I grew up in Calcutta. (And yes, I still spell it that way; habit, I guess). One of the things about growing up in Calcutta was that you learnt the price of being first. Things decayed. First-mover disadvantage. The cost of upgrading in a brownfield environment was high and therefore put off wherever possible.
This affected many things. Sewers, electricity, water supply, cabling, transportation, communications, you name it. Usually utilities of one sort or other.
But nostalgia was good in those days. Things that drifted into obsolescence did so at glacial speeds. You could enjoy your time as first movers.
Now, I read stories like this in the Hindu. Headlined “Which Indian city will ‘unwire’ first?” And I quote from the story:
….But the so-called “leaders” among Indian Information Technology destinations — Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and the satellite towns of Noida and Gurgaon around Delhi — have been conspicuous laggards in taking the benefits of such technology to their citizens.
I find this fascinating.
Technology fossilisation in the past was all about the cost of moving from one generation of technology to another, and the skin-graft-like difficulty of making the move in a live environment.
Today, when I see things like adoption rates for public wi-fi and the madness that surrounds telecommunications regulations in many so-called developed countries, and when I see quotes like the one above from the Hindu, I realise something else is happening.
Fossilisation is taking place at faster and faster rates. Because of just one thing.
I can find no other explanation. It reminds me of the way opensource in Europe was so reliant on the emerging economies of central and eastern Europe; they were the only ones who were motivated to create and use opensource because they had no other choice. And they weren’t evolved enough to have bureaucratic governmental, corporate and municipal greed.