Kiruba is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, podcaster and a farmer.

Writing for The Financial Express on Facebook. What’s Your View?

The Financial Times has requested me to write a balanced story on the whole Facebook privacy issue.  What’s the issue?   Facebook claims that whatever your write is theirs.
You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute any User Content you post.

I’d like to get your view on what you think of this.  Are you feeling insecure with what Facebook can do with your content?  Is it right for Facebook to own what is rightfully yours?  Or are we unnecessarily crying foul considering that most of the sites anyways has the same clause from the beginning? Maybe its just media hype to fill the space and air time?
Whatever your views are, however strong and critical they may be, do send them to me. If you are OK with it, I may use your opinion in the article. Please make sure to type in your full name and your designation. On the contrary if you don’t want to get printed, please explicitly state that as well. I respect your right to privacy!

You can either leave your opinion as a comment to this post or mail it to me at Kiruba @ Thanks in advance.

My Speaking Schedule : Walking My Talk

One of my goals for 2009 is to get better at public speaking. While many say that they have enjoyed my talks, deep inside me, I know I could’ve done much better. Way better.   My heart always cringes when I miss an opportunity to deliver a knock-out performance (and not just a good performance).  I think there’s a sea of difference between a good performance and a Knock-out performance.  My ex-boss calls it “hitting the ball out of the park”.  �

Unfortunately, a knock-out performance also requires an extraordinary effort. Quite honestly, I’ve never been the sort of guy to prepare for a talk weeks in advance. It’s always been a slog-over effort. While that’s sufficient for a ‘good performance’, its just is never good enough to hit that sixer.
Over the next few weeks and months,  I’ll be putting on an honest effort to correct myself, imbibe the qualities that I’ve admired in other speakers and to do justice to the qualities that what people believe I have. I’ll document my efforts, tricks, pitfalls of my journey and hope to learn from you all.
Thankfully, I’ve had a few opportunities lined up and I *really* hope to walk my talk.  Here’s what my schedule looks like.

The Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT Bombay is organizing the annual The Entrepreneurship Summit on 7th Feb. The event hosts Eureka’08, Asia’s biggest business plan competition. I’ve been invited to be a mentor and look forward to sharing my expertise and helping the folks out.

At the same event, I’ll be the moderator for a panel discussion titled ‘What are the pitfalls to avoid before starting up’. I’ve got a kickarse panelists of successful entrepreneurs and a great audience.  Moderating panels is a bit more challenging than speaking at a panel and look forward to it.

It’s the biggest NASSCOM event with the who’s who of CXOs.  I’ve been invited as the official podcaster for the event and look forward to interacting with some of the best minds in the industry.

It’s the biggest annual PR event for PRCAI ( Public Relations Consultants Association of India) and I’m a panelist for a session titled, ‘New Media v/s Traditional Media‘.  My hands are already itching!  Can’t wait.

After a long time, there’s a session from STC Chennai taking place and I’m speaking on how Technical Writers can benefit from Social Media.  The event takes place on 21st February.

The talk should’ve happened last week if the TamilNadu govt would not have announced a blanket shut down of all colleges because of the SriLankan crisis.  I’m told my talk at the college has been pushed to next week and I’ll be speaking on ‘Making the most of the Downturn’.

The biggest SEO and SEM event in India makes a comeback after a successful show in 2007. The event is happening on Feb 28th & March 1st.  I’m co-organizing the event as part of The Knowledge Foundation and will also speak on how Social Media can help enhance your Web footprint resulting in better search results.

The 2nd Facebook Developers Garage in India will take place in Chennai. Again an event I’m helping co-organize as part of The Knowledge Foundation.  Hoping to get the development community together and share my experiences on how best to leverage the power of Facebook as a platform. The event takes place on March 15th.

I’m told that the Symbiosis students really liked my talk at the ‘FootPrints’ event in Chennai and have invited me back to their annual event called ‘Cyber Media Conclave’ taking place at their beautiful campus in Pune.  Don’t know the exact dates but I’m told its scheduled for mid-year.

The event that really captured my attention is this PR 2.0  event that will take place in Tehran, Iran. It’s organized by the Iran PR professionals and pleasantly surprised by how much interest they have in leveraging the Net as a medium.  I’ll be keynoting at this event and will be speaking on how Govt organizations can leverage the power of Social Media. The event takes place on July 9th.

The Photologue of the Tamil Wikipedia Academy

Amongst all the Wikipedia Academies held earlier, I would rate this Tamil Wikipedia as the one which had the highest learning quotient. About 15 interested folks had turned up to learn about how to contribute to Tamil Wikipedia. We learnt what it takes to contribute to Tamil Wikipedia while also learning some shocking statistics that almost made me put my head down in shame.�

While Tamil Wikipedia has close to 17,000+ articles, most of these have been contributed by a small team of 50 Wikipedians.  In other words, there are only around 50 Tamil Wikipedians worldwide, out of which only about 10 are consistently active
Most contributions to Tamil Wikipedia are done by Srilankan Tamils who live in other countries like Canada, US and Malaysia.  It’s a matter of shame that we in Tamilnadu don’t do much. A situation that must be changed.
Telugu Wikipedia leads the pack with 42,000+ articles.  Once again, most of the contribution is by people living outside India.
That’s what put in the seed for having more Wikipedia Academies that will encourage more regional language contribution from people within India.
We had two experienced WikipediasRavi Shankar and Ganesh, who took the time and effort to come teach. In my opinion, both of them deserve huge praise because they signify the very spirit of the Wikipedia community : The willingness to share knowledge.
After the initial introduction to Wikipedia, Ravi suggested the team split into two teams so that there can be better attention and interaction. This worked wonders.  It was a very interactive learning session more driven by Q&A.

There were two learning hurdles to cross.  The first is typing in Tamil. While all the participants knew Tamil and how to write, very few knew how to type in Tamil. The audience were taught transliteration techniques where one can type in Tamil and the software automatically converts into Tamil.
The second hurdle is learning how to edit Wikipedia.  I must say that for a total fresher, Wikipedia editing can be a steep learning curve. No, I’m not talking about simple spelling correction. I’m talking about adding a new article, adding reference articles, adding new photographs etc. Now, lets not even go near adding tables and including templates.  Those are *waay* too complex.
It’s a good thing that Wikimedia Foundation is seriously looking at simplifying the editing into a WYSIWYG (simple visual editing) method.

Ravi, who did his doctorate in Netherlands, showed exceptional love for both the language and Wikipedia. He had a natural teaching aptitude and patiently handheld the newcomers through the world of Wikis.
A huge shout of appreciation should also go to Natkeeran, a tamilian living in Cananda and a prolific Wikipedian, who showed exceptional interested in getting eveyone together for this academy. Even though he was thousands of miles away, he constantly wrote in with encouragements and proactively wrote to many people to come volunteer to teach.

The local neighbourhood newspaper played an important role in spreading the message. While the English Wikipedia Academies always had better response in terms of attendance, I realized that it was difficult to reach out to people interested in Tamil Wikipedia through the blog network. That’s when I realized the power of local media.
Anyone can start a Wikipedia Academy. The whole idea is to get a small place where people who are interested in Wikipedia can learn.  You can do this in your home, school or a nearby park. You don’t need to take permission from anyone to conduct an academy. It’s very low cost too.
It would be great to see such Wikipedia Academies take place all over India. Be it cities, towns or villages. If you need any assistance, there are many of us who are eager to help assist you. Please call me at 98415 97744 or email Kiruba @

Tamil Wikipedia Academy on Jan 18th

Here’s an opportunity to learn how to edit Wikipedia in Tamil. In this 3rd edition of Wikipedia Academy, we will get learn from experienced Wikipedians who have spent many years contributing to Tamil Wikipedia.

One of the major objectives of the Global Wikimedia Foundation is to grow the contribution to regional languages worldwide. The Indian Chapter of Wikimedia Foundation will focus heavily on encouraging regional language contribution.

While there are a healthy number of Indian volunteers who contribute to Wikipedia, most help out in English. Regional languages, for example, Tamil Wikipedia, pales in comparision. Another matter of concern is that most of the edits are done by Tamilians who live outside Tamilnadu. Most of these are passionate Tamil lovers who live in US, UK and other countries. It’s time we encouraged more people in Tamilnadu.

There’s a lot of good intent to help. It could just be the case of sheer ignorance. That’s where the Tamil Wikipedia Academy aims to help out.

We have experienced Wikipedians like Ravi, Sundar, Mayuranathan and Ganesh who have volunteered to come help teach. Learn more here.

We’ll also use this opportunity to meet together to discuss on what strategies we can use to grow Tamil Wikipedia. Everyone is welcome. You don’t necessarily have to deal with Tamil Wikipedia. Any Wikipedia enthusiast who is willing to volunteer and help out with ideas and efforts is welcome.

Please take note of the venue and the timings.

Day: Sunday, January 18th.

Time: 3 pm to 5 pm

Venue: F5ive Technologies, C-1, Raj Paris Apts, 82, Kamaraj Steet, Virugambakkam, Chennai – 92.

Directions: On Arcot Road, after Avichi School and a big Raymond’s Showroom, take the first right. This is Kamaraj Street. After 100 meters, the road splits into right and left. (a ‘T’ junction). The venue is exactly at this ‘T’ junction. It’s opposite to an Amman Temple.

Call for help: Should you need help, please call me at 98415 97744 or email

We request you to help pass the word around to friends who might be interested. Please blog or tweet this information. Thanks in advance.

Nila Soru : Re-living a Childhood Memory

Pic by Bohemian

The full moon was stunning. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen it this bright. Maybe it had to do with the power cut. I stood watching it for a full minute soaking in its beauty. It reminded me of my childhood days.

Back in Rettani, my maternal village near Tindivanan, we kids would gather around on the terrace and our aunt would feed us ‘Sambhar Boova’ (that’s kidspeak for sambhar rice). With outstretched hands, we would receive riceballs in turns while listening to some fascinating story.

My journey down memory lane was cut short when the power came back. The bright city lights diminished the luminosity of the moon. No wonder we never notice it that often. That’s when I thought about my kids and felt bad for them. Will they ever get to experience the small pleasues that we were fortunate to enjoy. An idea struck me. Why not have a ‘Nila Soru’ dinner tonight?

My wife and Mom are a fantastic sport. I told them the idea and they were party to it immediately. They made nice sambhar rice (with lots of ghee, yumm) and potato ‘poriyal’. The kids in our apartment are a connected lot and the word spread quickly. They all assembed on the terrace and after a bit of dancing and playing, it was food time.

The only person missing though was the moon! At 8:30 pm, no sight of the main character. I was told he’d take time to come up. We were all hungry and decided to go ahead.

My wife placed rice balls in each kid’s hand one by one. I followed by keeping the potato sidedish. The kids seemed to love it. Just the sight of joy on their faces was worth it. In our daily rush and a commercialized lifestyle, we fail to realize the happiness in small things. Many of the kids parents came up to the terrace too and it was their chance to reminiscence about their childhood.

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