TECH TALK: A Presentation at PC Forum: Esther Dyson and Release 1.0

One tech event Ive always wanted to attend has been Esther Dysons PC Forum. I guess the fascination came about because of her unique insights which I had become used to over the years through her publication, Release 1.0. Every month (now quarter), Esther takes up one topic or emerging vertical and delves deep into it, through interviews with the companies (especially, start-ups) working in the area. What is really engaging is the style and the ability to simplify even the most complex topics. Esther (or the author of the issue) does this through personal interviews which probe deep and wide. The result is one of the most insightful and thought-provoking tech industry reports. It is not inexpensive ($285 for 4 issues each year) but it is absolutely worth the investment.

The previous two issues of Release 1.0 in 2005 have looked at healthcare and the importance of time (When 2.0). In fact, the December 2005 issue covered a company that I have co-founded, SEraja. Here is an excerpt of what Esther wrote about what we are doing:

Perhaps the most ambitious events project we have come across is EventWeb, the brainchild of Ramesh Jain, now Donald Bren Professor in Information and Computer Sciences at University of California, Irvine. Prior to this he was a titled professor at Georgia Tech.

[Ramesh] Jain is taking all that he has learned over the years and all that the Web has created over the years to support such ambitions to build what he calls EventWeb. The vehicle is a company called Seraja (which has no meaning, but did have a URL available).He is chairman; the companys CEO, Arun Katiyar, is based in Bangalore along with the development team; the primary investor, Rajesh Jain (no relation), is also based in India. Were moving from the document Web to the event Web, he says with the smoothness of a popular professor. We want to move beyond the Gutenberg legacy and reverse-engineer the environment. You should be able to follow your own course through an event online.

The idea is to index and display content by time and place i.e. to index events. And then heres the magic EventWeb will process the content it finds or gets from users using the sorts of pattern- and object-recognition tools that characterize much of Jains previous work. What makes it interesting is that it will can process video objects as well as text-based event information. The service relies on indexing, classification and recognition algorithms. . .and people. As a service, it will both host its own content and object recognition, annotation and editing tools, and let users use the tools to manage and host both shared and their own content, with links to EventWeb. Imagine Wikipedia-style collaboration to generate metadata for any event-related content anyone can find.

When I first read the description of what we are doing in Seraja, I was floored by the simplicity with which Esther represented our work. She does this (as I found out talking to Ramesh) through personal interviews which go deep into the past and connect all the dots to the present.

So, when I got an opportunity to meet with Esther in Mumbai in January, it was like a dream come true for me.

Tomorrow: The Event

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.