‘Blogging’ an individual’s power, role and freedom when it comes to publishing a little piece of his mind in the web. His revolt against the fourth estate’s privilege, editor’s political monopoly, publisher’s economic convenience. Blogging a businessman’s platform to reach out to his customer, interact with them heart to heart, an artist’s platform to showcase his work, no more holding costly exhibitions, a non-techie’s answer to a software guy, “HTML isn’t the key dude, I have push button publishing”. Blogging an introvert’s paradise, an extrovert’s paradise too…coz he just can’t have enough of talking so is blogging, a loner’s ‘dear diary’, a community for net-workers….there is just no end to what you can do on a blog.
That was the summary of the write up I presented at the Seminar on “New Media Concept and Applications” conducted by Apeejay Institute of Mass Communications. (AIMC)
And here’s my detailed take on blogging…Read on….
There was a time when publishing a little piece of your mind and be heard by millions was a privilege shared by the members of the Fourth Estate the journalists. Try to think of it, the last time you wanted to express your point of view, no matter how insignificant that was, was the only way you could do that was by writing a ‘letter to the editor’? Half of the time the letters didn’t get publish and if at all it did, it so did only after fair amount of editing on his part. Not anymore. Now, if you want to express you have a way to make yourself heard virtually that is. You can now blog about anything and everything.
Online publication by an Individual in the form of a weblog, a phenomenon, which began in and around 1994, has since then rapidly grown and the number of blogs that are being published are increasing even as we speak. Blog a term derived from the traditional concept of weblog, which were originally web pages that were news based. The editors of a weblog presented links both to little-known corners of the web and to current news articles they feel are worthy of note. The links were accompanied by the editors personal commentary and point of view. The weblogs were acting as filters with the readers being presented with the most relevant news as according to the author of the weblog. Earlier it was mandatory for the author of an weblog to give a link to a content he was publishing.
1999 saw the coming of free software like blogger.com and pitas.com. These are service providers which gave a lot of freedom and options to the author of a weblog. These services which are basically a automated publishing software made publishing on the weblog much easier, free from any kind of restrictions and hassle. The filtering process and all sort of mandates was done away with. It is at this point of time that the term blog was coined. Simon Dumenco, a coloumnist on an online publication house, Adage.com says “There is no such thing as a blogger. Blogging is just writing — writing using a particularly efficient type of publishing technology”
In its simplest form a blog is “a frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links”.
Blogger.com defines a blog as “A blog is your easy-to-use web site, where you can quickly post thoughts, interact with people, and more”.
Pitas.com in its opening page says “Pitas.com is now offering free and easy to update pages with an easy-to-use web interface… you can have your own pitas page (with an url like yourname.pitas.com) that you can update from any web browser, without fussing around with uploading, editing pages, and all that time-wasting junk. You can customize it to look however you want, or use one of the templates we’ve made already, and you can give your friends access to it so you can all have a page you all contribute to….”
While presenting their blogging service rediff.com says’ “Publish your own thoughts anytime, participate in lively discussions and communities, make new friends.”
Comparison with Traditional Websites
Before internet came access to information was not as easy as it is now. With the advancement in internet technology a website or in lay man’s language a dot.com became a very familiar name. Corporate houses, Government department, individual entrepreneurs, NGOs, Publication houses, restaurant owners, they all started having their own websites. We all know how handy these websites became. Any thing you need anytime of the day you just need to have access to Internet. With the coming of the latest broad band Internet and the Internet through cable the websites are even more useful a source of information on anything under the sun. However, for an ordinary individual reaching out still remained a difficult task. Why?
First, Creating your own website is a costly affair. Second, it requires specific technical skills. You are required to buy webspace, and to create the site you need to take technical help of a software professional or may be you’d have to know HTML language, a language used to create a webpage. Blogging on the other hand is free and allows an individual, with absolutely no knowledge of HTML or any other computer language, to create his own personal webpage. Blogging is as simple as writing in a Microsoft word file. All you gotta do to make your writings be read by the whole world wide web is to click a button to upload the content and publish it. An individual can sit in a Rs. 10 per hour cyber café and start creating a blog. It’s as simple as opening an email account and starting composing and sending an email.
Thirdly, updating an website is a complicated and is never done on a regular basis. A blog, given it’s hassle free publications options is be regularly updated, almost daily or may be even twice or thrice a day depending upon the blogger’s time, interest and enthusiasm. I personally used to write almost daily when I started blogging although have now become irregular at it. But I still feel a sense of responsibility towards my readers so a regularity needs to be compulsorily maintained.
Blogs and Mainstream Media
A first hand report, a personal touch is what made the sting operations so favourite and popular. A blogging is like a sting operation. I can open up a blog under a false name just as I can create anonymous yahoo mail accounts. This anonymous blog can then contain first hand information on the rampant corruption in a public office, the inside story of an ordinary girl becoming Miss India, the original story teller of major bollywood success. I, the author of this anonymous blog could be anyone, could be a top level official at a public office, could be an insignificant spot boy in a movie set. To bring certain things to light I no longer need to approach an editor of some news papers or magazine, I no longer feel insecure about loosing my job or life for being the whistle blower.
News and facts presented or brought into light through blog has a unique personal touch of the author. This personal touch brings an amount of trust in the content. A well written blog is an intelligent mind talking. Regular readers would tend to form an opinion about the blogger and his credibility; accordingly they tend to believe or disbelieve in what the blogger have to say on a particular issue. This is mostly missing in a mainstream media as it is very well known that all news stories passes through the editor’s table where it is crucially scrutinized and politically edited. Mainstream media nowadays is becoming more and more a marketable product with the coming of yellow journalism. This have created the perfect backdrop for a blog with a journalistic approach.
There are classic examples of serious blogs in US and UK which are trusted more than the newspaper. One such blogger is Salem Pax the Baghdad Blogger.
MSM has a limited circulation and a blogger can reach out to the entire world population who are accessing internet. Of course writing necessarily doesn’t mean it is being read. The blogger also needs to put hard work in promoting his blog.
Blog as an Advertising tool
I used fair and lovely for the prescribed period, alas I didn’t become a single shade fairer. If I could catch hold the makers of fair and lovely by the collar and speak out right at his/her face, “Look here, your product doesn’t work” I would be so much happy. This is precisely the fun that makes a blog an effective advertising tool. If I am a maker of certain things say garments, or jewelry I can blog about it. My blog can contain my day to day adventour with my business, how I designed an excellent necklace and how I never wanted to sell it to anyone else, but had to give away coz I was offered an excellent rate. How I took a break and went backpacking to a nearby village and how I got inspired, looking at their traditional wear and make up, to create a fusion of modernity and tradition in my next line of clothing. If I am a service provider say a lawyer I can write my daily ups and downs in the court, how a client who came to seek divorce found a friend in me and how I got caught up between a friend who wants the home to stay and a lawyer whose only objective is to break.
The reader’s access to the bloggers mind and soul builds an amazing trust. The next time the readers need a designer and they have an option of going to 5 different designers all equally unknown to them, they will go to the one whose blog they have read and liked.
The reader also have an option of getting back to the blogger on an issue, has an option of leaving a comment on the blog, this comment again is a publication of that reader’s thoughts.
Blogs to showcase your creative writing skills
There is a poet hidden in all of us. Love, hate, dream, desires, failures they all make us write songs sweet and painful. Before blogging one had absolutely no option but to write the songs and poems in his/her diary and read it out to some close friends. I remember having written a love song when I was in school. I thought it was good and wanted to give it in my school magazine. Having fought enough with the inner soul I gathered enough courage to show it to the concerned teacher to be shortlisted for the magazine. She rejected it. And till date I think the only reason she rejected was coz she thought it was a bit too matured a love song for a school kid, we were supposed to write about “twinkle twinkle little star”. Now I can write anything and everything including erotica on my blog. There are thousands of such blog with excellent content. There are fiction writers, poets who are happy writing only on their blog, they are happy with the love and respect of their regular readers and don’t really want to get a real book published.
Many more options of blogs
There is just no end to the long list of purposes for which you can start a blog. Having started with one blog I now have about 7 blogs. Each for a different purpose. Though all of these are not updated regularly but I do update them whenever something relevant comes up. These days there blogs on topics ranging from News, current affairs, corruption, movies, music, food, creative writing, social awareness, fund raising, travel and tourism. We have blogs which are opened to keep an archive of the day to day activity of some online group of forum. Like the Delhi Blogger’s Meet is a blog which keeps an account of the events of the Yahoo group with the same name. I have started a blog and a yahoo group on the theme of backpacking. Lets go wanderers. Similarly we have the Caferati blog. We have blog being started only for a specific purpose say to announce a one-time event, as a call for all to join in some project. I had put up a post on one of my blog calling for a Protest March for Jessica Lal’s murder case. The comments section of a blog can also be used as an attendance register for a particular event.
Then we have blogs which are actually collections of other blogs. The authors of these blogs popularly known as blog tracker keeps a track of many popular blogs and features a certain post from some blog on their page with a line or two of his own point of view.
Finally and one of the most rapidly growing types, we have absolutely personal blogs. A blog which is just like an electronic diary. One can publish his or her thoughts with original name or anonymously. We all wanna a share our emotions. Some fear sharing it some don’t. A personal blog gives an option to express their thoughts and emotions.
The wikipedia lists these following 16 types of blogs
Moblog (mobile blogs)
My personal experience
I began blogging at a point of time when I had a lot to share with the world. I had begun to believe I lead a fascinating life and it would be so great to know me. Now, I am a person who is completely self obsessed but cannot actually talk about my own life in person. Could be some sort of strange psychology that on any given topic I can go on talking but ask about myself I would have difficulty expressing. Not that I don’t have anything to say but because I have so much to say that it becomes hard to sum up everything and speak. So I began writing down whatever I had to say. I realized there can be no better a listener than a face less reader who reads and perceives what I have written in his own way and if he has some queries he can get back to me at the comments section. Some body once asked me if I find the computer to be a good listener. I said “yes” because it does the job of taking my thoughts to my readers but doesn’t asks me questions. For most parts… I intend to say only that much which I have written on my blog. I don’t want people asking me questions about what I have written. Blogging works that way coz I don’t answer any unnecessary query on my comments section.
Right from my first post onwards I started getting compliments on my writing skill which gave me more and more confidence and enthusiasm. I started having readers who visited my blog regularly. Soon I started feeling responsible for putting up some post or the other so my readers won’t go back empty handed. Posting regularly became self-imposed duty. As the compliments greaw I also started believeing in my excellent writing skills. I joined a writers forum called caferati thus I started calling my self a creative writer, a poet.
Blog is perhaps the only media to show case your creativity with such ease and comfort and free of cost. Be it writing, photography, sculptor, pottery, painting, even cooking etc. You need not arrange an exhibition, you need not approach a publisher.
Having started the personal blog, ‘This is my truth’ purely for venting out my feelings and to keep a track on my eventful life I eventually started another blog where I started writing about stuffs that comes out more from my mind than from my heart and I called it ‘This is my mind’. The reason why I made a separate blog for mind is because as I became more accustomed to blogging I started using the blog URLs as my email signatures. Now I didn’t want my official mail to carry the URL to my personal blog so I separated the two.
In the blog “this is my mind” I write about my take on the current issues, my attempt to raise a social awareness, legal awareness, basically my point of view no matter how insignificant it is can now reach to millions. I plan to start up an NGO and I know I would be starting a blog by the name of the NGO to keep an online archive of the events and will go for a paid website only after couple of years of its working.
I also have a collaborative blog with a friend on which we talk about love and concern for our city Delhi. This blog is supposed to be a community blog for any delhi based blogger.
I also have a photo blog which are also called photolog. Again having a photolog doesn’t mean I am a great photographer but I still have it…that’s about blogging…anybody can.
Over all these days of blogging I have picked up on the art of getting traffic to your blog, you read other’s blog leave a comment with your blog URL, they come back and read your blog. I have joined blogger’s community, have made some nice friends. It has been a different experience altogether some thing I never perceived. When I started I didn’t know where I was heading now I feel this is the best that has happened to me.
The latest in blogging
Blogging is almost about to become a complete industry with its own jargon, blooging tools, blogging accessories, virtual exchange of gifts on Christmas amongst the bloggers, virtual blog marathon called blogathon, virtual blogging festival where posts and blogs are showcased in one host blog, we have awards for various categories of bloggers, blogs, posts etc. eg. Blogerati awards, we have a virtual share market for bloggers where you canyou’re your blog listed and then you can find out what’s the value of your blog, we have tools like hit counter, who is tagging me, who is online, etc. we have virtual banners carrying message which a blog can wear on World Aids day.
With google Ad Sense one can even make money from one’s blog.
We have ordinary guy next door like Gaurav Sabnis who became an over night hero amongst blogger all over the world. Apparently he was mentally harassed by a corporate house for having expressed his freedom of speech too freely, the ruckus ultimately made him leave his job all because he believed in the basic blogging ethic, freedom of speech. We have authors of India Uncut and Desi Pundit who have almost become celebrities in the blogsphere.
And this is just the beginning. India soon is going to see a revolution in blogging with more and more real life professional journalist giving up the traditional path of running around a busy editor, and starting a blog instead. These days we have the major dailies tracking the blogs and featuring them in their pages. Blogging in India is soon going to be a mature media.