General Plans for Your 2013-2014 Digital Dharma Drive Contributions
As you may know, we have spent the past year renovating the Media Studio, the circa 1959 facility in which the monks produce all of the books, magazine, art, websites, videos and teachings. We last made major improvements to the space 28 years ago, setting it up as a print shop, with two printing presses, a folder, a phototypesetter, process camera and light tables. In the nineties, we converted the space into a digital publications center using salvaged goods from a defunct hotel sale. It was a quaint space, with a priceless view, but weary and worn.
The publications building is just 100 feet from Kadavul Temple. Aside from being the nexus of the monastery's world outreach activities, it is a key place for hosting visitors. It was time to bring it into the 21st century, so we worked to gather a team. For the last year most of the work has been done by the monks and a task force of volunteers, rather than by costly hired carpenters (though there were some of those, too). We are even using our own lumber, milled from island trees, for the wooden elements. It has taken a lot of work and money. We plan to finish in the months ahead. Like last year, one half of each dollar from this year's Digital Dharma Drive will go to the Media Studio renovation and one half to ongoing web improvements, digital assets, ebooks and other projects. We hope you are inspired by all of this.
How Your Past Donations Were Used
- Ebooks: We hired a firm in Chennai to convert many of our renowned publications on contemporary Hinduism to PDF, ePub (for iPad, iPhone, Nook and other devices) and Amazon Kindle formats. Almost 70 publications big and small, including Gurudeva's Master Course Trilogy, Lemurian Scrolls, Loving Ganesha, Yoga's Forgotten Foundation, The Guru Chronicles, our children's story books, our history lessons, Hinduism Today magazine issues and more are available for free on our new website and are slowly being added to the Apple iBookstore and Amazon Kindle Store.
- Digital Dharma Library: Knowing that our previous website did not make finding our resources as easy and transparent as it should, we embarked upon a complete overhaul. First, the monks, starting in 2010, worked for a year to research, design and construct the database to hold all of our resources. Then we hired a programmer in Brazil to further refine the database and build the content management system that delivers pages, facilitating organization and access. Second, one of the world's best professional web design firms, Happy Cog, was contracted to craft a modern, more functional interface to the site that visitors will navigate easily through, accessing our thousands of resources: art, books, literature, audio and video files, and more. We launched the new site last December, and continual background technical improvements and visible content additions have ensued steadily since. This has been an enormous undertaking, and it's still not 100% complete.
- Social site: Another firm was hired to help us implement and maintain a private social networking site to connect our Saiva Siddhanta Church members and Himalayan Academy students around the world.
- Hinduism Today: A professional web contractor is hired to update the website of our international magazine with each quarter's new edition.
- Miscellany: Funds were also used to purchase software and fonts that are used on the new website, iPads for developing delivery systems to mobile units, new computer network hardware to improve all the kulams' work in the monastery, web domain registration fees, online training resources, etc.