Anand Parthasarathy reports from Hyderabad
Former Indian President and missile technology leader, A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, has challenged the global community of Internet solution developers to sharply accelerate the pace of change to achieve a seamless melding of the real and cyber world to help empower billions and enable them to overcome the barriers of language and connectivity. In a crisp, powerpoint-driven presentation to 700 plus delegates to the 20th annual World Wide Web Conference -- the first to be held in India, in Hyderabad -- Dr Kalam said he was inspired by Pranav Mistry ( of MIT)'s vision of the "Sixth Sense" and the seamless flow of information it envisaged.
"I am confident, future interactions with the computer and the World Wide Web will be seamless. We would interact with the Cyber world just the same way you and I interact with each other, effortlessly traversing between the real world and the cyber world. We need to make the WWW an integral,inseparable part of our life, an one. I ask the WWW community: when will this happen?" he challenged.
Added Kalam: "Rural folk need to be convinced that contents of World Wide Web are indeed useful to them.I would like the organizers to bring out in about six months an authentic survey of the World Wide Web on the 600,000 villages of India and the effective measures to double its impact in about three years. I would be happy to go through the results of such a survey".
"The biggest hindrance to making the Web democratic is language. A farmer or a home maker in a village using his or her mobile phone, should be able to ask a question in the local language. This question would be translated into other languages used for searching the knowledge base. It should cull the right information instead of giving tonnes of irrelevant data for a certain type specific question or key words or combination of both in verbal form", Kalam said.
Connecting a billion people poses multiple challenges, Kalam concluded. He proposed a radical transformation through the establishment of Societal GRID connectivity with inter-connectivity among sectors of the economy brought about by four grids: Knowledge Grid, Health Grid, e-Governance Grid and the Rural Grid. Each grid is a system of multiple portals. "This system of grids will bring prosperity to 700 million people in the rural areas and 300 million plus people in the urban areas", Kalam suggested. ( see full text in our Special Feature section) He quoted US inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell :"Don't keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before".
The WWW conference has drawn delegates from 50 countries who between them submitted over 700 papers, many of them being presented in the 5-day conference. The conference is hosted by the International Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) Bangalore, with the assistance of IIIT Hyderabad and the Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai. (http://www.www2011india.com/ ). March 30 2011