TECH TALK: Best of Tech Talk 2004: Indian Portals

I write 500-odd words Monday-Friday as part of Tech Talk on the blog and Tech Samachar. This column completed four years in November and is still growing strong. I have plenty of topics to cover for the next year also! For the last week of this year, I decided to compile what I think are some of my best(est) writings during 2004. I have split this series into four topics covering Indian Portals, Rethinking Computing, India and Bharat, and Entrepreneurship. We begin with Indian Portals.

The content space in India continues to disappoint. A combination of lack of innovation and slow growth in the Internet user base in the country has hobbled the growth of useful content sites in India. A ray of hope going ahead: growth of broadband and cheaper access devices may change this picture in the coming year. One area where there has been increasingly rapid growth is value-added services around cellphones. Even though for now much of the money is still garnered from SMS, ringtones and games (centred around targeting youth and entertainment), the coming year should see a richer set of services as the mobile phones become faster, better and cheaper. 2.0 (Jan 2004): The digital infrastructure in India is undergoing a dramatic change, which may not be very obvious. This transformation will create opportunities for content and community portals and websites, and rekindle interest in Internet information services. But along with the change in the connectivity and access devices will also come the need for change in the content that users would like to access. In short, computing and communications technologies stand at the threshold of making the Internet a utility in India the question that needs to be discussed is: how can the portals rise to the occasion? The solution lies in taking Push, a Microcontent Client, Subscriptions, Narrowcast, Writing, Multimedia, Blogs, Contextual Ads, Social Networks, Localisation and Real-Time Updates into a common framework. Think of these as the elements that make up the New Information PlatformThere are three ideas built around the New Information Platform which can help launch the next generation of activity in the Internet space: NINE, PIN and STIM.

Rethinking Search (Jan 2004): As we look at the attributes of the Next Indian Search Engine (NISE), there are two principles from open-source software development which we should keep in mind: user customisability and distributed collaborationThe focus for NISE should be on building a search platform which can be customised and extended for users, and which thinks of not just the web browser but also the mobile devices as the primary target access method.

Thinking a New Food Portal (Sep 2004): The past few years have seen the emergence of many new technologies which promise to change the way we consume content, in much the same way as the combination of iPods and iTunes has transformed the way many consume music. Cellphones are now micro-computers with always-on connections to the Internet, broadband connections can download video clips quickly, and blogs and RSS are creating an easier way to publish and subscribe to content. So, how can all of this impact the world of Indian food portals? Lets imagine the future. What if we could getimproved search, calorie information, recipes on mobiles, videos, RSS, community, information marketplace and multiple languagesFood is a very important part of our lives. A new food site done well could be financially lucrative. The time is right for leveraging a mix of content and technology to create richer user experiences. More importantly, it would also create a platform to build other vertical sites along similar lines.

Tomorrow: Rethinking Computing

Best of Tech Talk 2004+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.