Thursday, September 29, 2005

What’s your Web IQ?

YOU could be a math whiz or be brilliant at phonetics. But if you haven’t mastered the art of ‘click, copy, paste’, you may as well give up. Internationally, students are now being judged on their ability to utilise the Internet to its fullest while doing projects. It’s called Web IQ, and looks at how well a student can choose and utilise the right facts from the sea of information on the Web.

In fact, administrators abroad say Web IQ is as important as mathematics and English skills, and reflects critical thinking ability. They’re even creating a test to evaluate Net intelligence, measuring if students can locate and verify reliable online information.

In Bangalore, most students are encouraged to use the Web for their projects. But not all do the job right. Anjali Sharma, fashion and design department head at a city college says the Net is a fantastic source of information. “But what to choose is an art students haven’t mastered yet. Students go to a search engine, type in the key words and take data from the first two sites that pop up,” she says. A recent project on an international designer’s profile, left Sharma surprised. “Many students hadn’t bothered to change the tense; URLs weren’t deleted. The biggest giveaway is language; when I see flowery language, I know it’s not their own!” Biotech student Kunal Shah only uses the Net for projects. “I use the Web for research and I’ve learnt a lot from it.” Yet, others in his college, still aren’t able to choose the right stuff. “Most search engines give you tons of info. I did a project on musician Kurt Cobain recently and took info off the Net, modified it and published it in my college journal,” says Kunal. He adds that some students, who did a project on the cloning of Dolly, found a famous thesis posted online and submitted it under their name. “It’s a talent to be able to do it right.” If you don’t, you get graded B, says BA student Aradhana Jaisingh. “We had to do a 1,000-word project and students who didn’t pick out relevant information got a B.” She feels being able to find the right info online comes with time. “In our college, you get a zero for direct lifting. You have to cut, paste and edit.” If a student can’t do it, it’s the duty of the professor to tell him how, says media studies lecturer John J Kennedy. “I do it and I recommend other professors do it too.” Kennedy says those who download and submit are taking the easy way out. His suggestion? “Use the Net, but also go through books. In some libraries, you aren’t allowed to photocopy information, so you’re forced to write it down. That’s the way to learn.”

Monday, September 19, 2005

What will Google do with $4 Billion?

Google. Currently trading at close to $300 per share.

The company has an $83 billion market cap making it one of the most valuable companies in North America, almost double the value of Yahoo! And almost 4 times the value of General Motors.

With this kind of valuation, what could Google have up its sleeve? After all they are reported to have over $2 billion in cash reserves alone. You’d think with that kind of cash on hand they could do almost whatever they wanted. So why add an additional $4 billion to that pot?

What could Google be after thats worth more than $6 billion? Well, I have some ideas.

Read More >>>>>>>>

Saturday, September 17, 2005

All work and know play!

Jack is never a dull boy when it comes to goofing off on the job. A survey reveals that the average employee wastes atleast two hours of productive time at the workplace.

A survey reveals that the average worker admits to frittering away 2 hours a day, not counting lunch and other scheduled breaks: that’s twice the amount of time employers expect employees to waste during office hours. According to the survey, this extra unproductive time amounts to $759 billion (Rs 356730 crore approx) annually in salaries for which companies get no apparent benefit.

What makes employees squeeze out personal time from office hours? ‘‘It’s unrealistic to expect workers to be on the job for more than 8-12 hours non-stop since they have family problems and personal matters to attend to,’’ says Vivek Chandra Gupta, CEO, Balaji Consultants. Adds career counsellor and stress-management expert Priya Warrick: ‘‘Non-productive hours are not necessarily a waste of time as they de-stress and take you away from the pressure of work for some time.’’

Some workers link time-wasting to compensation. ‘‘Why should I work for longer hours if I’m not given a commensurate package? I shorten my working hours by using creative ways,’’ says Sudhir Gupta, an HDFC exec. Warrick describes this line of thinking as ‘quid pro quo’.‘‘An employee’s ability to increase his/her pay is limited, but the ability to decrease the number of hours he/she actually works isn’t as limited.’’

Besides, technology facilitates ‘creative wastage’ of time. ‘‘Working on a computer helps the employee conduct his own business — chatting, paying bills online, messaging, playing games
— unobtrusively,’’ points out Jyotsana, HR manager with an IT company. According to Bill Coleman, spokesperson for the survey: ‘‘Workers goof off partly because they put in more hours on the job. What’s more, personal and professional time is blending.’’

Top time-wasting activities

Surfing the Net (personal use): 44.7% Socialising with co-workers: 23.4% Conducting personal business: 6.8% Spacing out: 3.9% Running errands off-premises: 3.1% Making personal phone calls: 2.3% Applying for other jobs: 1.3% Planning personal events: 1.0% Arriving late/leaving early: 1.0% Others: 12.5%

Top time-wasting excuses

Don’t have enough work to do: 33.2% Underpaid for amount of work: 23.4% Co-workers distract me: 14.7% Not enough after-work time: 12.0% Others: 16.7%

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

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Monday, September 05, 2005


KEEP that web log going, blo gevangelist. But don’t get dooced (fired from your job because the contents of your blog are work-related) by it. The blogosphere is now filling up with tales of employees who’ve been sacked for venting their spleen about company secrets, bosses, stock prices, overtime policy, co-workers et al, on the Net. Recently, a Californian automobile association fired 27 workers for speaking out against their organisation on their blogs. Many multinationals have also been in the news lately for sacking employee bloggers.

Blogs are big:

An international tech company that tracks blog developments says an estimated 40,000-50,000 blogs are created each day. A search of some Indian blogs threw up not only unsavoury references to a ‘kanjoos, khadoos boss of an IT multinational’, they also threw up information about ‘the sweatshop-like atmosphere where lowerrung employees are treated worse than slaves’ at another IT multinational. Employee blogs were not related to IT alone. Another blog spoke of a ‘boss of a leading hotel chain, and his not-so-nice activities.’ Says techie Nithin Jaidev, “Most Indian bloggers choose to remain anonymous, despite mentioning the companies they work for.”

Big Brother’s watching:

Not only are employees being fired, corporate guidelines on blogging and new blogging policies are also being put in place. A US IT major, which was among the first to publish a blogging policy for its employees, has fore-warned workers: “Using your web log to trash or embarrass the company, our customers, your co-workers, is not only dangerous but stupid.” Another US IT giant warns, “Don’t provide **** or another’s confidential or proprietary information. Know and follow Business Conduct Guidelines. Blogs, wikis and other forms of online discourse are individual interactions, not corporate communications...”

Not fair:

Many companies here already have guidelines about personal e-mail and web usage on company time. Blogger Neethi RS says, “Recently we were told that we will be violating the company’s disclosure act if we blog about the company. We don’t blog anymore; the bosses can use anything as an excuse to fire us.” Blogger Suresh Kumar says, “This is taking things too far. Blogs are supposed to be a space where you can speak freely. If companies are going to fire people like this, more anonymous blogs will come up. If it’s not harmful to the company, let it be.”

No to blanket diktats:

Issuing a blogging fatwa to employees is unfair, says Anuraj Jain, doctoral student. “Banning blogs doesn’t defeat the ‘idea of blogging’, because if you want to blog about something, you still can, despite a ban. Only this time with anonymity or by hiding the names of individuals or corporates. Employees need to be made aware of the privacy and ethics issues involved in the voluntary/involuntary disclosure of information.” He adds that considering most bloggers are usually in the age group of 20-25 years in India, it’s a good idea on the part of the company to make them aware of issues involved in dealing with the outside world, when it comes to information related to the company.”