Monday, May 19, 2008

Notes of IdeaCamp

Cross-posted from punetech

These are the quick-n-dirty notes that I took during IdeaCampPune. (Actually, they are my live-tweets of the event.) I’ve tried to include relevant links where I could find them.

Generally, I think it went rather well. The organizers had stopped registration after 80 entries (there were a bunch of other people who wanted to get in, but couldn’t) - so I guess about 80 people attended. All the sessions were attended by a roomful of people and many sessions had lots of discussion and audience participation.

If you find any one of these initiatives interesting, and need help with getting in touch with the relevant person, let me know and I can try to put you in touch.


  • First hour spent in “corridor discussions”. About a dozen ideas listed on the board so far.
  • Kaushik R ( et al trying to create a platform for structured participation of Industry in (Pune) colleges
  • IIT-B Alumni association inviting nominations for Innovations-2009 ( I’ve heard good things about the Innovations program from a number of people. (Beware, it is not all IT/Tech, some of the innovations might be in a different field. But still interesting.)
  • Srikanth Sunderarajan (COO, Persistent) pushing people to be serious about their ideas - to think everything through.
  • Anupam Saraph, CIO of Pune, talking about “Design for Pune” ( - competition/game to design Pune of the future. Competition will have participants using SimCity ( Possible first prize - spend a day with Will Wright (top game designer). See my recent article about some of the initiatives that Anupam is currently spending his time on.
  • Abhay Shete ( talking about the Semantic Web (; faceted browsing (
  • A couple of students from COEP talking about Swarm Intelligence ( Complex behavior from simple pieces.
  • Anurag Agarwal is creating the “Mentor India Program”. Pick promising students from colleges and mentor them for a few years.
  • Shashikant Kore ( talking about SMS based micropayments. I wonder if his new company (still in stealth) is about this
  • The Design for Pune ( presentation repeated by popular demand (for those who missed it)
  • Aparna talking about “India, I Care” - Lots of audience participation
  • Entrepreneurship cell IIT-B; promoting entrepreneurship amongst youth. - funding, incubation, showcase, etc.
  • Freeman, talking about the use of mp3 players in (rural?) education (the “one mp3 player per child” project). is using radio to run an english teaching program. Digital Hall provides videos that teachers can use to run lessons. Teacher only has to answer questions/doubts. OLPC classroom near Karjat is also rather cool. Also see a wikipedia for curricula. All of these have some problems. That’s where mp3pc comes in. The web has a large amount of audio web content that is freely downloadable. Usable for education. use cheap chinese mp3 players for education! Easy to use, cheap, sturdy, easy to carry around. Many hours of education. Can use even while the child is doing something else (e.g. walking 5km to school). Freeman is hoping to do a pilot program with the 15 mp3 players he bought. Looking for a good institute where to run it.
  • Aditi talking about “Generating Rural Income”. Can we tap traditional abilities of villagers/tribals to generate income? A number of interesting NGOs were mentioned during this talk, but I was unable to capture their names. Hopefully someone will blog about this in more detail.
  • Shyamal leads a discussion on various ways of saving power (mainly about our use of computers)
  • My own discussion on what we can do to improve participation in tech community events in Pune. Some interesting ideas that I hope to try out in the near future
  • Guna talking about “Lean Thinking”. The Toyota way. How to incorporate lean thinking in your own startup. Identify waste, measure it, and eliminate it.
  • One presentation on a single website where you can go to see all your e-mail. Everybody jumped on the poor guy. Surprisingly, in a day full of unconferenced talks, this was the only presentation that did not have interesting content.
  • bosky101 conducting a session on brainstorming. Creating random patterns of different ideas. Everybody having fun coming up with unrelated terms/areas/activities.
  • Since a lot of the ideas presented today have been about social responsibility, Anurag felt that the audience would be interested in the other activity that he has been a part of for the last year. - the program he started for creating libraries for disadvantaged kids. They have created 50 libraries so far (using, 40 to 50 people across 5 chapters). He hopes to double the numbers this year.
  • There was a wrap up session in the end where people talked about which ideas they liked the best. Design for Pune was the clearly one the ideas that people were most excited about. Other honourable mentions: SMS micropayments, Mentor India, 1MP3PC.
  • These are notes on the sessions I attended. There were some that I missed - for example one on use of open source CMSs for NGOs by Shardul. I hope someone else covers those.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Huge Thanks to 'Persistent Systems Limited'

IdeaCampPune is sponsored by Persistent Systems Limited, and we’d like to thank them for making this possible for all of us! Persistent has always been supportive for such initiatives. Hence, it is not only about monetary support, but for caring about the community of enthusiastic folks like us.

As we are writing this, we are working together to get all our loose ends finalized. And believe me this is so much fun! The venue is simply cool and you will all love this place. Persistent took special efforts to sponsor for the venue, food and drinks.

See you all tomorrow in a great mood and open spirit!

Last minute cramming

Here are some suggestions about the gear you might have in tow while coming this Saturday:
  • Ideas and chutzpah
  • Paper and pen
  • Business cards
  • Power strips: there will be plenty of power outlets, but just in case you need extra to power your cell phones and laptops
  • Laptop: We are providing wifi at Persistent, but with so many people hopping at once, the connection may be a bit slower. So, try to avoid heavy uploads
  • Audio/video recorders for podcasting
  • Pen drives: it will be better to backup your presentations on a pen drive

Remember to label all your gear with your name and contact details.
… and you should be all set!

More on the Venue

I am posting on behalf of all the volunteers while they are straightening up the kinks.

‘All keen participants and their wondrous ideas are gladly welcomed to IdeaCampPune at Persistent System Ltd (PSL), Pune. Before moving into the campus of PSL, let us know little about the campus and the arrangements made for us.

Participants are requested to arrive at the security cabin located adjacent to the main entry gate before 9:00 AM. There you'll seek permission for the entry and also register your belongings like laptops, pen drives etc. for the security check. We will be definitely there to help you out.

From there you'll, move into the main porch (Floor 1) of the building towards the registration desk. Main porch separates two building of the company, as ‘Aryabhata’ on the left and ‘Pingala’ on the right (names of the buildings are tribute to the great ancient mathematician and scientist respectively). Both the buildings are connected via lobby at each floor.

After registration, you're requested to enter ‘Aryabhata’, and head toward the cafeteria (Floor 7) for the kick-off.

In cafeteria, at 9:45 AM, Mr. Shrikant Sundarajan, COO of Persistent Systems Ltd., will kick off the event. (Please be particular about this time). After the event kick off, all participants are requested to move towards the 2 assembly halls located on 4th floor of both the buildings, based on the session you want to attend.

All the presentations and idea sharing will be held in these assembly halls – PG4 and AR4.’

Looking forward to a weekend of creativity and camaraderie!

Fostering the tech community in Pune

This is more of a discussion.

How can we increase participation in community activities in Pune.
There already exist things like:
Are you a part of any of these organizations? If yes, what do you like about them? How would you improve them? How can they add value to you? What would you do to increase the activity and membership?

If you are not part of one or more of these, why not? Did you not know about it? Or are they not doing anything that you find interesting? What should they do to get you to participate.

Any other organizations / activities you would like to see in Pune? Something that happens in other cities and should be started here? A completely new idea of your own? A website or a social network that you think should be started?

Let us spend some time on these issues and see if we can c ome up with a list of activities that we would like to participate in, and push.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Helping PMC - vision and details of specific projects

Earlier, I had posted an idea about how we can get involved in helping PMC achieve its IT vision. I would like to share a couple of articles by Dr. Anupam Saraph that are related to this project.

The first one is a vision piece painting a picture of Pune in 2015. An excerpt:

The pain of providing the same information over and over at different counters is history. The first time I registered myself to ilife, through my computer at home, I was asked to provide information to identify myself. I was requested to visit any one of the 14 ward offices to provide a photograph and my thumbprint to receive my Pune-card, my username and a password to access ilife. That was it.

My Pune-card provides me with cashless bus-travel, parking and entry into all electronic access public locations as well as electronic entry enabled private locations. It works as a cash-card and also replaces time-consuming procedures with countless forms to make applications. It simplifies and secures transactions as I can simply allow the service providers to swipe my card and take my thumbprint to access information. Only information that I have marked as allow through Pune-card will be accessed at points-of-transaction. The transaction is updated in my account on ilife.

If you read the whole article, you’ll notice that none of the ideas contained there are futuristic, or taken from sci-fi. They are all things that can be implemented relatively easily using today’s technology. All that is needed is execution and political will. And there are indications that the political will is there.

While a vision statement might be good as an inspiration, it is worthless without concrete short-term goals and projects. Dr. Saraph has written another article that lists some of the specific projects that are already underway. There is already industry interest for some of these projects, for example, Unwire Pune, and Pune Cards. Others, like Design for Pune and MyWard, will depend more upon community participation.

This is where we come in. All of these projects can do with help. From web-design and usability, to server and database tuning. Or, if you are a non-technology person, you can help with spreading the word, or simply by participating. I am hoping to start a discussion on these topics at IdeaCampPune tomorrow (Saturday). Dr. Saraph will also try and attend those discussions.

SEAP is already behind these initiatives (in fact, the appointment of Anupam Saraph is a joint partnership between PMC, SEAP, Dr. Saraph.) Civic commissioner Praveensinh Pardeshi is very supportive of the project. Companies like Persistent, Eclipsys, nVidia have already pitched in by providing free manpower or resources.

But given the scope of the project, more volunteers are welcome. I have already committed to spending some time every week on projects that can use my expertise, like Design for Pune and MyWard.

It is very easy to get cynical about any projects undertaken by the government. Especially PMC. And that was my first reaction too. However, I have now come to believe that a few people can make a difference. Participate. Enthusiastically. Passionately. Try to convince your friends. One out of 50 will join you. That might be enough. Isn’t it worth trying?

Related articles:

Make sure you participate

Remember, *everyone* must come prepared to present or to help fellow campers with a presentation. If you are not presenting then there are other ways you can participate. We encourage you to
  • Record sessions and make podcasts

  • Take pictures and upload them on the web

  • Make models or sketches of the proposed idea solutions

If you are uploading or sharing anything from the IdeaCamp, remember to tag it as ‘IdeaCampPune’.

Your day at IdeaCampPune

Well, in tune with BarCamp spirit we are not putting a rigid structure. But the schedule is created in the following way:
  • Everyone’s at the venue by 9AM, start registering and chatting.
  • The schedule boards will be set up before you arrive, with all the speaking slots open. A slot is 30 minutes, which means: 10 minutes of speaking (max!) followed by 20 minute ideation. There are 2 rooms, so we will have 2 simultaneous tracks. In total there will be 26 speaking slots excluding ‘corridor discussions’.
  • We will kick start IdeaCampPune at 9:45 am at the cafeteria.
  • Presentations will start at 10AM.
  • We will take lunch break between 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm and then continue with the sessions till 6:00 pm.
  • Everyone will then meet in the cafeteria for a wrap up – time for more networking, talking, eating and enjoying.
  • We should be done by 7ish!

See you all interesting and interested people this Saturday!

Forethought on Sessions

We will have 2 simultaneous tracks in 2 different rooms. Apart from these tracks its ok if you want to start a ‘corridor discussion’ for impromptu and flash sessions. If you have something to share that doesn’t necessarily need a big screen, and you want it to be more interactive, you can start corridor discussion any time. Pretty darn sweet!

The presentation schedule will be filled in between 9AM and 9:45AM, on a first come - first served basis for the 2 rooms.

If you are presenting an idea, then the premise should be laid out in 10 minutes and the rest of the 20 minutes should be meant only for ideating. Come prepared with a slide-deck explaining
  • What your idea is
  • What is the problem/need identified and how does your idea solve that problem or need
  • Who is the target audience and how do they benefit from your idea.

Please post your presentations on the blog after the event for those who could not make it to the camp.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reminder: ‘Call for Ideas’

We are just 2 days away from having loaded and exciting ideation sessions. If you are presenting any idea, then you would have limited time to do so. Since it’s an ideation camp, we expect that in a 30 minute session, 10 minutes (maximum) are spent in presenting the idea and the remaining 20 minutes are effectively used for brainstorming.

I would request everyone who is presenting an idea or anything to with ideation to write a brief overview and post it on the IdeaCampPune blog. This is very essential. This would also help us ensure that all the sessions are only limited to presenting ideas and ideation. We wouldn’t be happy if there are presenters promoting their developed products or services. - Innovative community creating quality products

Idea: Community actively participating with businesses to create products they need.


Many users have ideas of what 'they' want from a particular product or service, and they are willing to help companies to improve their products,but they want someone to listen to them. At the same time every business needs feedback on it's products and services.So users can play a major role in providing companies different sources of innovation.Feedback is central aspect of that.

Talkback will not be 'just another review' site, here users feedback will matter, and real business people will 'listen' to users feedback. If companies like user's feedback, they will reward them. Users will earn credibility points, based on company ratings and ratings by other user.With this companies can 'seek' good customers,who have already set their preferences for feedback they like to give, who will give them feedback or suggest some changes, this will be more effective for the companies.TalkBack will act as a 'medium' or 'platform' for that communication.

For Companies will be a:
1. Feedback tracking tool: Which companies can use to improve their product or services.
2. Innovation tool: Where users will help companies in building innovative productive, either through active participation or quality suggestions, and getting rewarded in return.

For Users will be a:

1. Tool to find best quality product, and businesses.
2. Tool to be a creative contributor to society, and also earning money in the process.
3. Product research tool, when people move to new towns, where Talkback will show feedback of particular place set by local users.

Research Done :

"Eric von Hippel of MIT discovered that most products and services are actually developed by users, who then give ideas to manufacturers. This is because products are developed to meet the widest possible need; when individual users face problems that the majority of consumers do not, they have no choice but to develop their own modifications to existing products, or entirely new products, to solve their issues. Often, user innovations will share their ideas with manufacturers in hopes of having them produce the product, a process called free revealing."

Source : will help in streamlining above process.


Many users or companies can misuse for faking feedback of their products or services. Solution for this is, monitoring user's activities or rating by users or companies.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Telephone Directory/Yellow Pages through Mobile

Does it happen to you that you are out with friends and you feel like having a pizza. But you don't know where exactly pizza hut is located in the area? Well, to solve this problem, we can embed a telephone directory / yello pages in the mobile so that findig a particular store / shop in an area won't be troublesome.

Possible uses
1. To find particular service provider in any area (listing can be done as per area or as per service)
2. To find emergency services like blood bank, hospitals, medical shops etc in any area
3. Stores and shops can use it for advertising

How to implement
1. Through an application which will be be installed in the handset
2. Through a wap site. The data will be fetched on mobile though GPRS
3. Through SMS enquiry {This will cost the end customer for each enquiry. So this should preferably be avoided. Also JustDial already has similar service in operation}.

Possible Shortcomings
1. Maintaining existing database and maintaining the new additions
2. Will work only on high end mobiles
3. Any more....?

Dinesh Soni
9890774748, 9321424393

Friday, May 9, 2008

Helping PMC achieve it's IT vision

Reposted from

Pune now has has a CIO - whose job it is to guide all use of information technology related to PMC. This includes external facing services like property tax payments, marriage/birth/death registration, and also internal use of IT like MIS and ERP. Dr. Anupam Saraph, who has been appointed the CIO of PMC, is an industry veteran with a good understanding of the latest trends in both technology and e-governance. As a result, his vision for PMC goes far beyond simple computerization of services - this includes initiatives to encourage citizen participation through the use of wikis and social networking, games and competitions to increase citizen involvement, use of maps, GIS, and mashups to increase usability and usefulness of the services and websites.

However, I don’t think this is something that can be done without active community participation. For really successful implementation of some of these ideas, what is really needed, in my opinion, is the involvement of the tech community to help with the execution - frontends, backends, usability, evangelization. I would like to start a discussion on how we can help.

Dr. Saraph has agreed to attend IdeaCampPune for a few hours in the first half o the day. If we can get a few discussions started around this topic, he can participate, clarify his vision for us, and answer questions. I have also requested him to write an article giving some more details on his ideas and initiatives, so we can start thinking about how best the community can help in each of those areas. He hopes to have it done by Monday or Tuesday, and I’ll post it here as soon as I get it. Please check this site again on Tuesday.

If you have any immediate questions or suggestions please post them in the comments below, and I can have Dr. Saraph answer them.

Related articles:
PMC to re-charge Pune wi-fi project
Pune Municipal Corporation gets CIO, new website, wiki

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

SMS-based micropayment service

Idea: SMS-based micropayment service

Problem: Current online payment systems either accept credit cards or online banking. This infrastructure is not geared for handling micro-payments as the setup cost is high. (Setup fees of 8k-30k + transaction charges of 4-7%) Also, users will not be inclined to pay a small amount with credit card.

Possible use cases of Micropayment:
  • Content providers who wish to charge a small sum for their work. eg. Subscribe to movie reviews by Baradwaj Rangan for Rs 10 per month.
  • Subscribe to stock related information for Rs 10 per month.
  • Buy two mp3 tracks from an album for Rs 2 each.
  • Buy virtual gift for your friends on social networking site.

  • Name of the service: CoinPay
  • Recharge your cellphone with a certain amount, say Rs 200.
  • You can also buy "talktime" with part of this amount, say Rs. 100.
  • Each merchant will have a code. eg BRChennai
  • You can generate a coupon of Rs 10 for this merchant by sending SMS to CoinPay service. eg. "BRChennai 10". The coupon is received by SMS is "XJKEX42." This coupon expires in 48 hours.
  • Present this coupon to Merchant who will in turn present it to CoinPay.
  • After successful redemption, Merchant's account is credited with the said amount and Customer's account gets debited.
  • CoinPay earns by charging a small percentage of earnings by Merchant.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Call for ideas

We are all very anxious to find out what’s going to happen at IdeaCampPune. Hence, would request all the participants to send a preview of their ‘idea’. We can chew on it later at the event.

Don’t let your ideas be there just in your minds or Powerpoint presentation. There are no constraints on the flavour of your proposed ideas, but they should be early stage ideas or pre-seed ideas.

Your ideas can germinate in a new business or a new way of doing things or can bring social change or can lift people's aspirations.

There is no structured format for these sessions, but just to make each session more focused, here is what I am proposing…
  • Post a brief preview of your idea on this blog. (Send me a mail for permissions)
  • During the actual session you will introduce your idea. Will give an overview about what problem you are trying to solve or a need/opportunity you are trying to tackle. How do you propose to attempt at it? Who is target audience and how they will benefit from it.
  • The group attending your session will brainstorm further on your idea. Collectively the group should come up with a more detailed plan for taking this idea further.
  • Assign someone to make notes of the entire session. Someone else can take pictures of the sketches made on flip charts or boards while brainstorming. (Participants can volunteer themselves fro this activity)
  • The collected ideas, thoughts, action plans and concept models can then be posted on the blog as ‘proof of potential’.

So go ahead and start posting your ideas!

A big welcome!

Start polishing your horns for IdeaCampPune! Come up with your ideas and shake things up. We are expecting to see all ye geeks, designers, social softies, management freaks or shall we say anybody who has an ‘idea’… What is essential is that in a true Barcamp spirit everyone must talk. While we are at it, let me highlight that we do not want individuals/companies coming to us and pitching their developed products.

Keep an eye on this IdeaCampPune blog as we will keep you updated on latest happenings, what to expect and what’s on offer and of course proposes ideas.