Network Aware Software

Tim O’Reilly Network says: “THE frontier for the desktop, to see itself seamlessly integrated into the online world. And it’s not just web aware but cell-phone aware, p2p aware, and generally network aware.”

It is an important commentary for all software developers to read and imbibe.

Syndicating Topics

Bill Kearney has an interesting idea: “Basically I want to be able to find people and content based on their participation within a given context. That is, I’d like to be able to find out who’s in the known within a given context based on searching across topic spaces.”

New Ideas

ACM Ubiquity has an interview with management consultant Laurence Prusak, author of “What’s the Big Idea”. Some quotes:

One [of the big ideas in the book] the whole notion of “Idea Practitioner.” We wanted to identify a group of people who we felt had never been acknowledged or even written about in past management literature. And these are Idea Practitioners — people who, for whatever reasons, are intrinsically motivated, and who latch on to new ideas and bring them into the organization and fight for them. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, but they do this over and over.

People like that tend to be disruptive. If I’m the head person of an organization, they’ll come to me and say: “Wait a minute.” Or they’ll come with some new idea that they actually want me to think about! It’s Quality, it’s Knowledge Management, it’s Reengineering, it’s Management By Objectives, it’s whatever. We have a list of several hundred ideas in the back of that book, and even so, there are many more Big Ideas we just didn’t list. Most people in organizations — including the executive — just want to maintain an equilibrium. They’d like to just keep going along doing tomorrow what they did yesterday. But then these Idea Practitioners come in and they disturb the equilibrium. I mean, if someone’s telling you about a new idea you need to listen to, it means what you’re doing could be improved upon or is wrong — and people don’t always like hearing that.

TECH TALK: Reflections on Ideas and Entrepreneurship (Part 5)

Things take time. When we launched Samachar (or now, the Info Aggregator), I used to think why is it that everyone does not start using the service from day one. It seems so obvious that the use can be beneficial to them. But, things take time. There are the early adopters, who are more than willing to try out a new product. There is then a chasm which separates this group from the early majority. A different set of drivers will make this group come on board. Perseverance in ones vision and course correction are needed. If you believe that the underlying thinking is right, you need to stick it out.

Share. I have made the point before, but it is more beneficial to share ones ideas than it is to keep them within. I got in touch with Atanu (in California) through Reuben (in New York) via my weblog. And now, we (along with Vivek in Germany) are brainstorming on how Atanus RISC ideas can be implemented in India to transform the rurals. Sharing means opening oneself up to the unexpected. It is not the most natural thing to do. We all like to be protective of our best ideas. My experience has taught me just the opposite. Even when I was doing IndiaWorld, Id talk about the ideas to many people and do what I call, value-added aggregation. Listen to people, make notes, and see which of their points can take the idea to a different level. After all, it is we who know the endgame.

Experiment. I do a lot of this. We launched BlogStreet a year ago. It did not become very popular outside a small set of people. But it helped immerse us into the world of blogs and RSS. It is also why we launched the Info Aggregator. These are experiments. I dont know where they will lead us. What I do know is they are not the destinations, but stations en route. They help us understand the landscape better, they help us talk to others from a position of knowledge. They get us a seat at the table, or at the very least, an entry into the club. With experiments, it is also important to recognise that they are just that. So, one must not be too sentimental if things dont work out.

Begin. As has been said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It is amazing how many ideas never see the light of day. My regret would be not that I tried and failed, but that I did not try. Failure is the worst thing that can happen and it is temporary. But not making the attempt one has to live a life with that thought. If one makes the decision to close one door, God opens others. But it is we humans who have to take the first step. This is in some ways a very difficult thing to do. Status quo is easy. Change and uncertainty is not.

So, this is my framework for thinking. It is not a very scientific one, but one fine-tuned over many failures and a single success. It is easier to write it, than execute on it. (At times, I myself forget to follow this framework!) I hope that these thoughts serve as a good enough checklist to keep in mind. There is no formula for entrepreneurial success. One needs to keep trying, learn from the mistakes made the previous time, and ensure that those mistakes are not repeated. It is the journey which needs to be enjoyed, and not just the anticipation of reaching the destination.

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