People are Social Animals

Tom Evslin writes:

I think the urge to cooperate and contribute to the community is baked into our genes. Seeing other people acting cooperatively sets off a rush of hormones that makes us want to cooperate as well and vice versa. In the old days cooperation was local because local was the only sphere in which most of us could contribute or cooperate. Remember Think Global, Act Local bumper stickers?

But on the Internet everything is local. Anyone who can afford Internet access and has free time can provide volunteer tech support to anyone else worldwide languages permitting. Anyone can contribute to wikipedia or wiktionary or add open source software to a collection. Pretty much anyone can (and does) blog.

..We volunteer and act cooperatively on the Internet for no more profound reason than that we can. Were programmed to want to help and, given the opportunity, thats just what we do. A lot of Web 2.0 is about giving us that opportunity. There is a profit opportunity in enabling people to do what they want to do.

Google AdSense

Joel Spolsky writes:

With Google rapidly approaching 50% of the global search market, they can double the number of searches they get on their home page, but not much more than that, unless they can get more page views somehow. Which is why they are frantically trying to sign up non-fraudulent web sites for AdSense (they call me every two months) and constantly seeking new sources of ad inventory, which sounds a heck of a lot like what the web portals of the 90s tried to do.

This is where Google is actually hurt by the long tail world of millions of small sites. It’s easy to evaluate the top 100 or 1000 web sites to make sure they’re reasonably legit. It’s much harder to monitor 1,000,000 blogs to make sure that none of them were machine generated for the purpose of scamming AdSense revenue. Still, I don’t think Google has a choice: I predict that you’ll see a massive expulsion of smaller AdSense sites by Google, and it better happen soon, or AdSense will ruin Google’s reputation among advertisers, something which could be deadly.

The Outside-In Enterprise

Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes:

In other words, businesses have followed an inside-out, “self-centered” model because of the high costs of orchestrating and integrating their various processes, many of which are still labor-based and one-of-a-kind and therefore require quite a bit of management and coordination, which is most efficiently handled with a “classic,” hierarchical organization. Coase also pointed out that, for a variety of reasons, there is a natural limit to what can be produced efficiently within the firm, which is why all businesses also have a more or less extensive supply chain, and strive for an optimal balance between what work gets done inside and outside the firm.

This balance is now in flux. Since we can now use technology, the Internet and open standards to begin to automate, standardize and integrate business processes, those transaction costs described by Roland Coase are dropping precipitously. Consequently, the whole nature of the firm, and what it means to run an efficient business, is going through very extensive changes. These are not easy changes. Not only is there a great deal of innovation required to automate and integrate business processes, but perhaps more important, there are even greater changes in culture required to transform Industrial Age business models to something more appropriate to our Internet era.

WSJ Innovation Awards

Here. The winner in Software:

Agitar Software Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., won here for its Agitator tool, which helps software developers find and fix bugs when writing new programs. Software writers typically have to scour for buggy code by poring over thousands of lines of code — often after flaws show up while users are running the program. Agitator automatically puts software through a battery of stress tests; it also can examine partial programs by simulating the whole software system.

Though Agitator works only with programs written in the Java programming language, the judges said it is an important advance in making error-free code writing more productive.

TECH TALK: India Empowered: Indian Express Series (Part 2)

Vivek Paul, Partner, Texas Pacific Group: More than half of India is under 25, more than a third under 15. That means more than half the country does not know what Emergency meant, has never experienced a war with Pakistan and knows Kashmir only for its violence not its beauty. To nearly a third of the population, Indira and even Rajiv Gandhi are historical figures, gone before they were born. For as long as this group has lived, India has had nothing but coalition governments that changed Prime Ministers eight times in 16 years. India cannot be empowered until this youth boom feels empowered. And they approach life with the zest of a Bunty and Babli. They see themselves as capable and at least as good as any counterpart around the world. They have great ambitions and are willing to work hard to achieve them. They do not see a humble upbringing or being raised in a village or a small town as an impediment This youth boom has little voice today to protect its interests, it needs us all to be activists and history will not forgive us if we waste their dawn.

Nandan M. Nilekani; CEO, President, MD, Infosys Technologies: To truly empower India, we need to reduce the knowledge asymmetry between the ruler and the ruled. Once the opaque veils on our state are raised, the citizen will be truly in charge. The sunshine that we bring to bear on the inner working of government will ensure that both the incompetent and the corrupt will have far less chance of getting away with it. To do this, we have to bring together the two great proven successes of Independent India, our democratic tradition and our mastery over Information Technology. The process begins by using technology to automate and streamline the processes of the way we take decisions, use funds and deliver services to the people. This automation is usually seen as way to streamline processes, improve public delivery, reduce corruption etcIf the citizen is able to get visibility into the inside functioning of government, on how decisions are made, on how money is spent, on who the beneficiaries are and what were the outcomes it stands to reason that the quality of decisions will be far better, the system will become accountable, and the citizen will be far more empowered.

KV Kamath, Managing Director & CEO, ICICI Bank: Going forward, there are two key areas that require close attention. The first is the development of world-class physical infrastructure: power generation and distribution, roads, ports and airports. These are essential enablers of growth. The second is the extension of the benefits of growth to larger sections of the population. We must engage many more of our people in the economic mainstream, by giving them access to the tools they need to participate in the nations development. A key element of this process is access to financial services for the under-served segments of the population in both rural and urban areas. Currently, vast numbers of our people do not have access to formal sources of credit or the protection of life or health insurance. They continue to depend on informal sources for their financial needs and their livelihoods are exposed to risks ranging from unfavourable climatic conditions to disease and non-availability of affordable, efficient healthcare facilities. This is a challenge that must be addressed jointly by the government and private participants in the economy.

Devi Shetty, Cardiac Surgeon Chairman, Narayana Hrudayalaya Hospitals: Where do we see high-tech healthcare leading to in a country like India? Are we anywhere close to the largest and the best in the world or do we have a chance? The answer is simple. Within the next 10 years, India will have the best mass healthcare programme in the world. Every procedure on the human body will be done in a different manner and how it will be done will be defined by a doctor in Indiaand these changes are not going to take a lifetime. They will happen within 10 years. All the ingredients for this major transformation are already in place; its just a matter of time before somebody puts all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together and comes up with an end product You think about a situation where half of our countrys population carry a smart card of micro-health insurance and we are talking about employment for, perhaps, the largest organized work force in the world. For, investment in healthcare not only creates a healthy nation but also creates millions of job opportunities.

Naina Lal Kidwai, Dy CEO, HSBC India: Empowerment is about the ability to make choices. An India empowered must enable everyone to have a choice. To go beyond the drudgery of eking out a day-to-day existence, barely affording a days meal, to being able to save. Empowerment is about aspirations and also the ability to fulfill them. In this respect, I believe microfinance and entrepreneurship at the rural level are key.

Tomorrow: Indian Express Series (continued)

Continue reading TECH TALK: India Empowered: Indian Express Series (Part 2)