Twestival 2010: The Ad-Hoc Volunteering Experience – I

03Apr10

This article probably isn’t much in time in terms of how long the buzz of twestival has stayed on with the general public thanks to the mind-blasting coverage of it on Goa Times. However I hope to recollect and share as much of my experience with helping organize this festival, that would hopefully help future organisers plan and execute theirs’ bigger and better. So here goes the train of thought…

First Tweetup in Goa

I had no idea why there was a tweetup. I’ve never gone to a tweetup to know, they are meant to discuss agenda. There was no agenda mentioned. So much for going all the way to panjim and being asked questions about venue n stuff. I was like _______ (ya blank!) So my first tweetup thus happened and with the additional benefit of being topic-based, namely Twestival. Experienced (from Twestival Bangalore) people were all set to take it up to put Goa on the Twestival world map as well. I somehow grasped half the things and half I thought of googling out. I think the headcount was ~14. Fun part was meeting the real faces behind all those tweeting avatars as well as people who were yet to get on twitter. No, you don’t need a twitter account to be part of a tweetup. That’d be more like tweeting with hashtag #tweetup. back and forth.

Online Collaboration

I felt this was a good opportunity to try out various tools for communicating and keeping the ideas flowing across the virtual landscape while at the same time preserving them. All this while waiting for the huddle (official collaboration web app for Twestival) invite. Tools used were as follows: –

google wave

I think honestly there was a desperation to use Google Wave. I mean it was bad enough that all the totally web-unsavvy people got invites way before me and none of my friends whom I wanted to test out wave with, ever got back. Blame it on the non-existent wave notification system. I thought of giving atleast the doc collaboration and comments system with live typing a try with 3 other volunteers. Live typing makes your browser sloww. I think I wasn’t on Chrome then. So while others raced each other in live typing mode, I thought of finding a chat-only platform to take care of the live discussions that were unnecessarily building up a huge wave. Meanwhile the lead organisers joined the wave and said “chuck wave!” :p

IRC

The decision to use IRC went through trial and refusal of a few other tools. Started with tinychat. Really powerful platform with even voice and screen sharing support. Too bloated for BITS internet line. So I created a channel on irc.freenode.net and then it turned out BITS firewall blocked IRC (kinda retarded). Then I suggested using mibbit but soon found out that mibbit and freenode were not friends with each other. policy-wise. Finally by stroke of chance and a little exploration created a channel on nfnet.org (nintendo freaks!) that worked very well with mibbit. Nothing’s light and efficient for a multi-person discussion than IRC the original chatroom protocol.

huddle

Finally I received my invite for the Huddle platform and to start with, one of us carried over some initial documented points from the wave on to a whiteboard (wiki in huddle-speak), which was followed by further edits and comments. A few of us, started some discussion threads with self-explanatory titles, that made it easier to collect and view information being gathered on various aspects of preparation of the festival. I think an advantage of the system was the broadcast of any and every updates to each and every person’s email inbox. It was a matter of pinging each discussion with a dummy comment to keep the attention on it alive.
Besides the discussion section, the documents section (which reminds me of Sharepoint’s document management system) was being used more collaboratively than the rest of huddle workspace. Huddle is powerful and under normal circumstances a paid service. We got free passes! Yayyy! 😛 Probably a non-techie won’t understand that enthusiasm, but I wish they did.

Consequent Meetups

Almost all future meetups ended up being badly timed or placed for me. Some got cancelled for placement and exam reasons. No, not mine but that of the lead organisers and other volunteers from the BITS HQ. I remember meeting up with the team members (of varying sizes but of same core) twice more (for the sake of length of this article). Once I chose to meet up with the BITSians, after my Saturday workday, on their campus. I intended to catch up with any and all missed meetups in between due to work and in turn also worked with the team, to help refine the Twestival Goa 2010 pitch drafted in powerpoint 2007 (eungh!). Made some progress, but not finalised. It went up later on huddle and became a unique case of observing drastic edits on a document that showed how each person presented same set of points in different fonts, graphics and order. The meet was a good way to take a look around the BITS campus all while ignoring that my car’s headlights drained it battery completely rendering it immobilised. That incident was previously posted about, here on my blog. Yes, same one.

The other meetup was more official. Got to meet the ex-event manager for the first and last time for the event, Luke aka Village Idiot (though he’s outta village and coverage most of the time). Great person, great ideas, no time. Fun thing was we concluded our meeting on Taj Vivanta roof-top, (that I never took note of before) which was suggested to be considered as a venue. Way too elite for an outsider and when I went inside: unimpressive for expectations of an outsider. Not Taj at all. Either that, or I expected way too much. Blame it on TV. Anyways the roof had a swimming pool near the doorsteps and a restaurant perpendicular to it. This restaurant floor was the proposed space for the event. Psychologically unaccessible. A bit like reserved space. And I could imagine people coming in swarms and slipping into the pool…for amusement of my twisted imagination.

Plans, Suggestions, Reminders

Upto the last meet mentioned above, that’s all we did. We planned, we suggested and we reminded. We were asked to abide by the plans. We were given suggestions to follow and we were reminded. Mutual collaboration. Active participation. Open communication. No actual work been done…or reported. Until, finally the lead organisers started their final lap race to the event day, that would be part II of this article series

Leave your comments on anything you want to know about hosting a Twestival event in your city. We as Twestival Goa team, may not be authority on all types of experiences, but we could always help through our unique experiences.

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One Response to “Twestival 2010: The Ad-Hoc Volunteering Experience – I”


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