Ramesh Jain Interview

I have known Ramesh Jain for almost a decade. It is always fascinating to interact with him, see the work he is doing and see the future through his eyes. Gartner has an interview with him. Excerpts:

It started to become more and more clear that because of Gutenberg’s revolution, systems designers generally think in terms of alpha-numeric information, but in our lives, there are lots of different data sources – audio, visual, tactile. So if you can explore and find the information you are looking for on your own terms, combining audio, video and other elements, that’s experiential computing.

What if you put events on the Web? That means that in place of writing an article about our meeting here and posting it to a page on the Web, we start by placing multiple cameras here, along with some other sensors, and you put the recording on the Web so that people can explore this conversation in the same way as the football game I described. So that at any time they could experience what you and I are doing, see how we are doing it, choose their perspective. So this is the concept that I’m trying to advance. It requires very interesting technological challenges because each search that is done becomes different. Time becomes the most important factor because you are more interested in what’s going on right now, or what happened in the near past, etc…In Event Web, the focus is, in place of a document about it, the event itself. Documents provide you information. Event Web gives you the experience.

To me, Folk Computing is very different from, but in some respects similar to, the kind of thing that happened in the late 1970s when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak began championing the idea that mainframe computers were not for everybody and that gave rise to personal computers. Today, about 700 million people in the world use computing and related things. The remaining 5.7 billion people are not helped by computing. What is the reason? The keyboard is an obstacle. Language is an obstacle. Available content is an obstacle. Education levels are an obstacle. I found it very interesting when I was in India working with some people in Dehli that when they tried to teach poor villagers about how a desktop works on a computer, the villagers had never even seen a desk. They didn’t know what a file is. Or a trash can. So they cannot possibly understand the desktop on a computer. If we want computing technology to benefit many of the other 5.7 billion people in the world, we need to come up with devices, mechanisms, thinking about how the information should be stored, how should it be distributed, how should it be presented – all in a very different way. That is what I mean by Folk Computing.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.