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"Conversation. What is it? A Mystery! It's the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation?" Guy de Maupassant

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Two examples of blogs attempting to build community in India in completely new areas :

  • ING Vysya is using a blog portal to provide services and encourage dialogues with persons interested in information and advice on Insurance. They explain why a blog in their context :
Start your query session: You have already completed the first two steps and are now authorised to start posing questions to or leaving messages for your preferred advisor, via a special tool. You will see a response to your question or comment from your advisor, within a short while. This form of communication,called ëbloggingí, is private and only accessible by you or your advisoron our site. You have to be registered on the site, to make use of this service and start your own Private Blog with your selected advisor.

Qt. What does blogging mean?

Ans. Blogging is a new and unique way of communicating. It involves posting of messages by one person to another by way of sending messages to a special message box called a 'blog'. It is like writing a diary on the Internet and inviting others (or select visitors) to post their comments on what you write. However, it is not to be confused with chatting. This is because while chatting requires both parties of communication to be online, 'Blogging' is just a special posting of messages to another via the blog. For Ex ample. Mr. Prasad wants to ask Mr. Kapadia a few questions, he accesses a blog with his user name and password and types his queries on Monday at 7 a.m. Mr. Kapadia can then access this blog with his own unique username and password and reply to the same on Tuesday 5.30 p.m.

This is a great initiative ... and the potential to extend the use of this first-step private blog between visitors and experts into a dynamic community of Insurance seekers.
  • The second one, a Police Department in Mangalore, Karnataka in India has started a blog in November 2005. From their about me section:
This weblog has been created by the Dakshina Kannada Police with the purpose of disseminating police news of the district to those interested. Authentic and official information of DK Police will be posted here regularly. This is just an attempt to create an interface with the press and the public at large. Your views and suggestions are welcome. B.Dayananda IPS Superintendent of Police Dakshina Kannada District MANGALORE Karnataka Ph: 0824 2220503 (O) 2220504 (R) MOB: +91 94481 30100

Its a good start ... I now hope they open comments and encourage dialogue between the Department and the public. From this article in DNA India, where Mr. Dayananda, the initiator of the blog was interviewed :

According to the SP, the initial plan was to help save time and resources involved in informing the media about cases and developments.

However, after the launch, even the public has responded well. "The routine process followed in issuing press releases is cumbersome. Drafting, taking printouts and assigning one motorcycle rider to drop these at newspaper offices becomes a hell of a job. Now with the advent of new technology, we can reach everyone simultaneously. Even relevant photos are published on the blog," Dayananda adds.

Police staff, working at the computer centre in the station premises, are trained to publish, modify and maintain the blog. Currently though, all matter on the site is being updated by Dayananda himself. Dayananda adds that since the SP is authorised to give information to the press, he didn't require prior permission from higher-ups to start the blog.

"There was no difficulty in going ahead with the blog idea, officially because the Karnataka government promotes e-governance in administration," he remarks. The SP is hopeful of this trend catching up in the state. When DNA contacted the higher-up's, Karnataka's Director General of Police B S Sial said he was not aware of the existence of the Dayananda's blog, but said that there shouldn't be any problem with it so long as the blog disseminated genuine information to the public.

Great going I think! It is wonderful to see people using blogs innovatively as a social tool in building community. The word 'blog' features in many many publications in India these days. Over the last couple of days, I've seen the word blog several times. The Outlook in its New Year issue, (apart from an amazing cover story on Heroes) has two articles by Jai and Amit, two of our most popular bloggers, on blogs and citizen journalism, which are truly balanced, and one from a skeptic, Peter takes to task.

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