No one uses voicemail in India and the concept of missed calls

As you might have read, cell phones are being adopted at an incredible pace in India. Everyone has a cell phone and is always using it. One thing I realized very soon after getting to India was that no one has voice mail for their cell phone. And people don’t even get the concept of voicemail and its advantages. After vigorously evangelizing voicemail for a few days, I started getting used to not having voicemail, and even appreciating the advantages of not having voicemail.

Gleaned from my various discussions about voicemail, the Indian point of view seems to be:
-You can always send a SMS instead of a voicemail.
-SMS is less intrusive, people can respond if and when they want to. Or not respond.
-When people make a call, they want to talk to you directly – they are looking for synchronous voice communication. Voicemail does not help with that – even a long, chatty message does not. You might as well SMS and set up a time to talk.

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Uzanto Open House in Delhi on Dec 1st

Its kind of a last minute thing. Pretty much the entire Uzanto / Slideshare team is together in Delhi right now. As many of you know, that’s out of the ordinary for us. Generally, we are a distributed team based in two continents. Apart from that, its the beginning of the holiday season. The weather is beautiful in Delhi nowadays. And there are many other reasons to get together with friends… So come by for an informal evening of food, drinks and socializing. This will be between 6 and 9 PM at the Uzanto offices in South Delhi. If you read this blog and are in Delhi, then we would love to meet you. If you are involved with the geek scene in Delhi / care about design/usability, then come by. Just add yourself to the wiki so that we know how much food to order.

Heading to India and Singapore

I am heading to India on the 21st. I will be in Delhi till the 30th. I will stop in Singapore on the way back for both family and work. I have not been back to India for a year and half, so this trip was long overdue. Apart from catching up with friends and family, I am really looking forward to working on Slideshare with the rest of the team. We have been hiring and I yet to meet (in person) some of our team members, so this will be great. I will be rather busy, but do ping me if you are in Delhi and want to meet up.

Looking forward to enjoying some gorgeous Delhi November weather and eating lots of Indian food!

BarCampDelhi is on right now!

I am reading about it on Gaurav’s blog and watching the pictures on the Flickr photostream for the tag barcampdelhi. You can also follow it through a Technorati search. Please add any other links as comments. The wiki does not seem to be updated with the talk information yet, but hopefully it will be later in the day.

Update: March 4th, 9.00 AM
More pictures at http://www.1clickblog.com/barcamp/
More coverage at HCI@work, jonathanboutelle.com.

BarCamp goes to India – BarCampDelhi is on March 4th

barcampdelhiHere is the description from their website:

BarCampDelhi is BarCamp’s first foray into Asia and we are proud to be the torch-bearers.

BarCamp is a new kind of technology ‘unconference’- organized by attendees, for attendees. It’s an open, welcoming, once-a-year event for geeks to hang out with wifi and smash their brains together. It’s about love and geekery and having a focal point for great ideas.

The theme of BarCampDelhi will be “Next Generation Internet: Web 2.0, mobile computing, and other cool stuff”.

Go to the BarCampDelhi website or to Amit’s website to learn more.

I am personally very excited that there will be a Delhi BarCamp. Let me count the reasons…

Delhi is the city I am most connected to in India – Its the city I have been attached to since childhood. I love the city, love the history, the vitality.

So far, tech in India has mostly been a South and West thing. In the South we have Bangalore, Madras, Hyderabad. And Mumbai and Pune in the West. Delhi has many BPO’s. But far fewer of high tech companies.

We (Uzanto) made a leap of faith when we decided to setup in Delhi. Apart from pragmatic reasons such as the fact that I know Delhi best, we figured that Delhi has good tech people. Its just that they need to go to the South to find good jobs. If you do interesting work (especially when you are building cool products), and are a good place to work – you will be able to find good people. So far, that has been true. We have been able to find good people in Delhi and look forward to growing there. And its been great to see other startups like Tekriti .

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No one uses voicemail in India and the concept of missed calls

As you might have read, cell phones are being adopted at an incredible pace in India. My own observation: everyone has a cell phone and is always using it. One thing I realized very soon after getting to India was that no one has voice mail for their cell phone. And people don’t even get the concept of voicemail and its advantages. After vigorously evangelizing voicemail for a few days, I started getting used to not having voicemail, and even appreciating the advantages of not having voicemail.

Gleaned from my various discussions about voicemail, the Indian point of view seems to be:

-You can always send a SMS instead of a voicemail.
-SMS is less intrusive, people can respond if and when they want to. Or not respond.
-When people make a call, they want to talk to you directly – they are looking for synchronous voice communication. Voicemail does not help with that – even a long, chatty message does not. You might as well SMS and set up a time to talk.

Continue reading

An Indian American’s take on outsourcing

An op-ed by an Indian woman writer in the New York Times today:

The outsourcing debate seems to have mutated into a contest between the country of my birth and the country of my nationality. Of course I feel a loyalty to America… I have a vested interest in seeing America prosper. But I am here because the country of my ancestors didn’t understand the changing world; it couldn’t change its technology and its philosophy and its notions of social mobility fast enough to fight off the European colonists, who won not so much with the might of advanced weaponry as with the clear logical philosophy of the Enlightenment. Their systems of thinking conquered our own.

I identify with many of the issues expressed in this article, especially about being considered good in Math for the first time, after coming to America!

The politics of Tsunami aid: Dueling donors, and recalcitrant recipients

While France, US and other countries duel it out (via Metafilter), trying to prove they are the most generous (US is currently leading at $350 million), India has refused aid from other Governments. They will still take aid from United Nations and other non-Governmental organizations, but not from other Governments. At first blush, this is a stupid idea – why stop anyone from helping? There are people who need help – there are Governments willing to help. But, as the escalating aid figures from US and Europe show, such aid is a political instrument. It comes with strings attached (even if the strings are invisible). And in the day of the internet, who needs Govts – people can help each other directly (as they are doing – in so many generous, creative ways).

In other news, how one phone call saves an entire village. That is all one needs – a phone and a Public announcement system in every village.

Donating to Tsunami: how to double your contribution

Like many others, I had been trying to figure out how to ensure that any money I donate for Tsunami goes to a good organization, with a low overhead. My brother who works for GE, told me how their company is doing matching contributions. Moreover, they have identified several worthy organizations doing relief work on the ground, and are directly giving the money to these organizations.

I ended up making my contribution through my brother. If you are thinking of making a contribution, then look for a friend/relative at a company doing matching contributions. Its an easy way to double your contribution.