Countering Spam

Technology Review has an article by Vipul Ved Prakash, founder of Cloudmark:

Here’s a list of three rules (created after the most important features of e-mail) that anti-spam software should strive to follow:

1) Ability to send and receive e-mail from a stranger. (Whitelisting, payment systems, and challenge/response break this rule.)
2) Ability to send and receive pseudo-anonymous e-mail. (Domain-based authentication breaks this rule.)
3) E-mail should be free. (Payment systems break this rule.)

If we can solve the spam problem while maintaining the three features of e-mail, it would be a much sweeter victory.

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Groove and Small Business

Business Week writes:

Welcome to the collaboration woes of the small-business world. Technology was supposed to usher in the virtual office, but for many smaller outfits, the wider world beyond the cubicle doesn’t go much further than e-mails and instant messaging. While it’s better than costly phone calls, e-mail is an unwieldy way to work on projects that require team feedback on documents, real-time collaboration, brainstorming, or other forms of multiple-party communication.

Groove taps the power of each user’s computer, capitalizing on today’s fast, big-memory hard drives. When members of a Groove workspace use the Internet, the software looks for other members, links to the Groove documents on their hard drives, and then syncs them, so everything is updated. It tracks document versions, noting who made changes when, and if some team members aren’t online, it stores new information in a Groove Networks relay server until they log on.

For a budget-friendly, one-time fee of $69 to $180 per user, small companies can download the software, install it, and start creating workspaces for different projects, controlling which employees get access to what. As the needs of a particular project shift, new people can be added or removed. Groove is integrated with standard Windows products, such as Microsoft Outlook, Office, and Sharepoint, as well as Lotus Notes, so businesses can keep using the programs they already have. Davis says using Groove has reduced his need to travel, increased the information flow between himself and his consultants and clients, and allowed him to track projects more easily.

Startup Thoughts

Guy Kawasaki has started a Q&A in Forbes on starting a business. An excerpt:

Starting a company is not like finding a new job. With a new job, you want something that is interesting, pays well, enables you to reach your personal goals, etc, etc. It’s a stopping point along a journey.

Starting a company is very different. Your passion for the business should come from your heart. It’s not something that “matches your abilities,” but something that compels you to put everything on the line. So when something moves you to this extent, you’ve found it. You don’t necessarily go looking for it like you would read the “Jobs Wanted” section of the classified ads.

Well said! The desire and passion for an entrepreneur has to come from within. It is this inner determination and belief which will help the entrepreneur face all the challenges that will come – and there will be plenty of them.

Sydney ICT Workshop Presentation

I was recently in Sydney for a presentation (PPT, 80 KB) at an ICT workshop organised by the University of Sydney (Dr Dilip Dutta). Atanu and I jointly presented the paper entitled “Two Mutually Reinforcing Applications of ICT for Socio-economic Development of India”, which is being serialised in 10 parts in my Tech Talk columns.

TECH TALK: Transforming Rural India 2: Introduction

A few months ago, I had written a series on Transforming Rural India. Since then, I have had more opportunity to think on the issues facing rural India and have also interacted with many people. This Tech Talk series is a continuation of the same thread.

This was a paper written with Atanu Dey, Reuben Abraham and Vivek Padmanabhan for an ICT workshop in Sydney held on July 25. The original title of the paper was Two Mutually Reinforcing Applications of ICT for Socio-economic Development of India. Some of the ideas here have been adapted from Atanu Deys paper on RISC and my earlier series.

The gains from any innovation or revolution in technology or process usually have little impact on the poor in any developing country. The benefits usually accrue to the richpeoples as well as nations. The industrial revolution of the past is an example of this, where poorer nations are yet to fully benefit from the industrial revolution. So far, the benefits of globalization appear to have not had an appreciable impact on the poor. This should change and the revolution in information and communications technologies has the potential to help break out of this unfortunate scenario.

Povertyincome poverty as well as non-income povertyis perhaps the most common characteristic that defines the populations living in the developing world today. Non-income poverty in terms of education, health-care, access to markets, etc., directly produce the income poverty that traps the average citizen of developing countries. The question of how to raise huge populations out of this poverty trap is a formidable challenge that governments, multilateral organizations and policy makers face.

Because income poverty is relatively easier to measure compared to non-income poverty, it is more commonly reported and emphasized. (For instance, about half the world’s population, or about 3 billion people, have an average income of less than $2 a day, and of that about 1.3 billion have a daily average income of $1 a day. For India, the figures are even more stark: about 60% of Indians, or 600 million people, live on less than $1 a day.) Income poverty and non-income poverty are closely related, of course. The problem appears almost intractable because the two kinds of poverty are mutually reinforcing. Any solution that does not address both kinds of poverty is unlikely to be successful in poverty alleviation.

In this paper we focus on two uses of information and communications technology (ICT) that hold the promise of immense benefit to the rural poor, specifically in India, and more generally in other parts of the developing world. We focus on the rural population because the incidence of poverty is higher there than in the urban population.

Tomorrow: The Two Applications