That’s what Eric Schmidt Said

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Apparently everyone was at Google’s big tent activate Summit in New Delhi two days ago, at least judging by the firestorms on Twitter.  And it wasn’t just Googlers and fans, familiar faces from competing firms were everywhere.

Some interesting things that were said at the Summit:

1. There is good online vernacular news in India, but not a lot of vernacular sites for anything else.

2. India’s next-gen tech firms have succeeded despite government regulation, rather than because of it. – Deep Kalra of MakeMyTrip. An especially keen point in light of this recent story in The Economist, about the challenges facing next-gen firms.

3. For Indian politicians, social media still hasn’t reached do-or-die status (unlike in the US, where it’s impossible to campaign for any public office without putting together some kind of social presence)

4.  Yeah, Section 66A of the IT Act is nobody’s favorite – Eric Schmidt

5. Really, that was it? – Public response to Gujarat CM (and potential future Indian Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s utterly unrousing speech about the importance of the Internet

6.  The value of journalism can be measured in “informedness”, not pageviews – Jeff Jarvis.  A friend of mine is working for a new research facility devoted to this concept.

7.  When that whacko American pastor filmed himself burning the Quran, 16 people died in riots in Jammu&Kashmir – Omar Abdullah, on why the state imposed a bandwidth limit on mobile users at that time

8.  The Indian government is sponsoring a data-based hackathon.

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A cutting-edge political news site for India?

capitol

Currently debating the viability of something along the lines of Politico Pro in India.  I first heard of this model back when PP started, and it looks like they’ve done great stuff with it since then.

The big challenge in India, from what I can see, would be getting subscribers to pony up prices that would support extremely close and high-quality coverage. I wonder how PP handled that equation in their initial days.  Back then, they were catering to a niche audience of Hill staffers whose jobs depended on knowing the day’s headlines before they actually became headlines. This meant advance notice on votes, immediate reports on hearings, notes about shifts in opinion, etc.  This is something that could really work in India, provided the content mix is good from the get-go and manages to effectively straddle the line between news and rumor.

In terms of competition, the wires aren’t really doing this, and newspapers tend to break big consumer stories and hold them for the front page (which means they operate on the equivalent of a tape-delay).

The trick would really be getting the news.  It would take a dedicated corps of highly trusted staffers (trusted by those in power) who could write directly (or almost directly) onto the web – ie, extremely well-trained.  Also, there could be some pay-for-performance component, in terms of getting exclusive stories.

The delivery medium would be mobile; Android and BB.

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