Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

The 150 Character SMS.

Posted on: June 8, 2008

Create. Collaborate. Contribute. I think that’s pretty much the Mantra for the next step of Technology innovation for this country. Whoever came up with those three words must have been a genius πŸ˜›

All Jokes aside, those three words actually do sum up everything that we need in this place to build something that lasts and climbs up the ladder in terms of positioning in the global space.

Let me get to the concrete stuff. The Create, Collaborate and Contribute aspects first of all represent the Entrepreneurs, Industry and Investor Community and the Talent Pool. You could call them the three main facets of the innovation ecosystem – Idea. Money/Support. Talent. You have this in place – which is the bare essential – and the rest becomes fairly easier to manage.

There is also a second level of interaction in all this: The Collaborate bit. More than what I could ever say, Atul’s Talk at Proto.in on what it takes to be a technology leader summed it up. If we want to even dream about getting to a point where we can dare take down some of the assumed leaders, we are gonna have to make a leapfrog in terms of how we think, evolve, develop and innovate. The crucial aspect in achieving that leapfrog will come from collaborating.

To Quote Atul on This:

If a country has to be seen as a technology leader, it would mean that its not in the sum, or the various companies like Infosys or Wipro who do well, and hence decide whether India is seen as a technology leader, but its more than that. It is essentially how various companies interact, how they leverage the resources of each other, rather than each company reinvent the wheel. If you have a strength in a particular area, and someone else in another – rather than sitting in corners and reinventing the wheel, collaborate. The minute you start doing that, you become bigger than the sum of your parts. If you start doing this in a national level, thats when people start to sit up and take notice of a leader.

I think engaging with the Startups, and the need for Proto.in to bring them all under a common umbrella extends beyond just having the thrill of seeing the energy flow in the corridors of such meets. This is the first time in our history, after a long time, that we are in a position to set standards. This is the first time in a really long time that we are focused on building products and solutions, understanding the needs of the market. And as an entire community of “product centric” companies, it is this generation of startups that will define the next W3C, or GSM equivalent here in India to set the standards. Today we are mere consumers in the underlying technologies that power us. We build, but we build on top of what has already been defined by other markets. In a conversation with Veerchand Bothra, the man behind the MoMo movement in India, I was telling him the exact same words : “No longer do we have to say that we do not have the talent. No longer can we say that we dont have the subscriber base – we are one of the largest subscriber base for the mobile market and growing in the internet space. If we want to define something as to our whim, desire and convenience, we should be able to”.

If we really want to enable regional language SMS, embed regional fonts so that we can natively send them over air – rather than encoding on end devices like how its done – and we do come to this realization that we will need to define an SMS standard with 150 characters instead of the 140 that the world follows, just tell me… who stops us from doing it?

Collaborate, goes a little more than just companies collaborating. It goes to a systematic way of developing on top of what our peers are working on, building on our niches and strengths to deliver a unified platform that is extensible and available for all to use. If you need to think in terms of something which is already out there in the world, think of how the YUI came into place. Think of how the Ruby on Rails framework came into place. Someone developed it, someone else extended it, and a whole lot of people use it. Think about it from the Mobile, internet, and a much larger platform, and you’ll understand that the sum can truly be more than the greater than the parts. We’ve barely gotten there and when we do, there is much more fascinating things that we can expect.

Notes:
There is a Telecom Professionals Group that is already in place which brings together some extremely talented folks in the telecom space to collaborate, share and build on that. Building standards is part of their agenda.

Navjot Pawera was spearheading an Internet Standards Team, and it had quite a bit of response. Will update soon with more details on that.
Update: The name is Gurugeeks. More Info here.

Rajiv Poddar started this group named Voice of VoIP right after the barcamp bangalore sessions with some of the hurdles in the VoIP Space. That’s quite an active group as of now. You can join the group here.

Any other Standards and Technology Collaboration Development teams that you are aware of?

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4 Responses to "The 150 Character SMS."

I think, for collaboration to work, it needs to be an integral part of one’s problem solving approach. It needs an environment of trust and a web of relationships. Moreover, it requires an individual to be willing to “give” without seeing any immediate returns for this “giving”. I don’t know how it is outside India but I have always seen a lack of the third element i.e. “giving” here. Which is a little surprising if we consider the ancient ideology on which Indian social system was based.

In “giving”, more precisely, it is the “giving” in terms of execution where people tend to fail. There is plenty of “giving” in terms of unsought advise though πŸ™‚

I haven’t had to opportunity to participate in Proto.in. To the extent I understand, I believe that it helps people build a web of relationships. But does it also work towards changing the mindset such that 1. people take collaboration as an integral part of problem solving, 2. people “give” without seeing any immediate returns?

Manas,

Very valid point and Yep Proto.in will be focusing on the creation of standards bodies which will come together to build new platforms and define standards for use – starting with giving exposure to whatever work is already happening.

Dunno bout elsewhere, but SMS over GSM is 160 characters in India.. at least that’s what vodafone gives me, and that’s what Hutch earlier used to give me too…

Ankit,

The post was about creating standards bodies to be india specific. The 150 char sms was just a figure of speech πŸ™‚

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