I’m reluctant to post this. Kottu has always sorta been self-supporting. The server bills have gone up in the past year, but not dramatically. The code is a mess, but it works. As Notorious B.I.G. said, ‘mo money mo problems’ and Kottu has avoided that. However, the community has sorta stabilized at a certain size. Bigger is not necessarily better, but I think it might be better for Sri Lanka and us if blogging began to enter (and hopefully divert) the mainstream. I also see a lot of village bloggers appear and drop off and I know that they need more support. To that end I drafted a small business plan and applied for a grant from the Ashoka Changemakers Group for their Power Of Us competition. It’s an open format so if you A) support the idea B) have suggestions or C) want to destroy it please take a moment to register on that site and comment.
As a preliminary note, I’d say it’s safe to assume that this won’t pan and status quo will remain. It’s just a link Sanjana sent me and I figured it’s worth a shot. I’m also reluctant dealing with money at all, mainly because of what Biggie said. I mean, I’ve seen money mess up friendships and communities before and I really don’t want that to happen to Kottu. However, I also think Kottu could use a stimulus to grow, because the growth has stabilized over the years. But I dunno. Welcome anybody’s thoughts on this.
The amount of money in question is $25,000 USD I think. If I read the stuff correctly. That isn’t much in funding terms, but it’d be a pretty good stimulus for the blogging community here. Right now I personally spend about $500 a year on the server, though my ideal setup would be at least double that. I also keep a bunch of other stuff on there, but Kottu is by far the most resource intensive. I can fund this indefinitely and I’m OK with that. There are four specific investments, however, which I think would be a much needed stimulus for the community. My hope is that, in turn, the community can be a much needed stimulus for Sri Lankan media, and Sri Lanka in general.
As Kottu gets bigger it needs to ‘read’ more feeds. The code is a mess I hacked together and it’s not very efficient. I don’t really have the PHP chops to optimize it, so when it started to crash I just bought more and more memory for the server. This works for now, but it’s obviously not the ideal situation. I’d like to hire someone to optimize the code, make it comply to Web Standards, be more mobile friendly, and hopefully package it as something open source that anyone could deploy.
The last Meetup was like two years ago. I paid like $150 out of pocket and it was actually quite fruitful. It was a different community entirely, but it was fun. However, I’m naturally a bit anxious and events really stress me out. I’ve also come to understand the proper events actually require a bit of planning and money. So I’ve written a fairly big budget for one or two really good events. I say that few because I’ve seen what corporate level events cost, and I think it’s important to do it right. Perhaps at a time when everyone is in the country. There’s also the issue of including rural bloggers, which I think’d be an added cost in terms of some transport and lodging support. I don’t know what form this would take, maybe a Bloggy Awards or just a casual meetup. There’s a slot for a Project Manager in there cause I honestly want as little to do with it as possible.
There a lot of rural bloggers who send requests to join Kottu, but very very few make more than one or two posts. In my interactions with them they’ve said that they see blogging as a way to learn English, but they’re obviously not getting that type of support from Kottu. Yet they’re putting themselves out there, they do have really good stories, and I think it’d be good all around to meet them halfway. I’ve had this idea of teaching English through blogs (as in, one teacher blogger giving assignments, students blogging them, corrections via comments). However, this requires organization and funding beyond my ken. This is something I’d like Kottu to do.
Another idea brewing (or stewing, moreso) has been connecting bloggers to the mainstream media. There’s multiple angles, but advertising is the most simple. Just to get the idea and some of the content out there in the print and electronic media that people know. As well as advertising online to get direct clicks and eyeballs. Because there is a lot of really great content on Kottu that I think people should know about. I mean, I used to dominate the top five default, but now I really have to work for it, because there is competition. And that’s good to see, and more people should see.
Anyways, I’d prefer to include the doc and all the details here, but I suspect chances of getting the award would increase if the comments and discussion happened there. The site itself is kinda Web 1.0 manky and you have to register to comment at all (painful) but I’d really appreciate if any positive/negative comments and suggestions were directed there.
The stuff that I think needs public airing are all money related. I’ve included amounts for Program Management of the whole thing, Project Management of components and goods and services from various suppliers. This is me and various people I know and work with so there’s obviously issues here that everyone needs to look at. I believe in paying people for work, including myself. More out of practicality than anything. In my experience setting deliverables and fair compensation results in stuff actually getting done, on time. If you have issues with me or any of the people I’ve mentioned as the team, please air them. I think me and this team can get the job done, but people on Kottu can choose their own destiny. I’m open to changing/scrapping/rerouting the whole thing, because I have to be.
Please visit www.changemakers.com/en-us/node/15204 to post comments. It’s a pain to register, but the comments there make a difference in the final evaluation.