The making of a rupee: made for India but not entirely made in India — Quartz

It costs a lot of money to make money. The special papers and inks, security features, and printing processes require specialised facilities and a hefty sum every year. So it’s no surprise that a number of countries, from Denmark to Kuwait, look to outsource the printing of their currencies. But India, the world’s second-largest producer…

via The making of a rupee: made for India but not entirely made in India — Quartz

The Battle Is For The Customer Interface

Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the world has developed complex supply chains, from designers to manufacturers, from distributors to importers, wholesalers and retailers, it’s what allowed billions of products to be made, shipped, bought and enjoyed in all corners of the world. In recent times  the power of the Internet, especially the mobile phone, has unleashed a movement that’s rapidly destroying these layers and moving power to new places.

The Internet is the most powerful mechanism we can imagine to match perfectly individuals that need something, and people with something to offer. The moment started slowly by reducing complexity and removing the middle layer in the late 1990s. From insurance to early PC makers like Dell to travel agents, this time seemed to be an age where “direct” became a desirable moniker. This time seemed to favor scale and efficiency over service or brand, for commodities like insurance cover or processing power, the overheads of sales, marketing and retail footprint were stripped away.

By 2015 things changed. The balance of power between the different service layers is a jostle for control. Price-comparison sites first seemed to provide welcome traffic to airlines before airlines tried and failed to starve them of their business and promoted their own apps and websites as the preferred route. But it was too late. Services like Ocado once offered a symbiotic relationship with supermarkets, yet now supermarkets fear the power that such companies get when they get closer to the customer. In this age, the customer interface is everything. There are two approaches.

Full Stack Companies 

Full stack companies like Tesla, Warby Parker, BuzzFeed, Nest or Harry’s seek to ensure control by owning all layers. From R&D to marketing, from distribution to sales, these companies do it all. It’s a great way to keep profit in the family, yet it’s harder to scale and build.

The Interface Owners

The new breed of companies are the fastest-growing in history. Uber, Instacart, Alibaba, Airbnb, Seamless, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google: These companies are indescribably thin layers that sit on top of vast supply systems ( where the costs are) and interface with a huge number of people ( where the money is). There is no better business to be in. The New York Times needs to write, fact check, buy paper, print and distribute newspapers to get their ad money. Facebook provides a platform for us to write our own content, and Twitter monetizes the front page of newspapers, which happens to now be the Twitter feed.

Our relationships are no longer with the service providers. Our mobile operators seem like dumb data pipes while WhatsApp provides the services we value and can monetize our attention.

The Interface Is Where the Profit Is

The interface layer is where all the value and profit is. Withings scales can cost five times than other weighing solutions because the addition of an app makes it smart health management, not just weight measurement.

Phillips Hue lighting can make 1,000 times more profit than a colored light bulb because it’s a home emotion system. Sonos beats any other music system I’ve tried because the experience of music while using it is delightful.

The value is in the software interface, not the products. It’s not just the smart home. Uber provides average cars in a premium way; Seamless makes the most disgusting of greasy kebab joints appealing and makes its margin from both sides. iTunes for many years took virtually all the profit made in the entire music industry by being just the thin software between the hard work making tunes and the money selling them.

Big Battles For the Customer Interface

The Internet age means building things is nothing other than code. We’re going to see a non-stopbattle to leap ahead of each other. And also get more wide, Twitter may have started out as a microblogging platform, but it’s now aiming to be a way to exploit its audience to distribute TV content. Facebook’s attempts with news content now make it a news channel and thanks to Autoplay video, soon a way to watch TV content. Snapchat’s discovery features turned the IM platform into a way to consume TV content.

In the modern age, having icons on the homepage is the most valuable real estate in the world, and trust is the most important asset. If you have that, you’ve a license to print money until someone pushes you out of the way. So the question becomes, what are you going to do to stay there or get there? And once there, how do you exploit it?

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The Battle Is For The Customer Interface

9 ‘Mindsets’ You Need to Switch From Employee to Entrepreneur

Source: 9 ‘Mindsets’ You Need to Switch From Employee to Entrepreneur

Mindset is probably the major determinant of success in pretty much every walk of life. In other words, the thinking patterns you habitually adopt largely govern the results you achieve.

But different circumstances and situations require different mindsets, something that anyone looking to leave paid employment and strike out on their own, must be aware of. Unfortunately, not all would-be entrepreneurs understand the dramatic mindset shifts required, without which business success is unlikely.

So how, as a one-time employee, will you have to think differently to succeed?

1. You’re responsible for all decisions – good and bad. Entrepreneurs have an incredible opportunity to create something from nothing, in a way that’s not possible working for someone else. But this means making big decisions about what must be done, when and how. You can’t wait for things to happen, or for someone to tell you what to do, you must make them happen. Successful entrepreneurs also understand that opportunities may be short-lived, and so develop a sense of urgency that helps them achieve their goals.

2. You need to hold both short and long-term visions simultaneously. Work for others and you are mainly responsible for ensuring that what needs to be done now, is done. As an entrepreneur, you have to project your mind forward, thinking about the potential pitfalls and opportunities that lie around the corner, and making decisions based on uncertainty. This requires you to come to terms with the fact that what you do, or don’t do, today, will have an impact on your business three months, even five years down the line.

3. Feeling uncomfortable is your new ‘comfort zone.’ As an employee, you’re used to thinking ‘inside the box’ rather than outside it. As an entrepreneur, there is no box. You see what others don’t, test new ideas, seize new territory, take risks. This requires courage, a thick skin and the ability to keep going despite rejection and skepticism.

4. Learning is a continuous journey. As an employee, you have a job description, requiring a specific skill-set. Being an entrepreneur involves learning many new skills, unless you have the funds to outsource what you’re not good at or don’t want to do. That could be learning to set up a spreadsheet, getting investors on board, marketing your ideas, crafting your perfect pitch, or using unfamiliar technology. What needs to be done, has to be done – there is no room for excuses.

Related: Finding Growth By Changing Your Mindset

5. Numbers don’t lie. Where numbers are concerned, it’s enough for most employees to know what’s coming in and what’s going out. As an entrepreneur, you’d better learn to love numbers fast, because your cash flow is what will keep you in – or out of – business. Ultimately, it’s your sales, costs, profit and loss that will either give you sleepless nights or an enviable lifestyle. But without the guiding light of numbers, your business will be continually heading for the rocks.

6. Love your business, but be objective. As an employee, you can go on doing something you dislike just for the salary. As an entrepreneur, you will need to love your business because of the effort and long hours required. But you mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking and acting like an employee in your own company, working ‘in’ rather than ‘on’ the business, a ‘technician’ rather than the person who steers it forward.

7. Enjoy breaking rules. As an employee, breaking the rules could mean dismissal. Entrepreneurs on the other hand, aren’t interested in the status quo – they’re always looking for ways to do things differently. That means acquiring a global perspective, always peering over the horizon, or at least towards it, to where the next big thing is waiting.

8. Time isn’t linear. As an employee, you have a timetable to work to. As an entrepreneur, while you might not be tied to a desk or computer 24/7, you will always be thinking about your business, what it’s doing well and what it could be doing better. There will be no respite – you will live and breathe it.

9. Start now. Most people under-estimate the time it takes to make the transition to entrepreneur, so it’s sensible to start shifting your mindset while you’re still employed, perhaps even setting up a business to run alongside. This could give you the opportunity to develop skills and build experience while still enjoying the safety-net of a salary, something that at some point you will almost certainly need to give up if you want to grow your business.

The Lost Continent of Lemuria or Kumari Kandam

Lemuria

Have you heard of a continent that is lost from the earth beneath the ocean? Have you heard of the continent called Lemuria or Kumari Kandam? If not let’s try and understand the researcher’s perspective to this lost continent. With the advancement of technology and scientific capabilities, archeologists and scientist have proposed many new theories and existence of civilizations in the past. You can find many references of the sunken cities. One most talked city example is Dwarika in Gujarat, India. Similarly, a theory proposed in the 19th century suggests the existence of land referred to as Lemuria in south of existing India. The name comes from the lemur fossils (Lemurs are ancestral primates like monkeys, apes, and humans that are considered to have evolved from them) found in Madagascar and India but not in Middle East or Africa. This lead to the theory that India and Madagascar were once part of a larger sunken continent that was named as ‘Lemuria’ located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Definitely sunken continents do exist – like Zealandia in the Pacific or Mauritia and the Kerguelen Plateau of Indian Ocean, but due to scarcity of data and known geological formation under the Indian or Pacific Oceans that resulted into the hypothetical Lemuria which is no longer considered a valid scientific hypothesis.

The hypothesis of existence of sunken continent Lemuria has been taken by writers involved in the mystical, magical powers, supernatural practices, or phenomena in India. References of Lemuria differ amongst them, but all agree that a continent existed in ancient times in south India and sank beneath the ocean as a result of a geological, disastrous change due to pole shift or some unknown phenomenon. Some writers have tried to associate Lemuria with Kumari Kandam (sunken land that connected Madagascar to South India and Australia that covers most part of the Indian Ocean), a legendary sunken mainland area referenced in the Tamil literature claiming that it was the foundation of civilization.

 

A group of Tamil writers who are member of the clergy and promote religious revival adapted this theory. These people perform religious revivals that travel and conduct revivals. They connected it to the Pandyan rulers and legends who were ruling the lost lands to the ocean, which is mentioned at many places in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit literature. They mention about the loss of Pandyan kingdom territory to the sea. This is found in scattered versions of Purananuru (dated between 1st century BCE and 5th century CE) and Kaliththokai (6th-7th century CE).. According to their philosophy, Kumari Kandam was the region where the initial two Tamil literary academies (referred to as Sangams) were organized during the Pandyan reign. The Tamil Sangams or Cankams according to traditional Tamil references were assemblies of Tamil scholars and poets that existed way back in past. Scholars consider that these assemblies were actually named as kootam. In all three sects or assemblies are found to have existed in descriptions in texts. It is accepted that the first two were held in cities that got submerged into sea and the third assembly was held in the present-day city of Madurai. They claimed Kumari Kandam as the cradle of civilization (a term referring to locations where according to archaeological sources civilization is considered to have emerged) to prove the history of Tamil language and culture. The words “Kumari Kandam” is seen to have appeared first in Kanda Purana which is a 15th-century Tamil version of the Skanda Purana, written by Kachiappa Sivacharyara (1350-1420).Other medieval writers also make references to the loss of ancient lands to the south of Kanyakumari, in different explanations on ancient texts such as Tolkappiyam. The Tolkappiyam is a work on the grammar of the Tamil language and the ancient and historical earliest work on Tamil literature and linguistics.

There are also various other ancient references that talks about loss of land to the sea. Many Tamil Hindu shrines have legendary references that talks on surviving the floods mentioned in Hindu mythology which could be seen in temples of Kanyakumari, Kanchipuram, Kumbakonam, Madurai, Sirkazhi and Tiruvottiyur. In addition, there are also mentions of temples submerged under the sea, such as the Seven Pagodas of Mahabalipuram. One of the most important stories as per Puranas keep the start of life at the beginning of the very popular Hindu flood story – the legend of Manu in India. The Sanskrit-language Bhagavata Purana (dated 500 BCE-1000 CE) describes Manu as the Lord of India. In another reference in Manimeghalai (dated around 6th century CE) mentions that the historical port city of Kavirippumpattinam during Chola period (modern day Puhar) was destroyed completely by a flood. It is said that this flood was created by the Hindu deity Indra because Chola king forgot to celebrate a festival dedicated to him.

 

Unfortunately none of these ancient Indian texts or their medieval explanations uses the name “Kumari Kandam” for the land supposedly lost due to rise of sea levels. These texts do not even mention that the land lost to the sea was a big mainland continent and was located in the south of Kanyakumari. In modern times according to the research work done at India’s National Institute of Oceanography, it is found that the sea level at that time was lower by 100m about 14,500 years ago. The sea level was lower by 60 m about 10,000 years ago. Hence as per modern understanding, it is very well possible that there could have been land that is lost to the see. This can very well be seen in the theory that says once a land bridge exists that connected India to Sri Lanka. Due to global warming around 10,000-12,000 years back, the rising sea levels resulted in flooding. This could be considered to have been basis for submerged prehistoric settlements that existed around the lowland coastal areas of India and Sri Lanka.

One prominent piece of evidence that partially supports the existence of Kumari Kandam is Adam’s Bridge (also known as Ram Setu). This bridge is a chain of limestone shoals located in the Palk Strait area between India and Sri Lanka. It extends around 18 miles from mainland India to Sri Lanka.  This strip of land was once considered to be a natural formation however few argue that images taken by a NASA satellite depict it as a long broken bridge under the ocean’s surface.

As with many of the proposed theories from time to time, it seems a mix of thoughts exists and that there is some truth to the ancient thoughts on the existence of land called Kumari Kandam but still more studies and evidences and proofs are needed which is yet to be determined to make a final decision.

– See more at: https://www.myind.net/lost-continent-lemuria-or-kumari-kandam

Imagecredits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kumari_Kandam_map.png

 

Many scientific truths are, in fact, false

Source: Many scientific truths are, in fact, false

In 2005, John Ioannidis, a professor of disease prevention at Stanford University,published a paper, “Why most published research findings are false,” mathematically showing that a huge number of published papers must be incorrect. He also looked at a number of well-regarded medical research findings, and found that, of 34 that had been retested, 41% had been contradicted or found to be significantly exaggerated.

Since then, researchers in several scientific areas have consistently struggled toreproduce major results of prominent studies. By some estimates, at least 51%—and as much as 89%—of published papers are based on studies and experiments showing results that cannot be reproduced.

Researchers have recreated prominent studies from several scientific fields and come up with wildly different results. And psychology has become something of a poster child for the “reproducibility crisis” since Brian Nosek, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, coordinated a Reproducibility Initiativeproject to repeat 100 psychological experiments, and could only successfullyreplicate 40%.

Now, an attempt to replicate another key psychological concept (ego depletion: the idea that willpower is finite and can be worn down with overuse) has come up short. Martin Hagger, psychology professor at Curtin University in Australia, led researchers from 24 labs in trying to recreate a key effect, but found nothing. Their findings are due to be published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in the coming weeks.

Why are they getting it wrong?

No one is accusing the psychologists behind the initial experiments of intentionally manipulating their results. But some of them may have been tripped up by one or more of the various aspects of academic science that inadvertently encourage bias.

For example, there’s massive academic pressure to publish in journals, and these journals tend to publish exciting studies that show strong results.

“Journals favor novelty, originality, and verification of hypotheses over robustness, stringency of method, reproducibility, and falsifiability,” Hagger tells Quartz. “Therefore researchers have been driven to finding significant effects, finding things that are novel, testing them on relatively small samples.”

This has created a publication bias, where studies that show strong, positive results get published, while similar studies that come up with no significant effects sit at the bottom of researchers’ drawers.

Meanwhile, in cases where researchers have access to large amounts of data, there’s a dangerous tendency to hunt for significant correlations. Researchers can thus convince themselves that they’ve spotted a meaningful connection, when in fact such connections are totally random.

A sign of strength

The idea that papers are publishing false results might sound alarming but the recent crisis doesn’t mean that the entire scientific method is totally wrong. In fact, science’s focus on its own errors is a sign that researchers are on exactly the right path.

Ivan Oransky, producer of the blog Retraction Watch, which tracks retractions printed in journals, tells Quartz that ultimately, the alarm will lead to increased rigor.

“There’s going to be some short-term and maybe mid-term pain as all of this shakes out, but that’s how you move forward,” he says. “It’s like therapy—if you never get angry in therapy, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. If you never find mistakes, or failures to reproduce in your field, you’re probably not asking the right questions.”

For psychologists, who have seen so many results crumble in such a short space of time, the replication crisis could be disheartening. But it also presents a chance to be at the forefront of developing new policies.

Ioannidis tells Quartz that he views the most recent psychology reproducibility failures as a positive. “It shows how much effort and attention has gone towards improving the accuracy of the knowledge produced,” he says. “Psychology is a discipline that has always been very strong methodologically and was at the forefront at describing various biases and better methods. Now they are again taking the lead in improving their replication record.”

For example, there’s already widespread discussion within psychology about pre-registering trials (which would prevent researchers from shifting their methods so as to capture more eye-catching results), making data and scientific methods more open, making sample sizes larger and more representative, and promoting collaboration.

Dorothy Bishop, a professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University, tells Quartz that several funding bodies and journals seem to be receptive to these ideas and that, once one or two adopt such policies, she expects them to spread rapidly.

Doing science on science

Each scientific field must adopt its own methods of ensuring accuracy. But ultimately, this self-reflection is a key part of the scientific process.

As Bishop notes, “Science has proved itself to be an incredibly powerful method.” And yet there’s always room for further advancement.

There’s never an end point,” says Bishop. “We’re always groping towards the next thing. Sometimes science does disappear down the wrong path for a bit before it corrects itself.”

For Nosek, who led the re-testing of 100 psychology papers, the current focus on reproducibility is simply part of the scientific process.

“Science isn’t about truth and falsity, it’s about reducing uncertainty,” he says. “Really this whole project is science on science: Researchers doing what science is supposed to do, which is be skeptical of our own process, procedure, methods, and look for ways to improve.”

Researchers reconstructed the Tanzanian landscape where human ancestors once roamed

Source: Researchers reconstructed the Tanzanian landscape where human ancestors once roamed

Some 1.8 million years ago, early humans had a pretty good life in what’s now known as Tanzania. Researchers have analyzed fossils from Olduvai Gorge to create a detailed picture of the world once inhabited by human ancestors, and it seems the landscape was perfect for our predecessors.

Ancient plant biomarkers reveal a “patchwork landscape” of protective woods and wetlands, both of which were surrounded by open grassland, according to a studypublished in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month. There was also a freshwater spring at the site.

The researchers used plant evidence together with clusters of animal bone debris and ancient human remains to establish that there was plenty of food and water in the area, while the woods were used as shady protection where humans could eat their meat.

“We were able to map out what the plants were on the landscape with respect to where the humans and their stone tools were found,” Rutgers professor Gail Ashleytold sci-news.com. “That’s never been done before.”

Ashley reconstructed the landscape together with colleagues from Pennsylvania State University, ETH Zürich, and the Complutense University. They found evidence of two hominin species, Paranthropus boisei and Homo habilis. Both had a 30-40 year lifespan, though the Homo habilis had a larger brain and is thought to be a closer relative to modern humans.

Animal bones with cut-marks, found inside what was the wooded area, show that humans used tools to butcher their food within the cover of the trees. But it’s unlikely that the animals were hunted within the woods.

“Based on the high concentration of bones, the hominins probably obtained carcasses elsewhere and ate the meat in the woods for safety,” said Ashley.

Bones of giraffes, elephants, and wildebeests were also found within the area, along with those of more dangerous carnivores, including lions, leopards, and hyenas.

Researchers don’t believe that two ancient human species camped at the site, but that they spent several decades, if not centuries, making use of its natural resources.

‘When cultural heritage is under attack, human rights are under attack’ – UN expert

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53370#.VuWczFt97IU

4 March 2016 – The destruction of cultural heritage is a violation of human rights, a United Nations-appointed expert said today, as the international criminal tribunal began a pre-trial procedure for the first-ever case in which charges were brought against the destruction of cultural and religious sites.

“It is impossible to separate a people’s cultural heritage from the people itself and their rights,” Karima Bennoune, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, said in apress statement. “Clearly, we must now understand that when cultural heritage is under attack, it is also the people and their fundamental human rights that are under attack.”

On 1 March, a pre-trial procedure, known as a confirmation of charges hearing, was opened in The Hague by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a case related to alleged cultural destruction in Timbuktu, Mali.

While stressing that she does not want to prejudge the ongoing individual case before the ICC, Ms. Bennoune said that the destruction of cultural heritage by States and non-State actors must be urgently addressed by the international community.

“When mausoleums – as well as ancient Islamic manuscripts – were being destroyed by armed groups during their 2012 occupation of Northern Mali, various forms of cultural practice were also under attack, including music and religious practices,” she said.

The UN expert welcomed the decision of the ICC Prosecutor’s Office, for the first time, to charge the destruction of cultural and religious sites, as well as historical monuments, as a stand-alone war crime.

In a report to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 10 March, the expert will address further the links between destruction of cultural heritage and violations of cultural rights. She will also make key recommendations, including for international cooperation and technical assistance.

She said that cultural heritage professionals on the frontlines of the struggle against destruction must be provided with the conditions necessary to complete their work, and asylum when necessary.

“We must not wait to rally to the cause of at-risk cultural heritage defenders until we are mourning their deaths,” the human rights expert said, while honouring the memory of Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, retired chief of antiquities for Palmyra, killed in 2015.

Moreover, tribute should be paid to ordinary people who step forward to defend cultural heritage, like those in Northern Mali who reportedly hid manuscripts beneath the floorboards of their homes to protect them or those in Libya who tried to peacefully protest destruction of Sufi sites, Ms. Bennoune said.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Independent human rights experts, appointed by the Council, address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.