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Yesterday, the 2007 school magazine was released in the school assembly. While trying to get the PDFs for uploading here, I was reminded of a mail I received in January this year.

Karthik (1999) wrote to me and suggested that we digitise the school magazines — make past issues available on a CD or for download. This idea has been around for a few years. Considering that technology is available next door, costs have fallen, and there are a large number of IT-savvy Loyolites, I am surprised that this idea remains an idea.

What are the obstacles?

Ambitious. Yes, but that does not deter fools like me from rushing in.

Unwise? Probably. And that is my worry.

I remember that in 2004, the OBA offered to send the latest issue of the school magazine to old boys, at a price of Rs 100. In the end, less than 20 out of the 1000+ members sent orders. To those of us who had argued for re-starting this service, it was an eye-opener in estimating demand.

Couriering school magazines is a simple service and involves negligible cost; it is ok if there are only two orders for the magazine. On the other hand, digitising school magazines is less simple and fairly expensive. It involves at least two months of intensive networking to get the school magazines from the 1960s to 2007, and then a month to get them digitised and packaged. In addition to time and energy, there is the cost of digitising. A back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates the required investment to be Rs 50,000.

Two models

I can think of two ways to move forward.

Model 1: Voluntary group donation. In this model, a few Loyolites will put in time and energy, while a few others will donate money. Since everybody is volunteering, nobody expects monetary returns. The advantage of this model is that no single individual is worried about the demand — it does not matter if in the end, only five people buy the CD or pay for the download.

Model 2: Enterprise. In this model, a few Loyolites will put in time, energy and money. They bear the financial risk, sell the product, and may make a profit (or loss).

In the past, old boys have tried out the first model. It worked well for the lobaglobal website in 2003-04 (when the 1988 and 1993 batches put in money, and the OBA put in time and energy), and the Joseph Uncle campaign in 2007 (when alumni across batches put in money, and two old boys of 2001 batch put in time and energy).

For digitising the school magazines, should we try out the second model? Are there any entrepreneurial batches out there?

Or if we are sticking to the first model, are there two or three batches who will put in the money?

Depending on your response, we will take this up now or later.