Friday, 6 February 2009

Social networking site launched

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When Google has gone down to the bottom of oceans with Google Earth (it will soon launched), the northeastern part of the country is still gasping for an online space, it fails to showcase the beauty it is blessed with. Reasons are many and varied. But is one more addition to the online landscape for the northeasterner to communicate, co operate and collaborate for greater understanding and prosperity of the entire region.

In an interview with the people behind the project they revealed what their site is all about:

Who is behind the project?

The project began as a hobby to familiarize oneself with the best practices of web programming. Ingudam Manoranjan, as a computer programmer in one of the leading software industry, keeps learning new technologies. Also there was a need felt to launch a platform which is common to the entire Northeast India. So far, we have websites that are focused mainly on individual States. Other websites that are focused on Northeast are either news or tourism focused. We wanted a complete platform where northeasterners can communicate, co operate and collaborate for greater understanding and prosperity of the entire region.

Once the project got started, Ingudam Manoranjan has been joined by fellow enthusiasts like Lalit Asem, another software engineer and Shymananda Sapam , also working in the most popular website of the world. We have also been supported by various people, like Bison Heisnam who also give creative inputs and others who give advices on contents.

What prompted you to launch the site?

As mentioned above, the need to have a common platform for northeasterners where we can communicate, cooperate and collaborate for greater understanding and bring prosperity to the region. In doing so, we will also be promoting Northeast India to the outside world.

How the site is different from other social networking sites like orkut and facebook?

It will not be fair to compare with industry leaders like Orkut and Facebook. They have reached a level of maturity which Northeasterner website can only dream about now. I would say, Northeasterner website's concept is different from Orkut and Facebook. It is based on what web developers call “mash up” website – where quite a lots of contents are flowing in from other places on one hand, and lots of our user based contents are also flowing out.
It is just that one of the features of Northeasterner website is social networking. It is like the first version of Orkut, if we must compare. But then the challenges of Orkut and Northeasterner are not the same. Orkut needs to program with scalability in mind from day one whereas we can relax a bit on that criterion. We still have not come up with Northeasterner application development APIs etc where developers can develop small modules/application sitting on northeasterner website which talks to their sites. We may come up one day as and when there is a requirement.

How technically sound is the site?

The site is based on one of the best open source content management system (Joomla), which has been deployed around the world. It has burned in thousands of PDs (person days) of effort from around the world. I would say, as far as the platform is concerned, the site is sound as can be.

On the hosting part, again we have the best hosting provider that we can have. We are hosting in spaces provided by Yahoo, an industry leader in internet industry.
As far as the developers of the website are concerned, there is a total experience of 14 years in various technologies amongst the team.

And yes, what are you doing to safeguard the privacy of the users?

We take the privacy of users seriously. The platform takes care of the privacy aspect like non registered users cannot see personal details etc. However, we still have not built in features like Orkut where users can decide who to see scraps and who not to see etc.

What is your view on the low penetration of internet in the northeastern states?

We believe that is still the larger problem of India as a whole. Northeast India in particular is acute due various regions, both governmental and non-governmental. We believe this will change sooner than later. We have one of the best human resources in India, in terms of potential. (High literacy rates). 20% of the IT workforce in India is from North East India [Source - A speech by Mani Shankar Aiyar, Minister of Development of North East Region (DoNER)]. It speaks for the potential that is waiting to be tapped.

Do you think the site will bring together people who are albeit unknown of the people of the same region?

Yes, we believe so. That's the fundamental idea of this website.

What is your opinion on the type of websites that the northeastern region throws to the world?

I think we are still in the phase where are in level 0. It's still not a serious occupation, rather a hobby. We hope that will change though. We would like to see serious investment to see offerings which can come with latest technology. Essentially, we have the lots of interesting websites. E-Pao from Manipur is a pioneer, already completed 10 years, offers a huge stack of services. So does Kanglaonline, Kuknalim etc. Then there are tourism focused websites.

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