Monthly Archives: May 2008

WCIT 2008

I have not been able to recently update this blog due to many reasons. The biggest amongst them is the World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT 2008). 

WCIT is the grandest event for the techies of the world–also dubbed as the Olympics of IT. The venue was KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

So, you figured it right. I was in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) for about a week covering the World Congress of Information Technology (WCIT 2008). Clearly, it’s not that I was not blogging. I was but elsewhere.

We (our company, FBM) were the official media partners of the event and as such, I was part of the team that produced the show dailies (newspapers that are produced everyday for thousands of delegates attending the conference). In addition, I was maintaining a blog, complete with videos (check them out under Multimedia on the blog) and pictures. It was all so hectic but quite fun on the whole. I even tried podcasting and ran some trials but when the actual event kicked off, there was hardly any time to produce podcasts. Reporting, production of videos and the blog consumed all my time and energy.

The event was a great success–said to be the best ever in the history of WCIT. Even Bill Gates made a virtual trip to the show through his holographic presence.

There were many discussions, in and outside panels. Among the many panel discussions, there was one that got me most excited. It was about the future of the internet. One of the panelists, a Microsoft representative, summed it up so beautifully. The internet that we have now is just the beginning, he said. It’s like language has been invented but Shakespeare is yet to arrive, he said. Doesn’t that make you think about the future of the net? Doesn’t that sound so thrilling?

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Bend it like Asia

Is Asia the new hub of innovation?

This is what it seems like.

Asia is rising fast as a hub for innovation, led by countries such as China, India and Singapore.

I think it was last year when the Newsweek magazine did a cover story on how the USA was losing its edge on patents. Asia was coming up fast with new patents, threatening to knock the USA off its leadership position in this area.

Now there is some fresh evidence to make this claim sound truer.

In a report ‘China innovation: The next big surprise’ CIO Asia’s managing editor Ross O. Storey notes that innovation will be the next ‘big surprise’ out of China.

He was quoting Jack Perkowski, the chairman and chief executive officer of ASIMCO Technologies, an important manufacturer in China’s automotive components industry.

Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Singapore, Perkowski said there is a ‘tremendous pressure’ in China to find more affordable products, than those offered by the west, which will inevitably lead to innovation.

Here’s the main point that he made: 400 million Chinese people, who now earn more than US$7,000 a year can afford notebook computers, but they’d rather not pay what the West pays for them.

“The other 900 million people can’t afford notebook computers,” Perkowski said, “so everyday you have 1.3 billion Chinese waking up trying to figure out how to make these things cheaper.”

Helping them figure this out are the Asian researchers. This is true not just about IT but lot of other sectors.

Writing in The New York Times on May 4, columnist Thomas L. Friedman also highlights America’s losing its hold on research and innovation (Who will tell the people?):

A few weeks ago, my wife and I flew from New York’s Kennedy Airport to Singapore. In J.F.K.’s waiting lounge we could barely find a place to sit. Eighteen hours later, we landed at Singapore’s ultramodern airport, with free Internet portals and children’s play zones throughout. We felt, as we have before, like we had just flown from the Flintstones to the Jetsons. If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.

How could this be? We are a great power. How could we be borrowing money from Singapore? Maybe it’s because Singapore is investing billions of dollars, from its own savings, into infrastructure and scientific research to attract the world’s best talent — including Americans.

And us? Harvard’s president, Drew Faust, just told a Senate hearing that cutbacks in government research funds were resulting in “downsized labs, layoffs of post docs, slipping morale and more conservative science that shies away from the big research questions.” Today, she added, “China, India, Singapore … have adopted biomedical research and the building of biotechnology clusters as national goals. Suddenly, those who train in America have significant options elsewhere.”

Can Asia really make it or will crises like the energy and food crisis and the shifting sands of global finance spoil the party?