IBM and India

The New York Times writes that India has become a critical component for the company:

“A significant part of any large project that we do worldwide is today being delivered out of here,” said Shanker Annaswamy, I.B.M.’s managing director for India, who presides over what is now the company’s second-largest worldwide operation. In the last few years, even as the company has laid off thousands of workers in the United States and Europe, the growth in I.B.M.’s work force in India has been remarkable. From 9,000 employees in early 2004, the number has grown to 43,000 (out of 329,000 worldwide), making I.B.M. the country’s largest multinational employer.

I.B.M. is growing not only in size by adding new hires, but also in revenue. The company’s business in India grew 61 percent in the first quarter of this year, 55 percent in 2005 and 45 percent the year before.

That growth has not come just from taking advantage of the country’s pool of low-cost talent. In recent months, the technology hub of Bangalore has become the center of I.B.M.’s efforts to combine high-value, cutting-edge services with its low-cost model.

Click Fraud Problem

Mark Cuban thinks it is a bigger problem than imagined:

4. The Bad Guys have figured out that the risk of proving they are breaking the law with click fraud is minimal. Try explaining the difference to authorities between a blog, a splog and a website that is trying to make money from any of the many, many affiliate marketing programs that also happens to host adsense or other ad publishing network ads.
5. The Bad Guys have figured out that they look a lot more legit getting checks from google than trying to wash 10k dollars in cash delivered in a bag.
6. The Bad Guys have figured out that untold amounts of dollars are being spent on an ongoing basis by the biggest companies in the world to try to stop them from stealing data that has disputable value and is difficult to sell. Why waste time there when search engine companies, even with the maybe 20 best and brightest assigned to the problem are no match for the legions of hackers around the world who see the easy money and are happy to grab it.

Finding not Searching

Jeffrey Phillips writes:

what’s needed is a corporate taxonomy of tags and keywords to ensure that we aren’t creating new tags and keywords with every new document. Some structure is needed since we are creating so much new information all the time. Combining an information structure or hierarchy with the capability for tagging and using indexing search engines will provide a lot more search and find capability.

Then we’ll need to know not just what data was saved and in which format, but where the data was created and where it was saved. As thumb drives, read/write CD burners and other data transport mediums and location become available, we don’t want to search just our desktops, but any data store. So the hierarchy needs to include not just the tags and data sources, but also the time, date and store where the data was created and recorded.

Search and Databases Convergence

Ramesh Jain writes:

The success of search engines made people forget about navigation. If search can give results very fast why worry about navigation? For some time this was good. But then people started getting impatient with the quality of results given by search engines even by Google. People realized that words are ambiguous and word based search engines work well in shallow cases, but as soon as one requires some depth, their inadequacy is painfully obvious. On one hand search engines are trying to develop techniques that will allow deeper searches by understanding the documents better. On the other hand, people want to take results of a shallow search engine and use clustering or other techniques to provide some depth to search results. As usual, some researchers dont like the imprecision in clustering results, they would rather use human knowledge for organizing all knowledge or information and develop more powerful multidimensional navigation techniques. Again facets may come into picture here. But there is something else that could be very interesting. One could also learn to apply some database techniques, particularly from OLAP area (On Line Analytical Processing) to develop dynamic facet based navigational techniques. One more thing, one can also use information visualization and search in this faceted environment to guide a user about what direction the user should go in her navigation.

Will Wright and Spore

WSJ profiles the creator of SimCity and writes about his new game:

One of “Spore’s” features allows individual players to populate the game with content they — and not professional game designers — have created. The most interesting creatures, planets and civilizations built by users with “Spore’s” design tools will automatically show up, through the Internet, inside other players’ games.

In the Spore offices, located in an industrial neighborhood across the bay from San Francisco, there’s a wall featuring huge posters of the anatomical units — toes, legs, fins, eyes, noses — that “Spore” players will be able to customize to compose their creatures. Players will also be able to “terraform” their planets, setting up volcanoes, for example, to cultivate atmospheres. A team of 72 people is working feverishly to finish the game by next year.

TECH TALK: Education and Reservation: Other Comments (Part 2)

The Economist provided the background in a recent article: The issue of reservations is indeed one of the most incendiary in Indian politics. In 1950 India’s constitution provided quotas in education and government jobs for tribal peoples, and for scheduled castesthe dalits, formerly known as untouchables, at the bottom of the thousands of hereditary castes making up Hindu society. In 1990 the government approved a long-neglected report by the Mandal commission, recommending the extension of reservations to the OBCs, but excluded education from the new quotas. Even so, the effects were profound: nationwide protests, and the growth of the caste-based parties that now dominate politics in some of India’s biggest states.

It added: In an unavailing effort to placate critics, the government has said that it will increase the total number of places in colleges, to ensure that no qualified student is worse off. Arithmetic dictates a 54% increase. No one knows where the necessary teachers, buildings and support services would come fromResearch carried out by the elite Indian Institutes of Technologyshows that one-half of the places they have reserved for dalits and tribal people are vacant. In those that are filled, one in four students do not complete their degrees. This indicates that the fundamental failure of Indian education is not discrimination in tertiary institutions; rather, it is the inability of primary and secondary schools to produce enough qualified students. Meanwhile, a shortage of well-qualified college graduates has become one of the biggest threats to the continued rapid growth of India’s services and other industries, and hence to the booming economy.

Katar Singh, a former director of the Institute of Rural Management, wrote in the Indian Express: Based on my own experience over the last 45 years as a teacher and researcher in the field of rural development in premier institutes, I am convinced that: one, securing social justice for everyone and not necessarily only for the people belonging to SCs, STs, and OBC is a desirable goal. Two, as borne out by the experience of the last half century, reservation is not the best available instrument to achieve the goal of social security for all. Three, the proposed reservation will not secure social justice to those who are deprived of it it will only benefit the creamy layer of the eligible classes who are neither poor nor in need of social justice. There are other alternatives to reservation which are financially more efficient, socially more equitable and politically more acceptable.

His solution: First, we need to provide equal access and equal opportunity to free quality education to everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, and economic status, right from the primary to the higher secondary school levelSecond, for students from the underprivileged sections of society, we need to provide free lodging and boarding in school hostels so that they have a congenial environment for learningThird, we need to revise curricula and textbooks at all levels so as to make education more relevant to the needs of the present generation.

Tomorrow: Other Comments (continued)

Continue reading