Bloggers: Cult or Trend?

DQI Bureau
New Update

On September 9-10, 2006, in Chennai, over 200 bloggers from across the

country and few from abroad got together to what they called “unconference”.

Meaning meet in person to discuss, chit-chat, just do everything as you like but

just don't do it in the conventional way in which organized top-down

conference happens. That is exactly what was happening at BlogCamp

2006-anybody could speak, at any time, and from any corner of the meeting

hall, on any topic, without any apprehension, without any context or content, or

for that matter without any perspective. What was not difficult to observe was

that the entire BlogCamp looked like a camp of gypsies with all modern hi-fi,

wi-fi, sci-fi gadgets, thoroughly connected, endlessly engrossed in laptops,

blogging away each and every incident of the camp, live and through many Blog



Believably, there are about 40,000 Indian Blogs, and they can be categorized

as mostly “personal blogs”, and at best occasional “collaborative blogs”.

Most of the Indian blogs, or the blogs in general can be categorized as a medium

for personal outburst, expressions, ideas, likings, and experiences. Some of the

blogs do make money, and many of them have grown into a portal or portlet. It

has been learnt from the BlogCamp agenda that the topics of discussion were:

personal blogging, corporate blogging, collaborative blogging, multi-media

blogging, community blogging, and blogging for profit, professional blogging,

podcasting, video blogging, mobile blogging, and the likes. Blogging in

vernacular languages and the technical nuances of blogging were some of the

other areas that were touched by the blogging community.

It was also learnt that there is a very strong sense of belonging as far as

the bloggers are concerned; anybody coming from outside the blogging community

could pass through a rough weather before becoming an integrated part of the

blogging community. Although most of the bloggers who attended the BlogCamp came

from a very sound professional background, but none of them found to be showing

off their corporate or organizational identity. Their identity as far as the

BlogCamp and blogging community is concerned, is that of a blogger, what they

blog, who read their blog, how many hits do they get on their blog, who posted

the blog first about a certain event or happening, who has blogged the maximum

number of information, audio, video, photos; who would be getting better ranking

in search results, who gets maximum response/comments to their postings, so on

and so forth.

However, the claim to fame about blogging in India is “disaster blogging”,

especially when one looks at the bloggers proactiveness at the time of tsunami,

Mumbai flood/rains, bomb blasts, and so on. In fact, BlogCamp had a full session

on collaborative blogging where various cases of disaster blogging were

discussed. It was also discussed how various blogging initiatives by the media

companies have not been as successful as the natural and originally motivated

bloggings. In the recent times, almost all the major media houses like NDTV,

CNN-IBN, Business Standard, are trying out blog to tab the stories, and comments

from citizens. CNN-IBN has in fact gone ahead to even announce citizen

journalist awards.


Web and the Internet provide enormous opportunity to publish unlimited

material and in almost all format of communication, right from text, to audio,

video, and in multimedia. Incidentally, Web, the ultimate destination for blogs,

also cuts across medium of conversation, therefore podcast and video blogging

can truly make it reachable to technically illiterate and un-educated masses of


It must be noted that India, which is populated by more than one billion

people, is one of the poorest countries as far as its presence on the Web and

Internet is concerned. This is an absolute anti of its impression of being an IT

leader of the world. India has less than a lakh websites and even fewer in terms

of local languages. Realizing the fact that web is a universal medium of mass

access for the global village, the poverty of Indian-presence on the web is

directly proportional to its economic development or vice-versa. It won't be

wrong to say that better presence on the web would directly bring global

attention to the hinterland of India and its natural prowess. As a result, the

local economy would get empowered. In other words, blogs can expose the true

India and its strength globally, and the global attention will bring the world

economy to our localized India, strengthening the masses of India right at the

bottom of the country.

Look at these numbers in perspective, and the picture would be further clear.

India has about 40 mn Internet users, out of which 30 mn users access the

Internet from cyber-cafes. Why? Because seven million people subscribe to the

Internet, including those 1.5 mn broadband subscribers. More importantly, the

entire Internet access and content creation takes place through PC, which

requires not only adequate level of literacy and education but also efficiency

in PC usage. Incidentally, blogging and its seamless integration with audio and

video (podcasting) have made the possibility of mass level content creation,

that too from the last mile.


Interestingly, besides the community radio, blogging could be the biggest

opportunity for our country to showcase its unique strengths and use the medium

to produce large-scale contents of the areas, which have been neglected long

enough. Also, the Department of Information Technology under its NeGP (National

e-Governance Plan) has got the approval of the Union Cabinet to put in 100,000

Common Service Centers (CSCs) as access points for all the villages of the

country. Blogging could be very well integrated as one of the basic services for

the Village Level Entrepreneur (VLE) and for Service Center Agents (SCAs) to

incorporate in order to give a sneak preview of the activities going on at the

CSCs level. It would not be difficult as most the CSCs would have digital camera

and other such equipment and posting content on the blog won't be subjected to

whether the VLEs have writing skills or not. Podcasting and video-blogging can

fill in.

It would not be a bad idea for the blogging community to organize the next

BlogCamp in a remote area where the special invitees could be villagers, local

women, local folk musicians, local artists, local skilled labourers, artisans,

artists, village entrepreneurs, and ask all of them to share their assets and

make the blog themselves using podcast and video technologies.

Osama Manzar

The author is director of Digital Empowerment Foundation and chairman of Manthan
Award for Best e-Content in India