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Open Source Disaster Relief - by Email
Taran Rampersad, 30 Jan 05

ippimaillogo.gifIppimail is an Open Source solution to an interesting problem: funds for disaster relief. By offering free email, such as done by Yahoo, Hotmail, Google and a host of others, Ippimail has a major difference. It's goal is to raise a million dollars per day for charity. That's certainly a worthwhile endeavour - and as a user, you get to choose which charity you wish to contribute to. Basically, you decide where the advertising dollars are spent, for a cause that you believe is worthwhile.

The manner in which Ippimail is trying to do this is through a database that is fed by questionnaires of users. From these questionnaires, they offer targeted advertising to advertisers - which might even benefit the users of Ippimail in making them aware of products of services they are interested in - instead of the usual junk one finds on the web.

There were some concerns raised about the questionnaire here, which caused some personal questions to be removed as mentioned here. In fact, they are actively looking for feedback, and reacting quickly to it. People should feel comfortable with this. It doesn't take weeks to have an effect - it takes a day or less. If you have a problem, you discuss it in the provided forums. Over the last week, the Ippimail team has demonstrated responsiveness.

In a way, this becomes an insurance policy for the world paid for by advertising businesses. And it allows anyone around the world to advertise; and therefore it allows people from around the world to participate and make a difference. For example, here in Trinidad and Tobago there are few businesses that really advertise at an international level. But if Trinbagonians use the service, local businesses could advertise to Trinbagonians via email while the proceeds go to charity.

On a personal note, I've been using Ippimail over the last week and have had no problems. It's worth a look for both users and advertisers. If you visit the site and click around, you might find even the hidden link to Simon Martin's Schmaltzy Corner.

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