Recently: August

Posted on Sep 5, 2013

Doing:

Recently [1], I haven’t been working on show-caseable projects, but I did finish my mission in UNICEF Nepal, which among its highlights included a trip to Baitadi in which I managed to take a few pictures.

The other highlight of the Nepal trip was the conversations I had with so many amazing people doing incredible work in Nepal (and often putting me to shame). The one comment I really haven’t been able to put down, in the month after leaving has been this one from my cousin Kedar Sharma (who recently moved back to Ilam):

Nepal today is a country of programmers in the city and ploughers in the village. While Kathmandu talks about making software, the villages of Nepal are still stuck with old, manual technology. We are still ploughing with हलोs and bulls, digging with कोदालोs, and using the sun to dry everything.

In some ways, the problem is that only the hard-working have been left in the villages. The lazy ones, the ones who make machines instead of doing hard work, are all left in the city stuck to their keyboards. What we need is innovators in the village that are innovating away the back-breaking work here.

As someone who ran a ‘hackathon’ in Kathmandu, the words are really worth thinking about for me personally, and hopefully for a larger audience in Nepal. I hope to do a larger post about this, and hope to work with Kedar dada in the time to come on pushing forward (largely non-digital) innovations in the village.

Reading:

“For example”, by Mike Bostock. Mike Bostock is one of the really impressive people making web visualization software these days; he has written multiple javascript libraries which in their times (each) have been the best visualization library out there, and produced some amazing work for the New York Times and other outfits. In this essay, he talks about working with examples, which are a really interesting way of thinking about outputs of your work. I’ve been inspired by this quite a bit lately.

The lives we have lost, by Manjushree Thapa. A great collection of essays spanning the end of the conflict and post-conflict years of Nepal. Its awesome because all the essays were written at different times, and this book is a great way to walk through those really interesting years from Thapa’s viewpoint.

Seasons of flight, by Manjushree Thapa. So yeah, a lot of Manjushree Thapa. What can I say, she is the best English-language Nepali writer out there. This one is a novel tracing a Nepali immigrant to the US. I stayed up till 3 am finishing it… I hope that is enough said :)

[1] – Inspired by Tom Macwright’s “Recently” posts.

[2] – I am not a journalist, and am not in the habit of recording conversations or exact quotes by people. This “quote” is my memory of what Kedar dada said to me, obviously interpreted heavily.