Month: April 2012

Purchase Intention Use Cases

WisdomTap ( is a firm that uses purchase intention in a very interesting manner.

They spot purchase intention in public posts and target advertisements at the speakers.

The team at WisdomTap obtained some startling results when they measured how those users responded to their ads.

The results can be found in this whitepaper:


I was browsing through an online news site when I chanced upon an article on Henri Christophe, an 18th century ruler of Haiti.

The author of the article had written the following about Haiti:

The end of French rule meant the colony of Saint Domingue, renamed Haiti after its original Taino Indian name, became the first black-led independent nation in the world.

The first black-led independent nation!??

What about the Mali empire?  He must have meant ‘in the New World’.

I remember another occasion when a friend from Cameroun said to me “Our Spanish teachers are not Occidentals.  They are all Camerounais.”

What he didn’t realise was that to me, Cameroun is also in the West.  So, someone from Cameroun is also a ‘Westerner’.

Life is all about points of view.

Someday, I hope we shall have developed tools that help us see the world as others do.

For the moment, I’d be very happy if GMail and WordPress would just stop yelling at me whenever I type the English word for something you see with your eyes as ‘colour’ and not ‘color’.  Changing the locale won’t help, because in India we sometimes spell it as ‘color’ and sometimes as ‘colour’.

Cheng Ho and Transliteration

I recently read a book titled “Ying-yai Sheng-lan” (roughly meaning ‘Survey of the Shores’) by a 15th century sailor by the name of Ma Huan, who travelled with Zheng He (Cheng Ho) on the voyages of the treasure ships (宝船, bǎochuán).

Firstly, I was amazed at how authentic the descriptions of South India (referred to as 南天竺 nan-t’ien-chü, or as 南印度 nan-yin-du in old records) seem even today – more than half a millenium later.

Then, I came to the end of the book and found a list of place names (from India and around) that had been transliterated into Chinese by the year 1433. Here are just a few of the names that I found in the list (there were hundreds of names, more than half of which came from a Ming dynasty map):

  1. Chia-p’i-li – Cauvery
  2. Chih-lan – Chidambaram
  3. Chien-chih – Kanchipuram
  4. Kan-pa-li – Coimbatore
  5. Kan-pa-li t’ou – Kanyakumari
  6. Ko-chih – Kochi
  7. Ko-na-chi – Kanauj
  8. K’o-shih-mi-erh – Kashmir
  9. Ku-li – Calicut
  10. Mang-ko-nu-erh – Mangalore
  11. Mu-ku-tu-shu – Mogadishu
  12. Na-ch’ieh-po-tan-na – Nagapattinam
  13. Po-ch’a-li-tzu – Pataliputra (Patna)
  14. Po-lo-na-ssu – Varanasi
  15. Pu-lu-sha-pu-lo – Purushapura (Peshawar)
  16. Pin-t’ung-lung – Panduranga (Phan-rang) in South Vietnam (Champa)

When I read these, I couldn’t help wondering what our transliteration API (VakRed) would do with names as highly transformed as those.

VakRed would never be able to deal with them.

VakRed is an API designed to roughly transliterate abugida and alphabetic scripts solely for the purpose of comprehension and comparison (for use in distance metrics).

It just isn’t ready for abjad scripts like Arabic or logographic scripts like Chinese.