Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wikipedia discredited once again
For all those people who think wikipedia is truth, nothing but the truth, here's an eye-opener for you. Wikipedia, it turns out, is just another version of blogs which specialise in spreading lies and self serving smut. It also reinforces the need for taking precaution while mining information from the Net. Always refer to multiple sources to get the truth if you don't like to end up looking silly in front of the world, especially when you are launching a vendetta against someone by citing Wikipedia. All the best.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A can of worms@DBM

Of all the dirt that has been hurled at me following my exposure of the blogospheric hatred for MSM and unveiling of the four self-styled gatekeepers of the Delhi Blog scene, I find the allegations of personal vendetta and twisting of facts (and even lying) quite amusing and hilarious. They were so absurd that at one point, I even toyed with the idea of revealing some much more damaging worms in the bloggers' can which I uncovered at the DBM. But being a normal human being not trained in the bloggers ideology of "this is my place on the web. I can goddamn write anything, truth or fabrications," better sense prevailed and I let them shout all over the town of thier manufactured innocence or my nefarious motives. If I were to follow the blogger's way, I could have podcasted the recorded conversations, published thier photos taken at the DBM and finish off the wave of countercharges against me. I didn't resort to that option, nor do I intend to do it for the simple reason that it would be seen like I am pursuing personal vendetta and stooping down to the levels of bloggers who have scant respect for privacy and thought nothing of splashing my photograph, phone number and private email message for the world to see. But then, it is utopian to expect bloggers to understand an abstract concept like ethics. And I was told blogs, by the way, are not frigging newspaper on the pain of losing my manhood (thanks to Tarun). It seems bloggers are not bound by human laws.
On the brighter side, nowadays, If I need to take a break from my arduous routine, I just read Vulturo and Tarun's blog and follow the links from there. They never fail to give me a comical relief in my hurried life dictated by deadlines. It's a irony that the same people who trashed the Indibloggies awards at DBM are now instituting prizes awarded among themselves on kinship basis and thanking each other profusely. That legendary line of Tarun's -- "We are the elite bloggers" instantly came to my mind in all its cracking clarity. All these have failed to shock me as I have become quite inured to the strange ways of bloggers. Instead they have served as a reminder of the fact that how fertile and vicious can human imagination get when it comes to defending thier honour and skin. Life has to move on. You leave some things behind and look forward to new horizons, in my case mostly deadlines.
Having said that, it would be remiss on my part to ignore some of the points that have been raised by some of you. For instance, why did I consider it important to mount a sting operation on four people who were just having some gossip over a cup of coffee? What has it achieved? Was misappropriation of taxpayers' money involved?
I think the primary objective of my reportage has been sufficiently explained in my previous post (it's another matter that many don't have the wits or are unwilling to understand it).
First of all, I don't subscribe to the view that only financial scams should be the focus of journalists. I doubt many people would read a newspaper whose pages are filled with only details of shady financial deals. Speaking for myself, I can't stand the news of Natwar Singh forever. Other than him, I also want to know about what Apple's next sexy gadget would be. I want to read about what Dan Brown is doing now as much as I want to follow the money trail of Abu Salem. Culture, arts, science -- things that advance human civilization -- are as important to a lay person like me as news of public money mismanagement.
What's sting operation anyway? A sting operation is necessary when somebody wants to find out something about the subjects who would have never revealed it to him if he were to indentify himself as a journo. Tarun, would you have said "We are the elite bloggers" if you had known that I was Ranjan Yumnam from DT, not James? Others would not have nodded in agreement either, nor would they have trashed Indibloggies Awards.
It also would have saved me the time to write this.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"Elite bloggers" exposed!!
Incestuous bickerings/commiserations follow...

This is not my first blog posting or my first newbie blog. I am as familiar, if not more than the self styled elite bloggers like Tarun and their ilk, with the terrain of the blogosphere, since I started using this medium many years back. In fact, I began my career in journalism reporting and writing columns for a portal. So it was quite amusing to read the barbs thrown at me following my DT story (below), implying I am a print journo who can’t stop envying the bloggers and their popularity. Sorry, I have not intended to use this post as a billboard to flaunt my long association with blog as a medium of expression, for that would make me culpable of committing the same misdemeanor of the online diarists at the 3rd Delhi annual bloggers meet, who considered themselves too important.

It would have been perfectly okay if Tarun and his pals were to organize some get-together by any other name, say 4 ramblers meet or even elite bloggers meet. But as a blogger, I have a problem, so would any self-respecting blogger, if a group of non-entities arrogate to themselves the authority to convene a bloggers meet that pretended to represent all us Delhi-based bloggers – 3rd Delhi Bloggers’ Meet. Too high-sounding words anyway. I wanted to expose that, and obviously in any undercover operation (MSM term, I am not sure how many non-journos would know that), the victims are not likely to be happy at the end. So it’s not surprising at all that they are resorting to distasteful name calling, filthy phrases and impulsive accusations, abetted by their like minded bloggers (I wonder why even the good ones feel obliged to pamper the pathetic ones).

Secondly, I stand by my story from the first word to the last. Tarun did say he was an elite blogger. But unlike the four musketeers, I don’t want to use abusive language to drive home the point, whether I am being sliced and fed to God knows whom. I happen to belong to one of those bloggers who believes in keeping public discourse well under civilized norms.

Third, I take strong exception to racist comments that cast aspersions over the competency of my community. How dare a Manipuri do it? Is that what you are thinking, Saket?

Fourth, some have dug out my past stories on technology and questioned its accuracy, citing Wikipedia as the bible of authoritativeness. While I agree that Wikipedia is a useful tool for those who know how to sift the truth out of free for all encyclopedia, I won’t swear by it like one clueless blogger did. To know more read this and as for the accuracy of my story, see this. (Saket unfortunately cited a self-serving para from the article in the Washington Post. A clear case of selective representation of facts).

Fifth, I abhor the herd mentality of most bloggers, which restricts their intellectual horizon. If one blogger says something, how blatantly wrong or pitiful, others will jumped in like cheerleaders. It’s one comfort zone, where everyone pets one another’s back.

Sixth, it’s ridiculous to compare MSM and the bloggers. Contrary to what many bloggers like to think in their quest to become an elite blogger, MSM doesn’t consider bloggers a threat. Some don’t even know they exist. Forget MSM guys, how many people in India know about it. Even if it ever gains a critical mass like as in the US, it’s likely to be controlled by MSM conglomerates. The medium may change but the people who gather news and disseminate the news/opinions will remain the same. Don’t believe it? Try listing some of the finest blogs you read and find out the background of their owners/bloggers. Majority of them would be either journalists or people related to media. The problem with Indian bloggers is that they model themselves too much after the mature US blog scene, warts and all.

Seventh, I am a blogger as well as a MSM journalist. This is not about MSM vs Blogosphere. Nor this is my rant against bloggers (remember I am a blogger too). The story I did was about exposing a group of people with big time pretensions.

Eighth, these are my personal opinions and don’t represent my employers’ views.
Some more points: In any undercover operation, a reporter would never reveal his identity. It's silly to expect for a reporter to reveal his identity, as some bloggers scream, for that would defeat the very purpose of the exercise.
The DT story didn't carry my byline as Page 1 had another story of mine. It was not an attempt to hide my identity. The anonymity also clearly proves I was not after 15 mins fame.
As for the suggestion that the whole issue stemmed from a technology story, someone is grossly overestimating and flattering himself. I know about it post DT story after a comment referred to it.

Update: The herd mentality is confirmed, and I don't see any point in commenting further. I stand vindicated. Thanks.

DT story that appeared on 9th November, 2005
Blogged down?

Despite tall claims, the city’s blogosphere is still inhabited by few, as the recently held Delhi Blogger Meet revealed...

Despite all the noise about the coming of age of the blogging phenomenon in India, the active blogging community in India is a shockingly tiny group, comprising mostly of journalists and IT professionals. Their preoccupation nevertheless continues to be slamming and analysing a very wide variety of things in an attempt to display their intellectual might.
If anything was in dispute, the 3rd annual Delhi bloggers meet just proved how big (or small) is the Indian blogosphere. Just four bloggers attended it, counting the host. ‘‘It’s a flop,’’ concluded Tarun Pall, the host. ‘‘I have booked the entire section of the restaurant,’’ he added, pointing at the empty sofas reserved for an army of bloggers that he had expected. Luckily for him, Saket, owner of a blog tracker, turned up and gave company to the lonely host.
Like Tarun, half of the Indian bloggers are IT professionals, while three-fourths of them live in the metros, according to a survey. As a result, the focus of the Indian bloggers is fairly limited. Their favourite pastime remains MSM (blog speak for mainstream media) bashing, often without caring to provide substantiations and taking cover behind free speech platitude. As Sajan Venniyoor wrote in a media watchdog site, ‘‘If blogs are to be taken seriously as an alternative medium, they should measure up to the standards of accountability and reliability of the mainstream media that the bloggers so deplore. When the IT Act 2000 comes into force, bloggers will face bigger challenges.’’
Indian bloggers are quickly realising that there are legal hurdles ahead, so they are beginning to tread cautiously. ‘‘We are in the process of forming an association in Mumbai for the protection of our rights,’’ revealed 24-year-old Saket, who works as a recruiter.
The Indian blogosphere has a long way to go before it even comes near to achieving the influence of the American bloggers, whom they emulate. We are yet to see the Instapundit of India or an Andrew Sullivan. And this is not lost on them. ‘‘We are the elite bloggers of India,’’ announced Tarun, as Aanchal and Neha, who showed up later, nodded in agreement. No one posed the question, at least not yet: When can we have our own Dan Rather moment, where bloggers forced a prominent US journalist to resign by proving that his stories were false?