May 2009. We were in the midst of the final trial run at SHS in Shirgaon, Maharashtra. Their SOLE lab was about to be inaugurated later in the day and along with that we were launching the SOMEs in a formal manner. SOME i.e. Self Organised Mediation Environments are now better known as The Granny Cloud. 🙂
It was hot, as it usually is in the summer (and mango season!) in that part of India. It was meant to be holiday time for the children. But they were as excited as we were about the lab starting up. That day they hung around from early morning as equipment was given a final test and chairs put in place along with the other preparations for the inaugural ceremony underway. Their teacher, ‘Attar Sir’, ensured that all was in working condition.
‘Attar Sir’ ensuring that all is working ahead of the innaugural ceremony 16May2009 [Photo: Suneeta]
The children were aware that Google existed because they had seen it in Attar Sir’s demonstrations. But it was their first real chance at being at the computers themselves. The old Hole in the Wall kiosk from almost a decade earlier had lain broken down and unused till it was refurbished as part of the OGEF SOLE project. That too was going to be formally reopened that day.
The newly refurbished HiW Kiosk at Shirgaon seen from the SOLE lab. 16May2009 [Photo: Suneeta]
But none of this really mattered to the children or me. A session is a session, after all. And Sugata was connecting from Newcastle. As we have seen over and over through the years, the children love to search, and the motivation in the beginning is particularly strong when the search activity involves some connection to the eMediator at the other end.
The first interaction. Connecting with Sugata on Skype 16May2009 [Photo: Suneeta]
They knew that Sugata was the brain behind the concept of SOLE and they knew he was in ‘far away’ England. So being able to come face to face with him on Skype was a special treat. And when Sugata asked them to see if they could find his house in Newcastle they Googled him and pretty much located his apartment.
SHS children finding Sugata’s house in Newcastle upon Tyne 16May2009 [Photo:Suneeta]
It was soon time for the inaugural ceremony and Akshay represented the children as he helped cut the ribbon. Sugata watched on over Skype as we entered the brand new lab. Formalities and ceremonies finally over and we had a full week lined up with all the eMediators who had been brought on board over several months of ‘screening and orientation’ (just informal chats, really !).
Akshay innaugurating the SHS SOLE lab [Photo: Avinash Vaingankar]
It was a huge lab – 12 computers and a massive room so children were playing games, and exploring Paint and Google Earth alongside of the first Granny sessions. But that earlier session with Sugata was still on their minds, specially Akshay’s. He still had a bee in his bonnet about this ‘Googling Sugata’ bit. And he figured that he could Google himself. And see what turned up. So he did. Now Akshay shares his first name with a rather famous Bollywood film star so of course that is what popped up on his search! The other children crowded around to see what was going on. Because they heard a popular song – for Akshay had unerringly clicked on a video link with music. He had found YouTube! Any guesses what was the most popular activity that day? They clicked on every YouTube link they could!!!
YouTube discovered! 20th MAy2009 SHS [Photo: Suneeta]
Akshay is now about to finish college. As I chatted with him over Skype a few days ago, we remembered that day back in May 2009 and had a hearty laugh. He is busy, (among other things) developing an Android app to support small businesses and has promised to explain it all to me soon one of these days. These children make my day…. They make my life!