Saturday, May 2, 2009

Who wants to blog and who wants to read ??

Few years ago, one day, a point about online writing was brought up during a discussion. This was much before I started blogging and was more in the context of writing at forums and the like, a bit extending to discussion-type writing. The point was :

Online writing suits only people who have lot of time in their hands. People who have important things to say or do will not be frequenting online forums and blogs, they will be busy doing such good work on the field, dirtying their hands to transform the world !! Even in the case of some well-known forums or blogs, interest wanes with time in spite of a initial spurt. In short, It is the jobless people who are creative !!.
The last phrase wasn't exactly voiced, but you should know by now, how much in this blog is fact and how much is my own spicy sauce, particularly since I updated the disclaimer just yesterday.

I think certain parts of this are quite true. How many blogs or websites, will survive, say 15 years ? Like SlashDot, whose interface pre-dates even the word blog, but is still quite famous in its segment. Whether blog as a medium will survive itself is a different question. How many now-famous websites will stand the test of a decade ? And if around, would they just continue to be famous or continue to just exist or, worse, go through a series of takeovers to be merged into one of the biggies, like AltaVista ?

I find it interesting that, for many bloggers, interest in blogging does wane after a while, may be goes through a lull and then strikes back or takes a different form (or most often dies). I often wonder what kind of frame of mind, may be a periodic wave, pushes you to blog and at other times, pushes you away from it ? Is it that, you are at a particular level of seeking intellectual stimulation or creative expression but later graduate to something higher or degenerate to something lower ? Or life just gets busy ? Would you still blog at 60 as much you did at 30 ? Gazing at the moon from the riverside bench, a friend recently asked me : You went to Orkut, you went to blogging, you went to StumbleUpon, now you want Facebook and Twitter, what do you seek and when will you stop, having found what you sought ? I was suddenly struck by the question, he was right, and I had to put up my patented heheheheh face and change the topic to elections. May be he was just adapting Bhartrihari's Vairagya Satakam to the internet audience. There are not many blogs in the Vedanta segment, so he could start one.

Before I took to blogging, my own views about this may not have been so well-formed , since I was more of a devouring consumer of online writing than of a contributor. As if all my views got formed just last night :) :). But they were on these lines, during that on online writing :

There is always a section of people who are creative and have the urge to write. These are folks who will find time to write, no matter how busy they are or whichever high position they may be. For them, it's not like 'do it if you have the time'. Since they enjoy doing it, they will find the time anyway. Like some people have a natural inclination towards gardening. The Net gives more impetus for people with even the faint urge to write (though they may do it in SMS lang) . Authenticity, relevance and good-evil-mix-up of Internet phenomena like blogs and citizen journalism are still being disputed heavily but most agree that it has indeed thrown open the doors of creative writing to far more people than who used to write only to newspapers and magazines and then wait for Mr.Editor to garland them. The Net is also a place, where someone can start writing though he is diffident or ruffian in his approach, but hope to refine on the way by learning and improvising. The not-yet-edited entries in h2g2 that need editing help are examples of these.

The Net also provides for bi-directional feedback and a far more lively discussion than other media provide, including the radio and television where interactions are limited by air-time. Can you have a television debate, that is open-ended until settled ? Not that anyone asked for it. There is also this view that, instant writing, does not necessarily result in thoughtful writing, but then that can be said about newspaper writing too. Editors from the traditional print media, hold that Internet writing is not so authentic, reliable etc. I agree on this, but then traditional print media isn't bidirectional either. If I am allowed a strong opinion, I feel, the reluctance of traditional media to accept the Internet as a far more powerful medium with its unique benefits, is parochial, as time, tide and technology (and markets) wait for none. As I have said before here, Technology denied, just means, Technology delayed, You can't deny it for long. How many newspapers have websites that allow discussions, how many of them are able to exploit even just the commercial potential, even if you forget the crowdsourcing and ideas-potential for a moment ? How many have helpful, in-line text links, even to their own earlier news pages or to non-competitive pages like government websites, which even an average blogger will explore to provide ? Some of them don't have advanced search and certain others, it seems, do not want to do any more extra work than convert the print paper into the e-Paper. For all the rightful glory of The Hindu Classifieds pages in print, the online presence is offered as a freebee, so a search on Classifieds across, say a few months, either has an extremely poor interface or disallows searching the archived classifieds. Such indifference towards the Net as a medium, as if it would cost that much more or the bride found her groom after the first ad :) . From their perspective, I think not all of these may be commercially viable, with margins in the print business not that attractive any more, but I think that should only encourage them to explore the usage of the medium even better. If there are other news aggregating websites who are able to make money without getting news from the field themselves, the news gatherers should try it themselves and beat the algorithm of the techie aggregators.

As for visitors, I think spending time to visit a forum or news site, is similar to (and takes away) the time spent in reading a newspaper or a book. The time spent and thinking process remains the same, only the medium has changed. The flip side, however, imho, will be not, "who wants to visit these blogs and sites", but about the fact that, the Internet is open only for english-literate + net-friendly + writing-urge type of people, though the language insistence has begun to change in a small way. There are, I am sure, hundreds more of potential bloggers, who still have plenty of ideas, like the vernacular-medium students who are masters at trigonometry, and do a good job of sharing these ideas in face to face in their gatherings, but still far away from the Internet, because they arent net-write-qualified. Well, that is the nature of the Internet, so we have to live with the limitation. Imagination and interactive zeal, I think, is far more bigger than what technology can capture and the distance can reduce but may never be eliminated. And who knows, may be they are better off in the brick-and-mortar world than in the click-and-mouse world !!


  1. Thanks. I read a lot over the net. Now, i won't think of myself as a time wasting geek or something.

  2. Wow! Brick-and-mortor to click-and-mouse! Wah! Kya baath hain... maza aagaya padke...
    You seem to be talking so fluently about Print Media, Citizen Journalism and Bloggers... seem to have read quite good amount on that...
    Well, I do agree that the content that comes on the Blog is not edited by any editor or cross-verified by any team... Yet, it always is a very good supplement to the main stream news...

    And ofcourse, thanks for making us feel that we are not wasting time by reading your blog and commenting on it :)

  3. Blogging is a means of inspiration, expression and gratification in quick succession. Though it may lead to a negative reaction, one does not have to deal with rejection, which leads to a lot more dejection. God... I now have an addiction to write more tions. Let us see the level of your toleration. After great consideration, consultation and discussion, I have come to the conclusion that the Matriculation Examination is a great botheration to the Hindu Nation, whose Citizens seek for a position in the Railway Station with ticket collection as their occupation. (Memories of my typing class which was incidentally before my Matriculation. [;)] )

  4. Well Srini, blogging is as much about reading as it is about writing. Every time I read a nice blog, I end up feeling good about human intellect and ability for that emotional connect. Blogging is nothing but thinking aloud. The less one tries to edit, beautify, cosmetize the content while blogging, the more beautifully the blog would shine.

  5. And oh yea, blogging is a terrific way of learning and sharing knowledge


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THANK YOU: These reflections draw sometimes from readers and friends who initiate ideas, build up discussions, post comments and mention interesting links, some online and some over a cup of coffee or during a riverside walk. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this blog are the blogger's personal opinions and made in his individual capacity, sometimes have a story-type approach, mixing facts with imagination and should not be construed as arising from a professional position or a counselling intention.