TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: The Near Web

The Near Web can be thought of as incremental in Space. It is the Web that is around where we are physically present. It is a world of shops, malls, schools, hospitals, traffic, and much more. In India, much of this Web does not have an electronic presence. It needs to be created. In this context, I want to share two ideas that I had mentioned some time ago PIN-News and IndiaMirror.

PIN-News is about building a bottom-up community information system. It is built around PIN codes. Neighbourhood events can be posted on to specific pages, organised in a weblog-format. By using standardized forms to do the post, it is possible to capture the information in XML format and use a matching engine to send out alerts to people. For example, if I am interested in book exhibitions or special offers, I can set up an alert on a few PIN codes around my home and workplace. When the book shops in the area do their updates, I can be immediately alerted. PIN-News thus fills the gap in communicating dynamic information to people who are most likely to benefit from it.

Think of a Mirror World, by geographical area, categorised PIN code. (Everybody knows the PIN of where they live and work. Think of it as an for the physical world — only it is managed in a distributed manner. Our goals in doing IndiaMirror are the following:

1. Create a revenue model from the local small buyers and sellers — a MicroGoogle
2. Be a utility in the lives of people — used daily
3. Create a platform which can be used to discuss and solve local issues and problems
4. Build an Information Marketplace platform
5. Enable people to create their own blogs and RSS feeds (via DIY forms). People can do their own updates – publishing
6. Create a weblog/wiki/RSS for every PIN in India. Everything goes into a backend database
7. The RSS Aggregator delivers RSS feeds to people�s mailboxes. People can subscribe for specific events – which are delivered to their computer or cellphone
8. Imagine if each physical object has a virtual presence (for example, a theatre could provide updates on movies and bookings; local shops can provide updates on what’s new in terms of sales, etc.)
9. People can also create a directory of local resources and landmarks. During elections this can be used to discuss the candidates contesting.

This is an innovative grassroots exercise in getting person-to-person publishing and syndication. It bridges information gaps. Think of it as an “information marketplace”. What is required is a mix of seeing the new technologies that are coming up, and applying them to fulfill needs of today’s non-consumers.
We now have the devices and the digital infrastructure to make the Near Web a reality.

Tomorrow: Citizen Media and Physical World Hyperlinks

TECH TALK The Now-New-Near Web+T

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.