Perfect Search

John Battelle has posted an excerpt from his forthcoming book:

In the near future, search will metastasize from its origins on the PC-centric Web and be let loose on all manner of devices. This has already begun with mobile phones and PDAs; expect it to continue, viruslike, until search is built into every digital device touching our lives. The telephone, the automobile, the television, the stereo, the lowliest object with a chip and the ability to connectall will incorporate network-aware search.

This is no fantasy; this is simple logic. As more and more of our lives become connected, digitized, and computed, we will need navigation and context interfaces to cope. What is TiVo, after all, but a search interface for television? ITunes? Search for music. That box of photographs under your bed and the pile of CDs teetering next to your stereo? Analog artifacts, awaiting their digital rebirth. How might you find that photo of you and your lover on the beach in Greece from fifteen years ago? Either you scan it in, or you lose it to the moldering embrace of analog obscurity. But your children will have no such problems; their photographs are already entirely digital and searchablecomplete with metadata tagged right in (date, time, and soon, context).

Undervalued Indian Rupee?

The Indian Economy [Blog] discusses the Economist’s Big Mac Index and comments: “Its a pity the Economist does not include the Indian Rupee on the Index. However, since we at IE believe in regular contributions to the human knowledge pool, I have worked this out for you, dear reader. If we assume that a Big Mac or its closest equivalent (the Maharaja burger?) costs Rs 55 in India ($1.26 at an exchange rate of 43.5), then we find the Indian rupee is undervalued by the exact same amount as the RMB Yuan 59 per cent. This means that you need to add the INR to the RMB stash youre already hoarding, to cash out at a later date.”


MercuryNews writes:

BitTorrent dramatically improves the economics of the Internet as a broadcast medium.

With distribution costs removed, budding filmmakers like Ben Buie of HighlyDef Productions in Altanta can suddenly afford to release “On Our Way Up,” a full-length docudrama, based on the lives of three brothers, shot in high-definition video. Buie uses Prodigem, a Mountain View start-up, to manage the delivery and collect payment.

“We actually thought about hosting it ourselves, and the bandwidth costs would have been enormous,” said Buie. “With BitTorrent, download is distributed over several users. There was really no cost of entry.”

Murdoch, WiMAX and The Two Way Web

Om Malik has a post by Robert Young which gives an interesting view on how the media world is changing:

By integrating content and distribution, Murdoch has built a media empire that is finely tuned to optimize market control and profits in a one-way broadcast world. But now, as the market reaches a tipping point with high-speed internet access, and with ad dollars rapidly flowing into the broadband web, Murdoch faces the challenge of transforming his conglomerate into one that is optimized for a two-way interactive world. Of course, he already tried once back in the 90s, but now hes back on the M&A trail with renewed vigor. Yet there is a critical question Murdoch needs to address during strategic planning sessions, and before he unloads billions of aggregate dollars into more deals: What is his strategic objective for distribution in an interactive world? Does he still want to own distribution, or does he not care?

The best ally for Murdoch is Intel, the champion of WiMax. Intel envisions WiMax to be the third high-speed Internet access alternative, and therefore, they are becoming a natural enemy to cable broadband and telco DSL. Whats in it for Intel? Frankly a reason to sell more laptop chips. Just like nearly every laptop is now built-in with an Intel WiFi chips, they are looking forward to a future market where every conceivable computing device is WiMax-capable (including satellite dishes). Moreover, judging from their recent joint venture with actor Morgan Freeman, launching an online movie download service called ClickStar, Intel clearly has Hollywood aspirations.

TECH TALK: India Needs More Entrepreneurs: How?

There are three requirements for Indian entrepreneurship to flourish: People with Passion, Constructive Capital, and Big, Bold Ideas.

We need people who are willing to leave aside the comforts of the 9-5, Monday-to-Friday job and switch to a 24×7 mode of working and thinking as an entrepreneur. This is not an easy decision family and financial considerations are paramount. After all, given the way salaries in India are going up, why bother with taking any unnecessary risk? That is why entrepreneurship needs that little extra something that inner desire to do something different, to make a difference, to change the way things work. During tough times, it is this passion which will make the difference making one wake up and be ready to battle a new day of challenges. So, people (founders and the initial management team) need to be ready to work without roadmaps charting out a course that is their very own.

The second need is for start-up capital. While India has plenty of capital available for growth, there is little available for early-stage ventures. Even the existing venture capitalists would much rather fund late-stage venture than take risks with the early-stage ventures. Start-ups require what I call constructive capital capital which comes with the promise of mentoring and the belief that the entrepreneur has a right to own a significant portion of the venture that is being created. The way I look at it is that in start-ups, one is betting on the entrepreneurial team if they fail, the initial valuation discussions are irrelevant, and if they succeed, everyone comes out ahead. The goal should be that the entrepreneurs succeed and there be enough incentive for them to stay the course in building out the venture.

One conclusion I have reached is that even for ventures targeted at India, entrepreneurs should not consider raising less than a million dollars (about Rs 4-5 crore). By doing so, they can focus on building the company without having to worry about raising capital again in a few months. They will make mistakes that is par for the course. Theey need to have enough capital available to allow them to take risks even if they make a few mistakes, they should be quick to learn and course-correct. Without the latitude for error and limited capital, a start-up will turn to services to supplement the initial capital and there goes another product dream.

The third pre-requisite is the Vision big, hairy, audacious ideas. Since the entrepreneurs are going to spend at least the next few years of their life working on this, why look at incremental change? Transforming the world, unleashing the next big revolution that should be the goal, nothing less. This is one area where we in India are not ambitious enough. Vision of course needs to be matched with Execution but while we are envisioning the future, we must aim to dream big.

This quote (via Atanu) by Daniel Burnham, Chicago architect, is worth keeping in mind. Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”

Tomorrow: A Personal View

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