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Community Spotlight: Friendship across borders
Team Crowdsource, August 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of all of us around the world and while we are all still getting used to the new mode of life 'online', we have been delighted to witness the camaraderie in the Crowdsource community and how we have become stronger despite the tough and challenging times. Our Crowdsource community members have forged new friendships, and have formed stronger bonds, with a sense of togetherness and teamwork.
In this regional community spotlight, we are excited to shine a spotlight on our influencers Sanjay KV, Software Development Engineer from India and Tiodor Lusia Seprina (Lusia as she is fondly known by her friends), Entrepreneur, SME Consultant and Projects Planner from Indonesia to share their stories of how they collaborate with each other across borders to conduct virtual events for Crowdsource. Both of them are also top contributors.
Let's read to understand how their teamwork and collaboration has helped them build flourishing local communities in their countries.
Sanjay K V, Crowdsource Influencer from India
Tiodor Lusia Seprina, Crowdsource Influencer from Indonesia
- What inspires you to contribute to Crowdsource?
- S: Global community and meeting new people.
- L: I find the app interesting and easy to use. I am motivated by altruism and to make a difference to the community.
- What's your favorite activity on Crowdsource?
- S: I used to enjoy translation in my mother tongue, Malayalam, and now I enjoy Image label verification.
- L: Handwriting recognition, I am also a top contributor to this activity, ranking #5 on the Global Crowdsource leaderboard right now.
- What do you do in your free time?
- S: I love to blog about technology. I'm always keen to learn about technology and share my perspective of a new app, technology, etc.
- L: I love to travel, cook, and bake, I particularly love trying new recipes. Currently, I am also writing a novel in Bahasa Indonesia.
- Which country would you like to visit?
- S: At the beginning of the year, I would have said Singapore since both Lusia and I got selected for the Global Crowdsource Summit which was to be held in Singapore. But since then, I have collaborated with friends from around the world in Indonesia, Japan, and Malaysia. I wish to visit all these places to meet my new friends.
- L: After collaborating with Sanjay I'm very keen to travel to India and meet him as well as the Google team in Bangalore.
- What do you love about being a contributor to Crowdsource?
- S: I love the diversity of the Crowdsource community which is something I've not seen in any other active community in India. Anybody, with or without a tech background, can learn about machine learning (ML) and contribute in order to make a direct impact on AI systems to help millions of people around the world. We are helping make the internet become a better place.
- L: Sanjay has stolen my words! I agree with Sanjay. I love being a part of the global community, meeting new people from around the globe. One of my guiding principles personally is 'Do good and good will come to you', that also motivates me to be a part of this community. Crowdsource teaches me about ML and AI in a simple way, the app is ML in action for me.
How did you get to know about Crowdsource and since when have you been contributing?
S: I love to explore new apps on the Google Play Store and I discovered Crowdsource in 2017 when my semester exams were over and I was idle at home. I started contributing due to the gamification, I enjoyed collecting badges in the app. During the initial days, I had no knowledge about the impact of the app and how it is helping bring diversity and inclusion to AI systems. Later in 2018, I attended a Crowdsource meetup in the Google Hyderabad office where I got more insights from Googlers about Crowdsource and the community. It was very inspiring for me to hear about the impact of our contributions. Even though time is a big constraint for me nowadays as a working professional, I still contribute whenever I have free moments as I find it to be a great stressbuster.
L: I was introduced to Crowdsource by Budi, who is Indonesia’s first influencer and I have been contributing to the app since then. During the lockdown, I wanted to find other ways to contribute to the community and organized our first meetup together with Sanjay for backpacker travel friends. But our first meetup was a big failure as the attendees didn’t understand the motive of the meetup or our approach. We learned a great deal from this experience - to plan our future events in advance (never do anything last-minute) and to have a strategy for the event in place since the scale of the community is large and diverse.
How do you collaborate on events across borders and what have been your learnings on conducting events globally?
L: Personally, I feel that my communication skills are not very strong as I am not fluent in English. I am also a Women Will facilitator in Indonesia and from my experience, I know that I had to find someone who would complement my skills and hence I approached Sanjay for partnering on events together. We play on each of our strengths and this helps us manage the stress behind putting together a successful virtual event. Sanjay has excellent communication skills and I help him to plan the sessions meticulously as well as engage with the audience. I always challenge Sanjay to push his limits and try new things. Sanjay also has 6k+ followers on Instagram and 34k+ viewers of his video about Crowdsource on his YouTube channel, so I encouraged him to leverage his social media reach for the meetups too.
S: One of the best moments of my life was when I received an email from the Crowdsource team, to invite me to the Global Crowdsource Summit 2020. Although the summit was canceled due to COVID-19, I have been in touch with other regional communities and we created a Telegram group for us to keep in touch. It was the first time I was communicating with people outside India and that’s how I got in touch with Lusia and other friends around the world. Lusia has been an excellent friend and partner in all my events. She always motivates and encourages me, which has helped me build up my confidence. When we first interacted, even though we were complete strangers, she had a positive impact on me through her supportive nature and I find that inspiring in her. It was also Lusia’s idea to host our first meetup for India and Indonesia; she’s very creative and has a lot of ideas. Like Lusia mentioned, we bring different strengths to our partnership, we are united by our commitment to make the internet more accessible and inclusive of our own languages and culture. There are two proverbs in Malayalam that come to my mind when we talk about our collaboration:
“We accomplish more together than we would dream possible working alone. Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
Our partnership hasn’t been entirely rosy, our first meetup was not very successful as Lusia previously mentioned, but we reiterated our plan, improved our virtual events strategy and over the course of time, we have garnered an immense number of learnings to share:
- Always be prepared: Have a strategy in place, deliver impactful content and always be mindful about the diversity and culture to be inclusive of everyone.
- Know your audience: Be mindful of the attendees, understand if they have a tech background or not. Craft the content in your meetup accordingly to make your session easy to comprehend, especially around the basics of AI and ML so that the attendees understand the big picture of their impact through contributions to Crowdsource.
- Plan to engage: Interaction on virtual meetups is very different from face-to-face interaction in our offline events. Engage your attendees throughout the session, else attendees may lose interest and drop-off. To overcome this, use virtual games (we use Kahoot for many meetups) and impart knowledge about Crowdsource through the game. We include even product-related questions like - How many levels are there on Crowdsource?, folks who answer incorrectly are educated and hence the engagement becomes entertaining and it is full of learnings too.
- Your partner and you should complement each other: Co-host with someone who is able to complement your skill sets. This will help you overcome any barriers while planning events and engaging with your audience.
- Reconnect with attendees: Engage with them after your session to answer any questions they may have about Crowdsource. Motivate them to contribute and explain to them about the larger picture and the need for diverse datasets to make AI systems more inclusive of users who are accessing the internet from around the world today.
- Document your journey on social media: Write about your journey on social media, vlog on Youtube or blog about it so that others can learn more about your journey and Crowdsource. For example, my YouTube channel is not even monetised, I just like to share about things that I am passionate about with others. I often get a lot of questions about Crowdsource through my video on my YouTube channel.
How do you plan to grow the community in the next 12 months?
S: Owing to the current situation around the world, Lusia and I are discussing a Virtual World Tour to grow and engage our community. We want to collaborate with influencers from other countries to learn more about their country and culture through our meetups. Through these events, we hope to achieve more awareness of Crowdsource and our vibrant local communities around the world. I also plan to post content regularly on social media, and host our meetups in a way that they are inclusive of new users as well as the active participants in our community. Personally, it’s a huge learning opportunity for me to build my own personal network, collaborate with other influencers from around the world and hone my leadership and communication skills.
L: To me virtual meetups make it easier to introduce Crowdsource to new users. I also plan to use my local language, Bahasa Indonesia, to interact with folks from my city and town to help them understand Crowdsource and the impact of their contributions. Many users in Indonesia are still not aware of Crowdsource. I plan to leverage my social media presence to build and grow our community. I post quite regularly on social media and I also plan to use YouTube and my own personal blog to write more about Crowdsource. I wish to continue collaborating with influencers within Indonesia in order to multiply our reach in Indonesia. With teamwork, we can always have a bigger and better impact.
“Building our community and bringing more awareness about Crowdsource, especially during COVID-19, is difficult but not impossible through teamwork.”
How to make virtual meetups more effective and successful?
S: I also use demographics of the user to plan and create the right content for the right people at the right time. This makes sure the attendees are always engaged during the events. Also, I always look back at the feedback from the attendees to understand what went well and what didn’t go well. This helps me inform the strategy for future events.
L: I agree with Sanjay, it helps to always analyze and learn from previous meetups to see how we can improve our own skills too. The most important thing for me is that every meetup has to be fun, inclusive, and memorable for all the attendees. I always push myself to think creatively in order to reach new people. The beauty of Crowdsource is that anybody of any age (above 18 years), background or profile can contribute to make the internet a better place for everyone, everywhere. And our events should reflect the same diversity.
We hope Lusia and Sanjay’s story of their tremendous efforts in their communities to spread the word about #GoogleCrowdsource has inspired you. Discover all the Crowdsource events and news around the world on social media through #GoogleCrowdsource.
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