Saturday, October 25, 2008

Web 2.0 - Welcome to the New World

Web 2.0 – Welcome to the New World

A very interesting series on the Discovery channel couple of weeks back prompted me to write this article. The show was called “Download – the story of the internet”. It was a remarkably made series on the history and progress of the internet.

Internet has become a part of our life similar to mobile and transport.  Life would seem incomplete without internet. A substantial part of our time is spent on internet these days and it seems to be growing day-by-day. We are now in an age of Web 2.0. I’ll try and throw light on what it means from my perspective. Web 2.0 is a very vague term and there is no clear definition or meaning attached to it. Hence I take the liberty to put my own definition to it as well J

In the early days of internet, it was used to host websites and share information with the users. Typically people used to log on to a site, read the content, and log off. Then came emails and chat, and people started communicating with each other. Still the communication was restricted to between individuals.


Then Google revolutionized the internet and made it vastly assessable to the masses. It started motivating people to put up more websites and share more content. Still the communication on the internet was one way only.

I think the turning point was development of online applications that enabled people to post queries and get replies from multiple people. Often these people interacting were strangers to each and shared one thing in common – the domain or the topic of discussions. These online applications were called Forums. Suddenly the internet was opened to masses and provided a platform to create applications that enable people to interact with each other in the real sense. All boundaries were opened up and anyone was allowed to participate. You no longer needed a static website to provide you the information that you need. The information was getting updated real time and with more participation.

These applications that enable users to interact with each other, generate their own content and share it, view others content and give their feedback is the heart of what we call as Web 2.0.

In last 4 – 5 years lots of such applications have come up and have given the web a new meaning. The underlying technology of the internet has been the same since inception it’s just how people are using it has changed. Hence there is no real meaning of the term Web 2.0.  

The applications that are popular in the Web 2.0 era are –

·         Social networking sites such as Orkut, MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Second Life etc

·         Blogging sites such as Blogspot, Wordpress, Typepad etc

·         Photo Sharing sites such as Picasaweb, Flickr etc

·         Video sharing sites such as Youtube, Google Video etc

·         Wiki’s such as Wikipedia, WikiWikiWeb, Memory Alpha etc

·         Social Bookmarking or tagging sites such as, Stumbleupon, Digg, reddit etc

·         File sharing sites such as Megaupload, File Factory, RapidShare etc

·         E-commerce sites such as Amazon, E-bay, Alibaba etc

·         Live casting sites such as Ustream,, Stickam etc

·         Audio / Music sharing sites such as imeem, The Hype Machine,, ccMixter

·         Online game sites such as World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy etc

·         Content aggregators like iGoogle, My Yahoo, Google Reader, Google News etc

This is just a partial list and there are thousands of these kinds that are flourishing over the internet.

The key thing to observe in all these websites and the popularity associated with them is that the user is at the centre of it. All of these sites are based on “user generated content” paradigm. The users log on to these sites, register themselves, write / upload share content, edit content, view content all by themselves. The users form groups based on their interests and liking. They generate content and they consume content amongst themselves. In a way these applications have enabled users to move part of their life on the web. And according to me this is what Web 2.0 is all about.

The popularity of these applications is only because they are user centric and they give the users the freedom to use it as per their liking. As Chad Hurley founder of You Tube rightly put it behind the success of You Tube that these days’ people like to see themselves or their friends.


Slowly we are shifting from a world where we had no choice but to read and view content published by select few people via TV, Movies, Books, Newspaper, Websites to a world where we create content, share it, and view it amongst ourselves.

Welcome to the new world of Web 2.0!


Friday, October 24, 2008



I came across this on a post on a blog by Mosho. It lists down few of the simple things to follow and make it a habit and a part of our lifestyle which will contribute significantly in preserving our Global Ecosystem and reducing greenhouse gases and in turn global warming.  I have added few more points to the list.

I personally think the problem of global warming can be most effectively solved only through individual contributions rather than leaving it to governments and organizations to take measures. We live in an age of very high consumption and this is what is contributing significantly to increase in greenhouse gases like CO2, methane etc. And not just that we are also contributing towards reduction in natural gases/ oil, food production, and water. All of these are prime constituent for life and all of them are depleting at a very high rate. If the trend continues the earth will run out of these in the next century and thereby endangering the lives of future generations to come. If we were to reduce our consumption and wastage by proactively taking steps individually we can control the balance and maintain the beautiful Global Ecosystem on earth.

What we can do at a micro level to make this world a better place:

1. Every time we fill petrol into our vehicles - opt for the higher grade fuel (like Power, Turbojet or Speed) as it is less subsidized than the regular variant. This will help the country reduce its burden on fuel subsidy. Additionally these types of fuel also reduce carbon emission in the vehicles.


2. Every time you walk out of a room after dark, forget not to switch off the light. It will reduce the power demand in the country and also help in the reduction in global warming.

3. When you are in a mood to donate anything, donate a CFL bulb to someone who can replace his regular tungsten bulb with the CFL. This will also reduce power demand, reduce his electricity bill and reduce global warming. Make sure you yourself use CFL bulbs in your home and office.

4. Never turn away from a tap with water running. Go, switch the tap off. The Chinese equated water with money and therefore thought that wasting water is losing money. I agree. I also think that water is a scarce commodity and a vital one too. Therefore there is wisdom in saving water. Don't let the tap water run while shaving. You can collect water in a bowl and shave. It saves a lot of water.


5. Try as much as possible to buy goods and consumables made in your local area, your state, your country and the rest of the world, in that order. The logic behind this is the longer the distance between the consumer and the manufacturer, the more the fuel that is consumed in the transportation, therefore larger the carbon print and associated problems. This is more so in the case of imported fruits and vegetables, because along with the fuel the goods require to be refrigerated. Now we know that refrigeration comes at an ecological cost. The higher the period of refrigeration, the higher the cost.


6. Perishable goods that have to come from really far-off places need to be preserved. Now, we know that preservation can be made possible only with the use of chemical preservatives and stabilizers. Therefore the hazards associated with these chemicals, both medical and ecological, are being bought by you at the time of purchase of these goods. A study in the UAE has suggested that childhood obesity and decrease in the age of onset of puberty is linked to the preservatives used to preserve meat coming from overseas.

7. Try to ride a cycle to work. If the local grocer or barber is not very far from where you live, walk the distance. Walking to any place is only a matter of habit. Shed that ego. Walk it.

8. When in a high-rise building and you want to go down, walk down the stairs. This will save the electricity needed to bring the lift up to your level and then go down to the ground floor.

9. Keep the computer on a non-screen saver mode. Switch the monitor off when you are not working and the computer is lying idle. Go for a flat screen over a CRT monitor if possible, it consumes far less energy.

Contributed by -

Few more additions -

10. When you are done charging your mobile or batteries or any electronic appliance, remove the plug from the socket coz it drains power even when you have removed the appliance.

11. Do not use unnecessary extra lighting in your home, office than what is necessary.

12. Use a two-wheeler, or public transport, or look for options of car pooling with friends / colleagues to travel to office rather than driving alone in a car.

13. Reduce visiting excessively to Cafes, Restaurants, malls, multiplexes, amusement parks etc. whenever you can. These places have a very high carbon footprint owing to their huge structure and ambience which requires a lot of power consumption in the form of lighting, air-conditioning, etc.

14. Avoid ordering huge amount of food and wasting it.

15. Do not waste drinking water. Fill only what you need.

16. Last but not the least, practice it yourself and at the same time remind others around you as often as you can. Become a strong advocate of a green and a clean world. Educate others, remind them often, and take action.  

We consume way beyond what we need. And the irony is that a very small percentage of population comprising of people like us – “educated, well-to-do, with jobs and money” indulge in this over consumption. So it is us who are directly responsible for the disruption of the global ecosystem and endangering the lives of other majority of the population and the future generations.

Think about it. 


The GLobal ECOSYStem

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Values –

I have always been fascinated and motivated by individuals and organizations exhibiting strong value system. Value means different things to different people. I will try and explain what it means to me and mention few of them who I think have successfully endured it.

Value for one should be measured on a vast time span… in our case maybe over a span of lifetime. It’s pretty easy to define values and stick to it in a short run but extremely difficult to sustain it over decades and life time. Value needs practice needs sustainability. Values are those that go beyond self, aim for larger goals, and sacrifice short term gains and pleasures through short-cuts. Values need great sacrifices to be made, endure prolonged hardships, perseverance and sustaining without giving up come no matter what. Value is making a promise and delivering on it, putting others first, aiming for the best, and self belief.  Value is in innovation, setting new standards, changing the rules of the game, being competitive though fair.

Some of the individuals and organizations that have shown a great deal of value are Mahatma Gandhi, Warren Buffet, Tata Group (Ratan Tata), Google, and Infosys (Narayan Murthy). Of course there are many more of them. But here I will just cover in short what I admire the most of these individuals and companies –

Mahatma Gandhi –

I think his principles and teachings are universal and immortal. They are as much applicable in today’s world as they were in the past and will remain to be so forever. The path of non-violence is probably more relevant in today’s age of terrorism than it was in the past. His book “My experiments with Truth” gives a great insight on his thoughts and principles. He spent his whole life preaching and practicing non-violence and firmly believed in the same. Most of the today’s problems like Terrorism and Global Warming could be easily solved by following and practicing his teachings.  Of course like any true value principle his teachings are very tough to endure. Through consistent self-restraint and non-violence he was able to successfully contribute to India’s freedom struggle from British rule.  Given two options for gaining Indian Independence, through retaliating and fighting by means of violence and on the other hand through self-restraint and non-violence he chose the path of non-violence coz he believed – “an eye for an eye makes the world go blind”. He believed nothing would come out of violence and would only end in loss of innocent lives and hatred all around.

I personally believe similar to the struggle of independence the current issues in the world such as wars and terrorism, nuclear threats etc are very complex issues. Violence and terrorist acts from both sides just cascade the issue further and drive them far away from point of negotiations and peace. It’s very important for everyone involved to sit back and think of non-violence and peace as a path to chose to put an end to the escalating chain reaction of terrorist acts all around the world.

Some of Ganhiji’s quotes that I like are -

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

“The earth has enough for man’s need but not for man’s greed.”

“An eye for an eye makes the world go blind.”

“A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word.”


Warren Buffet –

He is a strong proponent of value investing and a devoted student of Benjamin Graham. He is extremely disciplined about his investment and has made large sums of money not only for himself but for all his shareholders. He has consistently been amongst the top 5 richest people on the planet from decades. While the entire world is in turmoil currently over the financial credit crisis, he is one of the very few who is the least affected by it. His belief in value investing and his dedicated and disciplined approach does show results in such time. Though being a very close friend of Bill Gates, he has always stayed away from IT stocks coz he says he doesn’t quite understand this field to invest in it. A recent quote about him is that the US government should learn from him and follow his principles to avoid such financial disasters in the future because – “He is the man who knows how to make big money and more importantly how to keep it.”  In spite of being one of the richest people on the planet, he lives a very simple life and is very down to earth. He is not only the greatest investor ever but also a great philanthropist and has announced to donate more than 80% of his wealth for social cause. Behavioral finance is a very complex topic and there is not greater teacher than Warren Buffet.

Some of his memorable quotes on investing and life are –

"If you don't know jewelry, know the jeweler."

"I think it's much easier to predict the relative strength that Coke will have in the soft drink world than Microsoft will in the software world," Buffett said. "That's not to knock Microsoft. If I had to bet on anyone, I'd bet on Microsoft. But I don't have to bet."

"The market is there only as a reference point to see if anybody is offering to do anything foolish. When we invest in stocks, we invest in businesses."

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."

“Only when you combine sound intellectual framework with emotional discipline, you get a rational behavior”.

“Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”

“Only buy something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

“Our favorite holding period is forever.”


Tata Group (Ratan Tata)



Tata group is the first truly Multinational Company from India. It currently has diverse and successful business across all major geographies. Tata Group has operations in more than 85 countries across six continents and its companies export products and services to 80 nations. The Tata Group comprises 98 companies in seven business sectors, 27 of which are publicly listed. 65.8% of the ownership of Tata Group is held by the charitable trust of Tata. The sectors it has presence in are - Information systems and communications, Engineering, Materials, Services, Energy, Consumer products, and Chemicals.  Companies which form a major part of the group include Tata Steel, Corus Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Tea, Titan Industries, Tata Power, Tata Communications and the Taj Hotels.  Tata group turnover is now estimated to touch Rs 1.5 lakh crore. The man behind all this Ratan Tata is a shy man and rarely features in the society glossies.

Some of the key highlights of the Tata group companies are -

·         Tata Steel is the world's 5th largest and India's largest steel company

·         TCS is the largest IT Company in Asia

·         Tata Motors is India's largest passenger automobile and commercial vehicle manufacturing company, it recently finalized a deal with Ford Motor Company to acquire their British Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) business

·         Tata Power is one of the largest private sector power companies in India

·         Tata Tea Limited is the world's second largest manufacturer of packaged tea and tea products. It also owns the Tetley brand of tea sold primarily in Europe

·         Tata Communications, formerly known Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited or VSNL, is India's largest telecommunication company in international long distance, enterprise data and internet services

·         Titan Industries is the world's sixth largest wrist watch manufacture

Tata Motors is soon coming up with their most innovative product the people car or the one lac car – Nano.  When Rata Tata announced his plans to develop a car for Rs. 1 lac, he was ridiculed by other car makers including the global giants and they had termed his dream as impossible and foolish. Today after Tata almost on the verge of launching it there is rush amongst all global car manufacturers to replicate it. It is being termed as the most innovative product after Henry Ford’s Model T in the automobile history by the same global auto giants.

Quotes from Ratan Tata –

“A Promise is a Promise…”

-          On launching the Tata Nano in the Auto Expo 2008 and keeping the cost within 1 lac in spite of rising raw material cost.




1.      Google is one of the most innovative companies currently in the world. Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. They have so far lived up to their mission through sheer innovation, technology, and strong fundamental values. Listing Google’s facts would run into pages.  Click here to know more about the company.

Google's index of web pages is the largest in the world, comprising of billions of web pages. Google searches this immense collection of web pages often in less than half a second.

To know about their value system and philosophy read here -

“Don’t be evil” is their fundamental value on which all their business decisions are made.  The ten principles of Google are –

  Focus on the user and all else will follow.

2.       It's best to do one thing really, really well.

3.       Fast is better than slow.

4.       Democracy on the web works.

5.       You don't need to be at your desk to need an answer.

6.       You can make money without doing evil.

7.       There's always more information out there.

8.       The need for information crosses all borders.

9.       You can be serious without a suit.

10.   Great just isn't good enough.

Google main home page and its other sites in different languages are the most sought of web sites in the world. Google’s main revenues come from serving ads on their search site as well through affiliate sites. However they never defocus from their prime service that is to offer most relevant web search results and in the fastest time possible. Their home page which is probably the most valued real-estate on the web is clean without a single ad. The search results are plain text only that appear on the side bars with a separator and do not clutter the search results. The search results are unbiased and the most relevant based on their innovative page-ranking system. The ads too follow the same logic against conventional quick revenue generating methods.

I can go on and on writing about Google. I would recommend reading a book called “THE GOOGLE STORY” by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed to get deeper insight into the company.


“A management team distracted by a series of short term targets is as pointless as a dieter stepping on a scale every half hour. “

“We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner. For example, AdSense for content and Google News were both prototyped in “20% time.” Most risky projects fizzle, often teaching us something. Others succeed and become attractive businesses. “


Infosys - Narayan Murthy



Infosys is one of India's largest IT companies with over 90,000 professionals. It has nine development centers in India and over 30 offices worldwide. Its annual revenues for the fiscal year 2007-2008 exceeded US$4 billion with a market capitalization of over US$30 billion.

Infosys was founded in 1981 in Pune by N. R. Narayana Murthy and six others. N.Murthy started the company by borrowing Rs. 10,000 from his wife Sudha Murthy. In December 2005, Narayana Murthy was voted as the 7th most admired CEO/Chairman in the world in a global study conducted by Burson-Marsteller with the Economist Intelligence. The list included 14 others with distinguished names such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett.

I admire him for the way he has built such a strong company and the way they conduct themselves. Infosys is admired by all software professionals for their work and the way they treat their employees. Infosys has created a lot of wealth not only for its founders but also for all their stakeholders and their employees. Its one of the very few publicly listed companies who gives forecast guidance and sticks to it. Its founders and top management including CEOs are known to generously vacate their positions after a period of time to make way and give chance for upcoming talent.  

Narayan Murthy himself is a very modest, straightforward, and a down to earth person. His wife Sudha Murthy has made equal sacrifices in making Infosys what it is today. Both Narayan Murthy and his wife Sudha Murthy are known for their philanthropic work as well.

Some of Narayan Murthy’s quotes are –

“Our assets walk out of the door each evening. We have to make sure that they come back the next morning.”

“Performance leads to recognition. Recognition brings respect. Respect enhances power. Humility and grace in one's moments of power enhances dignity of an organization,”

“The real power of money is the power to give it away.”

“In God we trust, everybody else bring data to the table.”

“Progress is often equal to the difference between mind and mindset.”

"Ships are safest in the harbor but they are not meant to be there. They have to sail long and hard and face stormy seas to reach the comfort of a desirable destination"