accounts for your company, or evaluating a partnership proposal by another company. At the same time, you cannot let your left brain to dominate, when you try to come up with the next brilliant marketing idea to lift the sales up by 20% for your company.
The things that I've learned so far about the split brain theory suggest me that, right brained people are the one’s who can make a difference in the world. A developing country like Sri Lanka, needs more right brain thinkers, to come up with new ideas to solve the problems of the country.
Lack of right brain dominated people is reflected in the performance of our country in sports (other than Cricket), arts, and entrepreneurship. How many world class athletes have we produced after our independence? I would say none, while some people may mention the name of Susanthika Jayasinghe. But, only Sri Lankans know about her, so she’s no “world class”. ( It’s true that you don’t have to come first, to win in Olympics. But you have to come first, to be remembered by others, in any game).

How many world class artists have we produced? How many world class movies? How many world class entrepreneurs do we have? Answer is “very few” if not, “not at all”.

But, think on the other hand “how many world class medical professionals have we produced, how many world class accountants, lawyers, administrators have we produced?” the answer is “a lot”. Because, you go to any country, and you’ll find a hell of a lot of Sri Lankan doctors, lawyers, accountants working in those countries. (Well…. Relative to our population, it’s a lot. But not as large as Indians)

My left brain ask the question “Why?”.

I think, this comes from our education system, and our traditional education system is designed to produce “doctors, engineers, and lawyers” but not “athletes, artists or entrepreneurs”. From the grade one, our education system discourages the right brain activities of the students, (By having a well structured class room) and slowly and steadily they are cornered towards a one side of the brain. They are forced to learn things that they are not really born for. And there’s no proper technique used, to identify the proper orientation of a student’s brain, and direct him to a field where more suites him. Without understanding this, our education system push all the students towards the competition for becoming a doctor, engineer or a lawyer, but according to the natural principles, only the one’s who designed to be in those professions, will win this competition. Then, our education system throws the rest to the society as “failures” (In GCE A/L), and the society gives them the lable “moron”.

But, if properly executed, our education system can change these “morons” into world class athletes, or world class artists, or world class entrepreneurs. The problem with this country is not the seeds. It’s the soil!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

The Future of Book Publishing is here

Imagine you are watching one of those futuristic movies like "Minority Report" by Steven Spielberg. A man traveling on train, read a newspaper and the titles and the news get updated every one minute or so. You would have said to yourself "Shit! This is not going to happen in my life time. All that, sci-fi crap".

But the day is not so longer far away, that you can read your favorite newspaper or magazine on the go, and get the latest updates every few minutes., the world's largest book retailer announced the launch of their latest product "Kindle", the Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device.

In fact, it's not the first of it's kind, but a slightly improved version of the Sony's Reader, the e-book reader. Initially, with the Amazon Kindle you will be able to access over 80,000 e-books from Amazon store, and straight away buy, download and read them on your Kindle.

From the information I have gathered, here are some key attractive features of the product.

Paper-like Screen

On home page, they've featured a letter to the customers announcing the launch of the product (Signed by the founder CEO Jeff Bezos)in the same look and feel of this new e-paper solution. In fact, it was a PNG image and reading it on my laptop gave me the same impression, as I was reading a paper printed book.

They call this electronic paper. You will not get the usual glare you see when reading something on a computer screen. Looking at the Kindle's screen will make you feel, like looking at a page of your favorite high school textbook. James Patterson, author of You've Been Warned says "I think people are going to be very, very surprised and delighted. This is a lot easier to read than a lot of books are these days."

No Connection needed
No connecting to the internet through any wired or wireless network. It operates on it's own network, connected through a 3G mobile network.

Shop directly at Amazon's Kindle store

You can shop for any book, directly via this device and buy it, download it and save it to your library.

Search function

You can easily search for any term, and Kindle will find every instance across your Kindle library where that word appeared. How many times you wasted hours for finding a paragraph you lightly remembered on "some ones" book?

Bookmarks and Annotation
By using the keyboard, you can add annotations to text, just like you might write in the margins of a book. And because it is digital, you can edit, delete, and export your notes, highlight and clip key passages, and bookmark pages for future use. You'll never need to bookmark your last place in the book, because Kindle remembers for you and always opens to the last page you read.

Built-in Dictionary

Wireless Access to Wikipedia

Adjustable Text Size

Above all, this device will enable you to store all your favorite news papers and magazines in e-format. For me, it's a headache to manage my book shelf, with every month I add couple of new books or mags into it. And, that same hassle kept me "reading less". With a device like this, I'm sure I will become a more "reading person".

Oh I almost forgot about the blogs! You can read your favorite blogs on Kindle, and you will never miss an update from boingboing or slashdot anymore.

How will this affect the world we live?

This will definitely affect the definition of "publishing industry". For decades, we were waiting for the real e-paper solution that we were promised in the sci-fi movies. Some people thought, PDF and E-Fax going to be "it". But, not at all! Kindle and Son'y reader has redefined the word "e-paper" and it's much more closer to the thing that we were promised in the sci-fi movies. A "publisher" is not anymore going to be a "person who take contracts to print books".

Secondly, this will change the way people read, and how much people read. With the popularity of audiovisual media like TV and mobile phones, in recent decades people spent less time on reading the old fashioned "print media". Who wants to read the same news you watched on TV?. But, this initiative will enable the newspaper publishers, to update their papers in regular intervals, and by doing so bringing back the people around them.

And for people like me, who doesn't have enough space at home to store a large collection of books, this is going to be a sweet news. You can store may be 25,000 books in a space of 7.5" x 5.3" x 0.7"

Another field that will get affected by this is education. Especially in the higher education level, where you have to read, research, add notes, extract from, a huge number of books, this is going to be a really helpful device. Institutions like universities and colleges, can make their students compulsory to carry an e-book, and the weekly lecture notes are delivered directly to their books. Who wants to be in the classroom?

And last but not the least! The marketers will look at this as another good platform to be in touch with their customers. People thought, when internet was introduced "Oh! Thank god, I can now get rid of those crappy advertisers on TV". But, it was never happened that way. Marketer found their way out, how to reach their customers (of course with less interruption) through the internet.

Here are some links you can read further, to get mixed opinion about the Amazon’s Kindle
Kindle, at the moment is available in the US market. The connectivity is powered by a new technology Whispernet™ and connected though the telecommunication giant, Sprint Nextel. Not too sure about how the Amazon’s expansion plans going to work. It may take few years even, to come to Sri Lanka. But we have local companies boasting about “Future Today” and “Latest in 3G technology”. I hope, this is a great opportunity for companies like Dialog, Mobitel and Airtel to prove themselves. To prove that they are really in the business!
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

I got my PayPal account activated today!

The news came few months back that PayPal expanded their services to Sri Lanka. I was among one of the very first Sri Lankans to apply for an account, just to learn a bit more about how Paypal really works.

Unfortunately, the sign up process was little too confusing to me and as a result my account was held restricted by PayPal. I lost my interest to resolve all their requirements, cuz I didn't have any urgent transactions to do with PayPal. Last week, I had some time to re-visit my PayPal account and, resolve the problems they have listed. Entering the 4-digit credit card code, and uploading a billing proof.

Today, I was informed that they have released my account for business! So far, we only can use PayPal to send money. They haven't still enabled the receive money option to Sri Lanka. What we can do is, transferring a balance to the PayPal account through your credit card, and then use PayPal when buying something online. That "something" can be an item you won on an eBay auction.

What benefits this gives to you, when in any case you can straight away use your credit card on the site where you are purchasing?

I asked this same question from me. Thing is, here you have to "trust" only one website, for your credit card security when you purchase something online. If you trust PayPal, that they will not mess up with your credit card security, then you can live in peace after making a purchase online. Because, your credit card details is only known to PayPal, and you can buy stuff on any number of sites you wish, but still none of those sites will request you to enter your credit card details.

Still, I haven't used my PayPal account to buy something online. I will do so soon, when I need to order a book or a DVD next time.

Overall, I see this as a good sign that Sri Lanka is gathering the basic infrastructure it needed to have, to form a steady "online economy". I am skeptical about how the Central Bank of Sri Lanka's reaction going to be on this. They look at "paying on the internet" in a very pessimistic angle, thanks to the pyramid scammers who spoiled the ecommerce industry in Sri Lanka, at the outset. Even as at now, CBSL has an upper limit restriction of Rs.100,000/- for paying by credit card, on the internet.
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe
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Wait a minute! What the hell is happening? I'm clueless!

I was on vacation leave for 7 days, and came back to work only yesterday. I spent the 2 days in Kandy, visiting my sister and few friends and the rest 5 days in Matara. It was a vacation completely "disconnected" from internet and work!
And now, look what I have when arriving back at work on Wednesday. The entire industry has leaped forward, leaving me a one week lagging in the trend. Every one around me talk in an alien language to me. FaceBook Beacon, Google Open Social, Social ads, Sprite Sips, are some of the words frequently used by the people around me.
I felt like "missed out in action a lot". Hey, it was only a one week before that I too used to be in the latest industry trend! How come in a one week the whole thing changes so fast? A week before, we were talking about Facebook applications, Flyers, groups, sponsored groups and things like that. But, coming back to work after one week, all those stuff are obsolete.
This opened my eyes to an "undeniable truth" about the field of online marketing and e-commerce. If you miss the tempo even for a one day, you are out of business!Luckily for me, the rest of my office colleagues were so helpful. I quickly got on to the train again, and here I am! Moving forward...
My first challenge was to understanding the new Facebook advertising solution, launched on 6th November. I've got most of it now, and just written to them to seek chances of advertising our company, with them. Next, I'm suppose to get updated about the "open social Vs Facebook API" debate. Now what the hell is going on there?
Friday, November 16, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe
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Bhamian Replica in Peraliya

On December 26th 2004, Tsunami hit the village of Peraliya near Hikkaduwa, bringing death to thousands of people, including the tragic death of hundreds of people who were traveling in the train “Samudra Devi” (Queen of the Ocean). After 2 years, as a sign of rising back from the disaster, this gigantic Buddha statue was built in the exact same location of the tragic train accident. The statue was calved, reproduction of the famous Bhamian Statues in Afghanistan, which were destroyed by the Talaiban regime.

I took this photo, on my way to Colombo, after spending a week in Matara.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Talking to Myself...

I've had this idea for a long time, to organized myself in a one central location on the world wide web, with my own personal website.

We are said to be in the information age, and in this era, a man without a personal web page is virtually like a "homeless" person in the past century.

So, here I am, building my own home in the cyberspace!

First, I must confess that I'm an amateur to blogging and writing. But I am not an amateur to blogs and social media. As a crucial area in my day-to-day job role, I have studied the concept of blogs and blogging in depth, and was constantly in touch with the latest industry trends in the field.

The main reason kept me delaying starting this site sooner than this was mainly, the lack of time to dedicate on it. It is not that I have more time to spare now days, but there should be some point of start to anything. Moreover, with the facility of blogging directly via mobile phones and email, finding time won’t be a much difficult task as it used to be few years ago. In time to come, most posts on this site will turn out to be posted directly via my mobile phone.

Time management wise, things are worse than ever for me. Very soon, I will start on a MBA at PIM, so it’s going to consume a large portion of my time in next 2 years to come.
And, the fact that I started the MBA is another motivating factor behind this site. This blog will serve as a great platform for me to network with other people who are in the same field of studies as me, and a good media for me to publish my own work within the MBA program.

So far on this site, it all looks like talking to myself alone. Therefore I put the title of the blog as “Talking to myself”, till I come up with a proper title :-)

The skin of this blog was taken from
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

Dalada Maligawa

This is a photo taken using the "Panoramic" option in my Cybershot camera attached to Sony Ericcson K800i phone. The "Paththirippuwa", front garden, and the view of lake Bogambara, from the Dalada Maligawa front entrance. Click the image, to see a larger version.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Posted by Amitha Amarasinghe

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