February 24, 2005

Resolution

As far as I am concerned the 'title-flicking' issue is over, but it also demonstrates what I find to be really irksome about the 'Indian blogosphere.' There is just way too much of self-congratulating and mutual back slapping for my liking and, as with bloggers everywhere else, there appears to be this constant need for the next big fix. Case in point is the 'title-flicking' fiasco, which could have been avoided, like Suresh had commented, with a little bit of effort. Instead, in our hurry to find the next Rohan Pinto, we end up having fiascoes like these. And the original post with the accusation still stands unchanged/un-updated.

Why I said their behaviour was reminiscent of a mob affected by a bad case of herd behaviour is because there does exist, in the Indian blogosphere, a chronic case of group think. In my point of view, the beauty of the personal publishing medium lies in the freedom it offers. A lot of that freedom on offer is lost by of our becoming nothing but echo chambers, repeating same thing is said over and over again, whereby you nullify any value that comes out of the conversation. Same is the case with concepts like blogmelas, which only serve to further push blogs to an activity for the chosen few by the chosen few.

February 23, 2005

Plagiarism?

Just saw the following comment on my post comparing NDTV Profit and CNBC-TV 18.

You flicked the title from my article. abhishrek.blogspot.com/2005/02/cnbc-tv18-till-i-die.html
Though not in the Rohan Pinto mould, I must admit. The post is original. But still, that was my original title.
Should I still keep you in my favorites?


Abhishek,

I am sorry that you feel that I've flicked you title, but I have not. I have never been to your blog even once before today and the title by itself is not something that at least 10 other people could have come up with. It does not take a doctorate in semantics to connect an old Bryan Adams song and the name of news channel together. It is nothing new, a lot of people make a living doing the same, they are called journalists.

For the love of God, bloggers (I've been one for way much longer than you have) would do themselves a great favour if they would stop pretending that they are the only ones who are capable of original thought in the world. Rohan Pinto, agreed, was a prick, but the way a large part of the 'Indian blogosphere' reacted was reminiscent of a mob affected by a bad case of herd behavior.

I just noticed on your blog you've said that I deleted your comment. For your kind information, assuming that the comment you are referring to is the one I have quoted above, nothing of the sort has been done. As for your question whether I should still be kept in your favourites, I did not get in that list with your permission, so you can take me off it as and when you please.

Here and loathing

Looks like everyone who ever wanted to be something of a mysterious intellectual is mourning the death of Hunter S. Thompson. The only time I ever got to watch Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, I was reminded of all the potheads I have known and the not-so-fond times that I have been with them while they were tripping. Maybe, like so many other things in my life, I probably would end up liking his work eventually. But for now, his essay Security is the only thing to have affected me. And how have I been affected.

February 21, 2005

CNBC -TV18 till I die!

Warning: If you are one of the users using Indiatimes Email who have reached this post through a forward that was sent from TV18online, please do not click on the link directly from within the email. There is a security flaw in their email system that grants access to your email account. You can see how it works by clicking here. It should take you to one of my test email ids there, which is not how it is meant to work. Next time you have to view a link in an email in your Indiatimes email id, copy paste it into your browser address bar.

While I do agree with Mediaah! that Vikram Chandra, Profit’s main man, is a disappointment, I don't agree with the rest of his assessment. NDTV really, really needs to pull up their socks with Profit if they want to stand any chance. CNBC -TV18 is miles ahead when it comes to production quality and news and getting a plum spot on the prime brand on cable networks should not be the lone measure of success for a channel.

Vikram Chandra as an anchor is to put it mildly, 'over animated.' His idea of engaging people is to flap his arms around like a young bird, which is learning to fly, while the other anchors look so detached and distant that you have to be reminded time and again that they are indeed there. The oft-heard cry of "not enough hands on deck" is not a valid excuse for the Profit crew, this is not Doordarshan, remember?

Interestingly, you might be forgiven for thinking that Profit would at least do news -- the one thing that NDTV is supposedly good at -- well. The truth could not be any different from the thought. The news ticker is replete with the most basic of journalistic mistakes, the selection of footage that is used in the half-hourly bulletins are badly cut/edited and miserable. Most of the times, the footage runs on for a couple of seconds even after the anchor is done with the voice over. Thankfully, they have started mixing in the audio from the clips now, instead of muting it out totally.

It is understandable for newly-launched news channels to have trouble in the production control room with their cues and switching between feeds. Star News, when it was launched, set the bar for the faux pas with regard to this, which Profit has lowered even further. The channel, even 35 days after its launch, still cannot get things right on that count. In half an hour of watching Profit, you'll get to see anchors gaping at the camera even after the live feed should have switched away from them, there are programmes that run without any intros or outros and live segments from abroad almost never seem to end.

Over the weekend, when I was watching Saturday Night Live and a handful of other 'outsourced' programmes on Profit, I was hit by a feeling of deja vu. I had a strong feeling that I had seen this concept somewhere before (on CNBC -TV18, no prizes for guessing that one) and even the garb in which I had seen it was very familiar. Looks like Profit has already given up on any attempt to look different. If you cannot beat them by doing something different, you might as well camouflage yourself as them! Sadly, for Profit, they can't quite clone Udayan Mukherjee to complete the attempted con job.

George W Yadav?

Weirdly, after a fair bit of thought, I am now more inclined to believe that the American president, George W Bush, is not dumb as what I had believed to be earlier. On the contrary, I believe now that he is the Laloo Prasad Yadav of the West -- someone who gets the message across to his core constituency, while giving two hoots to 'elitist, enlightened idiots' like us.

February 15, 2005

DaVinci Code & Broadband

The POTS line to my home has been thrown out and I am now connected to the web from there on a 64 Kbps SpectraSmart connection. As it is the case with every almost every so-called broadband connection in India, the only thing broad about it are the claims of being such a service. The good thing is that it offers me about 10 Kbps consistently and my data transfer has already topped 1.5 GB in just over two days and the sweetest spot is that I don't pay a dime over Rs. 600 for the service. So far it has been pretty okay, but I will wait a month at least before I give it any kind of a response.

The most obvious negative to the service is the fact that the connection does not come directly from Spectranet - the ISP who is providing the service. It reaches your home via the local service provider, who might be the MSO or a pure play cable Internet service provider. From what I could gather, the connections are made directly to a switch at the provider's headend, which is sitting on Spectranet's citywide fibre backbone. If you end up with a bad local service provider, which most of them are anyway, you would end up with horrible cabling, constant outages and blissfully ignorant tech support.

Ideally, this connection is meant to be used by people who spend a lot of hours online while not requiring a public IP address. The connection you are given is on a NAT enabled LAN and the accounting and session management framework is provided by Inventum Technologies. As far as I have tested it, most of the applications one would require - IM, email, gaming, browsing - works well out of the box and since the sessions are started and ended using just the web browser, there should be no OS-related issues.

Leaving the nightmares of the broadband kind behind, I can now not-so-gleefully inform you that I am one of the millions who have read the famous DaVinci Code and I just cannot help but wonder why the world+dog is going to town about the book. It is horribly written, the characters resemble clueless teenagers and if it was not for the mildly interesting plot, the only saving grace, the book would have been a total waste of time. Time and again, while reading the book, I was reminded how badly I missed the almost-obsessive detailing and masterful narration that was present in Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. This one can defiantly be given a miss.

February 14, 2005

Familiarity

On one hand I am needlessly and almost obsessively paranoid, while on the other I can be senselessly careless and flippant. Obviously, moderation and balance are not concepts that I am familiar with.

February 08, 2005

Of Love

One of the not-so-weird things about love is how its perception and importance changes over time. At 17, I had almost given sensibility a firm kick in its shins and was willing to go anywhere in its pursuit. It was the most awesome of highs, with rationality and practicality not even featuring as a speck in the rearview mirror.

At twenty three and the world was a massively different place. Disbelief had taken the place of belief, only hit and runs delivered the much-needed highs. And my doorstep was about the only place I was willing to in the pursuit of love.

Now, at twenty six, a portrait of the protagonist as a lover is still not a pretty picture. Passion is what I lack in a plenty, while I constantly overdose on rationalism and practicality. Not that I believe it to be something of a tragedy or a disaster, but it is something of a major deviation from the norm - difficult to understand and even more difficult to explain to others.

February 07, 2005

Content & Context

In an effort to deliver on the promise of increasing the scope of the writing here, I am posting a sanitised version of a note I had made on search, RSS and the effects. Bring 'em on!

The Early Glory Days



In the current/old scheme of things, being a well-known brand alone would take care of your reach/appeal and thus the information creator was king.

· The only info broker was the ISP, who connects you the information.
· People know portals, sitesand visit them; end of story.
We could call it guilt by association, but it worked.

Slave To Evolution



From its early days, the web has grown from being spread over just a few pages or websites.

· Be it weblogs, news sites or online communities, there is too much information out there clamoring for the surfers attention.

· Finding the information, making it relevant is where the money is. Enter Google News, Topix.Net, Findory etc.

· The future belongs not to the information creator, but to the one who organises, contextualises and delivers the information over what we can call as information gateways.

Evolution Deconstructed



People who control these information gateways (Google news, Yahoo News, Topix.Net) hold the key to our relevance on the web.

They do it by:

I want to read on Bhopal gas tragedy and I search first on Google.

Case a: People come to XYZ Newsite from the Google results page if we are ranked well.

Case b: People come to XYZ Newsite from the news search result on the Google search results page.

Case c: People come to XYZ Newsite from the ads on the news search results page.

Case d: A popular weblog or aggregation point (Metafilter, Slashdot etc) links to one such story from XYZ Newsite; more people, even those who do not know about us visit us.

Days of guilt by association are long gone; guilt by omnipresence is now the in thing.

Missing Evolution's Cluetrain



If we cannot be present in all the above stated cases, the following is what could happen:

· Lose out on being discovered by audiences other than our traditional ones.
· Risk becoming irrelevant because as we are absent at aggregation points.
· Lose out on being contextual to other, unrelated content.

Evolutionary Dichotomy




As a result of the evolution, the web as an audience has split into two major groups, who come looking for:

1) Generic content (commonly available, everyone has it type, primarily news oriented content) that would be driven by the aggregation portals.

2) Specialised content (content associated with a particular organization for its singular nature: ex: NYT, Time Magazine Features) that wont be found elsewhere, driving audiences directly to the websites.

Syndication Soup For The Soul



RSS and other forms of XML are increasingly becoming the chosen mode for data mark up aimed at syndication, content reuse and content repurposing.

Alarmed by the ways in which data thus provided was being transformed, the Digital Web Magazine recently asked, "Should we be concerned that aggregators are increasingly allowing users to find their own ways to use our content how they see fit?"

In a strange way, it is both a threat and an opportunity at the same time.

· With more people moving towards information aggregators and other means of accessing data, page views are bound to drop sooner or later.

· This would make the reliance on advertisements from these pages a dicey proposition for the future.

· This opportunity should be used to explore other means of advertising or for the occupation of spaces where the advertisers would be headed for.

· Content creation and distribution should be reorganized to reflect the dichotomy mentioned earlier.(less, but systematic and streamlined, effort should go into generic content, while more effort should go into the specialised one).

Parting Shot



We cannot know for sure which direction things would head for in the future.

It would be stupid, keeping that in mind, to either not move at all or to put all the eggs in just one basket.

In the least, any online entity should have at least a minimum presence in all the information gateways, if it is to stand any chance in the future.

February 04, 2005

Wilderness

Often, it is not the big picture that counts. In fact, for most of us ordinary mortals there is no big picture at all. The sweetness lies in the smaller frames, minor nuances that we miss out on. Without which we wander in the wilderness.