Enhancing Emergic.org

Recently, we added the Search feature to Emergic. A few more things I’d like to do in the coming few days to enhance the weblog and increase its navigability:

– Add RSS NewsFeeds (headlines) on the Top Page to provide context of what’s happening in the world. Its an idea I have learnt from Samachar. There is a lot of value in providing an aggregate on a single page. Initially, we will begin with feeds from Moreover, but later we’ll go direct to the sources. The three sub-segments will be Emerging Technologies, Emerging Enterprises and Emerging Markets. Here’s a initial version. Its currently on a separate page. We need to put it on the home page and the Archives page (related to the date, so there’s a memory built in of the day’s top stories).

– Show comments in-place with the blog post: people don’t like clicking once more to read the comment. Also, by adding comments in place, they’ll also get indexed for search.

– Outlines on the Month Pages: the Month pages (for May and June) carry all the posts. What I really want is a listing and abstract of the posts, with a link to the actual post. Need to be able to scan dozens of titles quickly. We have written an Outline Web Service which we should use for this.

– Recent Entries links need to be to the Permalink and not the date.

– Integration with an RSS Aggregator: we are checking out a few RSS aggregators. Need to combine so I can post directly from the Aggregator, the way Radio does. This will dramatically improve my information processing speed.

– The RSS feed which gets put out currently takes 50 words. Need to change that so it takes 1-2 sentences. The 50-word limit means it gets cut midway in a sentence which looks bad.

– Give each post a unique name (the “a name” rather than the 6-digit ID which is currently being generated).

– Upload all my earlier writings from 1995 on the blog (or perhaps start a separate one under rajeshjain.com). Currently, my writings are spread across Samachar, IndiaLine and Google’s archives. They need to be consolidated in one place under my control. Just for posterity’s sake.

– Relook at the Blog Daily concept I had…its a good idea.

– See how to leverage referers and backlinks. Am not using this info at all right now.
Basically, the idea is to create a “next-generation blog”.

New Feature: Search

Have added a “Search” box — its there on the Home Page in the right column. It searches the day pages. So, while the search does not take you to exactly the post (you get an idea from the brief description shown on the search results page), it takes you to the day on which the post which contains the phrase(s) occurs. Considering that I don’t post more than 5-6 entries in a day, it should be okay for now. We used HTDig to implement the search feature.

One interesting thing I noticed is that htdig highlights the word you’ve searched for in the brief abstract it gaves for the result, and links the searched word to the actual post (using the permalink). Have no idea how this is happening, but its actually very useful because by clicking on the link in the abstract, one can go directly to the post.

On Blogging

Cory Doctorow’s My Blog, My Outboard Brain captures the essence of blogging:

Blogging gave my knowledge-grazing direction and reward. Writing a blog entry about a useful and/or interesting subject forces me to extract the salient features of the link into a two- or three-sentence elevator pitch to my readers, whose decision to follow a link is predicated on my ability to convey its interestingness to them. This exercise fixes the subjects in my head the same way that taking notes at a lecture does, putting them in reliable and easily-accessible mental registers.

Much of what Cory says applies to me also!

A Century of Posts

The previous post was my 100th. In 23 days (I began on May 9). Its been a good experience so far. I am enjoying the writing — have discovered that it comes much more naturally to me than I previously had thought. Considering that I had pontificated all of April wondering how I should do my blog, it was much easier than I had anticipated.

Am hoping to sustain this at about 4-5 posts daily, in addition to the Tech Talks. The 5 Tech Talks every week take me about 3 hours of writing, and the daily blog posts take up an average of 30-40 mins daily. The aggregate is about 6-7 hours of writing each week. Its a significant commitment, but I see that as a natural extension of what I am doing…reading, thinking and writing is part of the process of building out the vision of Emergic.

My own observation powers have improved dramatically since I started writing the Tech Talk as a daily column in November 2000. I find myself much more alert when I am reading or listening. I have a much better understanding of technology now — may not as deep as I would have liked, but there certainly is a lot more breadth. Which is important when one is trying to asismilate trends and developments and put them together. Writing for me has also helped clarify my own thinking process.

The RTW (reading-thinking-writing) process is a positive feedback cycle. When I began Tech Talk, I was wondering how I’d sustain a daily column beyond a few weeks. Have not only sustained it for 80 weeks now, but I now feel there’s so much more to write!

Open Source Enterprise

In response to my post Emergic Update, Krishnan writes:

I am regular reader of your column in Tech Samachar. I came across your blog after reading your column last Friday. While I find your ideas truly original and blog very interesting to read, I am afraid I can’t understand the rationale behind sharing details of your progress with Emergic with the world. Isn’t this information your company’s “Intellectual Property” ? Don’t you feel sharing it with the world might hurt you more than it helps you in the long run?

Good questions. Why am I putting out the ideas and the progress in public? Should this not be proprietary and confidential? Will this hurt us or help us? My take on this is:

– Ideas are plenty. What differentiates is the execution and the sequencing. The Emergic ideas, while being original in part, are also built upon various things that I am seeing others do. I believe that no one has put them together like we are trying to do. I have spent the better part of the past year thinking through these ideas. That is much harder to replicate. Theres a lot more to the thinking then what appears on the blog. The blog is like an iceberg: theres enough visible, but theres a lot underneath the surface also.

– For small companies like us, it is important to use our knowledge in the development of the mass market. We need to be able to attract like-minded people and form clusters of people and companies. To succeed, we need clout and influence disproportionate to our small size. The web and the blog is perhaps the most cost-effective way of doing so. By being open and transparent to what we are doing, I hope to attract partners and prospective customers over time.

– Updating our progress on Emergic is, to me, akin to putting up our software in the open-source. Yes, anyone else can also take the ideas and concepts and customize them in their own way. But, it also means getting more to build on a similar platform. It means harnessing the minds of many. This, according to me, is our only chance of success in the ambitious tasks that we have set ourselves to do. We need to become thought and action leaders. I am confident that we are on the right track with Emergic. I am willing to let the blog create a record a public record of our success or failure. Only time will tell whether this was the right decision or not.

– I like to think of what we are doing as open-source enterprise. I think in the coming years more and more entrepreneurs will want to write about what they are doing. It helps them build a network of virtual friends who may have gone through or are experiencing challenges similar to the ones they are. As an individual, there may only a few things that I can do. But as a collective, theres so much more that we can accomplish. Think of it as Emergence where the whole is much smarter than the sum of the parts.

Re-thinking this Weblog

I have now been blogging for just over 10 days. Spend about 30-45 minute daily on the weblog. But I am not happy with it. It is not innovative, conversational or different. Have been thinking of ways by which Emergic.org can be a standout.

Currently, this blog is a mix of:

  • My daily Tech Talk column. Each week I take a theme, and write about 500 words a day, Mon-Fri. Sometimes, the theme extends into multiple weeks.
  • Link-Quote-Comment: This is the “Information Filter” part of the blog. I link to a few articles a day around the web which I have found interesting, excerpt out a little bit from the article, and provide some commentary.
  • Original Thinking: Like this piece, wherein I write about my ideas/thoughts, and some of the work we are doing in Emergic.

    The above is still too conventional. It is too “bloggy”. What fresh thinking can I bring in?

    1. NewsLinks: adding a collection of news links from 15-20 websites. These websites would be a mix of technology, business and emerging market sites. In fact, I want to take 1 website each from the 5 top emerging markets — India, China, Brazil, Mexico and Brazil. Taken together, this collection of 100-odd links provides a context to what’s happening in the world around us. It also records the day in posterity (the archives, in our language).

    2. BlogDaily: a mix of some daily features, which are not time-sensitive. Example section: Think It Over (a quote/extract), Quiz Question, Number/Statsitics, Cool Site of the Day, Discussion Topic for today (among readers), The Latest (coverage from magazines), Book Blog (thoughts as I read a book).

    3. Categories and Outlines: The posts on the site are organised chronologically, by date. I was thinking of adding categories, but that would also end up being organised by time. What I want to do is to use the category pages to give a Big Picture view of the content in that section, like a Table of Contents, an Outline.

    The objective is to make Emergic.org a daily “must-visit”: it must add value to your life, so you will want to spend 5 minutes everyday. I want Emergic.org to be like a conversation we have every morning. In fact, I’d like this site to be the first site you visit everyday. Let’s see if I am able to accomplish this!

  • Welcome to Emergic.Org

    Namaste! A few words about me (Rajesh Jain) and the blog.

    Have just completed my first decade as an entrepreneur in Mumbai, India. 1 Hit, a few Flops, 1 Average. The Hit was IndiaWorld (Story: Parts I, II, III), India’s first Internet portal which was launched in 1995, which was acquired by Sify in November 1999 for USD 115 million. The Flops were what I did from 1992-1994: object/multimedia databases, image processing and some offshore software projects. The Average performer has been Netcore, a Linux-based messaging software company started in 1998. We have 100+ clients in India.

    My next plans: grow Netcore into Emergic, offering cost-effective technology solutions for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets like India. In doing so, enable the formation of SME Clusters and their transformation to Emergent Networks.

    More Details

    Born in Pune on India’s 20th Independence Day (August 15, 1967). I went to school and college at St. Xaviers in Mumbai. Did my B Tech in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in 1988, and my M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Columbia University, New York in 1989. I then worked at NYNEX Science and Technology for 2 years before returning to India in 1992.

    I launched IndiaWorld in 1995. From its pioneering start, IndiaWorld grew to be one of the largest collection of India-centric websites, comprising Samachar, Khel, Khoj and Bawarchi. The IndiaWorld sites are now part of Sify.com.

    I am a Member of Sify‘s Advisory Board, and Managing Director of Netcore Solutions, an Enterprise Messaging Solutions company.

    A few articles on me: TIME (Asian Edition Cover Story, Interview), Columbia University Engineering News

    The Blog

    Emergic.Org will talk about our work in creating the cost-effective tech solutions for SMEs. We’ve begun work on projects like a Thin Client-Thick Server, Digital Dashboard and BlogStreet. More on these in the coming days.

    Emergic.Org will also give my views on the world of technology. The vantage point is an emerging market. We need technology, but cannot afford to pay it in dollars. The digital divide needs to be bridged. It is time we entrepreneurs in countries like India became leaders in technology products, rather than pure service centres for the rest of the world. Lets become the anchor store in the world mall, not a discount outlet. Lets lead, not follow.

    Emergic.Org builds on my writings of the past. Have been writing a daily column on Tech Samachar since November 2000. My earlier columns used to be on IndiaLine (1997-98) and in Express Computer (1995-96). Over time, I’ll put together all my older writings here on Emergic.Org.