TECH TALK: As India Develops: Information Access (Part 2)

The next-generation information platform is the foundation to build vertically specific communities which can exchange information and do ecommerce. This platform will enable users to pool together their individual knowledge and share it with others in the belief that while no one knows everything, together the body of knowledge can be far greater. So far, mass publishing has been rather difficult on the Internet. However, a new set of technologies and tools promise to make this easier, leading to the creation of the two-way web, where every reader is also a potential writer.

This next-generation information platform comprises a series of innovations integrated together into a system which can be easily customised for niche areas. The various elements that make up this platform are:

News: Think of Samachar, Google News and Moreover value-added aggregation of news.

Search: A search engine focused on the content for the vertical is needed, along with Googles AdSense-like targeted and relevant advertising.

Blogs: It should be easy for people to write, and blogs offer a framework to do just that. Blogger and Typepad offer. In addition, analytics like what Technorati and BlogStreet provide can glean additional value from what individuals and groups write.

Wikis: A Wikis easy editing capability allows anyone with a voice to chip in. Think of Wikipedia, an encyclopedia created by individuals from around the Web.

P2P Community: This should be on the lines of Slashdot, which self-organises and allows the good content to rise to the top.

PubSub Backend: RSS is one of the key enablers of the two-way web. As people publish, they also have subscriptions. News Aggregators with a matching engine like PubSub and Feedster can play a powerful behind-the-scenes in helping generate the two-way flow the platform needs.

Microcontent: The platform needs to take into account that access can happen not just on computers but also a range of wireless devices like PDAs and cellphones. For this, content will need to appropriately formatted to deliver smaller chunks.

eCommerce: Whether it is like an Amazon (product sales) or eBay (auctions), there is need to facilitate transactions for the community. A common payments system would also be a needed feature.

Classifieds: Craigs List and Alibaba are good examples of classifieds which can focus on geographical or vertical segments. RSS feeds can ease the task of searching for updates.

Personalisation: Like My Yahoo, it should be possible for users to personalise the platform with the content streams that are of interest to them.

Social Networking: Sites like Friendster and Orkut offer the ability to connect people together. This is especially useful in narrower communities of practice. A platform which can enable people to leverage IM and VoIP like Skype to interact is needed.

Local-Language Support: There is a need for content to be able in multiple Indian languages. An auto-translate feature like Babel for Indian languages is needed.

Visualisation: Video games like Everquest create incredibly rich and interactive environments. A similar interface can create 3-D environments for users to interact with others users.

Tomorrow: Information Access (continued)

TECH TALK As India Develops+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.