Creating India’s Middle Class

[via Suhit] ACM: Ubiquity has an interview with Michael Schrage. Excerpts:

SCHRAGE: Particularly if we’re looking 25 to 50 years out, it’s probably in the best interests of America as a nation and Americans as individuals to encourage this worldwide explosion of invention and opportunity because everyone everywhere will have greater choices for less money. The challenge is the Wal-Mart phenomenon. Look, let’s go back to Henry Ford, who did something brilliant when he came up with the affordable automobile, the Model T, and then did something extraordinary that people, except for sociologists, don’t talk as much about: he invented the five-dollar day for his employees (a huge pay increase!) so they could actually afford to buy the automobiles that they made.

UBIQUITY: And you’re saying the same idea needs to be applied to the developing world.

SCHRAGE: Absolutely. I’m doing work with Intel, and with Microsoft, and with Cisco, and they’re all looking hungrily and with fear at the developing world. So the most important product Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft need to create in China and India is not hardware or software or services, the most important product would be the creation of a Middle Class.

Computing’s Future

Nicholas Carr writes:

At the start of this year, I wrote an article about utility computing that came to be published in the spring edition of the MIT Sloan Management Review under the title The End of Corporate Computing. In it, I argued that advances in networking and related technologies like virtualization and web services are going to radically transform the way information technology is supplied to businesses. Companies are going to shift from the traditional, fragmented model of client-server computing, which requires them to buy, assemble and maintain vast quantities of complex and inefficient computing machinery, to a centralized utility model, in which computing assets are rationalized, standardized and consolidated and what we’ve come to call “IT” is supplied over networks as a service from central utility plants. The economic advantages of the utility model are so great, I argued, that the transformation of IT is inevitable.

When I wrote the piece, I assumed this shift would play out slowly, as the utility model battled against a status quo propped up by the entrenched interests of both suppliers and corporate IT departments. But now I’m not so sure. I may have been thinking too conservatively. In just the last few weeks, we’ve seen, particularly on the software side, growing signs of a sea change. As consolidation, commoditization and weakening demand turn traditional packaged software into a rust-belt industry, dominated by a couple of big suppliers looking to milk the installed base, innovation and growth seem to be shifting quickly to the software-as-a-service (SaaS) arena. Pushed by diverse utility upstarts like Google (on the consumer side, so far), Salesforce.com, RightNow Technologies, 37signals and Rearden Commerce, traditional software makers are now jockeying to position themselves as players in the SaaS world.

Bill Joy Interview

[via Abhay Bhagat] Excerpts of an interview with Bill Joy from NerdTv:

Bob: I guess I’m wondering about areas that are emerging technologies that are interesting. And in every technical era we say oh that’s client server computing, that’s network computing, that’s workstations, that’s wireless. What are we just leaving and what are we just entering into?

Bill: We’re leaving an era where it was relatively simple. There was electronics burst on the scene where as law and things changed very quantitatively. So we had a mini computer then a big personal computer. And the personal computers kept shrinking and/or getting more powerful for very long period, maybe 20 years. And then suddenly what happened was we passed a threshold where the miniaturization allowed suddenly a phone, cell phone had the power of what your computer used to be but now if fits in your pocket and a little tiny keyboard, little tiny screen and is always connected. That’s very different. So the computers on the information side are becoming less recognizably kind of morphologically, kind of the same shape just shrunk and slightly altered as they were 30 years ago. They’re becoming more invisible. They’re having different ways of interacting with them by talking to them or touching them or having them always with you as opposed to something that’s in your bag which you don’t always have with you. So we’ve gone from a kind of a single trajectory, the Microsoft Intel personal computer wave trajectory with some life science, early genetics sighted to now having new sciences and materials, whole range of new opportunities and energy. Much, much broader set of opportunities than the life sciences and really a confluence of software with all the sciences that makes new things possible.

Yahoo Mail Implications

Walter Mossberg writes:

Yahoo, EarthLink and AOL all have recently introduced versions that lift their functionality well beyond the old model of Web mail. All are using new programming techniques that turn them from simple Web pages into something resembling the fluidity of desktop applications.

For instance, these new email offerings allow you to drag and drop items, and do most things without waiting for a Web page to refresh or a new page to open. That’s a big change from the old system, where any significant action was performed in circuitous ways and required the Web page containing the email program to tediously reload.

This is a major breakthrough, and one that will extend beyond Web mail. More Web sites will be revamped to look and work like regular desktop programs, hastening the day when most applications may reside online.

Ajax technology will be the next upgrade to the Web.

Web 2.0 Mash-ups

[via Sadagopan] Mark Sigal writes:

So what is Web 2.0? At the core, it is an applied web service model that blurs the line between software and service. It can do this because: 1) it is optimized for the 60 million broadband connections in place; 2) it can count upon an installed base of 300 million video-ready mobile and PC devices; and 3) Thanks to the AJAX meme, it can reliably assume the ubiquity of a really good browser experience.

So that answers the “HOW” side of the equation, but “WHY” now? Simply put, the emergence of the blogosphere has changed the equation. First off, its footprint has become really meaningful. At last count, according to Technorati, there are 16 million blogs in existence, growing 100K new blogs a day and generating a jaw-dropping 1.2 million new posts a day.

Second, the mainstreaming of RSS is enabling syndication and subscription systems that can intelligently process context-aware messages. Over time, these systems will become adept at handling rich content “payloads,” enabling further innovation. Slide is an early example of one such application, and I covered the RSS side of the Web 2.0 equation in an earlier post.

But the real shocker in all of this is that people really seem to enjoy generating lots of custom content and then sharing it on a broad scale, proving that the open source movement is not just some techie phenomena.

As a new class of photo and video cameras gain support for wi-fi based upload capabilities, this will remove a perceived hurdle to getting multimedia content online (a challenge that mobile devices happily avoid), fostering creation of some really compelling digital media services.

TECH TALK: Rajasthan Ruminations 2: Temples

Recently, I made my annual visit to Rajasthan. It is a trip my wife and I have done since 1997. [Here is what I wrote after my last years visit.] For a few days, we will leave aside the comforts of urban life and travel through Rajasthan visiting temples and staying in Jain dharamshalas for Rs 50-100 a night with only the most basic amenities. This year, we had four-and-a-half-month-old Abhishek with us. We were also joined by Bhavanas mother, and her sister, her husband and their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter.

We began the trip in Jodhpur, and drove 1200 kms. over four days before taking the flight back to Mumbai from Ahmedabad. En route, we visited 14 temples with Nakodaji, Ranakpur, Dilwara (in Mount Abu) and Ambaji being the more prominent ones. Every trip begins for us in Jodhpur with a visit to Nakodaji, and then the route varies depending on the time we have.

Nakodaji (about 110 kms. from Jodhpur) holds special significance for Jains. It attracts a lot of visitors round the year. I have memories of visiting it during the Rajasthan visits I used to make as a child and teen also. Here is a little background from Jaintirths.com: The ancient name of this Tirth is mentioned as Virampur. Virden and Nakorsen of the third century of the Vikram era built this temple and His Holiness Acharya Sthulibhadraswami installed the idol. In course of time, this temple was renovated many times. When Alamshah invaded this place in the year 1280 of the Vikram era, the Sangha kept this idol hidden in the cellar in the Kalidrah village for protection. This temple was again renovated in the fifteenth century. 120 idols were brought here from Kalidrah and this beautiful and miraculous idol was installed here as Mulnayak in the year 1429 of the Vikram era. Acharya Kirtiratnasurishvarji installed the idol Bhairavji here. Nakoda Bhairavji is very powerful and benevolent. He protects the Tirth and fulfills the wishes of the worshippers. His miracles are known all over the world.

Ranakpur is perhaps architecturally the most spectacular. Pilgrimage-India writes: Ranakpur is famous for some marvelous carved Jain temples constructed during the regime of Rana Kumbha of Mewar in 1439 AD. Ranakpur is ranked among the 5 holiest pilgrimage center of the Jain religion, remarkable in its architecture splendor and beauty. The temple shrines contain 24 halls with exquisite carved 1440 pillars. All the pillars are unique in themselves, with each one adorned with intricate and delicate work. The most famous central temple dedicated to the Jain Thirthankara Adinath ji, is also called Chaumukha- four-faced.

The Dilwara temples are often described as a dream in marble. NetFundu writes: The Jain Dilwara temples of India are located about 2 kilometers from Mount Abu, Rajasthan’s only hill station. These temples dating back from the 11th to the 13th century AD are world famous for their stunning use of marble. Although the Jains built some beautiful temples at other places in Rajasthan but none come close to these in terms of architectural perfection. The ornamental detail spread over the minutely carved ceilings, doorways, pillars and panels is simply marvelous and has to be seen to be believed.

Visiting these and other temples transports one to a different world. It is a world where time has almost stood still. The pooja rituals are performed the same way day after day after day. Every day is just like the previous one. Some days have a lot more devotees, other days a little less. But the temples stand there as they have for centuries, accepting one and all. The Rajasthan visits take me back to my roots to the land where my parents grew up, but one with which I now struggle to make a connection.

Tomorrow: Timeout

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