This meet was a much looked forward to affair because of the sudden interest of Julian, the producer of the BBC World Service Technology programme Digital Planet, Gareth who is the presenter of the same show and Bill, one of Britain’s leading authorities on blogging and net activism; in the affairs of us delhi bloggers, so as to assess the extent of net activity in India, how it differs from other places and to record a special edition of the programme just about this splendid country. To quote them, they were trying to find answers to questions like “Do you have a particular view on the use or effectiveness of your blogs? What do you think about the use of IT in India or its potential? The country is often seen as being in the grip of a technological boom, is this the case from your experience?”
The meet was held at India habitat centre, (a venue which I think is suitable for brainstorming and cultural stuff) on 6th May. Somehow a pub doesn’t seem like the right place for such things though I realise that for a lot of people, perhaps, their brain starts working when they have some alcohol numbing it :p. I reached the venue when I thought the discussion would have gained appropriate momentum. In other words, I wasn’t there from the beginning. I introduced myself to the trio and then met around with a couple of old timers while the discussion was ongoing in full swing with about 30 people. People had already given Bill, Julian and Gareth (though mostly Bill) an idea about the kind of net activities we have here like business networking (ryze), caferati, live blogging after the Tsunami, the IIPM episode etc. We went on to talk about the indexing in the desi blogworld, ongoing plagiarism in blogworld and otherwise, tech blogging (here Julian and Gareth were admittedly thoroughly bored of geeky stuff), news blogging, link blogging, revenue generation through blogs etc. I pitched in with some things about the blank noise project as a response to how blogging can make a difference. There were other means of course, for eg. live updates during Rita, Katriina, mumbai floods and blogging for social causes etc. There were also some discussions about the legal aspect of plagiarism in the blog world, how we (delhi bloggers) are trying to “make a difference” or trying to “bring about a change”. The scope of that “change” could mean different things to different peope – it could be personal growth, indulging in ones hobbies with fellow enthusiasts, honing ones writing skills, indulging in networking, rooting for social causes or getting instant help in case of emergencies. In that context that change or growth has been happening from day one. To a question put up by Bill, asking everyone if we, as a community, were growing and yet moderating ourselves, enough, to “make a difference” – I replied in the affirmative and added the above mentioned thought. I also added, that now “differences which are visible” are also beginning to happen. It’s interesting to note that not only is the community (slowly but surely evolving) but the whole aspect of blogging and how intertwined it is getting with our day to day life – is also evolving.
We eventually had Julian and Gareth record the radio show they wanted. They chose some intriguing observations they had come across in the evening. So they interviewed some people – a blogger who’s an IIT-ian and quit his job to take up blogging full time since he makes more revenue than he would in an MNC (that’s *so* unheard of), a blogger who’s organising an online reality show where a person travels on a modest budget and blogs about it as (s)he does, a blogger who’s part of a community blog – bribe Delhi which has been featured on NDTV as well and then from some aspect of how/when it all started and some stuff about Blank noise – yours truly was also chatted up with. It didn’t feel like an “interview”. Much after the recording got over, we were still in that mode, with Gareth asking me if I had ever imagined some years back that so many things would happen with this community or about blogging in general, how it has grown, changed etc. He also asked me how things were in other metros, whether people were as active there, if there were similar “communities” or “individual islands“.
They all wanted to explore Nehru place for some reason where I guess they got fascinated with an open market (mandi more like) for all kind of hardware. They also told us about their not so great experience in trying to interview some folks there. I emphasised on the fact that they should surely write a travelogue about India (not just because of the British background but also the interesting experiences) because people who aren’t from that place would always notice things that the insiders would probably feel normal about. The 3 most outstanding things in this category being, the way people drive around, the cows minding their own bovine business on roads and the heat (not that we can’t notice the heat. It is anything but ignored.)
By this time, most people had left, some had retired to Eatopia after which they proceded to All American Diner and then Turquoise cottage. I tried to individually meet the remaining members, which is something that happens in every meet but barely happened in this one. Some of us exchanged business cards with the trio. I explained why I wasn’t joining them in the pub, since I had a party to attend in Gurgaon. I described Gurgaon and Gareth showed signs of recognition because they had been exploring the malls the day before. Overall a very very interesting experience and I surely look forward to more such happenings.