Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Digital Diaries: The Growing Tribe

Over the last couple of months, several people have been contributing to the general health and progress of StoryWeaver, our upcoming, open-source story publishing platform. People from within the organization, interns, proofreaders, volunteers... and all this has made us think of the word 'team' as a more fluid concept. And come to think of it, this ties in rather well with StoryWeaver's key ideas of openness and collaboration.

So for this edition of Digital Diaries, we thought that it might be nice to tell you a bit about a few people in our extended, constantly growing team: two design students from Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology (Muniza and Shuchi) who have just completed their internship with us and one of our many volunteer proofreaders (Kumarika) who visited us recently.


Halfway through her internship at Pratham Books, Muniza exhausted her black and brown art supplies. Why? Well, from drawing squirrels and macaques and lions and porcupines and bats. So then we had to seek out the more colourful creatures: crabs and seahorses and sunbirds and chameleons. Muniza has done a set of wonderful illustrations for StoryWeaver – of animals, birds and insects – and we're certain that children across the country are going to enjoy looking at these realistic drawings of some familiar and not-so-familiar creatures. An artist with a great eye for detail and collector of beach sand (seriously!), you can see more of her Muniza's work here:


If you walk into the Pratham Books office and find a quiet, thin figure sitting in the way of the breeze holding on to her papers, you have met Shuchi. If you aren't observant enough, you probably wouldn't have noticed that she is in the same room, as she hardly utters a word on her own. But switch to art, or movies based on art and design, or talk about Christopher Nolan, and you will sit rapt in attention, as she talks about all of these passionately and knowledgeably. She is really good with her hands, whether it is illustrating, knitting, crochet or baking yummy cookies. Shuchi is helping us put together an animated tutorial for StoryWeaver. Shuchi's handiwork will sit proudly there, guiding many new users on how to use StoryWeaver. You can see more of Shuchi's work here:


We were pleasantly surprised when Kumarika – who has a full-time job at Infosys - landed up at our nearly empty office on a late Saturday morning, eager to get down to business. We had already spoken to her of our mild struggles with Odia on StoryWeaver and our worry of not getting it entirely right. Very reassuringly, Kumarika quickly opened a couple of websites that could get us healthy Unicode fonts for Odia and even had an app which she uses often to tweet in Odia, her mother tongue. Kumarika – who is here in Bangalore only for a few weeks – travelled more than two hours to get to our office. While she didn't complain even once about the commute, the biggest reward for her – we think – was seeing children's books in Odia, especially our Adi Kahani series (books in tribal languages). Kumarika is helping us proofread all the Pratham Books' titles in Odia that will be available on StoryWeaver and in return, we have promised to send a set of our Odia books to her father, who has taught Odia over the years.

Digital Diaries aims to document the ups and downs, the curves and bumps, the little mistakes and big learnings of Pratham Books' exciting journey into the world of digital books, publishing platforms and a lot more.

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