Business Today on Emergic Ecosystem

The latest issue of Business Today (Westbridge team on cover) has a one-page write-up on the Emergic Ecosystem (page 28). I declined to be interviewed for the story, so the article uses material from the blog. Here is how the article starts off:

Rajesh Jain’s Ecosystem
The entrepreneur is tech’s weathervane

One way to find out which way technology is headed is to keep an eye on Rajesh Jain. The man has been there (ahead of time, actually), done that. He built a cluster of sites, such as, and in the very early days of the internet (1994) and sold them to Sify for $115 million (Rs.499 crore at the then exchange rate) in 1999. Jain hasn’t been sitting back and taking it easy since (although he has managed to keep a low profile). He has been ideating, investing and launching new ventures.

Today, there are seven such, each of which is a bet on tech’s next big thing. Jain likes to call this the Emergic ecosystem. Emergic is the man’s term for disruptive innovations in computing that can bridge the digital divide.

My reason for not speaking to the media is simple. I have little else to say other than what is already there on the blog. I also prefer to let actions speak. We are at the early stage of building tomorrow’s world. All I can do is talk vision right now – which is all there on the blog in my Tech Talks.

MySpace Generation

Business Week writes about the growing segment that lives online, buys online and plays online. ” You have just entered the world of what you might call Generation @. Being online, being a Buzzer, is a way of life for Adams and 3,000-odd Dallas-area youth, just as it is for millions of young Americans across the country. And increasingly, social networks are their medium. As the first cohort to grow up fully wired and technologically fluent, today’s teens and twentysomethings are flocking to Web sites like Buzz-Oven as a way to establish their social identities. Here you can get a fast pass to the hip music scene, which carries a hefty amount of social currency offline. It’s where you go when you need a friend to nurse you through a breakup, a mentor to tutor you on your calculus homework, an address for the party everyone is going to. For a giant brand like Coke, these networks also offer a direct pipeline to the thirsty but fickle youth market.”

OPML Rising

David Mercer writes:

Doesnt gopher sound a LOT like opml? Opml makes little user-created islands of hierarchical order out of the chaos of the Web, at least for those cases where such a structural ordering makes sense. Thats why yahoos taxonomy ruled supreme in the early days, the intentional design of the information spaces hierarchy to fit the subject by a human.

Opml lets this be done by individuals, where ever it makes sense to, and rss lets us move time ordered data around, including versioning information about opml hierarchies, either through an updated entry in an rss feed containing the link to the new version or indeed wholesale transport of updated versions via sending an entire opml document down an rss feed!!

Also read Jim Moore and Raymond.

Building India’s Roads

The New York Times writes:

The Indian government has begun a 15-year project to widen and pave some 40,000 miles of narrow, decrepit national highways, with the first leg, budgeted at $6.25 billion, to be largely complete by next year. It amounts to the most ambitious infrastructure project since independence in 1947 and the British building of the subcontinent’s railway network the century before.

For India, already one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and most rapidly evolving societies, the results may be as radical. At its heart, the redone highway is about grafting Western notions of speed and efficiency onto a civilization that has always taken the long view.

Jim Collins and Social Sector

WSJ writes about the author of “Good to Great”:

Now Mr. Collins is reworking his ideas about how to set goals, build teams and achieve lasting growth. The adjustments are based on 2 years of studying police departments, symphony orchestras and other “social sector” entities — and most are aimed at nonbusiness leaders. But he argues that some principles apply to corporate bosses, too.

In perhaps the biggest switch, Mr. Collins now says that great leadership involves not just his traditional virtues, but also the prosaic, City Hall knack of cobbling together coalitions to get things done. He calls this “legislative leadership,” built upon persuasion, political currency and shared interests.

Such skills are especially vital in nonbusiness settings, Mr. Collins argues in a newly published pamphlet titled “Good to Great and the Social Sectors.” People running hospitals, schools or similar organizations can’t launch projects, fire people or overhaul budgets at will. Instead, they must work with other power centers, such as politicians, teaching faculties and financial backers to make progress.

TECH TALK: Trains, Planes and Mobiles: A Fascination

Recently, I took a train from Mumbai to Surat (a distance of 250 kilometres) and back. It was a day trip. I spent nine hours for the two legs of the journey. Ordinarily, I would have travelled in either first class or air-conditioned chair car. But since this was a trip done at short notice, the only confirmed tickets I got were in second class. Considering that most of my travel is by air, these train rides in packed second class compartments were a very different experience. I let the mind roam as I sat in the train. I had my writing book, mobile and iPod for company. This Tech Talk is as much about the train journeys as it is about the thoughts that crossed my mind during the travel.

I have had a long-standing fascination with trains right from childhood. I dont know why but even now there is no better sight than a train gliding across the tracks with the countryside as a backdrop. Perhaps, it was because I used to go to Pune often and those are the memories I have. The train to Pune and back is a delight. The train goes through the Western Ghats and the beautiful views as one emerges from each of the 26 tunnels are a joy to behold. In fact, I even remember playing a lot with toy trains when I was young. So train journeys have always held a special excitement for me.

As Ive grown older and business has taken over my life, the time for a train journey has vanished. Most of the travel is by air. Even the Pune trips are now done by car. And so, as I made my way to Bandra Terminus to board the 9035 Up Inter-City Express to Surat early in the morning, I couldnt help but be a little excited. The four-and-a-half hour train ride was something I was looking forward to.

Every once in a while, I like to put myself in different situations. The train was going to be one such experience. So, I wasnt too disappointed that I did not get first-class or chair car tickets. Had I got those tickets, the train ride would have been more like a plane ride. I would have taken a few books to read or perhaps even my laptop, and immersed myself in that for the entire journey. But given that I was going to be sitting in a packed second class compartment, even though I did have a few magazines and a book, I didnt get to them. I was fascinated by what I saw and with the thoughts that crossed my mind.

It helped that there was very little room to move once I sat. While it was a reserved compartment, in India, that means very little. People are a plenty. So, once I sat, I barely moved. I took out my (paper) notebook and started writing thoughts and ideas came by.

Tomorrow: Memories