March 09, 2006

Fork

No, I have not budged an inch. I am still kind of holding my ground, in a not very useful manner, in both personal and professional life. The personal has been splattered all over this place since 2001 in all its complicated glory, but there is not much mention here of the professional. I guess that is because I have always done pretty okay work-wise and even in its unspectacularness the various gigs have managed to pay most of my bills and helped me acquire and maintain the necessary creature comforts.

But that can't keep restless creatures like me going forever. In all honesty, I am doing quite well now and there is a lot more that needs to be done. But there is this lingering feeling of wanting to do something that is your own than to power proxied efforts. After a point it becomes hard to not be able to apply your learnings in the way you want to apply it than the way you are forced to by circumstances. And of course, there is the lure of the pot of gold if you can hit the venture right. Do you perceive a faint whiff of ambition in the air? I certainly do.

What is encouraging the feeling are two things. First is that the Indian market is getting primed for major action. Even with its current minisculeness, any convergent form of media stands a better chance of doing well here in the next ten years than it does in the west and at some point every major player (retail, online, offline, name any damn thing) would want to jump in on the bandwagon. So, if you do it right, there is a major opportunity that did not exist even a couple of years ago. If you can build it well, someone will definitely want to buy it.

Second is a follow up to the first point. There are not many people out there who are clued in enough to build it well. Of course, there are many major players like the Infys and Wipros, but they are mostly solution providers and architects who can't do much without a proper vision or purpose given to them in the first place. Moreover, to build it right, you need to understand the medium and its experience and that is not something many have. Can you visualise a solution that mixes rural marketing with the ease-of-use of an AJAX interface? If you can't then you would not know what I am talking about and the opportunity is that are not many out there who do.

All technology is eventually an abstraction. It is a bridge that connects complicated automation to easily understandable/identifiable/predictable actions on the user's end. Where it used to fall apart earlier was high entry level costs. Connectivity and computing infrastructures were prohibitively expensive and the abstraction was there only to the extent of making it barely usable for technology savvy crowd. What has changed in the new world is that the entry level costs have come down. And they have come down to an extent where it even makes sense these days to absorb that cost component entirely, without passing it on to the users.

Some have already realised this. At least one friend is planning to move out of his regular media job to setting up something of his own. The inherent risks are very high especially if you can't find someone to put up at least the seed capital for the venture and the first two years would mean an existence which would have to be frugal at the best and terrible in terms of your savings, that is if you have any in the first place. But if you make it, the payback can essentially take care of the rest of your life. And that is the point that I keep pondering, if such a thing is possible at all or not or if I am just daydreaming?