Delhi Bloggers Meet with BBC World Radio May’2006

This event took place exactly 4 years ago, in May’2006 when I had completed one year of blog. By sheer work of fate BBC World had reached out to me to talk about the use of internet amongst Indian youth. Back then there was no social media, blogging was the only cool thing. I organized a Delhi Bloggers Meet for BBC. Below is the account of how I felt after the event was over. I am just republishing it today with some typo fixes.

The team with me in the center

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Survey by TCS shows urban school children in India are well versed in New Media

This particular survey done by Tata Consultancy Services shows that  “The Web 2.0 Generation are digital natives, with high technology savvy, global in terms of aspirations and outlook as well as being increasingly optimistic about India’s economic future.” The survey is one of the largest conducted amongst youth in India covering 14000 students from schools across 12 Urban cities.

Some of the highlights of the survey:

  • 63% of urban students spend over an hour online daily
  • 93% are aware of social networking
  • Orkut and Facebook are most popular online destinations
  • 46% use online sources to access news; TV, Newspaper users at 25%
  • 62% have a personal computer at home
  • 1 in 4 students own lap-tops in metros; 2 of 3 own music players
  • IT and engineering remain overwhelming popular career choices
  • Media & Entertainment, Travel and Tourism are emerging careers
  • USA, UK top list of international destinations for higher studies

The results make me very happy and give me new ideas for the Blogging Outreach Project. When I got inspired to do the blogging outreach 3 years back the new media scene was lot different, now a lot of things have changed. Most importantly internet has entered many more urban houses in the last few years.

Today, so many children are being well versed with new media, tomorrow they can use the medium of blogs, photo/audio blogs to spread information at a far greater speed than it is traveling now. Information is still not traveling at the speed in which it should, and is still restricted to a certain class / group of people. The real India, the villages are still not on the global map.

Each village needs a blogging center which would be manned by an army of citizen journalists, who would gather information and publish it directly to the world wide web, so that information reaches in real time to the largest audience without bias.

So much work to do.

Read more about the survey here.

Queer Pride India 2009: Celebrations in all major cities

Greetings from the land of the Sinful Kamasutra’ said Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil while opening the Euro pride 2008 at Stockholm. (Video) But who is he?

He was one of the few Indians to be invited to the Oprah Winfrey show, was one of the candidates for Time Magazine’s World Top 100 Most influential People list in 2007, have been quoted and interviewed by respected magazines and news dailies from all over the world; he is one of the most prominent face in LGBT rights activism and HIV awareness activity; he hosts an annual cultural festival at his palace for homosexual artists to celebrate their talent and their being, yet he is someone who is hardly talked about on Indian mainstream media. A convenient silence, deafness and blindness prevail on us when it comes to homosexuality – but not any more.

I wrote about Prince Manvendra Singh on this space exactly a year ago on my post ‘Its time to stand up and stand tall’ where I said “only when the number of people identifying themselves as queer is large enough and the faces known enough will the society realize it is not something so unnatural after all. And this responsibility lies with LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people themselves to come out of their closet and be confident of their sexuality. It’s time to stand up and stand tall.”

And they did. In just one year the queer movement in India has grown by leaps and bounds. There are more popular culture celebrities who now openly support homosexuality, most vocal of them being Celina Jaitly who have called out for gay rights in India in her blog on Times of India. The last year or so saw movies like ‘Partner’, ‘Dostana’ which had both explicit and implicit homo-eroticism and gay rights advocacy. While our cinema and advertisement have always had depiction of male homosexuality albeit in a funny and derogatory manner, we have been terribly silent over female homosexuality. This also changed (very insignificantly) in the recent past, a certain Virgin Mobile TV commercial is the case in point, where a girl tells her father that she is not interested in going out with this boy from her class. The father gets all worried thinking she might turn out to be a lesbian and insisted she goes out with boys more.

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Bangalore Bloggers Meet with RK Mishra and Ashwin Mahesh (cancelled)

[This is the new thing I am doing]

An important update on this. The meeting is cancelled because there were only 8 confirmed bloggers for the meet, and the ABIDE team wasn’t interested in meeting such a small group. I don’t blame them, after all Mr. Mishra and Mahesh are really busy people. That also makes me realize what a shame it is that they are all so fond of cribbing but no one wants give up their Sunday morning for something really constructive. 

Anyway the Blogaloreans are now focussed on organizing a Free Hug Campaign on V-Day to defy Mr. Muthalik in his anti humanity attempts. Follow the discussion here :)

We, the Bangalore Bloggers have a great opportunity to participate in the planning and development process of our favourite city, Bengaluru.
 
Many of you might have already heard of Bengaluru Vedike. It’s an initiative by Member of Parliament – Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar. A platform for public-spirited citizens of Bengaluru, aimed at making a difference to the future of Bengaluru by engaging all its stakeholders to a vision of clean, green, safe and progressive city.
 
One of their initiative is ABIDE Plan Bengaluru 2020 under which the team have recently launched four action plans and blueprints in the areas of (1) Govern Bangalore, 2) Road Traffic Management 3) Urban Poor 4) Security [More details on ABIDE page]
 
Lead India winner Mr. RK Mishra (who is also a blogger btw) and India Together’s Co-founder, Mapunity founder Mr. Ashwin Mahesh, who are also members of ABIDE, have co-authored the action plan related to Road Traffic Mangament. They have expressed their willingness to meet the Bangalore Bloggers to obtain their feedback / review of the Plans.
 
Their aim is to get every Bangalorean to review these plans and add their feedback or add any specific concerns that might have been missed out and there is no better way to reach out but through the bloggers. You could give your reviews / feedback / bricks / bouquets about the plans on your personal blogs which could be featured on the Vedike home page. (Terms and Conditions apply. Would be decided post the meeting)
 
ABIDE team have offered to provide for the venue and lunch.  
 
So here are the final details, Please leave your contact details in the comments section below or reply to this email thread that is running on Blogalorean’s google group, or to blogaloreans@gmail.com to confirm your participation. 
 
Event: Bangalore Bloggers Meet with ABIDE Plan Bengaluru 2020
Date: Sunday, 8th February 2009
Time: 10 am to 1 pm
 
Agenda:
10 am to 10.30 am – Question & Answer sessions on “who, what, why of Bengaluru Vedike and ABIDE”
10.30 am to 11.30 pm – Presentation on the plan. 
11.30 to 1 pm: Discussion about the Plans
1pm to 1.30: Lunch

 
Venue: Koramangala Club
Participation: Free but with prior intimation to the contact person below.
 
Contact Person:
Sanjukta 9900119681

Please note this is not a formal conference or seminar, this a bloggers meet organized in the true free spirit of blogging.

Crossposted on Blogaloreans

One perfect example of elitism

In my previous post besides pointing out the fact that Bloggers are making an unnecessary hue and cry over this Kunte v. Dutt issue, I also brought my reader’s attention to a particular angst I have against a culture of elitism in Indian social media. I have had this for quite some time. But never thought of writing about it. As more and more professional journalists start to blog this elitism is taking new dimensions.

A certain blogger friend constantly lives in denial of the existence of any such culture or any such elite blogger. I told him today, that as much as he wants to deny there is a certain amount of elitism that prevails in the Indian Blogsphere. While he by no means is someone who practices elitism, technically he is an elite blogger. I will explain how some other time. Will write a detailed post about it complete with the behavioral pattern and the symptoms of it. For now here is a classic example.

See this post entitled ‘Holding NDTV accountable‘ on Desipundit, a collaborative blog run by some of the premium bloggers of the country. Anybody who has heard of the word blogging must have also heard of Desipundit.

Do you see anything odd in the post? Any particular behavior singling out just one person? Any particular treatment meted out to only one blogger in that entire post? No? Check again.

Every single person who have been linked on that post have been addressed either by his/her first name or both first and last name or blog name except me. The post doesn’t take my name. For eg, Pragmatic, Mridul Khullar, Chandni etc are there, but if you’ll scroll down to the end of the post you’ll see my previous post have been linked by the words ‘a section’.

Do you not think it is odd? Unfair? Does it not imply that the name Sanjukta Basu has no relevance? This is called elitism. Other people who have been linked are all respectable bloggers with certain amount of credibility in the eyes of the author Patrix, so he has no hesitation in taking their name. While he is at the topic he did link to my post as well but by not taking my name he is being dismissive about my identity.

This same Mr. Patrix also made a comment about me on another blog on the Kunte v. Dutt issue, and I’ll quote him,

Sadly, education sometimes makes no difference to an individual’s intellect. I wish the blogger at least wrote better English.

Someone who has never read my blog and who obviously doesn’t know me at all could so easily judge that my education has not made any difference to my intellect. Such self acquired jurisdiction and credibility to judge other people’s intelligence based upon insufficient fact is elitism. Probably he thinks so highly of himself that any body digressing from his point of view has to be a moron.

I know Mr. Patrix is also on Twitter. I decided to have a direct conversation with him and ask him how could he make that judgment. But the thing about elite bloggers is that they never face you directly unless they think you are worthy of a conversation. “Hum chote logo ke muh nahi lagte types.” (We don’t deal with smaller people)

I sent him @patrix messages once, twice. I left messages for him on comment threads on various blogs asking him to face me on twitter but he never responded. Perhaps he realized, it is not easy to face the person you criticize.

I have been around this blogsphere long enough, and I know my followers would vouch for my education, intellect and honesty or lack of any of it, but he was too quick to judge. Alas.

[Note the words I have tagged this post with and let me know if you can read in between the lines]

Blogalorean’s Meet 12th April 08

The Blogaloreans are meeting again. This Saturday, 12th April 08. On agenda this time is something beyond blogging, an attempt to know our favourite city, Bangalore, how? See below.

Venue: Bangalore Traffic Police Park on St. Marks Road.

So why this venue?

Simple reason – Not everybody knew about the park, as a Bangalorean we all should, and now we do. The park is described thus on the Bangalore Traffic Police’s website “This traffic park has a facility to train citizens and students in road safety and traffic rules.” So you know, may be it would be a good idea to visit the place and find out what are our traffic administrators are upto, something worth blogging about may be?

Time: 4 pm onwards

Agenda:

  • To ask and answer all possible questions on Blogathon India April 2008
  • To revisit the concept of Blogathon
  • To brainstorm on how we can make it bigger and better and how to reach out to more non bloggers.
  • To strategise our participation, role and responsibility in the BCB6

Please blog about it. Please mark your attendance in the comments section.

Future of New Media

The writer’s strike might end by Sunday. A bright future of new media ahead. Apparently, the new tentative agreement assures writers that it “protects a future in which the Internet becomes the primary means of both content creation and delivery.” That’s a major victory for new media stake holders. The end of the strike will also bring relief to thousands of workers and support businesses idled by the strike.

In the new contract the heads under which new media / internet content is being recognized and paid for are as follows:

  • Creators of original new media material
  • Internet Residuals
  • The Writing for Made-for New Media
  • Reuse in New Media
  • Download Rentals
  • Download Sales (Electronic Sell-Through)

And many more. Source: Hollywood Today

For those of you who don’t know which strike I am talking about read the following post I originally wrote for another blog on 19 Dec 2008

——————-

The Writer’s Guild of America is on strike. Hollywood is in trouble. The strike is against AMPTP, a trade organisation that represents the interests of American film and television producers. Over 12,000 members of WGA are on strike. The writers wouldn’t write any new script or screenplay, won’t modify the existing ones, its an absolute pen down.

Now this news is extremely significant for new media / web2.0 stake holders. Why?

Because, of the many conflicting issues, one pertinent issue is the compensation for ‘new media’ content written for (and/or distributed through) emerging digital technology. AMPTP is not ready to give the writers any percentage on new media content namely, through delivery channels such as Internet downloads, IPTV, streaming, smart phone programming, straight-to-Internet content, and other “on-demand” online distribution methods, along with video on demand on cable and satellite television.

A lot of speculations over the bright future of new media have already been taking rounds over the past couple of years. The buzz is huge, money is enormous, possibilities are endless, User is the King, open source is justice. But I think the writer’s strike, by far, is an issue with the greatest implications ever on future of new media. Questions both AMPTP and WGA pondering upon being “what is the future of new media, how far is it going to go, what revenue it might yield in next 3 years.”

AMPTP contends ‘there is no money in new media’. Is it? I thought there is just no end to money in new media.

Nora Cletter writes,

As it stands on television, WGA members get 2.5 percent of a film or television series gross revenue. That means for every buck networks make in ad revenues on television, writers get 2.5 cents. Networks also collect ad revenues for episodes they air online. Of that revenue writers see exactly zero, zilch, nada. The AMPTP insists that they shouldn’t have to pay writers because the online episodes serve as “promotional material.” They also insist that there isn’t enough money in new media to pay writers what they make on television, and they’re right, there isn’t … yet.

However, in the not too distant future, television and the Internet will merge and new media will become the dominant media. Where media conglomerates stand will make billions off this merger, writers will lose their shirts. Without a percentage deal in place that guarantees writers will continue to receive their 2.5 percent of revenue, the AMPTP will have no obligation to pay writers any residuals.

The only formula for new media that makes sense is one based on revenues where if they make money, we make money — that’s what we’re proposing. If, as they claim, there really is no money in new media, we can do the math; 2.5 percent of zero is zero. So why can’t we just take $250 per episode now and renegotiate when this fateful merger occurs, so you can get back to watching “The Office”? Because the AMPTP doesn’t play nice.

While Googling more about this issue I came across an article by Froma Harrop where he / she has highly criticized the business intentions of the founders of Huffington Post, a popular liberal blog written by Hollywood fellas. The article exposes how few people are making money out of the blog which is being written by 100 others who are not being paid for the content.

This is an issue about which I too have pondered some time or the other. The question is when a blogger creates a content who should have the right to make money out of that content, the blogger or the platform where he blogged. Where a blog is a collaborative blog who all would get copyright over the content, how will you decide the share?

Throwing more light upon the strike and new media connection is this series of interesting debate published last week, under the opinion section on L.A. Times weekly “dust up” feature, between writer-producer Craig Mazin (representing WAG) and web entrepreneur Matt Edelman (representing AMPTP). On Thursday they debated upon questions like, “What will new media look like in five years? Will writers and producers have to negotiate every time technology changes?”

Matt says,

We’re barely five minutes into the digital media marketplace movie. So much will change in the next three years. Every supposition being made by the studios and the writers about where their revenue will be generated will be challenged, and most will yield as many surprises as classic films such as “The Sting” (or, for TV fans, like the good seasons of “24″).

Technology is advancing at a staggering rate. High-definition video soon will be more efficiently delivered via broadband than any other distribution platform…

The question really should be, how far into the future will this vision become a reality? Three years? Five years? Ten years?

So why all the fuss right now?

…they (writers) are fighting over relative peanuts compared with what will come out of even a slightly better DVD deal. Home video, as increasingly represented by video-on-demand and other subscription services in addition to rentals, will remain a much more lucrative business for the studios (and therefore the writers) than the Internet in the near term.

To which Craig replies,

Getting a fair rate on Internet distribution isn’t about avenging the bad home video deal. It’s about not repeating it. You suggest that attempting to figure out the future of the Internet is akin to palmistry.

It’s not. Here’s how this works.

From now until the end of time, any work distributed over the platform known as “the Internet” (defined as the worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data by packet switching using the standard Internet protocol) should be subject to a fair and decent residual rate for the artists who make those works possible.

I don’t need to concern myself with your idea of ratios of Internet revenue to total revenue, because I have this nifty bit of advanced mathematical technology called “the percentage.” If you make very little money, so will I. If you make a lot of money, so will I.

Simple as that.

In another debate, Matt said,

“The future of new media is that it will be mainstream media….Between now and the time of the tipping point that represents the arrival of that future, the economics of the entertainment business will remain in dramatic flux.”

That, I think is the whole crux. We don’t know what the future of new media holds for us. A friend, the other day said, new media wouldn’t be there in the future at all. I don’t understand economics. But I would be interested hear from some one who does.