Archive for March, 2009

Learning is painful.

RC and I rediscovered this when we met one of India’s leading tech / internet business gurus on Friday. We were asked many many questions that forced to re-examine how we were going about developing our plan. There were several ‘back to the drawing-board moments’ as well. All these have to led to a more unified ‘back to the drawing board’ moment 🙂

Among the critical issues we will have to address before we launch our services are:

(a) Are we building an ‘community with added features’ or an ‘information portal with community options? Linked to the question – who are we – content builders or community managers?

(b) Are our community interactions going to be along issue-lines i.e. issue-based or along group lines i.e. based on disability specific groups? For instance a social network is friend-circle based while a discussion forum is more issue-based.

The entire design / flow / experience of IP will depend upon a great degree of clarity viz the above. This will determine whether IP is a successful community or not.

Thank you AG. You’ve sent us back to the drawing board at the right time.

Meanwhile, we look forward to comments on these points.

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In another couple of days from now we launch the beta (trial) version of our first online offering in partnership with the Centre for Internet and Society. The design and tech are done – now they are just being married. Husband and wife are taking some time to get to know each other. Afterall, what with all the hoopla we can’t disappoint 🙂

For all those interested in the disabled voters story here’s another piece from Outlook:

Meanwhile, the search for talent continues…

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An excellent piece by the amazing Mithu Alur (Head of ADAPT – formerly Spastics Society of India) on how taking the vote-bank approach is the best strategy to ensure inclusive thinking at a policy level.


Excites us because we believe that Inclusive Planet could go a long way in ensuring one voice of a large community. Will a million strong disabled community, heavily networked and expressive still be ignored?

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I don’t know if you guys have been following all the noise surrounding Obama’s remark on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (couple of days back). The controversy arose when, while speaking about his skills at bowling (the game), Obama laughed at himself and said ‘It was like the Special Olympics or something’.


Not the smartest or most sensitive thing to say but try going five years in a position such as that of the President without a few mess-ups. It’s amazing how we expect someone to have a perfect record in such things when gaffes and bloopers leak out of our mouths on a daily basis. I know i’ve been guilty of my share of ‘insensitivity’. The best I can do is to continue to evolve.

I think the important thing is how he reacted to this. He realised the nature of his remark quicker than everyone else and immediately apologised – not just to the audience but also the President of the Special Olympics.

The more interesting issue however is this – the sub-conscious biases, prejudices and perceptions that slip past our conscious limits occassionally. Scientific studies have repeatedly verified this even in sensitive issues such as racial bias.

Some more reading on the Obama issue: Obama sorry for Special Olympics gaffe, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29784865/

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This blog is not to state an opinion or pass a judgement. This is meant to describe a conversation that may have been fairly insignificant if I were not involved with Inclusive Planet.

Yesterday I went checking out a business center for our office. While showing me around the 5-star facilities, the marketing lady made it a point to mention that they have a special bathroom for the handicapped. Quoting her, “All our facilities are upto international standards. We even have a washroom for the handicapped”.

It’s great to see that most modern facilities in India are recognizing global standards and are providing for the disabled. While a part of me cringed at the thought of using this as a marketing tool, another part felt that it’s a good sign for Inclusive Planet that ‘disabled friendliness” is being increasingly seen as ‘matching upto global standards’. Is this really a good sign for us?

Taking off from the Idea Ad, “Haan ya Naa” Let me know what you guys think? Janta ne kaha haan, toh haan!


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I was AWOL all of December last year and January this year – or so I’m told. Resultantly, MMI went logo shopping. They showed me what had been done thus far by 2-3 different designers; none of it was exciting or interesting, or even close to it. At the end of it all, after a several days of persuasion, goads and unveiled threats from the aforementioned party, I succumbed and decided to design the logo.

Eventually, around mid February, after many sleepless nights and days of drawing and searching for a visual “cue”, I came by the good old ‘perfect symbol’ : the Yin Yang, and used it as a point of departure. There are other false arrivals and premature departures I made with this logo that I do not wish to disclose for the need of brevity.

A humanoid butterfly, fashioned out of an “i” and “P” is something that was created over more than twenty attempts and after pursuing at least half a dozen different approaches or visual routes. In some variations, the conjoined letters looked like a Mesopotamian gargoyle or even a Nordic sail ship’s figurehead!

In my understanding of the subject, a company’s logo must be memorable. It needs to convey metaphorically or directly, perhaps by the aid of a symbol what the company “does” or wants to “do”. It should try and imbue the philosophy and ethics of the people who run the firm, but more importantly the proposition or ‘promise’ of the firm needs to be exemplified or portrayed in a simple yet elegant manner.

I do believe that the rough hewn butterfly, forming the initials of the company is not only memorable but holds a strong significance for the manner of work Inclusive Planet will be engaging in. More than anything else, Inclusive Planet is about emancipation of the disabled, portrayed here by the butterfly that has transformed from a stationery pupa (and earlier from not a very itinerant caterpillar) to a creature that now can fly.

Pervez Rajan

posted by SM for Pervez

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