I’m JP Rangaswami. 56 years old, married (my wife’s called Shane), three children (Orla, 27, Isaac, 22 and Hope, 15). I was born in Calcutta and lived there for nearly half my life before emigrating to the UK in 1980. Much of that time was spent at St Xavier’s Collegiate School and College; I was there from 1966 to 1979. Originally an economist and financial journalist, I’ve been an accidental technologist for over a quarter of a century. I’ve spent most of my adult life working in that strange space where finance meets technology, for a number of very large firms. Since October 2010 I work for salesforce.com as Chief Scientist. (Normally, when asked to put a white coat on, I tend to look for the long sleeves and restraint straps…).
I’m passionate about the things that interest me. My family. My local church and community. A retarded hippie at heart, I listen primarily to music made in the mid sixties to early seventies. CSNY, Traffic, Grateful Dead, Doobie Brothers, Joni Mitchell, The Band, America, The Who, The Beatles, that sort of thing. I read voraciously and collect books as well, but only in specific genres. Detective fiction, as in Nero Wolfe. Caper fiction, as in Donald E Westlake. The Raj and Empire, as in Warren Hastings or Robert Clive. Mathematics as in Hardy or Ramanujan. Management as in Peter Drucker or Max de Pree. Information and Technology as in John Seely Brown. Humour as in Ogden Nash or PG Wodehouse.
I’m passionate about my profession(s), both planned and accidental. A Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts and a Fellow of the British Computer Society. More and more my interests have moved towards education, I keep thinking of setting up a school from scratch. Which is partly why I’m chairman of The School Of Everything.
I’m passionate about work (!) , particularly with reference to how work is changing: the paradigms created by globalisation, disintermediation and the web; the implications of virtualisation, service orientation and commoditisation; why publishing and search and fulfilment and conversation are the only “applications” we may need; how telephony becoming software and the wireless internet interact with mobile devices; the terrors of poorly thought out IPR and DRM; the need to avoid walled gardens of my own making; how children now teach me about work; the socialising of information, how it creates value by being shared, how it is enriched, how it is corrupted. How information behaves and what I can learn from it. Which is partly why I’m chairman of Ribbit.
I’m passionate about education. When I retire from normal work I will build a school. A school that is built for the 21st century, with the requisite connectivity, hardware and software infrastructure. A school that’s willing to borrow teachers rather than own them, as long as the teachers see what they do as their calling, their vocation. A school where students are encouraged to use the web in class, where critiquing the teacher is accepted. Where critiquing students is also accepted. Where the focus is on equality of opportunity rather than outcome; where diversity is celebrated. Where learning takes place. Which means mistakes get made. Where making mistakes is encouraged.
Ever since I read The Cluetrain Manifesto I have believed in the “markets are conversations” theme, and have had the good fortune to meet and spend time with the Cluetrain gang discussing their views and values. In fact they were kind enough to ask me to contribute a chapter to the 10th Anniversary Edition of the book.
Which naturally makes me passionate about opensource as well. In democratised innovation. In emergence theories a la Steven Johnson. None of which should surprise the reader, given that my thoughts on opensource were probably more driven by Jerry Garcia than by Raymond or Stallman or Torvalds et al.