Nostalgia, FLS and Social Media pet peeves

So, I’m feeling nostalgic about my online content creation experience for two reasons. First: a couple of days ago, I met the guy who facilitated online content creation for me and had a long discussion on new media – what was, is and will be – apart from what almost everyone is doing wrong now. Second: I’ve been named Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ (as have you, I hope)…and I read this. If you’re reading this, consider youself tagged and do post about how you started creating content online.

March 2000, I chanced upon a small paragraph in Mid Day, about a youth community called freshlimesoda.com. I went, I saw, I thought it was all hype. A few months later, I revisited, this time posting anonymously as Alter Ego, and was hooked within a few days. I posted my first column there, apart from articles and, of course, my first short story. From then on, till the site shut down, I must have visited it at least every day (sometimes four-five times a day, at a cybercafe). Till date, no community has measured up in terms of intellectual stimulation, level of debate and fun.

I created my own website, and someone found it, liked it and wrote about it on a little known community at Khwab, which is where I was introduced to blogging. This wont work,blogging is too small, said the skeptic in me after I had registered my own blogspot blog (and revived later). I designed a new site in 2003 and included a blog, which soon became the only part of the site to be updated. And I was hooked on to blogging. Now, my latest online home(s) are blogs – here and here.

(Update: Can’t believe I forgot to mention Motif, which Jay and I, alongwith Rahul and Aakanksha ran for a year and a half. For a while there, I was in a zone, writing a story a fortnight…sometimes more. We struggled with it, but got a lot of support from the friends we had, and the friends we made. Eventually, the lack of a business model killed it, which is why I remain skeptical about Web 2.0. The business model needs to be in place before you seek traction…)

That takes me back to what I had discussed with Parmesh about recent developments in Social Media in India:

– No community, none at all, gives young people the respect they deserve. That ‘What’s hot, what’s not’ idiocy has just been transferred from offline to online. To quite an extent, that is what is pushing them to join social networking and blogs. On all other media, all that they get is patronization by marketers who have forgotten what it was like for them when they were teenagers. Parmesh was way ahead of his time with that idea. I think FLS used to get 30,000 hits a week in 2000-2001…

– Not many Indian social media sites focus on the users, which is the biggest marketing mistake possible. Most focus entirely on the product and copy-paste a successful international idea. Some think users can be bribed or enticed by offering money, or pushing their product in their face.

– Almost all Indian social media websites ignore the offline aspect of user experience…of being faciliatators. (Update: ) …unless they’re an event site.
I’m going to elaborate on all of these points one by one, with personal examples…possibly at ContentSutra if we think it fits the mandate.

Also, if you’re a Limer – Parmesh and I talked about a Freshlimesoda.com reunion for when I’m in Bombay next month (for this very promising conference). Leave a message/send me a mail/SMS or call me at +91-98103-10053, if you’re game.

Confirmed (so far): Alter Ego, Parmesh, AdityaM, DiviM, Mirth, Drumster, Pre, Tink, nosferatu, Neha.

Update: Spoke to KC today, after almost a year, to tell him about the get-together. Realized then that it’s almost five years to the day that we had our Delhi offliner…thirteen people had attended. Pooja, Vikram and Zenwark had come down to Delhi from Gwalior, and Astleviz and deda1us from Jodhpur for the offliner. Photos from Delhi and Bombay offliners here.

You may also like

12 Comments

  1. Nikhil: interesting post.

    I see a few other issues with social media/ web 2.0/ whatever jargon you subscribe to:

    1. Single issue blogs get caught up with their own ideologies quickly and become thinly veiled lobbyists rather than anchors of conversations.

    2. Most bloggers are too arrogant about conversing. They make a post then never appear again in the comments/ conversation, never acknowledging/ challenging/ questioning/ feeding or damping the debate. I can name some that I read in India but I could also tell you offline.

    3. Bloggers who moderate almost never put up comments that disagree with their position. Amongst US blogs I read, this is less rampant, but in India this is the default position. Considering we like to think of ourselves as discourse-driven (well Amartya Sen does anyway), what is this tendency to stifle debate/ feedback?

    4. Many popular blogs are childishly written (popularity could be due to any number of reasons), poorly edited for spelling and grammar, and do to much self-referencing. I fail to understand why. Are quality standards of individuals so low? Do they really not know how to spell? Do they never stop picking their own navel-fluff and look around?

    What do you think? Did these themes emerge in your conversation?

    Later..

  2. See? It should not be ‘to much’ but ‘TOO much’ self-referencing. Hmm. If there were a preview I might have corrected this prior to posting/ submitting. 😎

  3. Rajesh: I don’t like that word ‘veteran’, but…oh well. 😀 There are lots of others (including those mentioned in the list above).

    Shefaly: Social Media and Web 2.0 are slightly different. Google Spreadsheets and Writely aren’t Social Media, imho. Blogs are a part of Social Media, and our conversation was more about the social networking type portals, though we did talk about blogs…

    1. Single issue blogs get caught up with their own ideologies quickly and become thinly veiled lobbyists rather than anchors of conversations.

    I see nothing wrong with that. If they’re caught up in their own ideologies, then that is usually obvious, and they run the risk of being ignored. Blogs are a medium for free expression, and if an individual tows a specific line – that’s his/her choice. There’s always the opportunity then, for someone to do a better job.

    2. Most bloggers are too arrogant about conversing. They make a post then never appear again in the comments/ conversation, never acknowledging/ challenging/ questioning/ feeding or damping the debate. I can name some that I read in India but I could also tell you offline.

    Online or offline…that’s very true of many. At the same time, the popular ones are constrained by time. I know how difficult it is to answer each and every email, and then respond to comments, AND work every day. I’ve had to minimise responding to comments on contentsutra, because it was hindering work. I do my best to facilitate a discussion, though. Y’know – I’d mentioned Youth Curry as a blog that I do not enjoy reading (apart from the fact that I don’t think that the content is great)…Rashmi doesn’t (from when I last checked) respond to comments.

    3. Bloggers who moderate almost never put up comments that disagree with their position. Amongst US blogs I read, this is less rampant, but in India this is the default position. Considering we like to think of ourselves as discourse-driven (well Amartya Sen does anyway), what is this tendency to stifle debate/ feedback?

    I’m not too sure of this. Only a few blogs where I comment regularly have comment moderation, and my comments have never been moderated…Incidentally, I’ve started moderating some comments here, but only of the ‘Hey! Nice post. do see my blog at ….” type. They add nothing to the conversation, and all this blog pimping is getting to me.

    4. Many popular blogs are childishly written (popularity could be due to any number of reasons), poorly edited for spelling and grammar, and do to much self-referencing. I fail to understand why. Are quality standards of individuals so low? Do they really not know how to spell? Do they never stop picking their own navel-fluff and look around?

    Again – it takes all kinds to make the blogosphere, and I wouldn’t have it otherwise. I don’t read blogs with grammatical errors or verbosity. I think Indianeconomy.org is unfortunately verbose. I don’t have issues with self-referencing…I’d hate for a blog to be newspaper-like.

  4. Hmm, the unofficial trip may not happen for a long long time 😀 Anyways so when are u landing up in Bombay? I have not met any Limers except You, Kunal, Divi and Deda. Should be fun if it happens..

  5. Hi Nikhil! I hope to god I’m not late.. I’m in for the FLS meet if its still on. Please let know…: ) I’d love to meet everyone…
    I spoke to a friend today, Sameer, who met you this evening at Zoom…
    I found this page after randomly googling FLS…
    let me know!!

    Kanika.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *