possible career directions

Found this in an email I’d sent dated November 2003! Looking back, it dosen’t look like I’ve done anything significant in this direction except maybe very indirectly. It may have been quite a while, but my interests have not changed, they’ve only strengthened. The signs have been pretty strong, definitely the universe has been most supportive [reference: Alchemist].

The idea was not to get overwhelmed or overambitious, but experiment with different things one at a time and pursue any one which suits me the most. Else totally forget about the whole thing and continue up the corporate ladder which actually isn’t really a bad thing. But not to keep two feet in two boats anymore!

But the pathetic fact remains that I haven’t really done anything significant to follow up on these things, so am listing them out here so that I cannot possibly forget. Nothing significant, but however I am implementing some ideas – some small steps – in moving in this direction, but this post will serve as a reminder.

Also maybe if there’s anybody out there reading this, perhaps you may find some things here interesting. Though I’m currently already working on some ideas, alternative suggestions if any are welcome.


Date: November 2003

For the past year I have met a lot of people in this field, and esp in the past few months. I have made some notes about all incidents and people:

Contextual Invention 2003

Today I attended a conference about bridging the digital divide in HP Labs India. It was about enabling technology (hand held computer devices, etc) available to the poorest of the poor. It really was absorbing, I still need to digest what all I heard. Actually I have been thinking on these lines for a long time.

“Contextual Invention 2003 is a maiden conference which plans to bring cultural, design and technology experts from around the world to discuss how they apply multi-disciplinary research in developing new ICT-based (information and communication technology) business opportunities. The inaugural meeting will focus on development and innovation for the emerging markets.”

Here an eternal question at the back of my mind got answered:

“When people do not have enough food and water and basic needs, what is the use of technology? They cannot eat computers!”

Geetha Narayanan (details about her below) replied “Those are old unsolved problems which havent been solved all these years without technology. Application of technology is a new approach to solve them” and this reply got a round of applause!

Another question was “what is the need to apply technology unnecessarily when the existing system is fine” and the reply was that “we think of applying technology only depending on the need, not for anything and everything. It is best to leave systems that are working as they are”

One example of technology across two European countries speaking different languages: the children of the two countries were able to remotely tell stories to each other using pictures.

To bridge the digitital gap, its not just enough to go there and place a computer and give them internet access. This will die out eventually. The system needs to be able to scale, people should be empowered to improvise it further by themselves. Eg. cellphones are self-scaling – even cobblers and rickshaw drivers and everyone else has one. The applications are varied, rickshaw drivers can loan it to their passengers to make a call, they can use it like a human voice mailbox [where they call their other friend near home and tell them to tell their family they will be late], etc.

User centered design: go to where the users are, where they live, work, etc instead of just listening to their words. They might not have expressed themselves due to their limited technical knowledge.

Deep hanging out – a term used for just unconspiciously mingling with the people there to collect requirements and understanding of their situation.


Geetha Narayanan—————–
Founder-Director
Shristi School of Art, Design and Technology Post Box No. 6430, Yelahanka Bangalore 560064
Ph: (080) 8560238/39/40
Fax: (080) 8462960
gnarayan __at__ vsnl.com

This lady gave a very good speech today explaining that technologists shouldn’t just walk in and try to give some solution, they really need to listen to the people there. She said that she could not raise her head in a slum when some kid asks “Amma all these people have come and gone so many times, yet nothing has changed“. So she said we must do something constructive and not only take information from them in the name of research, but also give something back to them also as some tangible result. And she added that logical solutions are not enough, problems should be solved more like puzzles than problems, and that solutions should be more intutive than logical.

In a personal discussion with her, she advised me to learn drawing.


Amit Pande
———-
Business Analyst
Compusol Software Pvt. Ltd.
6613524, 6525434
amit __at__ compusolsoftware.com

www.me.umn.edu/~amit
www.ry23.wm/go/amitpande

Has implemented a project in Belundur (a village 20 km from Bangalore) involving e-governance.


Priya Prakash
————-
Priya.prakash __at__ bbc.co.uk

Gave a very colorful presentation where she went through the Bombay streets interviewing a lot of common people using mobile phones.


Kuppam Project,
HP Labs, Bangalore

——————-
Imagine a farmer, he wants to know the price of the crops in the cities, he usually depends on some landlord who gives him some low values and buys it from him, and then sells it at high price in the cities. Now technology in the form of a customized internet kiosk will allow him to know the correct price first hand, and hence no dependency on middlemen. Similarly he can come to know about weather conditions and a lot more relevant information. This is an actual project in HP (which I am unfortunately seem to be in a difficult position to join due to some red tape) which they have implemented in Kuppam, a village in AP.


Ajay
—–
This gentleman is an experienced neurologist, and stays for 6 months alternatively in US and Bangalore. He is Vimalauntys close friend and had visited our home to see Ajji. He and his wife have started in the villages around Mysore:
1) many empowerment camps – ladies there stand up for themselves in society earning for themselves, etc
2) a hospital where they get subsidised/free medical treatment He has invited me to visit Mysore and be a witness (to start with) to what he is doing.

[update 2005: I never remembered to follow up, and have no clue where he is now, but however of course he can be traced whenever I *really* decide to go]


Pejawar
——-
This gentleman is very next to our house, in Datta Prasad. The other day he just happened to speak to me for the first time in my life (as far as I remember), a few days of Ajji’s demise. Somehow the conversation turned to children, and he said that he is doing something for them. I asked what, he said come and see.


Swami
—–
This gentleman has started the Adventurers club. He has been exploring nature for over 25 years, and has actively been campaigning to save the western ghats from deforrestation. His way of “campaigning” is very different, in fact campaigning is probably the wrong word. He has started the water sports facilities at Honnemaradu. He facilitates people going there and spending time with nature. They appreciate it and then they themselves feel like protecting it. He has done many other things, but I will only list those wrt children and education. He is working with many schools to provide children Environmental Education. He has been invited by the Indonesian government as an official guest to that country to help them with their curriculum. He also takes underpriviliged children free of cost to Honnemaradu so that they enjoy the water and other facilities there, which earlier used to be only for the rich and well off. He has also asked for volunteers who will help him with the kids, establish a web site, etc.


Yesaswini
———
Lady who works for handicapped people, conducting vocational training for them so that they can live indendent lives. Met her at Honnemaradu.

Ph: 9448214125
sureshkug(or s?)uitt __at__ .com [unclear handwriting]


Doors East 2
————
Bangalore, 2003
8-12 December


Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala
———————-
[I hope to meet this person tomorrow]

Title : “Bringing the Net effect to 700 million rural Indians”
Speaker : Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala
Date : Friday, November 07,2003
Time : 10:00-11:00 am
Venue : Paridot IV Fl, Emerald

Dr. Jhunjhunwala is a Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras, India and heads the Telecommunications and Computer Network (TeNeT) Group, a team of faculty members at IITM, commited towards the development of Education and Telecommunications in India.

He graduated from IIT Kanpur in India and recieved his MS and PhD from University of Maine in USA. He taught at Washington State University briefly prior to joining IITM.

Dr. Jhunjhunwala’s vision is to see a totally connected India; as he puts it, “it is seeing 201 Million connections by 2010” and “providing Internet in every village of India”. Steering towards this goal, he lead research in developing low cost technologies, suitable and affordable for developing countries like India. Along with Midas Communications (a company incubated at IITM), he developed corDECT Wireless in Local Loop technology. The TeNeT group went on to incubate several other companies including Banyan Networks, Chennai Kavigal and n-Logue Communications to steer this dream forward. Further, as a member of several Government bodies, Dr. Jhunjhunwala contributed at policy level to enable India expand its telecom sector.

He was awarded Padmashri in 2002 by President of India for his Distinguished service in Science, Technology and Telecommunications area..

5 Responses to “possible career directions”

  1. Sanjay Mysoremutt » Blog Archive » take the jump Says:

    […] managed to more or less discard any hesitation in countless aspects of life, but there are still some fundamental aspects where this is still pending… Poste […]

  2. Shruthi Says:

    Interesting indeed. And thought-provoking too.

  3. msanjay Says:

    Thanks Shruti.

    See also:
    new Kannada keyboard

  4. Rohit Says:

    More persons with pwer to do such thingss must come up

  5. a common man ಸಂಜಯ » Blog Archive » drifting along professional currents Says:

    […] them all go qualifies as ‘growing up’, or ‘giving up’  :?: There are so many possibilities… but to date they only remain possibilities. After all this, call me dogged but I still […]

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