Curriki

Kevin Maney writes in a column on Scott McNealy:

As for outside projects, McNealy is hyperbolic about Curriki. “I think it is potentially as powerful as the Google idea or the MySpace idea,” he says.

McNealy got the ball rolling after working on a school project with one of his three sons and coming away from it wondering why textbooks even exist in this electronic age.

He helped develop the idea to create textbooks much the way Sun’s Java developer community creates open-source software for the Web. It’s a bit more structured than the wide-open, anyone-can-contribute mantra of Wikipedia. Still, the idea is to get experts around the world to contribute to and constantly improve Web-based textbooks and teaching aids. Then, anyone in the world could use the material for free.

“All we have to do is get this started,” McNealy says. “There are enough noble people out there who will want to work on it.”

Simplicity

Joel Spolsky writes:

Making simple, 20% products is an excellent bootstrapping strategy because you can create them with limited resources and build an audience. It’s a Judo strategy, using your weakness as a strength, like the way the Blair Witch Project, filmed by kids with no money at all, used the only camera they could afford, a handheld video camera, but they invented a plot in which that was actually a virtue. So you sell “simple” as if it were this wonderful thing, when, coincidentally, it’s the only thing you have the resources to produce. Happy coincidence, that’s all, but it really is wonderful!

What works for bootstrapping, I believe, will not work as a good long term strategy, because there’s very little to prevent the next two-person startup from cloning your simple app, and because eventually you can’t fight human nature: The people want the features, says Norman. Just because handheld video was perfect for Blair Witch, doesn’t mean every Hollywood blockbuster will use it.

Gordon Dryden on India

Atanu Dey writes about the opinions of Gorden Dryden, a best-selling author from New Zealand (and whom I also met). Quite sobering thoughts.

Air travel: Horrified at the Air India trip from Hong Kong to New Delhi (Do they really have to spend several minutes, first up, showing what not to push bottles down the toilet? Have they not heard of the power of negative suggestions? Possibly my worst flight since the Soviet Aeroflot slog from Moscow to Tokyo in 1970.) But thrilled at the Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Pune (Great airline; beaut service.)

Roads: What roads? Enough said.

Surprises? The incredible sophistication, efficiency and all-round competency of your big pharmaceutical companies: Cipla and Emcure. Outstanding plants by any world standard. And the very best of your herbal nutraceutical operatons: Nisarga Biotech in Satara . . . doing some very surprising things in distilling extracts from Ayurvedic herbs. (Gordons writing a new book called The Health Revolution hence the interest.)