Blogcamp Mumbai at Mood-I 2010

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 20, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I attended my second blogcamp today. Both have been in the School of Management building in the IIT-B campus. I reached here super-early and so managed to catch up on some of my reading (Ruskin Bond’s The Book of Nature). There seemed to be a strong creative vibe in the camp – especially with speakers on reviewing movies, doodling and fiction or with people who meddled in them. Hence, overall I enjoyed the whole experience.

The morning began with a session by Meeta Kabra, who wrote movie reviews on Wogma.com. Meeta began with sympathizing with today’s creators for receiving one word reactions for their work. She said reviewers must take the effort to provide constructive criticism of the work so that there is a possibility for the creators to learn and improve. The audience thought that maybe not everyone would understand the nuisances of cinema (Meeta reviews films) to provide such criticism and hence the restricted reactions. Meeta then asked for advice on how to handle abusive commenters. The general consensus seems to be that these be not posted at all. Some schools of thought believed that these comments may not be removed but should not be answered. Certain comment moderation was encouraged through various tools by the attendees.

The second session of the morning was done by Harpreet Singh on sketching experiences. He blogs at sketchingexperiences.me. He started off with his aim to get at least 5 members of the audience into sketching by the end of his talk. He was of the opinion that diagrams and drawings were catching the eye of people in this era of information overload. These were simple and easy to understand in a single glimpse as against reading pages of text on some topic. I am not overtly enthusiastic of diagrams but do believe that it has its usefulness.

The next session of the day was by John P. Matthew who writes a personal blog. From an end of the day perspective, John’s session seemed to be presenting ideas that didn’t seem to sit well with the audience. He began by speaking about Google PageRanks and blog monetization to an extent. He then spoke of his experience of using the blog for activism and having used his blog to make money and also make good friends. His school of thought urged people to take blogging as a serious activity and blog at a daily pace. This pushed some of the members of the audience to ask the question of quality suffering because of quantity. The result seem to be mixed with people calling for differing rates of blog posts. I, personally do not set any particular target for the number of blog posts per day. That’s just too much discipline for me.

The next session by Tarun Chandel, now a photoblogger, seemed to contrast well with John’s session before. His talk basically asked the blogger to begin the blog for a purpose. He stressed that by “walking that extra mile” while writing a blog post or posting a picture or the cartoon/diagram makes a difference. He believes that having a good workflow, a well thought out structure works better for the blogger. He says these are worth the time and the effort because one adds his name to the blog post. Commenting on the trend of multiple platforms available for content, he suggested their wise use.

I particularly enjoyed Tarun’s talk because it seemed like a return to the roots in this time of confusion in the world of media today. I was also meeting Tarun for the first time after the last blogcamp, which is when I last met him.

The next session, post a small drinks break was by Srinivas, a travel blogger on #SrinionTour. Srinivas has the idea of going around South India on a shoestring budget of Indian Rupee ₹10,000. He hopes to visit 19 locations in 15 days. He hopes to create a buzz around his trip by using social media. I am guessing it is do-able and connectivity is improving in South India. Srinivas’ trip would be the real test, of course. I have started following him both on twitter and on his blog.

Sonesh Prakash spoke next on his comic strip. Oddly enough he used Facebook Notes for the same. This is odd to me because I differentiate between a blog and a social network. He is the creator of the comic strip that has two characters – SoBo chick and Suburban guy and uses them to generate a comic strip to comment on various issues. He demoed two tools – StripCreator and Pixton. Interestingly, he then moved on to his trips to Sikkim and Kerala and shared pics from there. He came across as a very curious person to me, in a rather good way.

The next session was by Aniket who blogs at flashfiction.in. He began by talking of how he began a multiple author website on writing fiction, short stories and poetry. He clarified for me the idea behind syllables in poetry. He further spoke about how he started his multiple author website and some of the friendships he has made through blogging. He seems to be talented with his voice as well as he was asked to introduce in multiple voices!

The next session was by Sampath Iyengar who is a corporate blogger. His session was built on a series of questions to the blogging community. The answers he received urged him to separate the corporate and personal identity blogs. He was urged to use plugins to pull content from blog to Facebook. Tarun, answering his question expanded on his comment on wise use of platforms. He suggested that social websites like Facebook are liable to change as was the case with Orkut and there was also an unclear copyright protection problem while using such platforms. Whereas, on your hosted server, the content remained with you, by and large.

Harish Iyer spoke next on using blogging to encourage activism. He worked primarily in the area of raising awareness about sexuality and child sex abuse, having been subjected to the same himself. He is openly gay and has spoken about these issues in open fora. He states that his humorous attitude towards this has helped him handle society’s reactions to his sexual preference while also being able to talk about such a taboo subject. He also allows Chandini the use of his blog to connect people with the resources with the people in need. I am a little bit confused since she also seems to have her own posterous for this.  She also spams (forwards emails but she uses spam as  a smaller word for this) people to get this done.

Manoj was the last speaker of the day. He spoke of how he got into blogging after being bored by the assignments offered by media houses. He also talked about his experience of going around the country during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections raising awareness about social causes and the various NGOs working for them. His latest effort is called Canary Trap, where he hopes to provide access to documents which are only stated in the media but one never gets to see in print.

After lunch, Moksh Juneja opened the floor for discussion on the monetization of blogs and some of the “ethical” practices that could be used for such monetization. The question was whether or not to provide a realistic review of a product/book/anything if paid. The consensus seems to be to ask upfront the type of request the company providing such an offer is making. Some members of the audience also thought a disclaimer would help decision making. Moksh managed to put me in a delicate spot by asking why it was so difficult to get a Wikipedian to create content for money. To me, it seemed odd that people would pay money to people when they could edit it themselves and also the fact that Wikipedia patrol would quite easily catch such instances. All I could manage was something on Wikipedia edit principles and to answer “no” when he asked whether I would edit an article if provided with all resources required to make a Wikipedia article (note: this would not make it a good Wikipedia article). The conversation then veered towards the blurring lines between journalism and blogging. Members of the audience shared pointers on how to select content in an era of perceived mis-trust in main stream media.

I was not able to live-tweet the event after a point because of both lazy battery charge and poor network availability. My thank you to the organizers for putting up a great event!

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