As they say, “Success is a journey! Not a destination. If you can’t find happiness being in this journey, you ain’t gonna find it forever !!”.
Dad says, “work hard”! Mom says, “work smart”, But I could’t find any task that is so hard to work on or to act too smart to finish off while being in the corporate working-structure. People might find me dumb or crazy when I submit my resignations in a week and or in few months of turmoil. I had a reason to quit, a very strong one and a very general one, I can’t take this corporate crap any more! This single sentence runs across the minds of half of those who work in corporate firms, but I don’t know how many of them have taken the bet to quit their ‘9-hours shift’ job, to find a path to work hand in hand with their passion, to fulfil their dreams and to feed their souls. I am one among them!! Hey peeps say hello if you’ve had these sentences in your mind. Not to mention, I was scared as hell, not knowing what to do with my life if I lose this bout. But that single question, I asked to myself, “what would I do if this was my last day on earth?”. I was normal and cool and strategic to tackle these thoughts, head-on.
One destination in the city, that every one has in mind when thinking of a Start-up or entrepreneurship is Collab House. May be because of the healthy start-up community or it’s brand in the country as a hub for start-ups or because of Vineel himself, the Founder and CEO of Collab House. I am an unofficial Member of Collab House for a long time now, defifnitely due to the relationship that I share with Vineel while being part of Mozilla India Community. Forgot to mention, Vineel is the Community liaison of Mozilla India and also the head of Volunteer community of South Asia. His tremendous experience in Community building and Connecting global communities has enabled him to build a start-up for start-ups. Collab House, launched on 15 June-2014, as the name indicates, is a house where collaborations happen, methodological, ideological or entrepreneurial, it is a space for activity and where things keep rolling, may be for makers, hackers, starters, ideologists and more, It is a hub of activity.
Hence, I grabbed the opportunity of taking oath as the CM of Collab House. People here call me CM in-short, I am now, the Community Manager of Collab House, one among India’s leading makerspaces, first in Hyderabad to create ripple in maker culture of the city. Lot of expectations, innumerable ideas, and with amazing things running in mind, I’ve stepped in as the Employee Number ’01’ of Collab House on 2nd of December 2015. Since then it’s been a roller-coaster ride and I am loving it.
We plan events, we hack and make things, we host the tours/ visits to Collab House, we house discussions for in-house collaborations, we host meet-ups, we attend events outside the house, we document things, we take photographs, we handle our socialmediachannels, we share news, we support initiatives, we connect communities, we mobilise ideas, we celebrate kitchen parties, we are exciters, we are starters, we are propellers and we are Collabians.
Working closely with a large number of Open communities like, Mozilla, Coder Dojo, TEDx Hyderabad, Startup Grind, Xprize Think tank, AISEC, Hackster.io, Startup Saturday and many other, I believe that I have to be able to multitask, and that means staying organized. Life is very fast-paced and there are a lot of things thrown at me at once — and I need to stay on top of it, every now and then. On any given day, I have to be a marketer, a PR person and then a communications guy who has to react to a story and at the end of the day I need to document all the happenings in order to share stories with our peers. “When you’re a community manager, you’re on 24/7,” said Adobe Community Manager Rachael King. “Good or bad, something huge can happen at any time, so you have to deal with it.” At times, I would be the first person to enter the house and last one to leave after locking our place, the time is well spent everyday with all that passion, enthusiasm and energetic people around. Surrounded with positive vibes everyday, Collab House has never turned me tired of working and nor it has drained out my energy. Amidst of these spikes of failures and successes I find myself happy and prospering., While in a start-up you’ve got to bring things to place when they fall apart and run in to the wild to create a trail for the team that you are leading.
Collab House as a whole is an immense brand because of our audience, and we, Collabians strive hard to keep up the activity and keep our audience engaged through enormous offerings.
When some one asks how did you get started, I would say proudly, with chest swollen, “My journey started at Collab House, as a Collabian!!!”
A short video on peoples’ words about Collab House.
It is another day for Collab House and Mozilla Hyderabad on 16th April 2016. A good to go event, backed with a prominent student community of ACE Engineering college. The event aims at introducing to the Mozilla and its communities , the technologies it creates and the way it makes web a productive place each and every day. A separate session on the recent advancements in Mozilla , tracks on Campus Campaign and Connected Devices and WoMoz. Followed by Official Club launch at ACE Engineering College.The interesting part is that the attendees consists of maximum female strength, so 100+ active WoMoz attended the session. An amazing opportunity to bring good number of female contributors on board.
The agenda is here:
10:30 AM – 11:30 AM – Event Registration and Inauguration
1:30 AM – 12:00 PM – What is Open Source and Why Open Source
12:00 PM – 12.45 PM – Mozilla and Its mission
12:45 PM – 1:15 PM – Privacy and Security. Why security is the most concerned Issue.
01:15 PM – 2.15 PM – BREAK
2:15 PM – 2.45 PM – Sessions on
* WoMoz (Women in Mozilla)
* Different contribution paths for Women to contribute
With Santosh, Akshay, Kritika and Harsha firmly holding the pulse of every one in the hall with their content filled sessions, spectators looking for more, posing more questions in order to learn more, it was a memorable day.
The day concluded on a positive note with a satisfactory smile on every face in the hall. The memento presented at the college marks the memory of ‘Mozilla Day’ at ACE Engineering college for many days thereafter. Kudos to every one who has put an amazing efforts in putting up such a great day.
The world is pretty complicated. Making it simple place to live is the responsibility of every individual. The invention of Internet has triggered the avalanche of digital millennium. With multi folded advancements in technology over the past 3 decades, machine taking over mankind, there are millions of people who are still devoid of access to the current technologies. When a weak Wifi signal reminds us about the importance of Internet, there are millions of people who don’t even know about its existence. The web is not evenly distributed. An ideal and equal distribution of web and its resources is the major issue to fight for. We stand for Open Web, we fight for digital equality and we are out to TeachTheWeb because we are the scouts of ‘Mozilla Web Maker’.
To create awareness about Internet among as many people as possible, myself with the help of many other energetic volunteers of Mozilla, have initiated a number of campaigns focused at WebLiteracy. The major audience being the kids from rural and remote localities, we targeted the schools in these areas. Our motto is to teach them how to read, write and participate in the web.
Thanjavur is considered as the agricultural capital of Tamilnadu(Southern state of India), we chose this as the venue for our first campaign. This was planned to be around April month of 2014, Starting from 3rd April and till 3rd May. 5 volunteers,associated to Open Source club of my University have stepped up voluntarily to be part of this digital literacy campaign. Namely, Sai Kiran, Dileep Reddy, Dharan Reddy, Madhav Reddy, Sandeep Kumar were of tremendous help in putting up this one.
Initially we set a target of visiting 9 schools which are located remotely and not privileged for resources, To teach 1000 kids about Internet and make them web literate. When we had a bunch of teachers form the schools attending our sessions, we recognised the opportunity and held separate sessions for Teachers.Targeted at Education Trends and Maker Moment, the sessions made us feel like ‘We are champions of Open Web’.
We carried our laptops and Internet Dongles to make them aware of the boom in Internet and to update them with current trends.. I was on cloud nine when we reached the number of 1000 as soon as we visited 7 schools. By the end of the campaign we had 1346 Web Literates, including Students and Teachers form 9 schools.
Story of a Connected Dot
Around march month of 2015 myself with a set of college friends had to stop near a village while on a Fun trip to a village, A kid(around 10 years) came close to me, recognised me and started telling to her friends, ‘Firefox Anna Vandirikka, vanga vanga'(Firefox Brother has come, People come here). I was dumbstruck and recollected the school which I have visited a year ago as part of the campaign which is in the same village. It was a goosebumps moment when a kid of such tender age recognises me after 1 year that too with the name ‘Firefox Anna’. I couldn’t recollect her name so asked her and she is ‘Lakshmi’. I was a happy man.
The way I stand up for fighting social issues, attracts the people around me, and the lack of Internet Education in this Tech-Generation is definitely a social issue. I’ve made myself to take this up as my responsibility on behalf of Mozilla and now I am proud to be the initiator of another web literacy campaign ‘Summer Safari’, through which I have won hundreds of hearts, “unknowingly “.
Though it took some time for me to choose a definite path of contribution while volunteering for Mozilla, it was never late protect the open web. I felt happy when I teach people about Internet and there I go, I have planned for another campaign, a bigger one this time and with a bigger team and in a larger landscape. The initial plan was to visit 12 rural schools, 3 public parks and educate about Internet and to reach 1300 people in total.
The team includes Myself, Shruthi, Sujith, Santosh, Spoorthi, Praneeth, Navya, Yadgiri and Vishnu. Few of them were mozillians, few were very new to Mozilla contributor community but everyone of them were excellent in teaching kids. The pre campaign planning happened close to lat week of may. It was peak summer with 104 degrees heat outside, nothing could stop us form reaching the goals of the campaign. The core principle of the Team-Summer Safari, is to educate the kids about Internet and even to provide hands on experience with laptops. The Summer Safari Team, list of schools, goodies for kids, everything was ready, and we started out with tremendous passion, enthusiasm and energy.
The strategy, 9 of us would visit a school, we split in to 4 teams, each team assigned to teach 50 students in total. Many times school teachers would also attend the sessions. Information packed sessions would last for 1 and a half hours and followed by various ice breakers. The second half would commence for another 2 hours and concluded with swag distribution.
We taught them how to utilise the resources of Internet and to dodge the dangerous aspects of the Web and inevitably they loved using Firefox and got to know about Mozilla. Reaching out to 12 schools, TaughTheWeb to 1405 student-teacher community, campaigned in 2 local parks to create awareness about Net neutrality, good numbers marked a happy conclusion of these chain of events.
Story of a Connected Dot
The event has become talk of the town, it spread like a wildfire in our locality, to my goodness, I got a phone call, form Mr. Ramesh, a news reporter of Eenadu Newspaper, a renowned one in our State. That was a 25 minute telephonic interview, experiencing first of this kind ever.
When the event along with my photograph got published in newspaper the very next day, that moment literally I had no words. We didn’t expect any kind of materialistic benefits out of the event when we were about to start, but when it ended, it gave the prime and basic emotions to satisfy a person, Love from the kids(to whom we taught), Parents’, Friends’, relatives’ appreciation & Recognition in my locale and many more.
Another amazing campaign to talk about. This is the outcome of our previous campaign at Hyderabad. Born and bought up in Hyderabad, I have good information about the locality. While organising sessions at schools during our previous campaign, we have got information about through school teachers that there are many other schools close by, which are devoid of resources and are lack of web literacy. We gathered every bit of such information, made a topic out of this to discuss about during our ‘after campaign gathering’ of ‘Summer Safari’.
We hence formed a team of 7, Myself, Sujith, Santosh, Vishnu, Vijay, Aruna and Sruthi, to fight for the cause, another episode in making as many webliterates as possible. Yet another fantastic set of sessions reaching out to 9 schools in total. The numbers amounted to 946 WebLiterates, 912 students and 32 teachers.
The kids were happy to know about the most essential communication and information tools existing at finger tips. They wouldn’t let go of any opportunity to learn more about technology in coming months thereafter.
Story of a Connected Dot
I would frequently point at my T-Shirt when I use the term ‘FireFox’, no wonder I wear these FSA T-Shirts to almost every event. When I teach them how to browse internet, they teach me how to learn. When I was teaching them about how to make use Internet to follow your passion, a kid has made a beautiful sketch up fox and gifted it to me. That was an inspiring moment, though he is not listening to my lecture he loved to sketch the fox, he was following his passion.
Yet another amazing campaign to talk about. All these days, my contributions were majorly focused at Webmaker and TeachTheWeb in specific localities, close to my University and my home town. Now, I need to spread these activities across demographies to add value to lives of many more people by teaching them about Web. Though Vishakapatnam is proclaimed as the best city of the state Andhra Pradesh, still hundreds of schools and thousands of students lack the knowledge of Internet. Yet again, I looked at the grass root problem and made myself to take up this challenge. Targeted at 10 schools and to make 1000 web literates, in a span of 4 days.
The time constrain is the real challenge and yet we came up with a new strategy. I thank the members of M0zilla Club, GITAM University for stepping forward to make this happen, in a fantastic way. The ‘day 1’ was totally invested in travelling to the targeted school to seek permissions for organising these sessions. 50 FSAs were trained on the ‘day two’ on how to ‘TeachTheWeb’. They were divided in to 10 teams, 5 per team and provided with all the teaching kits. One team would be visiting 1 school and in total 10 teams would be visiting 1o schools, on ‘day three’. Perfect planning and excellent execution, kudos to all the volunteers for your time and energy.
On ‘Day 4’, we had a formal ‘after event gathering’, every volunteer was up with a unique, fresh and inspiring story about their visit schools. I could see the happiness in their eyes for becoming part of this initiative. They’ve got enough inspiration and training to carry out many events of this kind in the coming future. The credits goes to PSV Ramaraju, Akshay Tiwari and Jagadeesh vattikonda for making a big one.
Spell bound for a moment after looking at the numbers, we concluded with 10 schools, 1408 webliterates (Students and teachers) and touching the lives of every one of them by equipping them with the most important resource to survive in 21st century, The Internet.
We have just created a dot, I would let you know as soon as it gets a connection.
Openness has always been the primary motto of Mozilla. With world’s largest volunteer community, Mozilla has released numerous projects viz. Firefox, Firefox OS, Thunderbird etc which are all open sourced.
With respect to the recent updates on the new project that Mozilla has initiated, to penetrate in to ‘Internet of Things’ space (Project ‘Connected Devices’), Collab House in association with Mozilla Hyderabad community has held an event focusing on Developer boards like Raspberry Pi and Arduino and also the advantages of using Firefox OS to run these programmable boards.
The new project, ‘Connected Devices’ was announced at Leadership Summit, Singapore. As we were trained to campaign into and teach our local community on the recent advancements and projects of Mozilla, we have organised a successful event aimed at building a strong IoT community to contribute to the new project.
The event started off with the basics of ‘Internet of Things’ by Prasan Dutt, Training and Curriculum lead and mentor at Maker Club( Maker and IoT community incubated at Collab House). He explained about how the whole world could be connected and accessed via web. The concept of automating every day activities was well delivered to the audience.
The session was then continued by Ram Dayal with all the domains where ‘Internet of Things’ can be applied. Namely:
Farming . etc
Having done with the application of IoT, Ram Dayal then explained about the functioning of various programmable boards like Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Beagle bone etc. This track was very much concept oriented with the functionality of various programmable boards and the difference between each of these Programmable electronic boards. The maker moment has started and we are going to be part of it for the generations to come. The QA session for clearing the doubts of the audience was pretty interactive with every one in the hall having a basic idea on these boards. Simplicity being the ultimate sophistication, the crowd was much interested to know how simple the world could become with all the devices around them, connected over a platform.
The introduction of Firefox OS has created more curiosity among the attendees. The audience were then presented with the mission and motto behind the launch of Firefox OS for mobile and how the focus to Connected Devices could make our world simpler than before. Using the HTML5 Technology, Firefox OS is the most simple and powerful OS to work on. Mozilla has standardised all the APIs developed for Firefox OS, creating an opportunity for developers aka makers to come up with path breaking ideas turning into revolutionising products. The advantages of using Firefox OS for developing ‘Connected Devices’ was well delivered to the crowd creating an interest among the audience.
The demonstrations of various makes by Prasan Dutt using Raspberry Pi and Arduino has made the session more interesting and engaging. The demonstrations included projects like:
Raspberry Pi enabled mobile phone.
Bluetooth enabled switch to trigger a signal( Using Arduino).
# tag detection using Twitter API
Calling Web APIs
An Arduino Mouse .etc
The hand-on was fun with energetic audience having amazing enthusiasm to learn more about ‘Connected Devices’. Representing Mozilla Clummunity Hyderabad, we promise a lot of events lined up in the coming months outlining and supporting the principles of Mozilla.
On 23rd and 24th of January 2016, the third gathering part of the ‘Participation leaders initiative’, the most awaited cohort of every Mozillian, aimed at developing 130 participation leaders in various tracks, ‘The Leadership summit’ has given a boost to the skill set and leadership qualities of every attendee. The 2-day of sessions filled with fun and energy, mentored by fantastic leaders had 2 major tracks of participation, as listed below. This has marked a real milestone by enabling every core contributor community to dig deeply in to the critical and important projects :
Campus campaign – The strategic initiative to spread the word about various topics on a campus.
Connected devices – A glimpse on the penetration of Firefox OS in to the next generation devices to make the world simple and easy.
The cross community collaboration summing up with cross platform conferences has tremendously contributed to enhance the organizational abilities of every Mozillian invited to be part of ‘The Leadership Summit’.
The event started off with talks by Mark Surman, George Roter and Rosana on the near invasion of the digital world by tech giants, the possibility of digital monopoly and the need to stop this potential threat to the web by making it open. : ‘To Take back the web’. Yes we are in need to protect ours and others’ privacy.
India being second largest country in terms of the number of users on Facebook and 91% of Indian smartphone users are using android, this abnormal market share is a potential threat to the privacy of the users, their actions both online and offline are tracked using various other snooping techniques which aren’t good for end users.
As Mark Surman said in his opening talk, “this is a critical time for the web and for Mozilla. We need to simultaneously figure out what technologies and products will bring our values into the future and we need to show the public and governments just how important those values are. We can only succeed by getting better at working together — and by growing our community around the world”, its a critical time to fight for the open web.
The sessions on personal leadership and personal story telling had warmed up the atmosphere of the hall with inspiring stories of our peer Mozillians on how they have started and came this far while contributing to Mozilla and its projects.
The big YEAH moment
Then the tracks on Campus campaign and Connected devices started off with energy and the choice was open for all the Mozillians to join either of these tracks based on their interest. Commencement of these tracks has given big picture of community goals for the coming year.
The session on ‘strategies to adopt while on different stages of an event’ namely:
Before the event
leaving for the event
At the event
After event follow-up, would make every organizer to leverage the best outcome of an event to create considerable impact on people engaged in it. This made me realise the things that I was missing out while making most out of my previous events.
The diverse set of communities working on common goals would give you mentees to assist, Assistance from mentors when needed, collaboration in ideology, efficient brain storming, and the most optimal resolution for a problem statement. 130 Mozillians from various sub continents with diversity in every possible aspect has made this event the most impact full among all the other cohorts that I have attended so far in my life.
The selfie obsession
Leadership summit has also provided me with the opportunity to meet my friends in the community after a very long time. The geographical barriers has never been a problem for all of us to work on the Mission of Mozilla but getting together has given more insights about behaviour and growth of various other volunteer communities spread across the globe.
At the end of event, these 2 days have definitely enhanced my knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to grow the impact of participation across Mozilla in 2016. I promise that I would take every conversation, track, session, talk , love and swag from leadership summit to my local community to make them aware and bring them on board to be part of the evolution of Mozilla projects. I am sure that all the attendees of leadership summit are aligned with and have contributed to Mozilla’s vision and strategy, and would champion the web with Mozillians and others in the coming years.
These 2 days of cohort have created specific plans for growing the impact of participation and contributing to Mozilla in 2016, aligned with the organization’s goals and priorities rigidly structured and consciously committed to ‘Take Back the web’.
Not to miss the fun that we had with every other person at The Leadership Summit during all those coffee breaks, lunch breaks, dinners, photo shoots and informal conversations.
Harsha Vardhan, Mozilla Rep, Hyderabad, India. Signing off for now to shape next big things out to happen.