The Wave Rider

Jan 08, 2013, 00:54 IST | The Guide Team � the news and information portal founded in 1996 as Rediff On The NeT � recently reported a loss of USD 2.34 million for the quarter ending September 30, 2012. According to the website Medianama, which tracks India's digital media companies, Rediff's annual net loss was at USD 6.57 million for the financial year that ended March 31, 2011.

Apparently, it had, by that point, been registering losses for three years in a row. These figures culled from the public domain ought not to have any bearing on Ajit Balakrishnan’s attempt at analysing technological history from pre-industrial times to our current turbulent decade. And yet, they do simply because his claims of understanding that space have to be juxtaposed against the performance of the company he founded.

The Wave Rider — a solid contender for Most Awful Book Title Of The Year — attempts to make sense of a number of colourful, yet chaotic, periods. The amateurish cover ought to prepare one for what to expect. For those who ignore that warning, here’s what you receive: Balakrishnan’s references to his ‘considerable intelligence’, pointless anecdotes about his father, and paraphrased comments by genuine experts (check the bibliography).

Here’s an example of the kind of insights offered by the writer: Companies experiencing a boom now should be cautious. It’s the sort of thing one’s grandmother could tell you, without her having to publish a book to explain why.

What is one to make of it? This is quasi-hagiography masquerading as a ‘chronicle’ of the Internet age. It is poorly written (refer to previous paragraph) and full of sweeping statements that fit into an ‘Internet for Dummies 101’ class for aspiring MBAs. Balakrishnan ought to have done the decent thing by publishing it as a blog instead; at least two trees could have been saved in the process.

— The Wave Rider, Ajit Balakrishnan,  Pan Macmillan, R599. Available at leading bookstores. 

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