Dave Winer on New Technologies

BBC features an article by Dave Winer on technologies he would like to see in existence one day. Among them:

Improving podcasting

I love podcasting, both listening to podcasts and creating them. But today’s podcast players are too awkward, they weren’t designed to subscribe to shows, instead they were designed to listen to collections of music (which is great too).

In order to really work for podcasting, I think a new kind of player needs to have built-in wi-fi, and when you come within range of a signal, a light comes on and you can press a button to have it automatically connect to the internet and download the latest episodes of shows you’re subscribed to.

It would work much the way a Blackberry gets e-mail, without you having to do anything.

China’s Urbanisation

Knowledge@Wharton features a talk by Gordon Wu which could have useful lessons for India:

China has $1.2 trillion of foreign exchange reserves today. Back in 1978, 20% of the people lived in the communes. Everybody was equal, but equally poor. Today we are talking about some people who make a lot of money. Now, 43% of the people live in cities and within the next 20 years, I bet your bottom dollar that the number of people living in cities in China will be the greatest migration that the world has ever seen. Urbanization will probably hit a figure of 80%. This is unheard of, in my mind. I’ll give you an example: When I first went to Shenzhen to work there in 1979, there were only 80,000 people in that city. Today it has 10 million people. That is the number of people who have migrated to the city in the past 20 years.

China’s economic growth was driven by the manufacturing industry. Of course, the country also has a really stable government; the Communist Party controls the whole nation, and sometimes there are some hiccups, but by and large things are really stable. The stable political environment combined with a free economy as free as the government allows it to be has made all these successes possible.

Mobile Phone Features Battle

WSJ writes:

Wireless phone carriers and the makers of hand-held gadgets like the BlackBerry have long had a symbiotic relationship. Carriers sell the BlackBerry to subscribers, putting it in the hands of millions. In turn, the carriers get to charge their subscribers not just for voice but for pricier data service as well.

Now, a turf war is looming between the two camps, as lucrative new services such as video, games, and maps move onto mobile devices. Each camp wants to control the new offerings, and the gusher of revenue they could produce.

At stake for consumers are what services will be available on their mobile phones and whether they’re free or cost a monthly fee. The wireless Web is taking off more slowly in America than overseas, and one reason is that U.S. carriers tightly control what applications are available on mobile devices. That’s a contrast with Europe and parts of Asia, where carriers’ control is less tight and where wireless services have been more broadly available for years.

Facebook in India

Ramesh Jain writes:

In this trip, however, I got a chance to hear some young people (three 19 year old girls) talk about what they like and dislike on Internet. Their excitement about Facebook was something to be experienced. It appears that Facebook has become the most important medium for social communication among them. They love everything about Facebook and they are ecstatic about the new application environment. They think now they have everything that they need to remain in touch with all their friends. They repeatedly mentioned that they are on Facebook all the time. When asked what is missing on Facebook, the only thing they mentioned was that it would be great if it were available on mobile phones.

Of course, these people are not your average Indian young people; they are from upper socio-economic tier of Mumbai. But one thing is clear, there is a revolution brewing in the Internet space. Environments like Facebook and Myspace offer easy publishing tools, powerful communication mechanisms using multimedia experience, and automatically created personal activity reports that are of interest to people in their social life. By putting these things in an environment that allows people to know interesting happenings (yes, I am avoiding the term event intentionally) in their friend-circle, these systems are becoming the most dominant software used by young people around the globe. And by opening their system and becoming platform, Facebook has indeed brought in a major revolution in social networking.

Truemors Numbers

Guy Kawasaki writes how he created a Web 2.0 sites for just over $12,000.

$4,500. The total software development cost was $4,500. The guys at Electric Pulp did the work. Honestly, I wasnt a believer in remote teams trying to work together on version 1 of a product, but Electric Pulp changed my mind.

$4,824.14. The total cost of the legal fees was $4,824.14. I could have used my uncle the divorce lawyer and saved a few bucks, but that would have been short sighted if Truemors ever becomes worth something.

$399. I paid LogoWorks $399 to design the logo. Of course, this was before HP bought the company. Not sure what it would charge now. 🙂

$1,115.05. I spent $1,115.05 registering domains. I could have used GoDaddy and done it a lot cheaper, but I was too stupid and lazy.

TECH TALK: PM to CII: Of Economic Freedom and Bondage

Continuing with Atanu Dey’s perspective of the speech that the Indian Prime Minister should have made to the CII last month:

Ladies and gentlemen, our society is not today that heaven of freedom which Tagore prayed for, where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls. . . The industry did not create these walls. The fragmentation of our society along caste and religious lines is the doing of political policies. Our policies of favoring special groups arise out of the dreary desert sands of dead habit of dividing the country for narrow-minded mean political gains.

The industry did not create the divisions in society, it cannot be expected to correct these distortions, and it must not be commanded to perpetuate these odious divisions by hiring based on caste and religious categories. The destruction of whatever the Indian industry has accomplished must not be lost in the cesspool of communal politics. Industry did not create the deep social inequalities. The government by raising the specter of violent social revolt to force industry to assume responsibility for the divisions of society is guilty of criminal negligence and gross dereliction of duty.

The government has failed so far to address the real concerns of its citizens. Universal primary education, although guaranteed by the constitution, is still not a reality after 60 years of independence. It is shameful that half the worlds illiterates are Indian. Surely, the failure of the Indian education system cannot be laid at the doorsteps of Indian industry. Indeed, Indian industry itself suffers as a consequence of the massive failure of the government in providing education. If Indian industry can build world-class corporations, surely it is quite capable of efficiently educating the population provided of course that it is allowed to do so.

Indians are as talented a people as any other. Wherever they have enjoyed economic freedom, they have been among the best, from steel manufacture to high technology. Lets ask ourselves why Indians in the US do so well, to just take one example out of scores of places where Indians shine. They succeed more often outside India than within India because in India they are denied economic freedom. They are forced to leave India to concentrate their entrepreneurial and innovative skills in building things rather than stay and fritter away all their energies in fighting our impossible bureaucracy. Our laws and regulations are so onerous that it can sap the strength if not kill the most talented and dedicated of our entrepreneurs. We have to radically change our regulations and our labor laws.

Indians thrive when they are free to get into the rough and tumble of the competitive marketplace. But our socialistic policies have crippled Indias industries. Allow me to quote Pranab Bardhan, one of Indias foremost economists at UC Berkeley (India loses fine academicians and researchers as well, not just engineers and doctors, due to a lack of freedom). Leftists are understandably wary of the wastes of competition and of the anarchy of the market-place. But the last several decades of socialism have shown us unmistakably that the waste and anarchy of the bureaucratic command system are far more injurious to the health of the economy. Without competition in the sense of rivalry among firms (public or private) and a mechanism for exit for chronically sick firms, no economy can attain or retain its vigour and dynamism.

The market rewards excellence and punishes underperformance. The government does not have to worry about whether you are doing your job to the best of your abilities or not you would not be here if you were incompetent. But in government and politics, competency is not that much of a barrier to entry. The ability to manipulate the system is more valued. It appears that it is politics, not patriotism, which is the last refuge of the Indian scoundrel. Hardened criminals sit in our legislative bodies and we all are apparently powerless to change it. But there is a way out, I believe. If you, the captains of the Indian industry, were to support clean political candidates, you can make a difference. It is choice that you can exercise as citizens of this great democracy.

In conclusion, thank you for helping build the nation. You have my gratitude and you have my promise that I will do everything I can to help you create wealth so that no Indian is poor. Lets make India a great nation.

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