Recently (specifically, on November 13), Tech Talk completed 2 years. Tech Talk started as a daily (Mon-Fri) column on Tech Samachar, where it is still published. [Archives Page] My first series (from November 13-24, 2000) was on the “Mass-Market Internet”. Fittingly, this week sees the start of a series with a similar theme – bridging the digital divide, and taking computing and communications to the next 500 million users. It is a topic I’ve talked about often, using which series to fine-tune and incrementally build upon the ideas.
When I started Tech Talk 2 years ago, I was quite depressed about my pathetic knowledge about technology. I have always been a voracious reader, but the few years prior to then had kept me very pre-occupied with managing IndiaWorld and had narrowed by reading quite dramatically to portals and dotcoms. I had to get out of that and build a much wider perspective. So, inspired by Red Herring’s “Catch of the Day” column (which has since been discontinued), I ambitiously decided on a daily Tech column, with each column being in the range of 400-500 words. I wrote out the first series of 10 columns quite excitedly, since that was what I had been thinking over the previous months. That was enough for 2 weeks.
At that time, I had thought I’ll probably run out of topics in a few months, but let’s write anyways. We’ll see what happens later. I knew that I had enough topics for a few more weeks. And so was launched Tech Talk.
Two years on and 500+ columns later, the Tech Talk tradition continues. I have not yet run out of topics! I may repeat a bit of myself at times, but I think each column brings with it a least some fresh thinking. I try and follow a simple principle: write what I am thinking. Some of these ideas are also what I am trying to apply in my business (Emergic), so they are not just academic, but also incorporate feedback from the marketplace.
Also, to whatever extent possible, I do try and cover a diverse set of topics – entrepreneurship, books, the New India, and so on. But its still a somewhat narrow sliver. I am an entrepreneur first, and writer second!
My writing habits for Tech Talk have changed somewhat over the years. Earlier, I used to write the daily column, well, daily. That was too much pressure. Wake up in the morning with the deadline looming! That did not help thinking. So, over time, I decided to write a set of columns together. Now, since the past year or so, I write a week’s columns together on a Sunday. It takes me about 2.5-3 hours. This has helped in ensuring a certain continuity and making me actually enjoy the writing.
I also quote (quite liberally sometimes) from others but make it relevant to the point that I am making. I have found that others do write better than me, and so, if they make the point, or provide a take-off for what I want to say, let us quote them. This is perhaps why Tech Talk will never become a book. (Of course, the other reason is that I will not have the patience to read and edit what I have written!) Online is the best place for Tech Talk to be.
My writing has increased since I started my blog in May this year. At that time, I wondered if I should just discontinue Tech Talk and stick to the blog. But I realised that the value of the Tech Talk lies in its length and deep thinking style. That I would find it hard to replicate in the blog’s microcontent style. I am glad I left Tech Talk untouched.
On a personal level, I love writing and sharing. It helps me clarifiy my ideas, and forces a discipline of reading and thinking. The feedback from readers over the years has also helped a lot – introducing me to new people and new ideas.
So, here’s on to year 3, with a promise to continue the spirit of Tech Talk.