Saket is a recruiter-headhunter in the technology domain, working for the executive search division of a major Indian job portal. He has been blogging since June 2004, better known as Vulturo in the trade. Saket is an avid reader of Indian blogs and a contributor to the team-blog Desipundit.
When I started blogging, I had this notion of blogs being ‘personal diaries’, which are maintained on the web (Sadly, a part of the Mainstream Media still has that notion). I had a lot to discover. I began my journey writing about absolutely mundane things which were happened with my life, and some wacky ideas that came along. I didn’t follow many blogs, per se. The ones I read belonged to the people whom I had known previously, or of those people who had discovered my blog and commented on it. During my workday, I once came across a software professional’s resume, which mentioned his blog address. I keyed it into the browser, and I was amazed with the quality of that guy’s writing. His blog also carried a mention of the Bharateeya Blog Mela, with a link to the latest one. Reading some of the posts featured in the Mela made me muse to myself, “Heck, this is really good stuff”. I was hooked to blogsurfing. And I still am.
I have this theory that almost all of us have a writer within (no matter how good, or how mediocre the writer is). I’m sure a lot many bloggers, like me, must have had a subconscious passion about writing – something that they may not have even known themselves. It is only when you discover that passion through a medium so amazing such as blogs, you realize how thrilling it can be. A lot many people claim to ‘write for themselves’. But effectively, everyone who writes also wants it to be read by someone. The mere fact that someone actually reads what you write, and likes it, is a huge ego booster for ordinary people.
Mainstream dailies may have subscriptions running into millions. A lot of people may read them, and end up reading what individuals have written, be it news, or opinions. I’m sure, at some point of time, every journalist derives pleasure from seeing his name in print and thinking about the fact that a million people are reading it. But trust me, relatively powerless bloggers can get derive the same pleasure when they know that a small number of people (even 20 odd bloglines subscribers) read what they write, and that they do so purely because they like reading it, and not because it appears in a newspaper. Blogging, in the truest sense, is empowerment for the masses.
Blogging enables ordinary people to find their voices, and also voices which belong to others but concur with their own. There are so many times, when you have strong convictions about something and feel that nobody would appreciate what you have to say. Not at least in your family, work place or peer group. When you are empowered with a tool such as a blog, you can fearlessly say what you’ve desperately wanted to say. And not only that, you can be heard. You can be pleasantly surprised to find that you aren’t alone. And that there are several other people who think like you, and agree with you. The beauty of blogging is, that it allows you to actually help the ‘frog in the well’ situation created by your immediate environment. Blogging allows you to express your individuality and be a truly global voice.
Blogging is not only about personal views being heard. Looking to the bigger picture, blogging facilitates social change. Educational Institutions, which have been engaging in unfair practices, have never had public opinion against them in such a great magnitude as a result of individual action. Today, you can make noises about things, which matter. And if enough people make the same noises, they have to be heard. By the mainstream media, or the powers that be.
Newspapers can’t get away with plagiarism, as easily as they could before. For that matter, any entity can’t engage in unethical practices and be confident about stifling dissent today. Dissent is expressed. Wrongdoing is exposed. Whether any action is taken by the government, or whomever that matters against the entity engaging in wrongdoing is a secondary issue. What matters is, people who are connected to the Internet can now know what is happening. Skeletons tumble out of closets.
A parallel can be drawn between free markets and the blogosphere. Both of them regulate themselves. And it is profoundly better, if they aren’t actively ‘controlled’ but are left to control themselves.
When it comes to social change or blogging, India has a long way to go. Despite all the excitement, blogging still remains a largely urban phenomenon. It is restricted to the ones who are literate and Internet savvy. But it is early days yet, and at least the results so far are encouraging.
An area where I would like to see blogging pick up is the corporate sector in India. At least the IT sector, to begin with. A great many corporations abroad have been extensively using blogging to communicate to their customers and the market in general. That is yet to happen in India. But then Internet literacy as of today isn’t as high perhaps to make it look worthwhile to the people who matter to start company weblogs. We’ve just made past it the phase where every sensible company at least has a website. Corporate blogging will take time.
I see every reason to be optimistic about the future of blogging in India. Be it personal blogging, viral blogging or corporate blogging, we have a long way to go, I admit. Nevertheless, I daresay we are on the right path.