Blogging Discipline

Anil Dash writes about how it is getting harder for him to blog (the lengthier posts). “I suppose some of it has to do with wanting to leave the day job behind when it comes time to writing for my site, but mostly it’s a change in attitude about what I’m doing and how it relates to my audience.”

Well, Anil has been writing for much longer than I have been, so I don’t know how I will feel a couple years down the line about blogging. But for me, blogging has opened up a new world – of people and ideas. It is a non-linear way to increase both. Blogging also requires a discipline – now, for me, it has become part of a day’s activities. I hope I can continue to do this.

2003-04: A Personal View

The end of one year and the start of another is as good a time to become a little more contemplative than normal. For me, 2003 was a year of strengthening of our core vision of affordable computing, especially for SMEs. We did not make as much progress business-wise as I would have liked. But I expect 2004 to be very different. More on that in a moment. 2003 was the year I also met Atanu. His dream of bringing about an economic revolution in rural India is one which I now share.

So, if 2003 was a year filled with Envisioning and Experimentation, I expect 2004 to be a year of Execution. We have to now build on the ideas we have developed and make them a reality. My two basic goals are: creating an affordable computing platform the next billion users, and transforming rural India. 2004 will be the year we start to take the first significant steps in this direction. A lot of elements need to be put in place, and I can slowly see that happening. Id have liked it to have happened faster, but the slow pace of fast change is something we have to accept.

Ours is a long march. My approach is one of learning-by-doing. I figure out things as we go along. This is not necessarily the best approach, but the only one I know. I do make mistakes, and have to course-correct periodically. I have an overall goal in mind, and as long as we are headed towards it, I am fine. This is because most of the time we are traversing over unchartered territory we dont have maps, only a compass.

The weblog and you, dear readers, are constant companions. I write what I think. I document what we are doing. This sharing has helped increase in a non-linear increase in the people that I know. Best of all has been the interactions with many of you. Keep the ideas and thoughts flowing as we welcome 2004. It is now time to take the show on the road.

Wish you all a Very Happy New Year!

2003-04: Feedback Invited

I will be doing a Tech Talk series at the end of the year on some of the important technology developments of 2003 and looking ahead to 2004. Your feedback is invited on what you think are the most important technologies that are shaping up. I want to take up two contexts: one is of course the global view, and the second is from the vantage point of emerging markets, especially what we are seeing in India.

4 Years Since the Deal

Today is 4 years since I sold IndiaWorld [1 2] to Sify. I don’t contemplate much about it, because I’d rather look ahead. But anniversaries are such things – they do make one think a little.

So, how have been the past 4 years? They can be divided into 3 phases: the first 18 months or so which I spent with Sify, the next year was spent thinking on what to do even as I managed Netcore, and the past 18 months or so have been spent trying to work towards realising the vision of making affordable computing solutions for the next billion users (with a specific focus on SMEs in emerging markets). To this, there is a second goal which I have added: how can we transform rural India.

It has been a struggle for the past year or so, as I have realised (slowly) that the transformations that we bring will need a much greater effort. For example, with SMEs, it is not good enough to just create low-cost software based on Linux. One has to think in terms of an affordable computing ecosystem, and co-ordinate the efforts of many to bring about the change. Rural India too is very similar. So, the paths that I have embarked upon are going to be long and challenging – with “mountains beyond mountains” (as Tracy Kidder puts in, in his book of the same name).

When I meet people, they still remember the deal and how it changed mindsets towards entrepreneurship in India. For me, it was perhaps the hardest decision of my life – to sell the company I had created. Sometimes, I imagine how life would have been had I decided not to sell. The Internet revolution in India has been slow and incremental, which has been disappointing. Hopefully, the computing revolution that I want to bring about can be faster.

I like to work on one or two things at a time – which are large and complex enough so that they occupy all my time. Entrepreneurship (as I have often written about in these columns) calls for total involvement. There are things I could have done a lot better in the past 18 months, but one learns. That is perhaps the best part of life – being able to reflect on one’s actions and course-correct. I am working with a compass, not a map.

If there is one change that has happened in the past four years, it is that I have learnt to accept success and failures as two sides of the same coin. So, both don’t sway me dramatically either way. I accept uncertainty as part of a day’s work, rather than becoming rattled. I have realised that to bring about change (the two problems I want to solve) will require long-term multi-year efforts. It will mean doing things I have never done before – building a bigger team, for example (IndiaWorld had all of 20 people, we are already double that size now).

The blog has perhaps been the best thing for me personally in the past four years – it has given me an outlet for my thoughts, and introduced me to some wonderful people. As I look ahead, I will continue to document my experiences in these columns. The journey has just begun.

Best Indian Blog, says Mediaah

Pradyuman Maheshwari says I have the best Indian weblog. “Hands down winner…Rajesh Jains is by far the best. It covers issues on technology and technobusiness like no one else does not just in India, but I wouldnt hesitate to say across the world. It is also evident that Rajesh puts in a helluva lot of time and personal time into the site. If youve got even the slightest interest in technology and want to keep abreast of the latest, bookmark Emergic.”

Thanks, Pradyuman – who himself has an excellent blog on the Indian media.

On a related story, it was nice to see one of my other babies – – finish in the top 5 in the News category. Samachar is now 6.5 years old. Just for the record, Emergic is 1.5 years old.

1,000 Unique Hosts

The last couple of days, this blog has reached another landmark – more than 1,000 unique IP addresses daily. So, here is how the timeline looks:

– May 9, 2002: I started blogging
– Feb 12, 2003: 500 unique hosts (9 months from start)
– Sep 11, 2003: 1,000 unique hosts (16 months from start)