Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (known widely as NREGA) is the rural employment guarantee scheme implemented by the Indian government in August 2005. The law guarantees 100 days of work for a pay of Rs 120 a day (see MGNREGA on Wikipedia). With its Rs 40,000 crore budget, it is no surprise that the project is bedeviled by charges of corruption and embezzlement.
Recently we were watching the movie Thiruvilayadal at a friend’s place. Without going into too much of the plot (since that does not add anything to the subject of this post), there is a segment in it where Nakkeeran, the court poet, finds fault with a poetic piece composed by none other than god Shiva himself. Here is the piece, cued to start at 55 minutes so you get a flavor for the ongoing debate before getting to the actual poetry recitation at 57 minute mark:
Apollo Research Institute (formerly University of Phoenix Research Institute) has identified 10 work skills that are critical for the future work force:
Gutenberg’s printing press is widely (and rightfully!) celebrated as an innovation of epic scale. It fundamentally changed society as it existed up until that point. Printed materials became easy to produce, heralding a new age of information and idea dissemination.
Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations has a related invention that is not as commonly known:
In 1501 Aldus Manutius, a Venetian printer, published a translation of Virgil’s works…What was new about Manutius’ Virgil was its dimensions. The so-called octavo size was designed to be small enough to fit in a gentlman’s saddlebags so as to make important parts of his library transportable.
Of course, Aldus Manutius‘ octavo was not an innovation of the same size or proportion as Gutenberg’s printing press.
This was a small revolution, literally and figuratively—small in the sense that the book had shrunk in size and cost, and small in that it was less significant than Gutenberg’s original innovation.
However, it was a small revolution that did have an impact, on both the society and on the original innovation.
Yet the octavo size mattered, because it helped spread the written word. By making books cheaper and more portable, Manutius made them more desirable, which in turn meant more copies were produced and more experiments with printing were undertaken.
This made me wonder – is it that huge innovations need smaller, related revolutions for it to advance, expand, and succeed? In this case, the answer is yes. But if we dig deeper into any world changing innovation, I am sure the answer would be the same.
Shirky compares this revolution made possible by someone who accepted the larger social change (printing press) against those who fought against the tide and draws a valuable lesson (more like a warning really).
The lesson from Manutius’s life is that the future belongs to those who take the present for granted.
Now, can someone please pass this message on to MPAA and RIAA as they continue to push for SOPA and their own irrelevance? (See Infographic: Effects of the Internet Blacklist Bill (SOPA) and SOPA: Hollywood Finally Gets A Chance to Break the Internet)
2011 has been a great year for Kenya in the areas of access to information and open data.
In their chapter titled “Innovation for the BoP: The Patient-Capital Perspective,” Robert Kennedy (University of Michigan and WDI) and Jacqueline Novogratz (Acumen Fund) give a real-world example of why a social (or any) enterprise should be willing to learn from their customers on what their wants and needs are and be ready to tailor their services appropriately.
Google’s Fusion Tables, a way to manage large amounts of data online with powerful visualization capabilities built into it, was recently graduated out of Google Labs and became an app available on the Google Apps dashboard.
Alma Whitten (Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering, Google) in her blog post “The freedom to be who you want to be…“ makes the distinction between three modes of online use which Google sees itself as serving. The distinction between the three is important for those of us who are interested in online privacy, especially for those activists who are working in closed or repressive societies.
Rules for organizing a protest from How Did the Wisconsin Capitol Occupation Begin, Anyway? by Rebecca Greenfield in today’s The Atlantic: