Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The grief of being Editor and Founder- Cut the Red Tape

At last, life at IIT took a positive turn after nearly 18 months of silent existence. Having written for months now, I had been ready for this venture strengthened ever since Manish Bansal, 3rd year Electrical Engineering took to offering constant guidance. A magazine, which could serve as an interaction platform whilst trying to motivate students into the compulsion and satisfaction of the lost art- research. For this venture, time and energy were the investments which I invested without negative thoughts, but took to working madly for it.
I was holding the reward in my hands on 13th November, (though a week later than anticipated) I could see it. There lay not any soft copy of 'Infinite Epsilons', but the magazine published with 300 replicas of it. As I held it for longer, I slowly felt the pain and tension evaporating leading the pathway to a clearer soul. But alongside this comforting feeling, I was reminded by a sound which said I was in for more, specially due to the happenings of the last few days.
Through the month of October, the concept had strengthened within me and daydreams were a common feature. For the first time this semester, I missed 8 classes in a week. No doubt the magazine had become a 'part' of me. After running between hostels and institute rooms to contact seniors, faculty members and organizations (including Dean and Head of Department-who I also interviewed) became a day-to-day habit, and I took charge of all ground level activities as well like pasting notices, raising publicity and hype; I was convinced this meant far more to me than a corner in the CV. Apart from testing my enthusiasm, it put to test my never tested marketing and management skills as it was my sole responsibility to gather funds for the magazine (without spending from my own pocket). Although unwilling to outsource the work due to a lack of trust and sharing the enthusiasm, I succumbed to form a team for which I went to the rooms of freshers myself demanding time-to-time updates by calling frequently.
Amidst this, I was obsessed about not revealing my identity for which I disguised as Ankit Goyal, the General Secretary of Maths Society who was equally happy to see his name in notices. However, this eased the entry into Google Groups, as well as trickier. But all this was a part of being the Founder. Retrospecting, I remember my first meeting with Ankit, when I told him about the idea and had volunteered to be the Editor, which he agreed and offered the first page for being the Founder and the origins of the idea. I complain of this part, which hassled me more than expected. Being the Editor. Pages were completed in rapid succession, except ones demanding Ankit's inputs who slept whenever I went to his room, and I cherished the freedom of completing the work. However, getting Mayur to work was trickier as his demands ascended which included a part of Page1. Without the review of the G.Sec. (who left for his friend's home), Mayur was unwilling to start.
Somehow, convincing Mayur to work with me seemed a mistake as the days passed, first time making me tense as he was obsessed with informing me about duties of an Editor, such as Formatting in Photoshop while being the 'Chief Designer'. There was a stage his demands reached being a co-founder, though he started working a month after me. I finally settled sitting alongside him all the time he designed the pages, apart from offering slight helps in Photoshop Domain regarding text formatting. Being the rookie in designing, I stuck to Mayur's brain. Though policies were confirmed with Publisher, Ankit's lack of reviewing it became an obstruction (He's a 5th yearite, I can't complain). When he finally did (by then the magazine would have been released) he seemed unconvinced with the red-tape he hadn't uncoiled all these days as the work he said reflected my personal aspirations. Though he claimed being a rookie to reading, he smelled something fishy and demanded me to consult BSP representatives. (Manish came as the rescue) The dispute essentially lay in Page1, where now he wanted me to write as an Editor and not the Founder.
On editing the page, it lost all the personal touch, the work done by me (which became work done by the team). Looking back then at that page, I was infuriated as one of the major incentives was slipping aside (after the work had been done). All parts which spoke on how writing became a part of me and thus this magazine, were to be replaced about contents of the magazine. Here at the final stages, I was informed of the remaining sanctions which comfortably rolled my expected deadline nearer to the majors. Yes. One of my major concerns was majors. Not just, how much I was missing on academics but the loss of enthusiasm in students regarding non-gradable stuff as majors drew nearer. The most depressing part was constant reminders by Ankit, about the only thing where I wasn't contributing- funding (Though I was gathering it from different sources). After all, money speaks power. He was also obsessed with saving more and more money, asking me to search sources alongside demonstrating a belief about the best publishers, and would speak himself to some. He never spoke, just delayed the process of printing.
All the pages were to be re-edited as per Ankit's liking which angered Mayur more and more.
Worse was his argument and reprimanding me for using people’s blog names without consent. The menace Divyam ensured his role in it, by ‘complaining’ to Ankit how I had edited an article he had sent to the Maths Society E-mail ID without his consent (although being the Editor). He was desperate to spoil the suspense of the readers about the publishable content. Kumaon politics had resumed, as Ankit Prasad began calling in the last minutes to get his name removed from the magazine, for unknown reasons. The secrecy I had managed for much part of the journey had vanished, courtesy some of the team members who didn’t share similar aims as me and could hardly try to understand why I was doing what I was. My moods were worsening every passing day. I edited the article of Divyam, as he sat with me, and informed the blog writers about their blog names being published in the magazine.
In the aftermath of the compilation, the Publisher ensured it wouldn't end smoothly as he went to meet relatives on the day he was supposed to deliver the magazines, and reached at 8 next night against his assurance of 10 in the morning. From initally running for cheques, to waiting all day my nerves were tested and grief proliferated. Alas, it was a Friday meaning distibution had to be upheld since Monday. Ever since, I distributed most of the copies myself. Here Ankit reprimanded me as he believed the process hadn't been as effective as anticipated (as a response to which I called a first yearite into my classroom to distribute copies). Kumaon were back trying to make fun without a proper reason, on the Google Groups in an attempt to spoof up the name and laughing at jokes which can only entertain them.
But one of the worse things that happened later was a chat with Raghu personally followed by one with Rohan, who said they felt the magazine was launched by me to prove a point to others how I was superior to others, which meant that would contaminate the image of magazine, while reading. I can't describe it as exactly jealousy, or just a tendency to imagine the world like themselves doing things out of social obsession but I was unsettled at the thought how getting work recognized was so difficult in this world.


Anonymous said...

"The work done by you was a reflection of your arrogance and a statement by you to the rest of the department, actually institute, about your superiority."
I too believe that

Just go and ask what everyone thinks about you. I atleast know about the seniors in MaC. They say you've made a big fool of yourselves. Just go and count the number of times you've printed your name in the magazine.

- Divyam

Siddharth Bhattacharya said...

Divyam, what is the reason for anonymity? And please don't use abusive comments. (like the one I deleted)
Yeah yeah, of all those expected I was sure you'd believe that, but others it was quite surprising. Why do you have to believe, things are meant to show others about your character?...
Apart from the 'Idea by' in the back cover page and once in an inference and appeal(which I had meant to edit but Mayur had made the page by then and refused to make the changes), every other time my name is there is OK. I have tried my best to reduce my name (and use other's names often) from coming but I couldn't have written someone else's name in the interviews.

Anyways, to reiterate: one of the last things I would bother about is proving to my peers about my superiority. I know nothing can rid you guys of prejudices against me.

Siddharth Bhattacharya said...

Troubled by a comment from Piyush, who I revere in certain aspects I acknowledge the following: (The basic contents of the comment were -formatting sucks, which is the duty of the Editor; team participation was low; its bad to use other's names without consent)
-> I acknowledge the presence of the red tape , but it would've been better from the start not in the finishing stages only. Anyways, you're right in pointing out some of my griefs don't make sense at all.
-> Names I'd asked myself before using in all cases(even to Piyush, who declined the use of his name where it was made anonymous).
-> When I mention Mayur asked me formatting, he asked me to create jpgs in paint or photoshop. I had formatted it in Word. From then due to my lack of ability in other softwares, I stuck to what Mayur said was the best formatting...
-> Team participation..Ha! One of the reasons my name was anonymous throughout was I was afraid of ego-fights from others had they known I was behind this idea. So I had thought that would mean 0 outside contribution. At least as long as it was Ankit's name among my peers, people could imagine contributing. It was a move to avoid bias, due to my repo.
..Also Notices mentioned for working for the magazine (or even contributions). Someone interested should have contacted Ankit, whose phone no. was mentioned. Participation was generally low.
-> Much of the anomalies were driven by the constraint of this issue being the first. Since there were no certificates, for the team members and me; name was all (with entry nos.- a unique identity). there was no formal way of creating the team. either 1-2 ppl contacted ankit, who he diverted to me or I'd find the fachas in their rooms. Page1 obviously never contains such a description, unless its a ripe thing waiting to mature- i.e. an inaugral issue. So if there's another issue, it's all going to be subverted. (with certis)
->As far as it is too much of me + Wiki, I disagree there. There is only one article by me explicitly, else are reports (Ramakrishnan) or voices of others. I think if the links weren't there, or if it were some other site's link, the complaint would have been less even if it was copied directly from Wiki. The links are provided to confirm its authenticity or to read further (which I agree should've been given at the end).
->Content was too much my blog type. I disagree there. Interviews, brain teasers, Maths Society (this section was decided by Ankit), Wiki (economics, maths, mathematicians) had no corelation to my blog. Else was appeals, a world without, writer's desk- they were to boost others' participation and weren't by me again. So there I must say is a bias by your opinion of me, when you state that the magazine resembles my blog + Wiki.

Siddharth Bhattacharya said...

And this one is an information, more than a comment.
If there is going to be another issue, a proper team with all departments will be formed. How I dont know at the moment. But it won't be me altogether.

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