Sunday, 1 January 2006

Mousetrap - 34

It’s all about collaboration – creating stories, community travelogues, elemental poetry and online relief.

A very happy 2006 to all of you. May the year bring you much joy, and here’s to peace on our planet. Collaboration using the net makes nonsense of borders, and is therefore, a great way to build bridges. This week, the focus is on sites that help people collaborate, to the greater common good.

Everyone has a book in them. Or at least a chapter.
I have been checking out collaborative writing sites, to see if there’s an idea or two I can steal for my own writing group. Stumbled on this via a newsgroup (thank you, Ambika Sukla). The has “preview” in its masthead, so perhaps it’s going to go paid soon, or maybe it’s just got more features coming up. In the meanwhile, it’s a fun place to try out your writing skills. How it works: a user outlines a story and ideas. Other members contribute their thoughts, and then take a stab at writing a chapter. Democracy takes over from there, with users then voting on whose rendition is best. And so on. Worth watching, to see if the hive mind can replace the single author; though Stephen King won’t lose sleep yet. What do you think?

Wide World Web
Frequent readers of this space will know that Wikis occupy a place in your columnist’s heart next only to blogs. Wikitravel is “a project to create a free, complete, up-to-date and reliable world-wide travel guide.” As of this writing, the site features over 6500 articles and guides covering almost everywhere on earth, all contributed by “Wikitravellers.” It also has phrase books in various languages, a news section, and is, thus far, available in seven other languages, with more in progress. One great way to use the site (as suggested by one of their articles: before you travel, research and print out, or softcopy, your own a guidebook. Happy trails.

How do I love thee, let me count the electrons
Poetic Table of the Elements
Pure fun. A mix of science and poetry – unusual bedfellows at the best of times – the site features a Periodic Table of the Elements, where you can click on any of them and read poetry that is “original poems about, inspired by, reminiscent of or otherwise related to that element.” Much enjoyment, with some decidedly informative verse, which, methinks, should be included in school curricula. And yes, you can also contribute your own flights of poetic fancy. Registration isn’t required. (And, by the way,, the parent site is a great resource for the bard in you.)


This week’s blog

We are the world
World Wide Help
Once more I use this space to push a project I’m involved with. World Wide Help developed from other collaborative online relief efforts, like the TsunamiHelp blog, which, last year, tried to aid in post-tsunami relief. The blog is the public face of the group, which will attempt to put together learnings from other disaster relief efforts during the year. Today is the last day of WWH’s Disaster Remembrance Week, which seeks to get attention back to the enormous amount of work still needed in the areas affected by the natural calamities that 2005 brought to this planet.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 1st January, 2006.

Tags: ,

No comments: