TECH TALK: The Best of 2004: KISS and Massputers

3. Adam Bosworths ICSOC 2004 talk (November)

Adam Bosworths belief that KISS keep it simple and sloppy almost always wins is borne out through a lot of examples. This talk lays out the guiding principles for thinking about software and systems.

It is an ironic truth that those who seek to create systems which most assume the perfectibility of humans end up building the systems which are most soul destroying and most rigid, systems that rot from within until like great creaking rotten oak trees they collapse on top of themselves leaving a sour smell and decay. We saw it happen in 1989 with the astonishing fall of the USSR. Conversely, those systems which best take into account the complex, frail, brilliance of human nature and build in flexibility, checks and balances, and tolerance tend to survive beyond all hopes.

So it goes with software. That software which is flexible, simple, sloppy, tolerant, and altogether forgiving of human foibles and weaknesses turns out to be actually the most steel cored, able to survive and grow while that software which is demanding, abstract, rich but systematized, turns out to collapse in on itself in a slow and grim implosion.

4. Om Malik on the need for a Peoples PC (May)

This post by Om Malik highlighted the potential of the emerging markets and their need for different solutions. My belief is that the next 90% of the world needs solutions that are both affordable and manageable, and this is the real opportunity for technology companies. Om captures the essence of massputers well.

With the dot-com bubble a distant memory, recession-ravaged Silicon Valley insiders are wondering aloud about the next big thing. They haplessly sift the sands of social networks and they chase the chimera of wireless networks, but they ignore technologys biggest opportunity that is staring them in the face.
It is what I call a Massputer a computer that costs $300 for the computing hungry masses in emerging economies like India, China and Brazil. Users of this massputer should be able to do basic tasks like writing documents, Internet surfing, email and perhaps some business-related tasks like data entry.

There are nearly four billion people who live in these emerging markets and assuming that only 10 per cent of them can afford $300 it is still a market of 400 million. Currently, the PC troika of Intel, Microsoft and Dell typically charge $750 for every computer, which most people in these emerging markets find unaffordable. Even the so-called network computers cost an unaffordable $500-plus.

Tomorrow: Software Shifts

TECH TALK The Best of 2004+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.