Making The World a Smaller Place – SearchMyCampus
Globalization may have made the world a smaller place, but for most of us it’s still not small enough. We are constantly innovating newer means of bringing people closer together. The phenomenal success of social networking sites has proved the basic need of people to connect to each other, and maintain these connections over periods of time. However, websites like Facebook, Orkut, MySpace etc. only bring people together to meet emotional needs i.e. the need for social interaction. There is still a large gap where meeting material needs is concerned. There are only a limited number of websites in India that bring people together to serve their need for merchandise or services.
What is worse is that students are a sadly neglected breed, and even websites like eBay, Cleartrip etc. that do exist to meet material needs are often restricted to the privileged lot that own a credit card, and let’s face it, there aren’t too many people handing those out to students (and maybe with good reason :P). But that does leave us poor folks in a pickle. We need cheap access to housing, books, laptops, mobile phones, jobs etc. just as much as the next working person, in fact, even more. Yet while there are infinite sources that provide you with information about the best 5 star hotels, there are practically no websites that tell you about good hostels or paying guest accommodation in any city or campus.
So we decided that we’d had enough, and that we’d have to do something about it. We didn’t need other people to help us meet our basic needs at university. We’d do it ourselves. And thus SearchMyCampus was born. searchmycampus is an online campus noticeboard where students as well as student service providers can advertise their needs – merchandise/services they want to buy or sell. The idea behind this is that all students need certain basic merchandise and services during their time at university, and they can help each other get access to these. What one student has and doesn’t need another student may want. If they can be put in touch with each other, they can fulfill each others’ requirements i.e. the need of one to get rid of something and the need of to obtain it.
I may have purchased a television when I was a student at university, but when I graduate I need to sell this television. Another student who has just started university may need a television, but may not want to purchase an expensive new one. If I can get in touch with him to sell my television at a reasonable price, we both benefit. Students also tend to have common needs. I need to get to college everyday but commuting everyday is expensive. If I can find 5 other students from areas near my house, we can share the costs among ourselves and so mutually benefit. I may have found an excellent apartment near university that I cannot afford to live in by myself. If I can get in touch with students from my college who also require cheap accommodation in a convenient location, I can share the rent with them, and save my money for more important things like food.
Sure this sounds pretty simple when we say it, and I’m sure you’re all smacking yourselves on the head for not thinking of it earlier, but there is a problem here. There are at present no efficient and effective means of communicating your need to people who can fulfill them. If I’m one among a few thousand students in my college, and my college is one among 100 in my university, then my chances of locating someone who meets my requirements are low. At least if I stick conventional methods such as campus noticeboard advertisements, college newspaper classifieds etc. And ultimately if I do manage to find someone, the expenses involved would probably force me to live on air and water for the next 6 months.
This is where SearchMyCampus comes in
Why should I, a student, pay a month’s rent to a property agent just to find accommodation during term time when I can contact the owner directly and arrange it? I’m broke enough as it is, and I can think of much better uses this money can be put to *evil grin*. SearchMyCampus allows accommodation providers (PGs, Hostels, etc.) as well as students to advertise their needs to each other, thus enabling direct contact without the need for intermediaries. Similarly, students don’t need the services of consultants to find jobs (especially summer and part-time jobs). They can do it themselves by contacting interested companies directly. Thus, the site not only identifies needs, but puts them in public notice to be fulfilled.
This interaction to meet mutual needs internally without the need for intermediaries gives birth to an interlinked group of people having the ability to fulfill each other’s mutual material needs. Creating an independent student community of this type is bound to have far reaching consequences, extending beyond convenience and cost saving for students. Not only should it enable the Indian youth to stand on its own feet, it could also encourage entrepreneurial ventures based on the newly created channels of communication.
Evidence of the website’s success is visible already even in the brief time it has been available to the public, and as its utility is proved, the community of students thus created will only get stronger. As the success of social networking sites has proved, students are ready to create and participate in virtual communities that ultimately strengthen physical ones. SearchMyCampus will play a vital role in taking this trend to a whole new level.