The Power of Contribution

As part of our attempts to understand what drives the auspicious event hosts who are willing to try out event formats, tools and other materials that we’re creating, we took some time this summer to call them up, and ask them how we can better support them. A couple weeks ago, I got an email from Angela, our Grant Manager at the Foundation. She wrote to me about a little girl, Unnati, who ran a Summer Code Party to which no one showed up. Angela told me that Unnati wants to continue to learn, but that she (Angela) had hit a point where she no longer knew what kind of advice to give:

“I told her to join the Webmaker list, to try out some of the projects on the Webmaker site, or to check on the site if there are any other events near her that she could attend, etc.”

Angela then asked me what I would do in this situation. After thinking about it for a minute, I added Michelle Thorne (because Michelle is engagement extraordinaire and knows tons of people) to the thread and then responded:

“Hey Angela,

My best advice for the situation is to get the Mozilla community in India involved. They’re a pretty active community, and she is likely just looking for a bit of mentorship.

We have a couple of Mozilla reps in India, so I would send them an email explaining the situation, and asking if they would be willing to mentor her a little bit. I would also tell the India Reps they they should think about sending her very specific tasks and asks. (Without knowing where she got stuck with popcorn, it’s hard to give specific advice, as you know!)

With cultural and lingual similarities, the India community will know what questions to ask to find out what she wants to learn, and they’ll be able to support her in a more timely way. Not to mention that personal touch that will have Unnati glowing with the webmaker spirit.

Start with the community India list:

community-india <>

Let me know how it goes/if you need more help!”

Michelle picked up the thread:

“Great recommendation, Laura. I’d also like to introduce Gauthamraj, copied in this email, a Rep from Mozilla India. He’s already organized a lot of Summer Code Parties and has helped a number of people get started with webmaker projects. He might have some ideas for supporting Unnati.”

But Gauthamraj had more than ideas. First, he assumed the identity of Alice because Unnati had mentioned not understanding the Inanimate Alice project. He asked Unnati to respond using Thimble.

“Hi Unnati ,

Looks like you got some problem on doing an intimate of Alice using popcorn. So , Alice sent me out to help you in learning not only popcorn and also other web making tools. As I am from the wonderland, I will help you to do wonderful and awesome things on the web :) . Hey Unnati , Alice got something for you check it out . Hope you loved the message and very much eager to answer Alice’s question , to make your response use this link and follow the upcoming steps.

1. Just find the sentence (not the Html tags) , “Unnati , please make your response here after removing these lines” remove it and type the reason why you like Alice a lot.

2. Next , click on the publish button on the right you’ll get a published link after making a click on the green colored “YES” button.

3. Copy the link and send me through e-mail

If you have problem in doing any of the above steps , please let me know :) I’m here to help you :)”

And Unnati responded:

Nice right? Unnati made her first hack? But that’s not the end. This morning, I got another email from Gauthamraj in which he created a picture puzzle for Unnati to solve.

“Hey Unnati,

That’s a Great Hack! Congratulations! You’re not just a Web Consumer now , You’re a Web Maker :) One who does awesome things on the web. Alice wants you to solve a picture puzzle , here is your next task When you’re opening the Hyperlinks (Blue Colored Text) do it by right clicking it and selecting open in a new tab on the pop-up window . I have also mentioned the same on the link as well.

Puzzle pieces won’t fit properly as the scissors here in wonderland is not sharp but it’s not an issue I guess :) Try it out , if you find any trouble feel free to seek my help :)”

I wasn’t expecting the level of interaction and mentorship that Gauthamraj is showing Unnati, and it got me wondering why. Why didn’t I expect it? Every one of us should be just like this. Taking a few minutes to contribute to someone else’s learning. Contributing things that other mentors can hack and use to do the same.

I tip my hat to everyone involved in this exchange. To Unnati for wanting to learn and asking for help. To Angela for wanting to help and reaching out when she was unsure. To Michelle for connecting people for the good of the learner. And to Gauthamraj for understanding that what he contributes can affect not only a little girl, but an entire network of people. Thank you.

I implore us all to think about the change we can create in the world. What you contribute affects people. Even if all you contribute is a simple piece of advice.

UPDATE: Unnati solved the puzzle:

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  3 comments for “The Power of Contribution

  1. Unnati
    August 27, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    that is so sweet of all of you…..i mean i am really great full!!!!!!seriously hats off to Mozilla!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. September 2, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Good One Gautham … Keep it going . Very inspiring and We wish you all the best

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