The Need for Education

Atanu Dey visited the Mercedes Benz International School in Pune: “[It is the] Rolls-Royce of schools in India. They follow the International Baccalaureate Organizations curricula. About half their students are Indians and the others are the children of expatriates working in multinational firms in Pune…It is the kind of school that if you have to ask what the tuition fees are, you probably cannot afford it. With only 167 students, it is as exclusive as it is expensive. The annual fee is mind-bogglingto me at leastover half a million rupees a year. The top fees is Rs 5.7 lakhs ( approximately, US$ 13,000) and the one-time fixed cost is Rs 3 lakhs.”

He concludes his trip report with the following observation: “When I look at the vicious cycle of poverty that the majority of Indias children are caught in, I have only one hope and that is education. If we can educate just one generation fully, we have some hope of solving Indias problems. That is the challenge but given the uneducated leadership, I am afraid that it may not come to pass.”

Google Base

Charlene Li writes:

What are the implications? First, it will be a while before Google Base becomes a category killer, but it will exert pressure in much the same way that online job boards like Monster.com have been squeezing print recruitment classifieds for the past 11 years. The likes of Monster, CareerBuilder, and HotJobs didnt have to worry much about start-ups like Indeed.com and SimplyHired, but when Google comes along and integrates database listings into general search results, then job boards should start worrying. This is because job-related search terms are a growing part of search revenues, with savvy company recruiters already advertising on those keywords (do a search on technology jobs and see whos advertising).

Second, I would expect at some point for Google to tie self-publishing (e.g. Blogger), Google Groups, and Google Base together. For example, I could publish to my blog in a structured format (yes, this is akin to structured blogging), add some tags and have it appear on both my blog and also in Google Base where it can be populated throughout Google. So if Im selling my car, I can choose a Google Base template and voila, Im published throughout the Google Network.

Michael Parekh adds:

One can scarcely contemplate a world where all the major portals may participate in a Worldwide Crawl War (WCW) where each blocks the other’s right to crawl any or all parts of its sites. Perhaps a Google vs. eBay/Amazon/Yahoo!/Microsoft/AOL coalition re-alignment may be in our future.

The worldwide web could go dark for users if that were to happen. No longer would we be conveniently able to put a query in a little search box and find our heart and mind’s desires at the flick of the “enter” key.

Instead, we’d have to search a bunch of different sites separately.

The Interesting Economy

Anil Dash writes:

What I’m wondering is, how is Flickr’s interestingness different than the economy in Game Neverending? Than Second Life? (Or in Evercrack or Neverwinter or any of the other gaming platforms.) Is interestingness its own reward? Why don’t I get to level up or power up when I create something interesting?

More to the point, the in-game economies of these games translate pretty cleanly into real-world cash, with eBay amplifying the efficiency of the currency conversion. And interestingness in other online media (like blogs) is rewarded by cash in a pretty straightforward way; I can sign up for TypePad, check a box to enable text ads, and pay for my account or point the proceeds to my PayPal account when I start getting lots of visitors.

But interestingness in Flickr doesn’t pay. At least not yet. Non-pro users are seeing ads around my photos, but Yahoo’s not sharing the wealth with me, even though I’ve created a draw. Flickr’s plenty open, they’re doing the right thing by any measure of the web as we saw it a year ago, or two years ago. Today, though, openness around value exchange is as important as openness around data exchange.

Who owns the Wisdom of the Crowd?

Jeff Jarvis answers: “The Crowd.”

So who owns that collected wisdom of the crowd? Id say the crowd does. Others merely borrow it if they continue to have the trust of the crowd and if they pay dividends back to that crowd. And if those others try too hard to control that wisdom, to limit its use and the sharing of it, then they not only reduce the value of it under the theory (and its still a theory) that a smaller crowd is less wise but they also risk turning away the crowd that creates this value.

I believe we start with the notions that:
* We all want to control our contributions.
* We all want the community to benefit if we in turn benefit.
* We expect mutual trust in the forms of transparency and honesty
* And we all individual, collective, enabler find uncivil behavior (spam, fraud, hate) unacceptable.

But theres one more fundamental notion that informs this new society, a notion that big companies and institutions invariably forget because they were build in the old order:

This is no longer a centralized world, a world controlled by those institutions. This is a decentralized world, a world controlled by us.

Next-Generation Broadband Primer

[via Om Malik] CED Magazine writes: “Several technologies are making leaps of speed on the ground and in the air. Some are here today; others are still on the horizon. Here is a quick snapshot of these different broadband access technologies, the capabilities they purport to provide, and the timelines in which they should appear.”

TECH TALK: India Empowered: My Views

India Empowered to me means India Educated, Infrastructure Everywhere, Innovation Ecosystem, Imaginative Entrepreneurs, Intelligent Enterprises, Internet Energised and Increasing Expectations.

India Educated: We cannot build an empowered nation without educating our people. Given Indias youthful population, the imperative to provide the right education is even greater. Even though we have made progress, there is a lot more to be done. We need creative ways to address the challenge of providing a quality education for hundreds of millions Indians. For example, can we use network computers and next-generation broadband networks to deliver the best, aggregated content to our classrooms across the country to counter the paucity of experienced teachers? Can we automate testing procedures using these technologies to ensure that students and schools can course-correct rapidly? Can we roll out these solutions in the next 12-18 months across India? Can we commit that by 2010 every Indian child will entered the school system to have access to least twelve years of quality education?

Infrastructure Everywhere: If we are not going to build our roads, ports, airports and our broadband networks, we are not going to end up removing the friction that is there for both individuals and businesses. This lack of proper infrastructure works as a drag to everyday transactions and that is something India can ill-afford at this juncture in time. We need huge investments over the next five years so we can have world-class infrastructure. And that does not mean a single Golden Quadrilateral project or just Mumbai and Delhi airports become world-class. Infrastructure needs to go broad and deep across the country. It is what we should have done over the past 50 years but we didnt. We now have to do it in the next five across urban and rural India.

Innovation Ecosystem: We will need to think out-of-the-box to come up with smart solutions. For that, we need to build an innovation ecosystem combining the best minds across academia, industry and government. We need to work on ideas across the board, starting with education, energy, healthcare. We need solutions that are scalable rapidly. We need to foster a culture of innovation so that India can lead the world in key areas use of solar energy as an alternate to fossil fuels is one example. To make this happen, we need to make our universities hubs for cutting-edge research. We need venture capital funds so that the better of these ideas can be commercialised rapidly. We will have failures, but the impact of the successes will far outweigh the downside of the projects that do not work.

Imaginative Entrepreneurs: We not only need more entrepreneurs, we need them to come up with big vision. We need entrepreneurs who are willing to run the risk of failure so that they can change the game dramatically with their disruptive innovations. We need entrepreneurs who are not satisfied with building a small, profitable company but are willing to make big bets on building big enterprises. To take an example: what does it take for us in India to build the Google for Emerging Markets build around tomorrows world of network computers, mobile phones and broadband networks and centralized services. We need to think of the future not as what others create but as an instantiation of someones vision. Can we make it our vision?

Tomorrow: My Views (continued)

Continue reading TECH TALK: India Empowered: My Views