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Arriving in the 21st century

Sometime last week, while most of you slept, www.hindustantimes.com took its first step across a technology threshold — and arrived in the 21st century, writes Chaitanya Kalbag.

india Updated: May 15, 2007 15:32 IST

I experienced my epiphany about consumer media a couple of years ago on a Tokyo subway.

When I lived in Japan in the mid-1990s, commuters would be bent earnestly over their little pulp paperbacks or Manga comics. Now, just over a decade later, everyone’s fingers are flying over buttons on little machines that are no longer talking devices but multimedia tools. Terms like i-mode, FeliCa, Edy, and bitWallet are bandied about by young Generation Y users with extra-sensory perception who can perform multiple tasks while peering at tiny screens in their palms. Those mobile devices move seamlessly from internet browsing to shopping to payment tools to key cards to home management features. The average consumer in Japan is now using multiple media, and is “always on”; is always hungry for information, entertainment, and the probable thrill of being the first to hear the day’s big news.

Some months later I was in Seoul, where “wired” is a passé concept for the world’s most connected country. Digital multimedia broadcasting had just been launched on snazzy handsets, broadband connections were ramping up to dizzying speeds, and South Korea’s 48 million people had their synapses crackling in unison.

Asia is already at the forefront of many of these revolutionary changes. Another quiet revolution is taking shape in India, where we are in our second dotcom frenzy in a decade. Sometime last week, while most of you slept, www.hindustantimes.com took its first step across a technology threshold — and arrived in the 21st century.

In step with HT Media Ltd’s goal of growing to be the best and biggest media company in India, and in keeping with flagship newspaper the Hindustan Times’s thrust towards the very best journalism, the website went through a makeover that took months of research, investment, and design.

The Hindustan Times had already begun to look like a web-savvy newspaper six months ago, with bylines, accountability for all our writers, and email addresses so you could send your feedback on each story.

Of course, any good website has to be populated with good, eyeball-grabbing, click-inducing content, and this is where we hope www.hindustantimes.com will stand apart.

Rule Number One in an increasingly wired India and world is: Be Concise. So I will not belabour the good things you will behold and use except to say that the website will become part of your life and your lifestyle, on your desktop, your laptop, or your handheld mobile device.

Easy-to-read fonts, fewer (and unobtrusive) ads, fast searches, quicker updates, and better archiving will be givens. You will also find a lot to chew on with our story packaging, pictures, slideshows, polls, streaming video, and interactivity.

Interactivity? Now that is a word that will run like a spine through the website. You will be able to submit photographs, video, feedback, and see them published, with your name in lights. You can get RSS (really simple syndication) feeds on subjects you pick. You can design "My Zone", your own preferred look and feel.

We will dazzle the cricket fanatics among you with webcasts and podcasts from our intrepid sports writers, details from the ongoing matches, expert views, match analyses -- a cornucopia of cricket content that beggars description.

We promise more interactivity with each technology advance -- blogs, news alerts, My HT, your personalised ePaper.

I could go on and on, but frankly, we will leave the superlatives to you. Just send them to editor@hindustantimes.com.