Mahatma Gandhi – His Relevance in the world of Web 2.0 applications

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Reproducing one of the posts I wrote about a year ago:

October 2nd marks the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the man who taught Ahimsa to the world and relied on non-violence principles; and evnetually brought down the British empire to it’s knees and forced them to quit India.

Many of his ideologies can be applied to web 2.0 world as well. Here is a small attempt :

Simplicity ::
‘Simple living high thinking’. Gandhiji always believed in simplicity and that’s what made general public relate to him, believe that he is *one-among-us*. Same is true for any web 2.0 application as well. Look at Google search box. No bells. No whistles. Less confusion. Search simplified.

And that’s what makes it relevant. Ditto with Digg/Flickr as well – simple to use, yet such a powerful impact!

gandhi

Community/Partnerships (We, the People)
Bring them one. Bring them ALL.
No movement is successful without involving the community. While other revolutionaries had their own agenda (regional/religion etc.), Gandhi was focused on one thing – Ahimsa, i.e. Non Violence. And everybody joined in. Everybody lend their heart and soul to the cause.

And same is true for Web 2.0 applications as well. Web 2.0 is all about community deciding what is good and what is not (Digg). And the application/site is just an enabler. Remember, community will reject any BS (bull s**) without a second thought (the recent Facebook episode just proves it!).
So don’t play with community. Give them the right stuff and you get all the respect.

Ahimsa :: i.e. No more zero-sum game.
Its not about I-Win-You-Loose. It’s all about win-win game. Gandhiji never said “Kill them and we get our freedom”. He believed in creating a common mindshare among the general public, and driving them in the right direction.

And the same applies to Web 2.0 as well. You have got to share your application with the world (APIs), and make your application more relevant. One of the best example is Flickr,Goog/YahooMaps/Skype APIs. Look at the wonderful implementation of these APIs. Apart from being a successful company, these web 2.0 firms have built a successful ecosystem as well. And that has really brought upon a revolution.

So no more working in silos. No more ‘ Its me only/Walled Garden’ approach that works. The more you share, cooler you are perceived (Facebook apps are an example)
Bottom of Pyramid :: Gandhiji’s Talisman reads as

“I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions? Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away”

Similarly, any business has to be relevant to the *commons*. No more elite/premium membership. No more entry barriers. Make sure that you give away whole lot of things to people, all for free. Design your business model around these freebies (Google’s adsense is a classic example of bringing advertisers to any goddamn publisher’s site, even this one; and still making money out of that!!).

Stay Hungry. Stay Focused
One of the reason of Kiko’s demise (as cited by its founders) was that they were involved in too many things. Same applies to plethora of 2.0 applications I see.
They try to do too many things and eventually loose focus and get buried. Like Gandhiji, who stood for what he believed was right, founders of web 2.0 application should focus on ‘ main thing to be the main thing’. Rest will follow.

Perseverance
It took India close to 100 years to get its freedom from the Britishers. Gandhi stood like the Rock of Gibraltar and the rest we all know is history.
And look at new generation of web 2.0 era entrepreneurs! They are desperate for quick exits (eBay auction being the most favorite one!), and loose the chance of making it BIG! None of them believe in building a *Built to Last* company!

Keep watching this space for more updates on Gandhi’s principles. Also, I would be delighted to know your comments on how Gandhi’s principles appeal to you?

Related articles: Know more about Mahatma | Why Gandhi never received Nobel Prize | Download “My Experiments with Truth”

Filed Under: Gandhi, img credit: flickr

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