After the Fact
The yearbook proved to be a rich source of entertainment in several cases, though in hindsight we did step over bounds in a few cases. One instance I remember was when person A made an entry for B that wasn’t obscene, but accentuated the character flaws of B significantly. B protested a lot over that comment, but I refused to remove it, sticking to my original stance. Looking back, the incident was humorous, but we were not being very sensitive towards B. After all, not everyone might find the same thing funny.
Then there were some folks who were bold enough not to provide a photo. In such cases we exercised our full creative license and provided one for them. The de facto standard for humour those days was M&D a.k.a. Mankee and Dummy, their logo was “Speak no Evil” monkey (the Dummy Mankee) of the 3 monkeys.We decided to use the blind monkey of the 3 monkeys, with a caption that said “Photo of xxxxxx taken by Mankee and Dummy when xxxxxx was not looking”.
At a request from a classmate I enabled anonymous entries, too, though the only one that came in was regarding a person who was never seen in the department. So rare was his presence that he was fittingly absent when he had to receive the “Id Ka Chand” award.
The yearbook was a raging success. During my last few days in IIT, on one of my trips to the Mathematics department I happened to step into their computer lab and saw a couple of people browsing through our yearbook pages. After I graduated Dr. S. Arun Kumar contacted me and graciously offered to host the yearbook on the alumni page for our class, since my page was going to go offline. A few months later Puneet Zaroo from the batch immediately junior got in touch with me and asked for the source code. Recently on one of my browsing detours I saw a yearbook page from a recent batch that looked curiously like it was using my age-old code.
Personally the yearbook was of phenomenal help to me. It helped increase my awareness of my batchmates to such an extent that 9 years after graduating I still remember the entry numbers of all people in our batch and things like who said what about whom. Of course, that may freak out the more rational individuals. Moreover, when I was interviewing with WebTek out of campus, I was able to leverage this yearbook and explain all the shortcomings and strengths of the approach in it. I like to think it helped me land that job.
After graduating I did some reengineering using PHP and MySQL. I was forced to take a look at the reengineering because a lot of people were now reticent about their yearbook pages being visible to the public. So I moved all the data into a very simple MySQL database and put in controls like:
- Hiding the entire page
- Hiding some comments from the page
- Don’t hide the page, but prevent it from being searchable.
And yes, it uses sessions now.