Sunday, November 01, 2009

Forwards and (the) future!

“Here’s wishing you, your family, your neighbour, his family and the stranger across the street a Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali. May this new year bring the best of blessings from the Almighty.” - 195 characters

“Hr’s wshng u, ur fly, ur nghbr, hs fly n d strngr acrs d strt a Vry Hpy n Prsprs Dwli. My dis nw yr brng d bst of blssngs frm d Almghty” - 135 characters

I get the first of the above two messages. Then I get the second, from another source, two minutes later. The first message had 195 characters, whereas the second, devoid of vowels, added up to 135 characters. The analysis follows:

1) The world now survives on gadgets. It’s upto binary 0s and 1s to work through electronic circuits and remind someone about his / her duty to wish his near-and-dear-ones on their birthday or on auspicious occasions.

2) The number of characters was counted for a purpose. Anything above 160 characters becomes a second message, which increases the cost of sending the message. A wholehearted wish ain’t all that wholehearted, on further analysis. The vowels are mercilessly chopped to cut costs. And to then send an encrypted message that would have had John Conway rethink his Game of Life.

3) The ‘stranger across the street’ was not added to make the nonsensical message look more pathetic. It is to state the fact that people don’t bother to edit out irrelevant portions of the message when re-forwarding it. Which is why you get messages with the prefix “to all employees of Bharat Fertilisers”, even if you don’t have the slightest notion of what a plant looks like, or for that matter, how you spell the word LEAF!

4) People may note that even the Almighty wasn’t spared in the encrypted message!

All in all, we have a gadget which sends trimmed messages to a whole bunch of other gadgets, through radiations transmitted from one end and received at the other. And if you blame me of taking the emotions away from such a transaction, I will have to assert that there wasn’t any.

This provides further insights on two types of mobile users, and in fact, two kinds of people at large. The first consists of those who ‘wish to wish’ and bother not about the monetary spend involved. The second consists of those who ‘wish not to wish’, but compulsion and reasons-known-only-to-them force them to forward a digital representation. The latter category deserves a word of thanks, for it is they who stimulate our creative juices. They cause us to think. We put pen to paper, write down their message the encoded way, and call other friends to decrypt it. When someone wishes “your fly” a Happy Diwali, you do need a bit of analysis to set things right. And a word like wshng needs to be stared at for minutes together, pre-Eureka-moment. You could very well have five such friends / relatives texting you daily for a month, and get your IQ boosted to the level of joining the MNSA H-IQ SCTY (sorry, The Mensa High-IQ Society, I mean!).

An SMS may stand for a Short Messaging Service, but people make it so short that a few days hence, the Almighty may end up saying something to the effect of “Lt thr b lght!” And lght thr wl b!!