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<nettime> INTERVIEW-INDIA-GOA: Cyberspace links Goans worldwide (HermanC
Frederick Noronha (FN) on Sun, 18 Jan 2004 19:03:34 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> INTERVIEW-INDIA-GOA: Cyberspace links Goans worldwide (HermanCarneiro)



Needless to say, Goanet has had its friends (Patrice Reimens and others) 
from Nettime right from its early days. FN

-- 
Frederick Noronha    : http://www.fredericknoronha.net  Ph 0091.832.2409490
Freelance Journalist : http://www.bytesforall.org       Ph 0091.832.2409783
http://fredericknoronha.blogware.com 			Cell 0 9822 122436               

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Q&A: Herman Carneiro, Founder, Goanet

Cyberspace links Goans worldwide

How does Goa reach out to its diaspora? While everyone back home struggles
for an answer, and millions of rupees are spent to find the right
solution, a teenager hit across the answer many years back. Nearly ten
years ago, Herman Carneiro (27) originally from Navelim-Saligao and based
in Boston, MA, launched Goanet. Today, it has 5000 readers who use it to
strengthen their links with Goa on a daily basis, and understand the land
of their ancestors and their identity.

FN spoke to the soft-spoken expat, currently on a visit to Goa, to
understand what one of the Net-based ventures is doing. Extracts:

Q: For those who don't know Goanet at all, how would you introduce it?

Goanet is an Internet-based mailing-list which networks people with an
interest in Goa all around the world. It probably has about 5200 members,
besides others who visit the website.

Q: When you say members, what does it imply?

'Members' are people who are subscribed to the list, and who receive
e-mail from us on a daily basis. Membership is free of charge.

Q: What sense does it make to belong to the list? How do members benefit?

In several ways. One, there's news from Goa posted on a daily basis. Two,
there are interesting discussions or debates on topics of interest --
ranging from political debates to social issues. Three, because there are
so

many people on the lists, old friends tend to find each other. Four, they
become part of an Internet community, if you will, which focuses on Goa.

Q: How many countries of the globe would you have subscribers in?

More than fifty countries, it's quite a few. We have members in a lot of
countries. Fifty might be an under-estimate.

Q: You're 27 now, and the list is on for almost 10 years...

It will complete 10 years in August 2004.

Q: So how did it start? Old-timers on the Net might know the answer to
this, but the question is more for readers in Goa...

When Internet relay chat (IRC) was popular (in the early 'nineties), I
used to go on the Net and start a channel for Goa. For many months, nobody
ever visited it when I was online.

During the 1994 World Cup soccer tournament, I met a Goan on one of the
soccer channel. I forget his name, I think it was it was Peter D'Souza.
But he had a couple of Goan friends online, and I used to make them come
to the Goan channel on IRC. Once we had a group of about three of us used
to talk quite a lot. The girl whom he knew was the daughter of the former
Indian high commissioner to Kenya, Placido D'Souza, Maria D'Souza.

Then more people started joining us. There used to be people like Marlon
Menezes (founder of GoaWeb and then GoaCom.com), Ulysses Menezes (of
Goa-World.Com in Kuwait), Uly's sister Kendy, I think one guy was called
Kevin Coutinho, there were Brendan from Australia ... it was a very long
time ago, it seems. I can't even remember if Brendan used to 'chat'. Maybe
he did.

Anyway... so I thought to myself that there would be many Goans online who
wouldn't have access to Internet Relay Chat (for which you needed a
special software or connectivity, and it ran on Unix). So it would be nice
to form an (e-mail based) mailing list to link Goans.

So we started off with the people from IRC, and a group in Australia, whom
I can't remember quite how I got in touch with them. There were about 20
of us, and we launched Goanet.

Q: Who were the others in the initial 20?

There was a girl from Australia called Tashlyn Gonsalves. Joanna. My
sisters Jacqueline and Jeannette. Others whom it is difficult to remember
now. The 15 or 20 of us were there in the beginning, and launched the
mailing list. Others like Samir Kelekar, then a student in the US, came up
soon after the initial 20.

Q: What were the landmarks in the growth of Goanet?

In the very beginning, the first members were keen in keeping the list
together. Through them, by word of mouth, the message reached other
people. There were people like Tim D'Mello (an atomic power engineer from
Canada) and Eddie Fernandes (an engineering librarian from UCL-London) who
joined soon thereafter, and contributed quite a lot to the list.

One thing which helped was that mailing-list software became available
after we surpassed a hundred members. Previously, people would email me,
and I would forward their email (a cumbersome process) as the software
wasn't available at our school (Northeastern University) or widely
available on the Net.

But the mailing list software helped quite a bit.

Q: Did NEU encourage you to set up the mailing list for Goa?

They didn't. I used to work in the division of Academic Computing when I
started this list, so I knew the top people running the e-mail system at
that school. The administrators. And I approached them to set up the
mailing-list software. My selling point was that I would test out this
mailing-list software for the school.

Q: 5000 readers today must be beyond your widest expectations. What were
your expectations? How long did you expect this experiment to grow? Was it
just a 'have fun' kind of place?

Initially, I was very idealistic and I anticipated great success for the
list. But realistically, I suspected maybe 30 or 40 members would be the
max. I was astounded when we hit 50, was over the moon when we hit a
hundred. So 5000 is beyond is beyond anything I could have imagined.

Another big thing was people stepping in to help, to run the list. We had
volunteers in San Francisco, London, Toronto, Goa and even persons whom we
don't know where they are located.

Q: That brings us to an interesting question -- the initiative is fully
not-for-profit and volunteer driven. Does it work efficiently?

That's right. It works efficiently and because its non-commercial no
specific influences are being promoted.

Q: A couple of members even got married via Goanet. Did anyone tell you of
similar fallouts which you didn't anticipate earlier on?

I haven't been keeping track. But people are (using Goanet) to closely
keep abreast of the news in Goa. So they have a better expect of what to
expect when they come back. There have been lot of reunions between old
friends. That includes long-lost friends of mine.

The other big thing is that so many new friendships have been made. Just
as an example, I've been keeping in touch with Tashlyn since the list
started, and now it's almost been 10 years that we've known each other so
well, but never met face-to-face.

Q: From here where? What are your plans?

I'd like to see Goanet grow, quite a bit more. I'd like to see the
main-list be the platform where issues that affect all Goans can be
discussed. I'd also like to see more specific interests be addressed. And,
something which I had in mind from the very beginning, I'd like to see the
'virtual community' be involved in community-building in Goa.

Q: In that sense, I think Goanet was one of the major spawning grounds for
ideas to be thrown up and grow into initiatives like the Goa Schools
Computers Project and Goa Sudharop, which at least grew out of thinking on
the list.

There are many initiatives which grew out of the list, which have been
spearheaded by our members. It has been very gratifying to see this
happen. Of course, we're not taking the credit for anything more than
providing a platform for allowing a productive exchange of ideas to
happen.

Q: At 27, you must be awfully busy in ... well, running your own life.
With systems in place, does an initiative like this work okay on its own?

I do have a lot going on -- working, having a social life, other projects,
and my aspirations to go back to medical school (after doing a bachelor's
in chemical engineering and a master's in infectious disease control).

I think the systems in place are adequate for the survival of the list.
But I do think we need a few key people watching over the operations,
because the situation of the list is always dynamic. Further more, you
want to keep up with the times.

Q: In terms of the lower-than-anticipated participation from Goa itself,
what could be done about that?

At this time, I think many people are still learning about the Internet
(in Goa) and we should make Goanet prominent on the Internet, so that new
people to the Net can find it easily. At this point of time, its not so
well indexed by search-engines at http://www.goanet.org In that sense, I'd
like Goanet to become a household name, which anyone can identify with.

Q: Ten years from now, where do you see Goanet?

If we're lucky, I see it being a very large list, with high quality
content and it will be the preferred platform for discussing important
issues. I also see smaller lists -- which cater to specific interests --
coming up to complement the main list.



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