In a recent interview with Linus Torvalds (creator of Linux), I found this great quote by him. He is talking about something that people very commonly get completely wrong when creating an open-source or crowdsourcing project:
“The first thing is thinking that you can throw things out there and ask people to help,” when it comes to open-source software development, he says. “That’s not how it works. You make it public, and then you assume that you’ll have to do all the work, and ask people to come up with suggestions of what you should do, not what they should do. Maybe they’ll start helping eventually, but you should start off with the assumption that you’re going to be the one maintaining it and ready to do all the work.”
I have some experience with this, because 3-1/2 years ago, I made the same mistake. I started PuneTech with the naive belief that if I start a wiki with the purpose of creating a knowledgebase about all interesting technology in Pune, people would contribute to it and it would become a great crowdsourced resource. In reality, what happened is that I got lots of encouragement and thanks, but few actual contributions. I ended up doing most of the work myself. After a few months, Amit Paranjape joined the effort. But, by and large, the fact remained that most of the content had to come from me.
It is only now, after going at it for 3-1/2 years that people have started contributing more substantially. Vivek Shrinivasan and Meher Ranjan are actively updating the PuneTech YouTube Channel. Mayank Jain is creating the PICT PuneTech Group.
Moral of the story – when you start some new initiative in the hope that it will become a community activity, then be prepared to do all the work yourself for the first few years, and only then will it become a community activity.
I have been a fan of German-style boardgames (aka Eurogames or Designer Games) for over 10 years now. My friends know that I have a big collection of these games, and this year, we’ve started the concept of ‘Games Night’ at our place where 10-20 people show up on a Saturday and play these games until Sunday morning.
I bought most of these games while we were staying in the US, and kept adding to the collection on every US trip. Unfortunately, my US trips have stopped, and my collection is now no longer fresh. That is why I was particularly happy to see this website which now makes these games available in India. Very cool. I haven’t ordered from them yet, so cannot comment upon their customer service etc., but hopefully soon.
Those who’re wondering what’s the big deal about these games is, here are the salient features:
- These are board games, to be played with real people, face to face, not computer games
- These are games that are not as stupid, and mindless as monopoly, but also not as brain-bending as chess
- These games are designed to be played by families or groups of friends – lots of interaction, lots of fun, and get over in a couple of hours.
- The games have beautiful components
For a more detailed explanation, see the wikipedia page
Today, while I was catching up with my RSS feeds in google reader (i.e. wasting time on the internet), I saw this cute map: The United States of Autocomplete. At this point, I decided that instead of wasting time reading other peoples’ blogs I would waste time writing my own blog. So I decided to see how some prominent Indian names/phrases fare under Google autocomplete.
All these results have been obtained by typing the first word or words in Google search and noting down what Google suggested as the first suggestion.
Tried some cities. Pune university. Bombay high court. Delhi metro. Chennai rain. Trivandrum airport. So, apparently, people in Pune are studious, in Bombay they are litigative, and in Trivandrum, they’re just trying to get out.
Politicians were more interesting:
- “Sonia Gandhi biography”. Really? That’s what people find most interesting about her? I was vaguely dissatisfied, so I looked at the remain suggestions, and was further appalled: “Sonia Gandhi hot”, “Sonia Gandhi photos”. Yikes! The internet sure has some weirdos. And the next was “Sonia Gandhi address.” I hope CBI is taking note.
- Rahul Gandhi girlfrield. Yep! Even after so many years, people are primarily concerned about that. No wonder he fared so badly in Bihar.
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee poems. Poor guy. After all he’d done, he’s going to be remembered as the PM who used to quote poems in parliament.
- Suresh Kalmadi Jokes. Not surprised!
- Sharad Pawar international school. Also Sharad Pawar college of pharmacy. Followed by Sharad Pawar cancer.
- Raj Thackeray ringtones. Yup, really, that’s the second suggestion. Scary!
- Shashi Tharoor weds Sunanda Puskhar.
I decided to move on to media:
- Arnab Goswami is a moron. Ok I cheated a little. The first result is “Arnab Goswami twitter.” But I swear the 4th result is “Arnab Goswami is a moron.”
- Rajdeep Sardesai salary. (Actually the first three results were “blog”, “twitter”, and “email”, but it’s interesting that so many people are interested in his salary.)
- Udayan Mukherjee wife. Poor guy. How prominent does a guy have to be before people start taking an interest in him and not his wife?
- Barkha Dutt Husband. After all the #barkhagate and #radiatapes affairs, this is the top search on Google?!
I was sure Bollywood would generate some interesting ones. So here they are:
- Deepika Padukone in bikini.
- Gul Panag hot videos. All her intelligent conversations on twitter haven’t helped.
- Kajol baby boy. Ouch!
- For most actors (Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Shahrukh Khan, Ranbir Kapoor the first three results were “twitter”, or “biography”, or “blog”.)
- Rakhi Sawant is a man. Obviously this wasn’t the first suggestion, but really, there are people searching for this phrase?!
- Raju Hirani next. Wow. That, If a majority of the people on the internet are wondering what is your next project, that is a major achievement
You have any interesting ones to add to this list?
(Random FYI: “Navin Kabra” gets “old songs” as a suggested completion.)