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|August 28, 1998||
Curtains!Madhuri Velegar at Pragati Maidan
All right, everybody. The curtains are down and the sweepers are clearing away the styrofoam cups, dusting the chairs in preparation for their return to the contractors. For the India Internet World Conference is over.
Participants, delegates, exhibitors, journalists, all, were actually quite relieved it was done with. The pressure had also got to the girls manning the stalls, who had hurried homeward before the appointed hour of 6 pm. The media centre, open till 8 pm on other days, was quickly locked up by 6.05 pm. And the ornate stalls, were half dismantled before the delegates had finished the last plenary session.
Back at the Oberoi and the Le Meridien, some participants were tucking into what would be their last breakfast in Delhi before they caught their respective flights home. While Gene De Rose wanted to holiday in India for a week, he couldn't stay on because his wife told him just before he left that she was pregnant. He decided it wouldn't look too good if he was sunning himself in Goa or wherever while the wife was coping with morning sickness. And so he too headed home.
Sabeer Bhatia apparently had no pregnant wife to contend with. He headed for Bangalore for a well-deserved two-week vacation with the folks. Chris Moore wasn't certain if he should actually go to Agra and see the Taj.
In the morning, though, the crowds were still pouring in. There was even a minor skirmish when a few boys were rudely told line up like the rest. Men kept flitting from conference hall to conference halls, trying to find the best speaker they could. While a few speakers discussed the subject, some, among them Benjamin Lee of Cybercash discussed their companies than the issues at hand.
The last day saw much feverish last-minute events, among them a press conference wherein Pradeep Kar of Microland announced a technological tie-up with Chris Moore's iPass to supply Internet access points to corporate firms in India. There was a television crew organised by, well, the organisers. The team was getting in everyone's way trying to capture the mood for posterity; there were cameramen urgently clicking away in the corridors; there were last-minute interviews being arranged...
Ross Veitch producer of Yahoo in Asia, Yahoo! Inc, probably gave the most interviews, replying to questions from at least seven or eight media companies, For most, he even demonstrated the search engine's capabilities on one of the terminals at the media centre.
Unfortunately, despite his agent's efforts, the media ignored Uday Pabrai, who had spoken so authoritatively on TCP/IP networks and the foundation of the Internet before the conference.
Journalists collected 'snippets' while TV crews made do with gratuitous sound bites.
IT managers were not interested in the talk on developing and implementing multi-lingual sites by William Hunt though the topic was relevant to India, where just five per cent of the population is computer-literate.
But the crowd was thick at Jim Stern's lecture on the 5 Cs -- cool, content, context, contact and control and came back feeling quite happy about it. William Hunt who gave another talk, the last on the schedule, perked up, seeing the better response.
"It's doubly challenging, specially since so many of you have just come from Stern's invigorating sessions," he said.
There was yet another session on design tools for the web by Graham Perkins of Adobe that was better attended. Perkins gave the audience expert tips on digital imaging and design tools, and. of course, hyped the company's upcoming products too in the bargain.
The plenary sessions on the Internet and the banking industry and the web solutions market in India saw some realistic projections being made on the use of the Net. But the negative aspect was the lack of accessibility and till that basic fact was addressed, the delegates weren't happy. They went off unhappy, in fact.
As the guests walked out of the sprawling conference halls sipping their last cuppa, the workers were hauling up camera and cable into vans while those who were manning the stalls watched them while they sat chatting around in the maidan.
Nice show. Nice end. Amen.
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