« MIT Everyware | Main | Measuring services in a business context »

August 30, 2003

Thoughts on RISC

I will start off my attempt to understand RISC model by asking a question - What was common between Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and Dostoevsky's Crime and punishment ? Both were stories of human life, struggle and change. Like all great fiction both novels attempted to address the fundamentals of human life using some metaphors. War and Peace used masses as a focal point whereas Dostoevsky used individual and his thoughts as a model to address fundamental issues affecting human beings. This masses versus individual approach is a matter of choice to convey the same points. Then why choose one over the other?
That begs a question as to how important is scale in dealing with any problem. Scale is what is so critical to the success of RISC.

Atanu Dey has a provided a wonderful model of Rural Infrastructural & Services Commons (RISC) to address the problem of market coordination between different market building forces in a specific social setting. Its an excellent model which articulates the current market inefficiencies and provides a compelling argument to exploit information technology advances to raise the entrepreneurial activity for eventual market correction.

What problem RISC is solving: It addresses the market failure of coordination and attempts to introduce a market building platform which will radically bring down the information gap by facilitating the transactions between different parties. This will be made possible by the exploitation of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in a very scalable and affordable manner.

Working on the pareto's law, RISC model attempts to provide enough services to 5% of the rural population hoping that this entrepreunarial segment will pull the remaining 95% into more economic activity thereby initiating a chain of positive market intervention. With the assertion that a modest 10% increase in economic efficiency would mean $14billion of additional income this model makes you sit up and take note of its ambitious scale.

Personally I want RISC to happen with its current scope and scale, its so intricately tied to the formula that any attempt to remove them or "phase" them might bring some structural inconsistencies. My usecase oriented thinking says that first we need to identify all core set of economic services where person X might want to be engaged in and then go around building the infrastructural and application services to support his needs. This will have its own deterministic flow to it. To this Atanu is pointing towards projects which have attempted to work using partial and organic attempt to address this economic issue with only partial success.

RISC is compelling to me for several reasons and I am sure anybody who has a deep interest in finding models to bridge the rural and urban divide is going to be impressed by the "scale" of the project. It has that uncanny vision of removing information gap between rural and urban settings. Think of it, given equal and efficient information flow between these two social settings many of urban folks would like to move back to semi-urban (closer to rural) environments thus initiating several positive market building forces. Thats where RISC's model of creating micro-city right at the junction point has a strong chance of succeeding. It will not face any problem in evangelizing the concept. People will flock to it.

This micro-city model uses the computing platform analogy , where there are infrastructural services known as I-services which provides the foundation services such as power, telecommunication, banking etc. On top of this infrastructural services there is a provision for application services termed as S-level, which are providing user interfacing services. If we carry on with this analogy it sort of looks like RISC is proposing to build Internet using scale used by DARPA with the hope that one day Ciscos,AOLs and Ebays will make all this iron-and-fiber investment worthwhile. No reason why this cannot be accomplished, on the other hand DARPA analogy should be used as a selling point to emphasize the "already proven" models. In this model DARPA has to be a consortium run by somebody who has the similar power as Lee Kuan Yew enjoyed in Singapore.

Its main challenge would be to articulate a flexible and multi-phase plan without running into the operational risk of executing on a all-or-nothing vision. In subsequent articles I will further brainstorm on the challenges, magnets on the supply and demand side,need to build ebay effect into the model and why it must succeed.

(What are the known models which have successfully intervened in non-linear economic system as the one which is aimed by RISC. Study of those models will shed some light on the differentiating disruption which ICT brings to the equation.)

August 30, 2003 in Social angle | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Thoughts on RISC:


The comments to this entry are closed.