FOSSCell reviving…

There were many inventions that happened due to accidents. In our case the accident resulted in the second life for FOSSCell at our campus. Now I cannot even remember how our small discussions grew up into this.

Earlier the FOSSCell was started by few of our seniors of which I remember(maybe, only know) is Praveen. It was born at a time “long long ago…”. The kind of vision these people had was very clear and solid when this group formed in our college. Later it had grown a lot. But as everything that has a start has an end, there were bad and gloomy days for FOSSCell also.
Even when people getting into the college are intelligent and wise, they have less awareness about these kind of topics that is something like “must know” in the case of a Computer Science graduate (this is just my personal opinion, I dint mean to hurt anyone’s feeling 😉 ). When ever a workshop is conducted, the irony that is observed is, even when there is lot of participation from the juniors, but people knowing the basic idea(even heard) about these topics are very less. Not only this, the main coding competitions that others outside die to get in, like Google Summer of Code, ACM ICPC etc are all unknown for them.

I personally has seen a speaker reducing the number of topics that he has to present, only because people din’t know the basics. Here I am not trying to tell the point that, not knowing the basics initially is the problem. The problem is actually not with the freshers that come into this college, but with their seniors who are already in the college.
One of the main problem here is that “seniors” just minds their own business and completes the four years at college. They don’t take much time to teach or talk to juniors about technical matters. May be till this year I was also in that group. But there are exceptions.

Few of us in final and pre-final year had discussions on these matters for like three, four days. It was some serious discussions we had. Everyone had something to say and wanted to do something to make a change. Then we decided to take the Software Freedom Day that was coming up as chance to start our work. We clearly knew that the fresh minds, that is second years should be given a very good orientation about what we really intent to do, about our view, aims and working style. We planned on the main point that we have to put up during our talk with the juniors. We spent most of our time in making the presentation for the orientation.

During the SFD celebrations we tried to make all the talks, as much interactive and interesting as possible. We all who were into conducting these talks and workshops really worked hard to make it ass simple as possible and we followed a practical approach. Hands-on work could give them a clear cut idea on the issues that they will face in during the development of any big projects. We believe that this is very important to learn new things. One cannot learn swimming by just reading a book which says “Swimming for Dummies” :P.

Later after that we had arranged for doing some hands-on projects which are still going on. The topics for the projects were mainly divided into two parts people who liked web-development and others. Web development was taken as a separate topic, was to encourage students to contribute to the Content Management System made for Tathva and Ragam by people from my year.

Another idea behind doing all these was that introducing students to open source communities and the methodology that are made use of by the community. In simple words we wanted to encourage students to use mailing lists rather than social networking sites for all kind of discussions, and wanted them to learn about version control systems, basics to intermediate usage and administration of Linux based operating systems. The replies that our mailing list got  for the first post after these discussion was the highest for any post ever got, in that mailing list. This was really appreciated by many of our seniors. And then we got lucky that one of our alumni had come for the SFD celebrations, after he read about it on the mailing list.

This try is meant for inculcating “free and open source” values to our juniors mainly students who are yet to come. Starting the efforts by orienting the current second years is just a small step toward a bigger leap in the future. Currently everything is going in a positive slop. We hope this streak never fails again like what happened in the near past. We people who will be graduating this academic year is expecting that our juniors will continue bearing the torch that we have lit together. 🙂

I know that its not yet the time to tell this, but I should do it.: Thank you all for giving me this great experience.