Mere Rashk-e-Qamar – Sufi Ghazal

This Urdu ghazal was penned by the Pakistani poet Fana Buland Shehri. Fana’s Real name was Muhammad Hanif, he was shagird (student) of well known Urdu Poet Qamar Jalalvi

میرے رشکِ قمر تو نے پہلی نظر، جب نظر سے ملائی مزہ آ گیا
mere rashk-e-qamar tu ne pehli nazar, jab nazar se milaaii maza aa gaya
O my envy of the moon, when your eyes first met mine, I was overjoyed

برق سی گر گئی، کام ہی کر گئی، آگ ایسی لگائی مزہ آ گیا
barq si gir gaii kaam hi kar gaii, aag aisi lagaaii maza aa gaya
Lightning struck and destroyed me; you ignited such a fire that it made me ecstatic

جام میں گھول کر حسن کی مستیاں، چاندنی مسکرائی مزہ آ گیا
jaam mein ghol kar husn ki mastiyaan, chaandni muskuraaii maza aa gaya
Mixing beauty’s mischief into my drink, the moonlight smiled – how enjoyable!

چاند کے سائے میں اے میرے ساقیا، تو نے ایسی پلائی مزہ آ گیا
chaand ke saaey mein ae mere saaqiya, tu ne aisi pilaaii maza aa gaya
In the moon’s shadow, O my cup-bearer, you made me drink such a wine that I was ecstatic

نشہ شیشے میں انگڑائی لینے لگا، بزمِ رنداں میں ساغر کھنکنے لگے
nasha sheeshe mein angraaii lene laga, bazm-e-rindaan mein saaghar khanakne lage
Intoxication spread through the bottle, and goblets clinked in the party of debauchees

میکدے پہ برسنے لگیں مستیاں، جب گھٹا گھر کے چھائی مزہ آ گیا
maikade pe barasne lagiin mastiyaan, jab ghata ghir ke chaaii maza aa gaya
Mischief descended upon the tavern, and when storm clouds poured down, I was overjoyed

بےحجبانہ وہ سامنے آ گئے، اور جوانی جوانی سے ٹکرا گئی
behijaabana woh saamne aa gae, aur jawaani jawaani se takra gaii
Unveiled, she came before me, and her youthful splendor collided with mine

آنکھ اُن کی لڑی یوں میری آنکھ سے، دیکھ کر یہ لڑائی مزہ آ گیا
aankh un ki lari yuun meri aankh se, dekh kar yeh laraaii maza aa gaya
Her eyes clashed with mine in such a way that seeing this fight made me joyful

آنکھ میں تھی حیاہ ہر ملاقات پر، سرخ عارض ہوئے وصل کی بات پر
aankh mein thi hayaa har mulaaqaat par, surkh aariz hue wasl ki baat par
Modesty was in her eyes every time we met; her cheeks blushed red when I spoke of our union

اُس نے شرما کے میرے سوالات پہ، ایسے گردن جھکائی مزہ آ گیا
us ne sharma ke mere sawaalaat pe, aise gardan jhukaaii maza aa gaya
Embarrassed by my questions, she lowered her head in such a way that I was delighted

شیخ صاحب کا ایمان مٹ ہی گیا، دیکھ کر حسنِ ساقی پگھل ہی گیا
shaikh saahib ka eemaan mit hi gaya, dekh kar husn-e-saaqi pighal hi gaya
The shaikh’s faith was obliterated; upon seeing the cup-bearer’s beauty, it melted away

آج سے پہلے یہ کتنے مغرور تھے، لٹ گئی پارسائی مزہ آ گیا
aaj se pehle ye kitne maghroor the, lut gaii paarsaaii maza aa gaya
Before today, how proud he was; now his piety has been lost – how enjoyable!

اے فناؔ شکر ہے آج بعدِ فنا، اُس نے رکھلی میرے پیار کی آبرو
ae Fana shukar hai aaj baad-e-fana, us ne rakhli mere pyaar ki aabroo
O Fana, today I am grateful that after my demise, she has maintained the honor of my love

اپنے ہاتھوں سے اُس نے میری قبر پر، چادرِ گل چڑھائی مزہ آ گیا
apne haathon se us ne meri qabar par, chaadar-e-gul charhaaii maza aa gaya
With her own hands, she spread a sheet of flowers on my grave – how delightful!

Fana Buland Shehri included his takhallus in this qawwali when he says, “ae Fana shukar hai aaj baad-e-fana, us ne rakhli mere pyaar ki aabroo”. Fana is the author’s name, but it also means “death”. This adds another meaning to that line: “O death, today I am grateful that after my demise, she has maintained the honor of my love”.


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Airfield Reader’s Day: Mountains To Sea DLR Book Festival

Today, I attended along with my wife the Reader’s day event at Airfield estate held as part of Mountains To Sea DLR Book Festival It was a great event and an opportunity to meet with a number of talented Irish writers.

The first event of the day was titled ‘From Stage to Page’ where Tara Flynn discussed with Claudia Carroll and Kate Beaufoy their transition from being stage actors to becoming successful authors. Tara Flynn   herself is an actress and an author and she moderated the event very well. Claudia Carroll is a Dubliner and has been a successful stage actress. She now writes full-time and her 2013 novel ‘Me and You‘ was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Popular Choice Irish Book Award. She has knocked out a book a year for the last 12 years and did a short reading from her latest novel ‘Our Little Secret’. Kate Beaufoy also began her career as a professional actor before becoming a full time writer. She also has a dozen novels published including the number one bestseller ‘The Blue Hour’. She read an excerpt from her latest novel ‘The Gingerbread House’. Both gave insights on what prompted them to become authors and the challenges they faced on their journey. One of the questions was on how much input they provide on the design of their book covers and why it is that covers on the books written by female writers are so different from those of male writers? I found it amazing that both said that they’d almost no say in deciding the book covers and were guided by their publishers. They said that they are primarily writers and have no experience in marketing so they would leave it on publishers to take care of that aspect of book publishing. Both seemed pretty happy with the book covers chosen by their publishers. On the question about the discipline of writing, Kate summed it up very nicely that discipline is nothing but pure hardwork. The last question that Tara had for them was that if they’ve to chose between acting and writing, what would they chose? Both answered that they would chose writing over acting. Kate told the audience that she almost had a fright on every stage opening night. For her, the best part of the acting profession was rehearsal as it was a creative process, the opening stage night was really scary and after that it was plain delivery and did not involve much creativity. Whereas writing is a creative process end to end. Carroll did mention that she still has a big fright when she sends her new book draft to her editor, she said that she is not a mother or a parent but she can imagine that it would feel similar to the moment when a new mother wraps up her baby and hand it over to someone visiting and wait for the feeback if her baby is beautiful or ugly.

After the wonderful talk, there was a tea break and we’re able to chat with both Kate and Carroll and got their latest books signed.

The second event was titled ‘The Writing Life’ and audience were treated to Carmel Harrington, Hazel Gaynor and Fionnuala Kearney discussing the ideas behind their latest book and writing life with RTE’s Evelyn O’Rourke. Carmel Harrington lives with her family in County Wexford. She has won several international awards including Kindle Book of the Year and Romantic ebook of Year. Her latest novel ‘The Things I Should Have Told You’ was nominated for an Irish Book Award. Originally from Yorkshire, Hazel Gaynor now lives in Ireland with her family. Her novels ‘The Girl Who Came Home’ and ‘A Memory of Violets’ achieved New York Times and USA Today bestseller status and her latest novel ‘The Girl from the Savoy’ was nominated for an Irish Book Award. Finnuala Kearney writes about the nuances and subtle layers of humanity relationships, peeling them away to see what’s really going on beneath. ‘The Day I Lost You’ is her second novel; her first was the Top Ten Irish Times bestselling ‘You, Me and Other People’. All the authors read from their latest novels and enlightened the audience with anecdotes from their journey to become successful writers. Carmel and Hazel actually got self published before Harper Collins embraced them and gave them book contracts. Both of them encouraged aspiring writers not to shy away from self publishing on Amazon but to be passionate to explore any avenues to take their stories to the readers. All of them mentioned that writing the book is the easy part but getting it published is more of a combination of right allignment of stars and right agent. The right agent can do wonders but it is hard to secure one and needs a lot of knocking on the doors. It was a treat to listen to their challenges in keeping themselves disciplined while rearing young children. On the question if writing can provide a living, they said it took years before they started to earn a living from writing, for Carmel it took 7 years and 5 novels before she started earning enough to make a living and same struggle was faced by Hazel and Finnuala.

After this really educative discourse, there was a break for lunch and thankfully the kitchen could serve vegetarian sandwiches and soup. We’d our lunch with a group of old ladies from Wexford and had a good chat with them over lunch. Then tea was served with delicious sweet oaties and we could also get hold of Finnuala to get her latest novel signed.

The last event of the day was titled ‘Partners in Crime’ in which crime writers Alex Marwood, Jane Casey and Sam Blake talked about their latest novels and the reasons why women so excel in the crime genre? Declan Burke who himself is a crime writer, journalist and critic moderated the event. Alex Marwood began her career as Fleet Street journalist before turning her hard to the wirting of crime fiction. Her novels ‘The Wicked Girl’ and ‘The Killer Next Door’ have won many awards. Alex herself is a figment of the imagination of the novelist and sometime journalist Serena Mackesy. Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin who runs, the national writing resources website, as well as a publishing consultancy. In 2016 her first crime novel ‘Little Bones‘ became a Number 1 bestseller and was nominated for an Irish Book Award. Married to a criminal barrister, Dubliner Jane Casey infuses her novels with an unerring authencity. They have been nominated for several awards and in 2015, Jane won both the Mary Higgins Clark Award and Irish Crime Novel of the Year. The first question Declan posed to the crime writers was on their insight on why women excel in crime genre? Jane had a theory that women have a far developed sense of threat and could easily sense threat in every situation and location. Another generalisation she made was that women crime writers develop characters who are close of their real life personas whereas with male crime writers the protagonists are people they aspire to be… who could punch better than the next guy… and that is perhaps the reason why writers like Ian Fleming could come up with heroes like James Bond but the characters from women crime writers are more grounded. All the writers read from their latest books and told the audience anecdotes from their lives and works. Sam Blake told the audience how she came up with the idea of child bones inside the helm of a wedding dress for his latest crime thriller and Alex told the audience how her both grandmothers were successful crime writers in 1930s.

Overall it was a great event and both I and my wife thoroughly enojoyed it.

Tarun Rattan

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Brexit Blues: Why Dublin is Turning Into a Haven for Blockchain

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How to be a leader in the digital age

The coming years will be a time of “Digital Leaders”. Around the world, leaders in different fields have already started to embrace the digital revolution and recognize the power of game-changing technology. “Every country needs a Minister of the Future,” said Saleforce’s founder and CEO Marc Benioff, at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year. And he was right.

1. But what does leadership actually mean?

There is a plethora of literature on leadership, but only some of it addresses an issue of how disruptive technologies can define the new wave of leaders in today’s world. Before we move on to digital leadership, we should take a step back and look at what leadership means in general and whether universal characteristics of leadership apply to the fast-changing world of disruptive technologies.
Different ages require different kinds of leadership, but many leading theorists claim that there are certain universal characteristics that are timeless.

First, personal charisma. A charismatic person possesses a rare gift that allows them to influence followers while inspiring loyalty and obedience.
However, Max Weber predicted a decline in charismatic leadership in what he described as “routinization” Arguably he was right, especially in the Western World where charismatic leadership over the years has been, to some extent, “succeeded by a bureaucracy controlled by a rationally established authority or by a combination of traditional and bureaucratic authority”. This process is evident in the European Union’s bureaucratic system, where politicians are often accused of being unable to take brave and visionary decisions. A huge system of checks and balances and the competing national interests of 28 member states makes it harder for high-ranked officials to act decisively.
Even those who possess natural charisma are not able to pursue their right course of action because they are forced to balance various interests, maintain order and seek consensus. Margaret Thatcher once described European leaders as being “weak” and “feeble”; the same, unfortunately, could be said about a number of leaders in Europe today. It is because their personal charisma, if they ever had it, has been silenced by bureaucracy.

Second, aside from ‘inner’ or personal levels of leadership, there is also an ‘outer’ or behavioral level which relates to how leaders deliver results, according to more integrated psychological theory. There are several universal skills that are worth mentioning, such as: (1) motivational skills; (2) team building; (3) emotional intelligence.
Obviously, this list of skills is not exhausted but indicates the core abilities required to deliver successful results. And although these ‘outer’ characteristics have largely remained the same, there are also a few which have changed substantially due to the unprecedented impact of technology.

2. The human impact of technology

We live in a world of rapidly advancing technology which is influencing lives like never before. Digital technology is transforming politics, businesses, economies and society, as well as our day-to-day lives.
Digital technology has not only broken down the old, familiar models of organizations, but has also created a broad set of new challenges.
The best example of transformative change is probably within the space industry. In 2015, we could observe how SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket landed safely at Cape Canaveral, which was hailed almost immediately as another giant leap for mankind. Reusable rockets are a fantastic business opportunity, a source of entertainment and, more importantly, another step forward in the commercialization of space travel and ultimately toward a possible colonization of other planets.
Back here on earth, we can’t deny that our world is changing as never before. Technological revolution is evident and examples of our new reality abound. The most popular social media creates no content (Facebook), the fastest growing banks have no actual money (SocietyOne), the world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis (Uber), and the largest accommodation provider owns no real estate (Airbnb). Today’s game changers drive with completely different fuel and sometimes – as the above examples clearly indicate – they revolutionize even the most basic characteristics of particular industries.
On a conceptual level, the Digital Age – called sometimes the knowledge society or networked society – is marked by several key structural changes that are reshaping leadership: (1) rapid and far-reaching technological changes, (2) globalization leading to the dynamic spread of information; (3) a shift from physical attributes toward knowledge and (4) more dispersed, less hierarchical organizational forms of organization.

3. The impact of the Digital Age on leadership

Traditional skills have not been supplanted but they now co-exist with a mix of new factors.

First of all, digital leadership can be defined by a leader’s contribution to the transition toward a knowledge society and their knowledge of technology. Digital leaders have an obligation to keep up with the ongoing global revolution. They must understand technology, not merely as an enabler but also for its revolutionary force.
Leadership must be driven by an attitude of openness and a genuine hunger for knowledge. Of course, no rule dictates that leaders must be literate in coding or that they graduated from machine-learning but yes, there is an imperative to understand the impact of breakthrough technologies.
Today’s leaders must have the ability to identify technological trends across different sectors, such as big data, cloud computing, automation, and robotics. However, first and foremost they must possess sufficient knowledge and the vision to use these resources most effectively.

Secondly, in a knowledge society, what we do not know is as important as what we do know. Leaders should know their limits and know how to acquire missing knowledge. A leader of the future is more like a community manager rather than an authoritarian.
These days, we are observing the decline of traditional hierarchical models of organization. Take a look at how the organization of governments has changed across Western societies in recent years. A number of governments have introduced or reinforced public consultation processes as well as opened up public data for the benefit of their citizens.

These processes, by and large, will continue to grow. As a result, the hierarchical model tends to be suppressed and replaced by horizontal structures among executives, leaders from different sectors, researchers and representatives from civic society. Hierarchy fails in the digital age because it’s slow and bureaucratic, whereas the new world is constantly changing and requires immediate responses.

Information is key. In today’s world, power is not gained by expanding new territories or areas of influence but by deepening and widening networks and connections. But what is the role of the individual or leader, or of qualities that distinguish one grain of sand from another?

4. Why leaders should turn their attention to tech for good

We have to shift our focus from the threat of new technologies to the opportunities they bring.
Of course, we cannot ignore the threat of new technologies. In India, for example, around 850 government websites have been hacked since 2012. Meanwhile, hackers recently breached US Government networks and stole more than 5.6 million fingerprint records from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). And the government is not always a victim, they can also be the predator. Not long ago, Twitter warned a number of users that they may have been the target of a state-sponsored attack.
The debate concerning the threat of technologies, especially the internet, will never end. Policymakers have proposed different ways of regulating the web, but they always are one or two steps behind. This is because law and regulations are stable and designed to be long-lasting, whereas the digital environment is changing rapidly. As Hugh Fiennes, CEO of Electric Imp, puts it: “The reality seems to be that when it comes to the internet-connected device there is no such thing as absolute security. Your device can start by being secure today and then not be secure tomorrow.”
We do not claim that regulation is purely ineffective, and thus we should abandon any legal solutions for creating a more secure environment. But we do suggest that we look at technologies through different lenses. We can transform the one thing that is good and bad in breakthrough technologies – the human factor.
Having acknowledged that digital technology will play a decisive role our future, leaders cannot afford to show fear or reluctance in implementing it. Instead, they must embrace technology with a clear view of its potential. We must set sail for new, ambitious lands. We choose to go to Mars because our technology enables us to at least attempt the exploration on other planets by the 2030s. And we choose to develop other fantastic things every day – self-driving cars, more powerful batteries, the Apple Watch, drones – to name only just a few.

A balanced mix of universal characteristics and digital leadership traits has the potential to guide us through years of transformation with optimism and idealism. Technology continues to prove that it can be used for the benefit of mankind, but only if we set sail on the right course and with the right companions.

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Introduction to Cryptography

Secure communications in presence of third parties i.e. adversaries is an old age problem and cryptography is the practice and study of techniques to solve this problem.

The history of cryptography can be split into two eras: the classical era and the modern era. In classical era, cryptography was synonymous with encryption – conversion of human readable message into incomprehensible information, such that interceptors cannot make any sense of the communication. A breakthrough was achieved in 1977, when both the RSA algorithm and the Diffie-Hellman key exchange algorithm were introduced and marked the start of modern era. These new algorithms were ground-breaking as they represented the first viable cryptographic schemes where security was based on the number theory enabling for the first time secure communication between adversaries without a shared secret.

In modern era with the advent of emerging technologies like Blockchain, cryptography has much more to offer than just encryption in the form of integrity, authentication, and digital signatures, interactive proofs and secure computations. Modern cryptography is founded on the idea that the key that you use to encrypt your data can be made public while the key that is used to decrypt your data can be kept private i.e. Encryption with the public key can only be undone by decrypting with the private key. The public keys are generated by transforming private key through a one-way function that is easy to calculate in one direction and difficult in oCrypto1ther. The whole security of modern communication depends on the “hardness” of this one-way function. Here the word hardness represents the computational complexity i.e. time taken to compute one key from another. In theory it should be very easy and computationally cheap to calculate public key from private key but impossible or computationally very intensive to calculate private from public. As such, these systems are known as public key cryptographic systems.

The first, and still most widely used of these systems, is known as RSA—made up of the initial letters of the surnames of Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman, who first publicly described the algorithm in 1977 and it uses factorization.

Integer factorization is the process of determining which prime numbers divide a given positive integer. Computers don’t do well with arbitrary large numbers so in factorization it is important to ensure that the numbers do not get too large by choosing a maximum number and only dealing with numbers less than the maximum. Any calculation that results in a number larger than the maximum gets wrapped back to a number in the valid range. In RSA, this maximum value (max) is obtained by multiplying two random prime numbers. The public and private keys are two specially chosen numbers that are greater than zero and less than the maximum value (say pub and priv). To encrypt a number, you multiply it by itself pub times, it needs to be wrapped around whenever it hits the max. To decrypt a message, it just needs to be multiplied by itself priv times, to get back to the original number.

It works like magic, let’s try to encrypt and decrypt word CITI using this technique.

Take the prime numbers 13 and 7. Their product gives maximum value of 91. Let’s assign the public encryption key to be the number 5. Then using the fact that we know 13 and 7 are the factors of 91 and applying an algorithm called the Extended Euclidean Algorithm, the private key can be deduced as the number 29. These parameters (max: 91, pub: 5, priv: 29) define a fully functional RSA system. You can take a number and multiply it by itself 5 times to encrypt it and then take that encrypted number and multiply it by itself 29 times and you get the original number back.

In case of CITI, to represent it mathematically, let’s first turn the letters into numbers. A common representation of the Latin alphabet is UTF-8. Each character corresponds to a number.



So CITI can be represented mathematically as 67 73 84 73.

To start with letter C, as it is number 67 on UTF-8, let’s multiply 67 by itself five times to get the encrypted value for C.

67×67 = 4489

Since 4489 is larger than max i.e. 91, it needs to be wrapped around. This can be done by dividing by 91 and taking the remainder i.e. 4489 = 91×49 + 30

30×67 = 2010 = 8

8×67 = 536 = 81

81×67 = 5427 = 58

This means the encrypted version of 67 (or ‘C’) is 58. Similar calculation for rest of the letters would give ‘I’ = 47, ‘T’ = 28, ‘I’ = 47

Hence the encrypted value for CITI becomes 58 47 28 47.

Now let’s see how decryption works.

To decrypt each encrypted value it needs to be multiplied by itself 29 times. Again starting with C, the encrypted value for C is 58, so this needs to be divided by itself 29 times and if exceeds max then needs to be wrapped around.

58×58 = 3364 = 88 (Remember, we wrap around when the number is greater than max.)

88×58 = 5104 = 8

… (Repeated in total 29 times)

9×58 = 522 = 67

There you’re, back to 67. Similarly we get back 73 for ‘I’, 84 for ‘T’ and 73 for ‘I’ again.

And CITI gets decrypted back to original UTF-8 representation as 67 73 84 73.

Though factorization provides rigorous security proofs yet it is not a hardest problem on a bit by bit basis. Due to recent advancements in cryptanalysis, it has become very easy to factor keys which were previously thought secure. To counter this simple fix cryptographers have come up with is just to increase the bit size of the keys. Since the resources available to decrypt numbers are increasing, the size of the keys needs to grow even faster. This is not a sustainable situation for mobile and low-powered devices that have limited computational power. The gap between factoring and multiplying is not sustainable in the long term.

In 1985, new types of cryptographic algorithms were proposed based on an esoteric branch of mathematics called elliptic curves.

Elliptical Curve is what most common browsers use today to secure the communication. An elliptic curve is the set of points that satisfy a specific mathematical equation. The equation for an elliptic curve looks something like this:



= x


+ ax + b

The property of elliptic curves that makes it interesting for cryptography is the horizontal symmetry of these graphs. Any point on the curve can be reflected over the x-axis and remain the same curve. Another more interesting property is that any non-vertical line will intersect the curve in at most three places.



Take any two points on the curve and draw a line through them; the line will intersect the curve at exactly one more place. In elliptical curve systems, we start with our private key (q) and a well-defined point (p) on the curve. Then we find the point (p*q) on the curve. That point is defined as public key corresponding to the private key. On elliptical curves it turns out that if you have two points, an initial point “dotted” with itself n times to arrive at a final point, finding out n when you only know the final point and the first point is hard. The mathematics works out in such a way that all rational multiples of p also ends up being on the curve. The claim is that it is very easy on elliptical curves to derive the public key by multiplication but computationally hard to find the reverse i.e. private from public.

After a slow start, elliptic curve based algorithms are gaining popularity, and the pace of adoption is accelerating. Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) is now used in a wide variety of applications: the US government uses it to protect internal communications; the Tor project uses it to help assure anonymity, it is the mechanism used to prove ownership of bitcoins, and it provides signatures in Apple’s iMessage service. First generation cryptographic algorithms like RSA and Diffie-Hellman are still the norm in most arenas, but ECC is quickly becoming the go-to solution for privacy and security online.

Tarun Rattan

Credits: Nick Sullivan,d.ZGg

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Fascinating Words

If you’re fascinated by words, then this is for you…

Glabella – The space between your eyebrows is called a glabella.

Petrichor – The way it smells after the rain is called petrichor.

Aglet – The plastic or metallic coating at the end of your shoelaces is called an aglet.

Barm – The foam on beer is called a barm.

Wamble – The rumbling of stomach is actually called a wamble.

Vagitus – The cry of a new born baby is called a vagitus.

Tines – The prongs on a fork are called tines.

Phosphenes – The sheen or light that you see when you close your eyes and press your hands on them are called phosphenes.

Box Tent – The tiny plastic table placed in the middle of a pizza box is called a box tent.

Overmorrow – The day after tomorrow is called overmorrow.

Minimus – Your tiny toe or finger is called minimus. 

Agraffe – The wired cage that holds the cork in a bottle of champagne is called an agraffe.

Vocables – The ‘na na na’ and ‘la la la’, which don’t really have any meaning in the lyrics of any song, are called vocables.

Interrobang – When you combine an exclamation mark with a question mark (like this ?!), it is referred to as an interrobang.

Columella Nasi – The space between your nostrils is called columella nasi.

Armscye – The armhole in clothes, where the sleeves are sewn, is called armscye.

Dysania – The condition of finding it difficult to get out of the bed in the morning is called dysania.

Griffonage – Unreadable hand-writing is called griffonage (Are you reading this dear doctors?)

Tittle – The dot over an “i” or a “j” is called tittle.

Crapulence – That utterly sick feeling you get after eating or drinking too much is called crapulence.

Brannock Device – The metallic device used to measure your feet at the shoe store is called Brannock device

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MIS40650 – Emerging Modes of Organising Work and their Implications

This session explored the concept of privacy and its implications in modern IT based social culture. Introna’s article summarizes the various theoretical notions of privacy and the current debate about privacy in academic circles.

Introna – Why we need privacy

The article mentions that what is surprising is that privacy did not get explicit attention from any of the great liberals. Liberal philosophers such as John Locke, Rousseau, Wilhelm van Humboldt and J. S. Mill did not spend as much as a page in their voluminous writings on the subject. Moreover, significant philosophical debate on the subject only emerged in the late 1960s. Why is this so? Could it be that privacy, as some suggest, is a modern very suspect concept invented by Warren and Brandeis in 1890 in response to a personal situation?

In the first part of article author tries to define privacy and accepts that it is such a primordial notion that any universally acceptable definition is difficult. But still Introna groups various different definitions into three fairly distinct but not mutually exclusive categories, namely: 1. privacy as no access to the person or the personal realm; 2. privacy as control over personal information; and 3. privacy as freedom from judgment or scrutiny by others.

Privacy as no access to a person or personal realm

Warren and Brandeis (1890, 205) defined privacy as the “the right to be let
alone.” But this definition was critiqued on various points. By this definition a person or institution can watch your every move but if they leave you alone their spying on you is acceptable. Also there are certain institutions or individuals that have a legitimate right not to leave you alone, such as the tax service or your creditors. Another definition from Van Den Haag (1971) is more deep i.e. “privacy is the exclusive access of a person to a realm of his own. The right to privacy entitles one to exclude others from (a) watching,(b) utilizing, (c) invading his private [personal] realm.” But again this definition implies that there is a certain realm, here expressed as personal, to which one may legitimately limit access. The obvious problem here is the definition of what is private or personal. Most scholars agree that to a large extent the exact demarcation of the personal realm is culturally defined. There is no ontologically defined personal realm.

Nevertheless, from a legal and communicative perspective, personal information can be defined as “those facts, communications or opinions which relate to the individual and which it would be reasonable to expect him to regard as intimate or confidential and therefore to want to withhold or at least to restrict their circulation” (Wacks, 1980). Gross (1967) is in agreement with this notion of privacy as “the condition of human life in which acquaintance with a person or with affairs of his life which are personal to him is limited.” He also refers to “intellectual” access by using the word “acquaintance”.

The above definitions, however, do not enable one to differentiate between the loss of privacy and the question of whether or not one’s right to privacy has been violated. An individual may voluntary give access to his personal realm to various other individuals intimately known or maybe unknown to him. In such a case, the person may be said to be less private, but no one has violated his right to privacy. This leads to the issue of control that is made explicit in the next group of definitions.

Privacy as control over personal information

Fried (1968) defines privacy as “control over knowledge about oneself.” This notion of control of personal information is also captured in the definition by Westin by defining privacy as “the claim of individuals, groups or institutions to determine for themselves when, how and to what extent information about them is communicated to others” (1967, 7, 42). Or in a more general sense by Parker (1974) as the “control over when and whom
the various parts of us can be sensed by others.”

Clearly, from a legal point of view, the violation of the right to privacy is very important. However, from a social relationship perspective it is the actual loss of privacy that is the issue at stake. Gavison (1980) defines a loss of privacy occurring when “others obtain information about an individual, pay attention to him, or gain access to him.” In this definition and the previous group the need for privacy is implicitly assumed. There is also no mention of the ‘other’ in the relationship given that privacy is a relational notion. This is where the notion of judgment-by others in the next group of definitions becomes explicit.

Privacy as freedom from judgment or scrutiny by others

The real issue of privacy according to Johnson (1989) is the judgment by others. He expresses it as follows:

Privacy is a conventional concept. What is considered private is socially or culturally defined. It varies from context to context. It is dynamic, and it is
quite possible that no single example can be found of something which is
considered private in every culture. Nevertheless, all examples of privacy have a single common feature. They are aspects of a person’s life which are culturally recognized as being immune from the judgment of others.

It is the knowledge that others would judge us in a particular way, perhaps
based on preconceived ideas and norms, that makes the individual’s desire
a personal or private space of immunity.

Author summarises the notion of privacy in these definitions as below

  1. Privacy is a relational concept. It comes to the fore in a community. Where people interact, the issue of privacy emerges.
  2. Privacy is directed towards the personal domain. What is deemed personal is, to some extent at least, culturally defined. In general one may state that personal or private aspects of my life are those aspects that do not, or tend not to, affect the significant interests of others.
  3. To claim privacy is to claim the right to limit access or control access to my personal or private domain.
  4. An effective way to control access to my personal realm is to control the distribution of textual images or verbal information about it.
  5. To claim privacy is to claim the right to a (personal) domain of immunity
    against the judgments of others.
  6. Privacy is a relative concept. It is a continuum. Total privacy may be as
    undesirable as total transparency. It is a matter of appropriateness for the
    situation at hand. It is unfortunately (or fortunately) a matter of judgment.

Next Introna’s article delves into the notion of Why Privacy? and this was explained from four perspectives

Privacy as the context of social relationships

The perspective here is that all social relationships, relationships of collaboration or of competition, require at least some level of privacy. There will be no private thoughts and no private places. Every thought and every act is completely transparent from motive right through to the actual thought or behaviour; body and mind immediately and completely transparent to each and every “other”. In such a world, how would you differentiate yourself, how would you compete? Is creativity possible? How is it possible to say “this is my idea” or “this is what I think”?

Privacy and intimate relationships

Fried argues that privacy provides the “moral capital” required by intimate relationships
of love and friendship:

Love and friendship, as analysed here, involve the initial respect for the rights of others which morality requires of everyone. They further involve the voluntary and spontaneous relinquishment of something between friend and friend, lover and lover. The title to  information about oneself [one’s beliefs, emotions, feelings, dreams, desires, etc.] conferred by privacy provides the necessary something. (p. 483)

It is this possibility of exchanging personal information about oneself (within a context of caring) that creates the possibility for intimacy. Gerstein argues that intimacy is an experience of a relationship in which one is deeply engrossed and in which one fully and wholly participates. It is a relationship where we relinquish our role as independent observer to lose ourselves in the experience. The key point is that we cannot at the same time be lost in an experience and be observers of it. Thus, privacy creates the moral capital (the personal information) and the possibility to participate (share the information) in a relationship in which I am deeply and exclusively engrossed as participant. Without privacy such intimate relationships would not be possible, or at least they would be extremely difficult to maintain.

Privacy and social roles

It is a generally accepted fact that individuals maintain a variety of relationships by assuming or acting out different roles. It is in fact different patterns of behaviour or roles that to a large degree define the different relationships and make them what they are. Privacy, through the rules, rituals, etc. that demarcate the private/public domain for a specific class of relationships, creates simplified relational structures that allow the individual to cope with the complexity – also, to appropriately invest in a selected set of intimate relationships. Gavison (1984) argues that Privacy “permits individuals [in the reciprocal relationship] to do what they would not do without it for fear of an unpleasant or hostile reaction from others.”

Privacy and self-constitution or autonomy

One of the most common arguments for privacy is its role in the creation and preservation of individual autonomy. If a person is aware that he is being observed, the person becomes conscious of himself as an object of observation. As an object of observation the person will then not merely structure his action according to his own will or intention, but also in line with (or in realisation of) what he believes those who observe would expect to see. Without privacy there would be no self. It would be difficult, even impossible, to separate the self from the other, since no act or thought could be said to be, in any significant way, original. Without privacy, a person would not be creator or originator, but merely a copier or enactor. As ReinÈman (1976) concludes: “privacy is necessary to the creation of selves out of human beings, since a self is at least in part a human being who regards his existence, his thoughts, his body, his actions as his own”

The last section of the article tries to unravel the linkage between notion of privacy and the information society.

Information technology, through electronically mediated communication, by removing time and space limitations, is rapidly multiplying interaction possibilities by orders of magnitude. As the technological infrastructure expands, the issues of social relationships, roles and autonomy will become more and more urgent. A whole new set of rules, rituals and gestures will have to evolve to deal with this new, more abstract set of electronically
induced social roles. The whole notion of trust, so important for social roles and relations is becoming ambiguous in modern world. The appropriate demarcation of private and public (in terms of appropriate behaviour and knowledge) for a specific type of role now becomes very vague.

Reinman argued that privacy is a social ritual by means of which an individual’s moral title to his existence is conferred. Privacy is an essential part of the complex social practice by means of which the social group recognizes and communicates to individuals that their existence is their own. Thus, as information technology (cellular telephones, television, the Internet, Groupware, etc.) progressively invades more and more private space (turning it into public space), individuals will be faced with fewer possibilities for making their existence their own. This is the essence of Foucault’s argument that the modern society through its panoptic universal “gaze” is creating mechanisms of power that are far more subtle and encompassing than ever before.

Introna concludes the article by saying that it is for the ultimate good of society as a whole that privacy is preserved, even at the expense of legitimate social control. Without some
preserved private spaces, society would lose its most valuable asset: the true individual.

Next Orlikowski’s article on matrix of control was discussed and extent to which IT deployed in work processes facilitates changes in forms of control and forms of organising was explored.

Orlikowski – Matrix of Control

The information technology facilitates decentralization and flexible operations on the one hand while increasing dependence and centralized knowledge and power on the other hand. The article discussed two forms of control

Internal forms of control

Pennings and Wiceshyn (1987) examine various forms of internal control in organisations, two important ones are personal and systemic control. Personal control is identified in terms of a dyadic relationship between supervisors and subordinates having its usual expression in direct supervision where one individual assumes authority over the actions of others and closely monitors that action to ensure compliance with orders. Systemic control represents a shift from personal relations to more transparent, indirect and impersonal forms of control and is vested in three interrelated structural properties of organisations – technology, social structure and culture. In control through technology control is embedded in the technical infrastructure of the production process. In control through social structure control is embedded in a firm’s policies, procedures and rules, it’s well defined job descriptions, career ladders and incentive schemes. In control through culture worker’s shared norms and values shape behaviour, order perception and influence attitudes.

External forms of control

Professional control is also employed by organisations where they delegate a large part of the indoctrination and training of their specialist employees to outside institutions such as professional schools and occupational communities. Organisations resort to this form of control as production processes become complex and dependent on highly specialized skill and knowledge. The authority invested in individual professionals is based on the special occupational competence they apply under conditions of task uncertainty, risk, complexity and variability e.g. accountants, engineers.

Systemic and professional forms of control can be seen as instances of Foucault (1979) disciplinary power in that control is exercised indirectly and impersonally through a range of institutional, technical and normative regulations and does not emanate directly or physically from individuals.

Next the article explores the linkage between IT and forms of control in which author draws on Gidden’s theory of structuration. Structure exists only as it is instantiated in action and information technology can be interpreted as an occasion for structuring organizations which both facilitates and constrains action. The forms of control in organisation are just mechanisms by which agents seek to achieve and maintain the compliance of others. In Gidden’s analysis such forms of control are premised on expressed through asymmetrical distribution of resources. Two kinds of resources are distinguished: allocative resources used to generate power over objects and authoritative resources used to generate power over persons.

The author then applies these concepts in a field study conducted in a large, multinational software consulting firm. Software Consulting Corporation (SCC). The author deduced that SCC uses systemic forms of control by the use of Production Knowledge, Socialization & Impression Management. It also uses personal forms of control using Direct Supervision & Electronic Supervision.

Next Solove’s article on End of Privacy was discussed.

Solove – End Of Privacy

The key concepts picked up in the article are

  • Social-networking sites allow seemingly trivial gossip to be distributed to a worldwide audience, sometimes making people the butt of rumours shared by millions of users across the Internet.
  • Public sharing of private lives has led to a rethinking of our current conceptions of privacy.
  • Existing law should be extended to allow some privacy protection for things that people say and do in what would have previously been considered the public domain

The session also covered an interview with MIT Media Lab’s Alex “Sandy” Pentland where Big Data and its impact on privacy was discussed.

Pentland – With Big Data comes Big Responsibility

Big data and the “internet of things”— in which everyday objects can send and receive data—promise revolutionary change to management and society. But their success rests on an assumption: that all the
data being generated by internet companies and devices scattered across the planet belongs to the organizations collecting it. What if it doesn’t? Pentland outlined the concept of the New Deal which is a legal framework proposed to rebalance the ownership of data in favour of the individual whose data is collected.

Below is a good video of Turkle’s lecture exploring the concept of privacy in modern world

PODCAST: Sherry Turkle – “Alone Together” – London School of Economics Public Lecture Series – (96 mins)

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