Who has the most valuable data: Facebook or Google?

Everybody knows that the two tech giants collect a ton of data about us (unless you are living in a cave with no internet and access to civilization).

What drives them to collect this information is profitability. People in the marketing and advertising industry are willing to pay a lot to know about their potential and actual customers and to engage with them.

So from that very same marketing and advertising perspective, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Who between the two giants has the most enticing and relevant information?”

In order to answer, let’s first understand the origin and nature of the two giants.

Giant #1 FACEBOOK

A very long story cut short, Facebook (TheFacebook at the time) was the result of two notable ideas:

-To develop a dating application exclusive for Harvard guys to date Harvard girls and

-Facemash- A website that scraped pictures of Harvard students and allowing its users to vote who was hotter. Basically, you were allowed to pass judgments on people and shame them without their consent. Needless to say, it brought the worst out of the users but still, it was very popular. Lots of people seemed to be willing to use it.

*Bits and pieces of that history can still be found on The Harvard Crimson, the daily student newspaper of Harvard University. Here are two articles from that time on the subject:
Facemash Creator Survives Ad Board
M*A*S*H
Online ‘facemash’ site, while mildly amusing, catered to the worst side of Harvard students

Fast forward to now, Facebook still drives upon its social aspect even though arguably more responsible than what it was in its earlier days. It survived and grew through more features and then through acquisition such as with WhatsApp and Instagram and a whole lot more.

Its business model can be summarised as below:

-Attract and retain users

-Collect information on users

-Convince businesses to invest in Ads on their platform by promising them reach and engagement

As of present, Facebook has a Market cap (Market Value) of over $531 billion according to Nasdaq, with its share price ranging around $183.

In 2016, Facebook generated $26.9 billion in Ad sales, more than 80% of it was generated via mobile ads.

Giant #2 GOOGLE

Google started as a Ph.D. thesis. Again a long story cut short, the Internet was in an infant stage, search engines were crappy and two brilliant young minds from Standford -while pursuing their Ph.D.- managed to create a better search engine. The invention was dubbed “BackRub” (I guess somebody badly needed a back rub) before eventually being named Google. Unlike Facebook, Google is more like a Kraken with tentacles in every direction. The owners themselves created another parent company called Alphabet to hold Google and its countless other entities including YouTube, Android, Nexus, Nestlab, DeepMind, X, Jigsaw, Verily, Waymo among several others.

As of present, Alphabet Inc has a Market cap (Market Value) of over $732 billion according to Nasdaq, with its share price ranging around $1,072.

In 2016,  Alphabet generated revenue of $90.07 billion out of which $89.46 billion came from Google (from Mobile search and YouTube mostly).

Yeah, it’s a no-brainer that the Ad world is hugely profitable for the two giants. So now that we have our facts straight let us assume we are the marketing/Advertising executive of a firm or a business owner, which one do we pick first?

Well, it depends on the objective and the situation. If it is an awareness campaign, where the aim is to disseminate information, to influence people’s perception, to get them to find something likable then social platforms like Facebook and Instagram is a good idea. These are social platforms where the voice of the most popular thrives, information can travel really fast.

But its main weakness also lies in the fact that it is a social platform. It is dictated by a false projection in most cases. People ( I included) project what they want to project, what they want you to see, what is acceptable rather than everything that they are. Often there will be a dissonance between who a person really is and his online persona. Since Facebook collects information that is limited to your online persona, what they know about you is also limited to that (especially if you log out and do not let it track your every move to other sites or your phone).

Unconvinced? okay, how about this. If your nose is bleeding, will you be more likely to google the information or sharing a status? If you have a liver infection, are you more likely to put a picture and a status of it or will you google it and remedies first? If you need to buy a new camera, do you search for it on Facebook or you google it and watch a few reviews on YouTube first? Not that Facebook might not know about it or guess it, Your likes and pages visits, status, GPS location might give some information away for it to guess but the point is, if you are actively looking for a cure, a product, you would more likely be googling it and google immediately knows of it. So when it is about selling a product or converting a prospect from warm to hot (“interested phase” to “ready to buy phase”), Adwords and YouTube is a very strong duo. When somebody is actively looking for a camera to buy, it is extremely important and time critical for your camera or your camera store to appear in front of him and this is something google search excels at.

Overall, Google wins it for me from a commercial perspective; While both collect a lot of information about us, Facebook knows more about our circles and social groups (online), about what we project however shallow or artificial that may be, it takes it at face value. Google, on the other hand, has more information on what you are browsing, what your interests are and what are you actively searching for.

 

Disagree? something I missed that you want to add? please leave a comment or inbox me.

 

The Mauritian sky from a little village

I live in the small village of Amaury and there are three things I absolutely love about my home (or the country in general I suppose):

  • A peaceful quiet environment
  • The sea is only 20 minutes away via car
  • A beautiful sky

I will try to show the sea on another day, for today enjoy the blue sky and the clouds that help me daydream. This is my second timelapse (i am hoping there will be more to come) and one of those partially bad, cloudy, rainy days. I had to stop shooting midway in order to protect my lens and camera yesterday. Still, It’s a beautiful sky. Alright, it’s time to head back to working now, enjoy the video.

#8 THE MEANING OF “METAPHOR”

It is one of those words that I am very fond of. “Métaphore” in French, “metaphora” in Latin and “metaphero” in Greek but what exactly does this word mean?

A metaphor is a figure of speech. Metaphors are the spices to a good biryani. (note: I just used a metaphor). Metaphors are extremely well-liked by writers or poets and you will often find them in stories and poems. Quite simply, metaphors offer a creative way to express something by literally using another. Metaphors can often be used to describe something complex in a relatable and arguably easy manner. They are not meant to be taken to be taken literally, like my earlier sentence for example. A metaphor is neither a spice nor do we put it in biryani now, do we? But you got the idea and that is the beauty of using metaphors in your writings.

Another example would the sentence “Let’s address the elephant in the room”. Now unless we are in a zoo, I would assume that the person who said this did not mean addressing to an elephant literally but rather the issue at hand.

Here’s the extract of one of my thoughts (a rough one that I have yet to finish before I post the whole thing) and the last example to make my point on metaphors:

“I am a broken leaf of the old tree

Unlikely to stay near the tree

I am a gliding leaf guided by the wind

Unlikely to know his destination

I am a drifting leaf guided by the river

Unlikely to go against the water”

Did you like it or did it feel relatable?, please let your views and I will try to finish and post it soon.

Metaphors are fairly easy to recognize albeit sometimes it may become confusing especially with “similes” involved. A simile is also a figure of speech quite similar to metaphors. The main difference is that a metaphor implies one thing to be another, a simile on the other hands makes a comparison of one thing to another.

Confused? Here’s some side by side to help distinguish:

Metaphor 1: Metaphors are the spices to a good biryani

Simile 1: Metaphors are like the spices to a good biryani

 

Metaphor 2: I am a broken leaf of the old tree

Simile 2: I am similar to a broken leaf of the old tree

 

Metaphor 3: I am a gliding leaf guided by the wind

Simile 3: I am like a gliding leaf guided by the wind

So yeah, you can use metaphors and similes interchangeably depending on your preference. As far as I know, both similes and metaphors are present and used in all languages whether English, French, Spanish, Creole, Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin etc. Metaphors and similes make language even more beautiful and allow a richer form of expression. Isn’t that a beautiful?

 

 

Photography #3: Getting started with Time-lapse photography

Since I have had my camera, I had lots of fun taking pictures, experimenting in manual mode and doing small stop motion animation. I, however, had never tried time-lapse photography.. until last weekend.

Time-lapse photography is an awesome technique! In terms of storytelling, Time-lapse can let you do incredible things and provides an immersive experience.

Here’s one of my favorite video, 30 days of sailing experience in 10 minutes by Jeff. Ever wondered how 30 days of sailing would feel like? How the moon and stars would feel like at sea, how the change in weather would feel like? How it would feel to sail through a storm? Immerse yourself in this timelapse and the life of a sailor briefly:

I also did a little timelapse (my first one) – of far inferior quality and less cinematic that you can see below:

Both, however, works on the same principle. Here’s how you can produce a timelapse with the bare minimum if you wish to give it a try.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • A digital camera with interval option
  • A stabilizer (usually a tripod) to keep the camera still
  • A video editing software (blender which is opensource and free should do the trick)
  • Time and Patience (lots of it)

HOW TO PROCEED:

  • Identify your spot and set up your tripod
  • Mount your camera on the tripod
  • Configure the interval for automated capture ( up to you to decide how many pictures and the gap between)
  • Set the camera to start and let it shoot
  • Avoid manually shooting or adjusting the camera once it starts but keep checking regularly
  • Remember that point where I talked about patience, yup that’s where it comes in handy (bringing a book with you is a good idea and it works for me).
  •  It’s a good idea to have a lot of pictures – in the hundreds or thousands – if you want a long video else you will end up with regrets and a mere 2 to 3 seconds video like mine.
  • After you are done, export all the pictures so that it can be stitched together -if you are using Blender, select the video editing UI and add the images, select the framerate you want and hit render.
  • Annnd that’s it! (you can add music if you like, it’s fairly easy from YouTube itself)

Hope you enjoyed and found this useful. Please share your timelapse if you have made or will be making any. I will try to upload a timelapse soon.

 

 

#7 THE MEANING OF “RHETORIC”

No matter which society or civilization we look at, progress/big changes have always stemmed from having rallied people behind a cause/system/individual/group of individuals. The causes in themselves might be controversial; Sometimes motivated by selfishness, self-righteousness, stereotypes, and animosity. So what makes it work then? How do certain individuals/group of individuals get the rest to rally behind their ideas or causes?

This is an old question with a constant answer known as “rhetoric”. A lot of people, philosophers, and writers among others have had a lot to say about rhetoric. The constant in most definition being  “making use of words in a convincing/persuasive manner”.

Below are some interesting elements about the history of the word:

  • The word Rhetoric has its ancestral roots in Greece
  • It transitioned to the Latin language and Old French before landing in the English vocabulary.
  • Plato of ancient Greece said rhetoric is “The art of winning the soul by discourse”
  • His student Aristotle said, ” it is the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion.”
  • The Roman Marcus Fabius Quintilianus who became a rhetorician after having studied rhetoric (because that was a thing back then) said that rhetoric is “the art of speaking well”.
  • Naturally, we observe rhetoric being used popularly usually with a negative connotation to describe someone “using pretty, meaningless word to impress and persuade” (especially in politics)
  • While rhetoric is about words and can be used applied to all medium of communication, back in the days the most popular and prominent form of communication was oration.
  • Aristotle wrote a whole book on oratory rhetoric known as “Treatise on rhetoric” (available through public domain).

You could read it, or you could save the trouble by watching the main concepts condensed and explained in the video below:

So, of course, examples of rhetorics are found everywhere every day. Next time you hear anyone, be it a leader, teacher, activist or politician making a speech and you feel moved/convinced or you see people being persuaded. Ask yourself this, “To what end is rhetoric being used? Is this a charlatan at work? Is this a manipulator seeking selfish privileges? Is this a hateful bigotted individual seeking to create his idea of a perfect self-righteous world? Is this a genuine person seeking to bring forth change for the betterment of something be it society, education, medicine, culture, environment?”

Rhetoric is a tool that wields a lot of power and has been used both to emancipate and manipulate, to do good and to do bad. If history has taught us anything, it is that as a collective force we are able to accomplish great things but also a lot of evil, misguided, bad and cruel actions.

Business setup: Online tools for the Mauritian entrepreneurs and businesses

It is fairly easy to set up a business in Mauritius. The procedures are pretty straightforward and a lot of things can be done online. Below is a compilation of best practices that I recommend based on what I know and have experienced.

Create a business plan

If you are starting a new business, definitely create a business plan. A lot of existing businesses have been operating for years now in Mauritius without any business plan (especially the SMEs). Here’s my advice, it’s never too late, create one and it will improve your insights about your own business. A good plan will help you understand exactly where you are, in which direction you could go. It can help identify potential markets needs or wants. It will also make it easier to convince banks/investors for finance.

There are so many different versions of business plans online. Some are pages long and overly complex, making it daunting to even begin. I believe in concision and the business plan that I recommend for any business to start with is the business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder or the Lean canvas model by Ash Maurya. Depending on your preferences and philosophies, choose one of the two. The Lean Canvas is intended solely for entrepreneurs (especially those in line with the lean startup philosophy) while the business model canvas, well let’s just say it’s for everyone. So in most cases, I recommend the business model canvas which is explained in the video below.

I believe the video is self-explanatory enough so I will move on while saying that you can do this layout on paper, Word, Excel, Powerpoint or any other way, there are no rules or specific software exclusivity here. Choose whichever makes you feel most comfortable. Once you have this, you will articulate and pitch your business better, you will be able to construct an elaborate business plan (if needed) more easily.

Business Registration

Yes! It is possible to check existing companies to verify for information in general or check if a particular name is already taken up or even do registration process online. The facilities in themselves are most welcome, though they seriously should hire someone for the UI and UX, of which I am totally not a fan.

So if you want to verify if a name is taken up or whether you wish to apply for it, just head to the MNS portal (https://portalmns.mu/). You should be able to choose between for availability of company name or details. The last option would be something saying “Business Registration, Incorporation, E-filing, and Fees”. There you are, just click, read through the instruction and follow the steps (of course this is not free and I haven’t used it so I cannot say a lot). What I can say however is that if you visit the official site Corporate and Business Registration Department and look to the right corner (try to ignore that horrible and cringy photo carousel), you will find some interesting stuff namely how to apply online, how to incorporate or register a company as well as guidelines to use the previously mentioned system. Everything from pricing to user manual seems to have been documented. The following two links I am sharing below are the manuals to:

Look at the manuals, there are different ones whether to apply for partnership or as an individual. Lastly, it seems the system is picking up and people are beginning to use. As per their own released figures, more people have incorporated business through the online platform rather than by going to the office; on average only 15 min has been taken to incorporate a business.

Going International

So Ved has a business plan ready and has registered his business, but wait.. his business idea relies heavily on exports and import of goods. Now, what are the procedures for these? How will he know what documents are necessary? which goods are legal? from which country is he more likely to get a good deal? Which goods are exempted from tax and which have additional costs to them?

The platform of Mauritius Trade Easy (http://www.mauritiustrade.mu) is here to help with that. It is interactive and contains the information necessary for Ved or other entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs. It contains the trade agreements that Mauritius has signed and this information can be leveraged for even better decision making. Basically, this site is the rule book for international trade with Mauritius whether from within Mauritius or from outside.

Intellectual Property

The platform also caters for the Intellectual property, that is the intangible but very important assets of the business. While there may be many different documents and links I found this document the most straight to the point and relevant in the entrepreneurship context. It explains IP, patents among others and complements them with the process to apply for those, their costs and with case studies. Intellectual property is very important and may be key to the successor to the failure of your endeavor, so do spare a thought for it.

Another key element that was merely brushed through the canvas is Market research, but that’s a post for another day. So this is it for this time. I do hope the following information has been helpful especially if you are a management/entrepreneurship student, a business person or an aspiring entrepreneur. Views, feedbacks, and questions that add to the topic are very much appreciated.

Photography #2: Understanding histogram

The histogram is a basic, simple but very useful tool that can be accessed both on your camera or via the software you use for post-processing of images. It is essentially about exposure.

A histogram can help identify if a picture is overexposed or underexposed. It’s no longer a guesswork (or rather a more accurate guesswork). By using the histogram, you can ensure that the colors and lights are well represented in your photo. The histogram does not come with rules, so for each photo, your histogram should and would naturally be different. There are a few tricks to it though and once you understand those, you would understand your pictures better.

Here are two distinct histograms to help illustrate the concept better: n

Basically, the two patterns that would emerge from a histogram will be an “n” shape or a “u” shape.

A “u” shaped picture is likely to contain extremes and have contrast a lot. If it’s intentional it’s okay, if not, you might want to remedy that. Likewise, for the “n” you should look out that there is no washing out of colors, especially if the curve does not meet at one of the extremes. Why is it so? 

The right extreme represents pure white and the left extreme represent pitch black.

DL

So a scenery that had shadows and black objects in it but not showing an inclination to left extreme of the histogram suggest something is wrong. To better illustrate this, have a look at this beautiful night shot and notice how the histogram naturally inclines to the left extreme.

Capture.JPG

Photo by Ferdinand Stöhr on Unsplash

Here’s another shot, this one I took on a bright day. No dark spots or shadows, so it naturally inclines to the right.

Capture1

Like I said earlier, there are no fixed rules. The histogram is a tool to help your photography not dictate it. It’s completely okay if some of your pictures have an inclination to both extremities like this very gorgeous photo by Vitaliy Lyubezhanin on Unsplash.

Capture2

That’s it for histograms (to get started), don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s how each of us finds our own styles and most importantly that how we improve.