Next Generation Vaisnava Calendar
Posted December 7, 2005
As we heard at the end of October, the venerable VCal program that has served ISKCON so well is being retired. The Next Generation Vaisnava Calendar is now under development, and devotees with skills in IT, especially in programming, are invited to participate in the development.
On the one hand: Worldwide, Information Technology is increasingly prevalent and, like the rest of the population, many devotees today work with computers, and have skills and talents in this area.
On the other hand: Information Technology is the latest development of the Western drive for efficiency that Srila Prabhupada so admired (the lame man and the blind man). A recent study revealed that 2 year olds in the US spend as much time looking at a screen than they do playing outside, and more time than reading. People in the developed countries are increasingly eschewing print media for online media. The US Congress is getting set to pass legislation to get broadband Internet into the 66% of US households that still don't have it. A project to provide an initial 15 million $100 laptops with networking capability to under-developed nations will start rolling out in Q4 of 2006.
Regardless of our understanding of the superiority and desirability of a simple, subsistence lifestyle, we can't have our heads buried in the sand. The printing press will never disappear, but the Internet is increasingly becoming the brhad-mrdanga of the 21st century.
Putting these two things together, we need to offer engagement to devotees where they can use the skills they are having to learn in order to get jobs to support themselves and their families, or are increasingly arriving already in possession of. Programmers, graphic designers, infrastructure and project managers, can all utilize their skills and abilities in the service of the sankirtan mission. We need to adopt modern technologies and place them in the service of Sri Krishna Sankirtan - let us leave nothing un-utilized.
A worldwide organization such as ISKCON needs a significant IT capability in order to leverage the efficiency-increasing power of IT in communications, data storage and retrieval, calendar calculation, content delivery, and other areas. At the same time, something like a centralized corporate IT department is an impractical model.
The open source development model utilized by the GNU/Linux community more closely maps to the principles and values that ISKCON operates under, and looks like a more realistic guide for a practical implementation.
Whether you are familiar with this model or not, if you are a devotee who has abilities in information technology and would like to get involved in leveraging these to add value to the sankirtan mission, then get in touch. Washing pots, sweeping floors and cutting vegetables are all great services and clean the heart. At the same time, in addition to this type of service at your local temple or preaching center, you can also engage your professional abilities in service, making a significant contribution to the mission, and purifying that aspect of your life. The Next Generation Vaisnava Calendar is being developed using the open source development model. The GBC Calendar Committee has sponsored the creation of a coordination mailing list for this project. Send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org to join it.
Manasa deho geho yo kichu mor - apilu tuya pade nanda kishore
With whatever you have - mind, body, wealth, family, worship the lotus feet of the son of Nanda Maharaja (Bhaktivinode Thakura)
yat karosi yad asnasi yaj juhosi dadasi yat yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurusva mad arpanam
Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away,
whatever austerity you perform - do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering
to Me. (Bhagavad-gita 9.26)