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Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil Language & Literature > Project Madurai > Dr.K.Kalyanasundaram (Project Leader) on Third Anniversary of Project Madurai - Pongal Day 2000


Dr.K.Kalyanasundaram (Project Leader) on Third Anniversary of Project Madurai - Pongal Day 2001:

This week-end we will be celebrating PONGAL and along with this the THIRD ANNIVERSARY of PROJECT MADURAI. On these happy occasions I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to fellow Promads for all their encouragement and support during these three years. 

New comers in the Promad ring will be pleased to hear that Project Madurai was started three years ago on Pongal day 1998 by a small group of 25 volunteers who were interested to build a public access digital archive devoted to Tamil literary works.

This Promad ring has been growing in a modest but consistent manner during the past three years to reach a number of 160 today. The list of Etexts released to the public per year has also been increasing: from 18 in 1998 to 28 in 1999 and 49 in 2000. We are looking forward to the day (soon) when we will put out our 100th release.

If we count the individual works (small and big), we have put up already more than 200 Tamil works. In a modest way we have 
proven the viability of the concept, though the number of etexts we have is a very tiny drop in a big ocean yet to be tackled.

If the average size of an etext is ca. 300kb (to help out those with poor internet connections many of our releases are kept even smaller), in a single CD of 650 Mb we can store as many as 2000 works. So, we have a long, long, long way to go before we can ever get to fill a single CD.

I would like to recall what I wrote last year, viz, "building a decent, comprehensive Digital Library devoted to Tamil works is like building a Temple". It is a community effort, by the people for the people. It needs committment and hardwork from many people with different expertise over a long period of time. Every one of us should participate and contribute whatever he/she can and be proud of it as well. 


Thanks to the initiative of fellow Promad, Mr. Aravindan of NJ, USA, for the last couple of months we have a unique internet identity with the name tag <http://www.projectmadurai.org>. Bala Pillai has been very kind to support the PM initiative by providing "unlimited disc space" in his tamil.net webserver. 

It is a pleasure to browse Project Madurai webpages without AD banners clustering the page from all corners. So we thank Bala 
for his continued support. Like children growing up and go on their own way one day, PM should and will have its own webserver up and running one day. We need to do proper ground work and raise adequate resources before we venture into the details.We may have to organize a proper PM Development Fund of some sort. One possibility is to register PM as a voluntary, non-profit organisation in the US, that will permit raising of funds through donations. 

During this past year, we formally constituted an expanded "Management Team for PM" that will assist us in various tasks ahead. 
I take this opportunity to thank Dr. Kumar Mallikarjunan, Dr. Ulrike Niklas, Mr. P. Chandrasekaran, Mr. Sacha Ebeling, 
Dr. V. Venkataramanan, Mr. Elango Sampandam, Mr. Gandhi Kannadhasan and Mr. Nadesan Satyendra for their cooperation and help in building a high quality, comprehensive Digital Archive that we can be proud of. 

Mirror Sites

Two notable developments during the last year have been launch of INFITT (International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil) and the Tamil Virtual University. Both these have objectives (and hopefully resources as well soon) to promote digital Tamil archive efforts worldwide. Both have expressed interests to host a "mirror" site of Project Madurai Archives at their own web-servers in the near future. 

In principle encouraging mirror sites is a good idea. We did have some discussions earlier in our list on guidelines and 
policy of PM for such mirror sites. We can use the current practice of Project Gutenberg as a model. We shall discuss 
the possibilities within the Management Team and will keep you posted.

Search Engines and Catalog of Etexts

As we build the etext collections, we need to engage in parallel efforts to provide tools (dedicated search engines and subject, 
author catalogs updated periodically) for a faster search or review of the archive content. I request large number of software professionals in our ring to form a working team with Dr. Venkat and Mr. Elango Sampandam on implementation of these tools as soon as possible. On a related note, we need to do a systematic screening of our webpages to accommodate style sheets (CSS) and even in XML/SGML formats preferred by major libraries.

Distribution of Etexts in CD-ROMs

One pleasing event of last year was release of etexts of works of cangkam period, prepared with the assistance of students and 
staff of KAP Viswanatham High School in Trichy, Tamilnadu. At that time, many Promads expressed views that we should promote such efforts by the younger generation. 

One possible way we can do this is to reach out the students and school/college authorities by distributing free copies 
in CDs of the PM collections of Etexts. TN Govt is in the process of providing internet connection to every municipality 
& town. So the basic infrastructure will be in place soon.

Tamil Friends of the Gulf States region were kind enough to donate blank CDs for such purposes and Fr. Adaikalarasa of Dindigul has offered to make copies and distribute them in TN. I am sure there are many more Promads who are interested to contribute these efforts. This is another area where we need to take concrete steps in preparing a list of target schools and colleges in Tamilnadu and work out the logistic details.

Source Library of Tamil Books

To face the persistent problem of interested Promads not having access to printed copies of Tamil works for etext preparation, last year I bought many books when I was in chennai and have them sent to Dr. Kumar Mallikarjunan at Blacksburg, VA, USA. Majority of these books remain unused during the past year. 

So I appeal to all North America-based Promads who can spare some time assist us in preparation of etexts of these Tamil 
works. Many are small ones that can be typed by a single person.If you yourself cannot find time to engage in typing or 
proof-reading of the work, please explain PM to your fellow Tamil friends and get them interested to participate. If each one of the 150+ member in the ring can bring in at least one more member to join the effort during the coming year 2001, that will certainly will give a boost to the Project.

I repeat, PM is as much a project of yours as mine. It is our community effort. So please feel free to make your suggestions on how we can improve upon and on all points discussed above...


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