Bangalore: Think writing a book means endless hours of research, isolation and writer’s block?
Not if you’re one of the 150 members on Sunil Kumar Sood’s online group devoted to discussing energy conservation.
Online collaboration: IAEMP president Sunil Kumar Sood with the book ‘How India Can Achieve Energy Independence by 2022,’ an outcome of ideas pooled together by members of the online group.
Founded eactly two years ago in 2006, on Republic Day, the group, a brainchild of 52-year-old Sood, has launched a book based on the reams of correspondence in response to a single question: How Can India Achieve Energy Independence by 2022?
That also happens to be the title of the 130-page book, self-published by the members in August; about 750 copies have been distributed.
While copies have been distributed to government agencies free of cost, others pay Rs150 per copy. Group members led by Sood have pitched in Rs45,000 for printing.
Their success, in many ways, shows the innovative ways users are using Yahoo Groups, a free Web-based social networking service that provides a community-building platform.
Yahoo India has seen a 40% rise in the number of users of online collaboration in India. India represents the second largest user base of Yahoo Groups after the US.
According to I.M. Swaminathan, director of communication and community products, Yahoo Web Services India Pvt. Ltd, more than 100 million subscribers use eight million groups globally.
Sood, a mechanical engineer working in Bangalore-based public sector undertaking, Mecon Ltd (formerly Metallurgical and Engineering Consultants India Ltd), emailed 400 professionals across various industries, inviting them to participate in what he calls “a mission of energy conservation in India”. Those who responded formed the “Indian Association of Energy Management Professionals (IAEMP)”, or as Sood more loftily calls them, the “conscience keepers to nation on energy matters.”
Sood started the online group mailer to interact and exchange ideas. “Concrete ideas related to every aspect of the book’s contents were exchanged online. Chapter-wise content was uploaded online on which members would brainstorm online. Even the art work and ideas for the cartoons took shape through online discussions,” says Sood, president of IAEMP.
Yahoo India says it believes that this is the first time that a book has been written by pooling together ideas of members of an online group.
Ideas generated include: a refrigerator that has both hot and cold chambers; an exercising machine that also works as a water pump or a battery charger; a pumpless desert water cooler; solar cookers in rural areas.
To brainstorm ideas on energy conservation policies, research and development road map and ways to address the country’s energy requirements, members chose other tools such as Yahoo Messenger, a chat client available on Yahoo.
This group stands out as unique among the numerous online fan clubs or alma mater mailing lists
“They have taken online collaboration very seriously to address issues such as health care, energy management, and education,” says Yahoo’s Swaminathan.
In India, groups are becoming highly specialized. Consider a group created by doctors to discuss rare and difficult surgery cases, one that helps people in C++ programming or even another that carries out restoration of temples.