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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

Monday, October 08, 2007

This is my last post on this blog. Radio Userland has served me well since I started blogging in 2003. I will post more details on the transition, at my new blog - for now I just wanted to make this announcement, and provide the new url and feeds.

New Blog URL - http://dinamehta.com/
Subscribe via RSS 2.0 - http://dinamehta.com/feed/
Subscribe via Atom - http://dinamehta.com/feed/atom/
Comments feed - http://dinamehta.com/comments/feed/

The new blog will also be called Conversations with Dina - it's just a new blogging platform - but the same old blog! I do hope you continue reading and feeding it.

My old blog will be archived at its old url (http://radio.weblogs.com/0121664/) and I will keep the archives going. Stuart, who has worked out the platform for Conversations with Dina on Wordpress has done some neato hacks - one that I love a lot is that the search function will not just search the new blog archives, but also my old Radio blog archives. And he has managed to transfer some of my posts over too. That's so cool!!! Lots more needs doing there ... and that will emerge I'm sure.



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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Its been quiet here too long ....... the result of many many shifts. A new home, getting things to work smoothly, much travelling, transferring from a PC to a Mac, not being able to figure out how to get my Radio blog easily onto a Mac (Paolo has very graciously offered to help after I left a comment at his blog)....

And mosoci β

Mosoci is more than an idea - it is a beta platform, an emergent plan.  It is jazz, bricolage and serious play.  It lets us play a little music where chaos, creativity, diversity and complexity are all welcome.
It fulfils our desires and needs which are driven by the fundamental experiences of our souls, to live and work in an emergent, globally connected community.

What it is not, is a formal traditional organization.  We hope the lifestream we have built at the Mosoci blog demonstrates this.  We want it to be more than just the two of us.  Stuart spells this thought out really well:

"We know we would not be doing this without everyone that has read our blogs over the last few years. Social Media built the platform for our collaboration and the sense that our network and community would support, participate with us and help us grow. Now it is beyond an idea and yet it is still being formulated. We certainly don't want to end up as just the two of us. Today though we are happy to feel like we are in a constant state of beta. That's the zone where it is a real rush.

Thank you for your support, praise and interest. Our blogs and blogging will evolve just like our other social media activities are. For example we are really enjoying bringing our bookmarking into the feed. For now our tweets are there too. That may be overwhelming. Then it may also be helpful. We'll let the readers tell us.


A picture named mosoci2.jpgIt is born out of our curiosity, passion and deep belief in the strength of social technologies to make a real difference, our willingness and drive to share, learn and grow allowed us to experiment with and use those very technologies to communicate and collaborate on several projects over the years. More details from Stuart:

"Much happens today by chance. Things also emerge and we find ways to jump on them and adapt. Over the years Dina and I have enjoyed telling parts of our story. We first met in an online forum. I set her up blogging “Conversations with Dina” with install instructions over an IM chat session, long before voice and video connections were possible. Skype also helped to revolutionize our collaboration and connectivity. Open channels between India and the US made collaboration around Learning Journeys, research, and just links and interests possible. Working in India for most of the last year, attending some conferences together around the world and we knew we were at the point where where 1+1 makes more than two.

Mosoci is the platform of our collaboratory around the interests we love, are passionate about and to reinforce the direction and learning we need to go in. We won’t be successful without our network and our community and the power of social media. Blogs, wikis, forums, twitter, bookmarking have enabled who we are today."

You may ask, what does Mosoci do?  Simply put, a) we immerse ourselves in research and deep dives, b) we facilitate change and help re-frame value for organizations.  The time and opportunity to conduct and deliver research and strategies in new ways is here. We constantly push the boundaries with emerging social tools (blogs, wikis, SMS, RSS, social networks, beta communities), with clients when and as appropriate.  We want to take this practice, this method of working, along with others who are doing some excellent work in this field, to the whole world.

Let's create that map together, in the hope that the map will bring forth the features of the territory.
We want your comments, perspectives, and just plain old honest help and advice to make this a success. We are open to suggestion and really don’t want to stop at just a few of us.

It would be great if you would jump in on the conversation at Mosoci and add Mosoci Feed  to your reader. We'd love your feedback and suggestions.




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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Global Voices Online has announced the first five citizen media outreach projects to receive Rising Voices microgrants.

"The overwhelming response is a testament to the global enthusiasm for citizen media that stretches from Southern Chile to rural Nigeria, from a village in Mali without electricity to urban Mongolia; from an orphanage in Ethiopia to a center for disabled HIV/AIDS patients in Kenya. The list goes on and on, but what all of the project proposals have in common is a desire to enable their communities to tell their own stories, to write their own first draft of history, to document their traditions and culture before they are washed away by the tides of globalization."

Congratulations to all those receiving the grant - I really believe this is a huge step for blogging outreach programmes!


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Thursday, March 29, 2007

I am shocked at the venom and death threats against Kathy Sierra - it is sick, mean, even anarchical and evil, totally unethical. My first reaction was disgust and dismay and I have the greatest sympathy for what she is going through - but I find myself as appalled at the knee-jerk reaction of hate going around about a set of people implicated in her post - its not doing much good I'm afraid. Truly *Evil* minds whoever they are in this case, feed on such things.

I feel Mitch Ratcliffe's post is a really balanced take on the whole thing, especially this from Mitch - "We are further from that moment of truth now, however, because the silence of mock outrage reigns."

There are many conflicting thoughts in me right now around this issue. The woman in me is enraged at what Kathy is going through - and yet am not sure its a 'woman' thing at all. Lots of the American blogworld , esp at the A-list level, is fairly obsessed by how few women are really respected in Tech - this is evident by the endless debates on inviting women speakers at conferences. And yet, apart from BlogHer I don't see much happening to change this, as I see the same set of women speaking over and over again. The outrage against what's happened to her, is possibly greater because Kathy happens to be a woman. Are we perpetuating this gender divide by making it a woman thing - am not sure.

As a blogger, and one who has been around since 2003 this sort of stuff has been around. [link via Doc Searls]. Hate is just simply bad. Cyber bullying is bad. That's what we need to address. Whether against victim or accused (note here - I make a distinction between accused and convicted). Whether its against an A-lister or a Z-lister. Whether against man or woman. Its a reflection of a society gone badly wrong. Only the social system within which it exists can correct itself. In this case, blogs. Blogs and bloggers often reflect mob-like mentalities - some call it the echo chamber - and while there are many positive aspects of this - we must guard against the negatives.

I've had all sorts of threats and quite a bit of hate mail - I found the best thing is to simply ignore it and it usually goes away. I'm glad Kathy brought it out in the open though, its an issue that needs to be debated and addressed - and still I wish she hadn't made those really serious and clear accusations against specific individuals until after all the investigations by the authorities were done. Blogs are so powerful and the internet is an unforgiving place - entire reputations can be ruined thus.

We had an incident, not half as offensive as this, but the fallout was pretty severe, in the Indian Blogosphere - where a guy who was plagiarizing content from blogs was really beaten up by Indian bloggers - and I got tons of really bad hate mail for calling it Mob Justice and a witch hunt - although I will say this once more, that I would never condone plagiarism. - check the comments out there - these are only those that I let through. There were tons of mail and other comments that crossed my line of acceptability and were really lewd, hateful and full of threats. I ignored them and deleted them. And they went away.

Censorship and more regulation is not the answer - has it ever really worked where the internet is concerned? Andy Carvin has called for a Stop Cyberbullying Day. That's the sort of action that makes sense.

Kathy Sierra's an amazing blogger. I hope this horrific nightmare passes quickly for her . I do hope her  real 'attacker' is caught and is punished.  I also hope she gets back to blogging and shares as openly, the results of the investigation. Her silence will not do much good. Her voice is important for the blog world. Even half-way around the world in India.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Found at the Fast Company Blog: IFC, a World Bank Group organisation, and World Resources Institute has an interesting report - The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Opportunities at the Base of the Pyramid. Some facts from their Executive Summary:

Four billion people form the base of the economic pyramid (BOP) -- those with annual incomes below $3,000 (in local purchasing power).

The BOP makes up 72 percent of the 5,575 million people recorded by available national household surveys worldwide and an overwhelming majority of the population in the developing countries of Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean -- home to nearly all the BOP.

This large segment of humanity faces significant unmet needs and lives in relative poverty: in current U.S. dollars their incomes are less than $3.35 a day in Brazil, $2.11 in China, $1.89 in Ghana, and $1.56 in India.

Yet together they have substantial purchasing power: the BOP constitutes a $5 trillion global consumer market.

From the Press release:

"In its geographic analysis, The Next 4 Billion finds that the Asian BOP market (including the Middle East) is by far the largest, with 2.86 billion people and a total income of $3.47 trillion, constituting 83% of the region's total population and 42% of the its aggregate purchasing power."

BOP populations across countries:

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More countries covered here.

Income vs expenditure for India in this BOP market:

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This shows huge market potential .. probably larger than ever thought before, and really undeserved by businesses. C.K.Prahalad must feel vindicated!



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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On International Women's Day this year on March 8, The Blank Noise Project is once again, collecting stories in another blogathon.  From their announcer post ...

A picture named blogathon.jpg"This is an attempt to understand how different women ( across age groups/ cultures/ communities) have dealt with street sexual harassment in their everyday lives. Male bloggers are encouraged to share stories of women in their lives and how they have dealt with street sexual harassment. Non bloggers are also invited to participate- email us your story. We will upload your email at www.blanknoiseactionheroes.blogspot.com. You could also be an agent- the one that collects stories of confrontation/ of heroism from your mother, grandmother, cousins, domestic workers, people in your office, the vegetable vendor, the woman bus conductor...anyone! To confirm your participation, announce the event on your blog and email us the link right away!"

Last year, I had shared my own experiences with eve teasing and harassment.  Do share your experiences on March 8, and spread the word!



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Monday, January 29, 2007

I've been quiet here, but have been blogging a lot at the Asia Source II blog. Its been fun facilitating the Open Publishing sessions - I've learnt so much myself! We've had huge challenges with connectivity - 120 of us sharing a 256 kbps modem; trying to get Plone then Drupal working and finally resorting to Wordpress for the live blog! Rather than writing it entirely, I've got lots of folks from different countries and tracks sharing their perspectives. Lazy me :)

What's the blog about ...
This blog is meant to capture the colours, flavour, essence and spirit of Asia Source II in Sukabumi, Indonesia. We'll be sharing our discussions from the sessions, lots of fun stuff, some serious FOSS wisdom, and even some poetry. We'd love it if you jump in and add your perspectives to the many conversations and exchanges we will have in this space. The Asia Source II wiki will have more detailed content and reports.

Here's one of my early postings there:

We're working in military tents!

There are four learning tracks for the morning sessions. Three of the four groups are working in military tents, fitted with 8-10 computers. The uber geeks have a classroom, where they can lock up all their cool gizmos like wireless transmitters.

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Here's what Track 1 on Open Publishing had as their objective for the Camp Blog they are running as one of their projects:

- to create a lasting online documentation of the camp

- to capture the 'spirit' of Asia Source

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They've been blogging, learning how to resize and insert images today, tomorrow they go podcasting. Fun!

Go over to the blog and join the conversations there!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

I'll be in Sukabumi, Indonesia for the next ten days, at AsiaSource II. It really is going to be a camp, and am excited to be living fairly in dormitory style - takes me back to my college years! Its also an opportunity to meet an entire new set (for me) of folks doing some excellent work in the social media area in South Asia and South East Asia, as this is the first time I'm attending a conference in the Asian region.

There are four main learning tracks:

And the Afternoon Sessions promise to be really interesting.

When Sunil, who I met at the Global Voices Summit in Delhi, invited me to be a facilitator for the Open Publishing and Broadcasting track, my first response was how will I help - I'm not a geek. He then assured me that he was looking for someone who is a user .. and for someone who can help people explore benefits of the social and community aspects of this media. Apart from all the geeky stuff I am looking forward to immerse myself in, some of the conversations I'd like to encourage in this track are around:
  • risks in open publishing and managing risks
  • why organizations should adopt social media
  • role of social media/open publishing in disaster relief
  • communication, community, collaboration brought about by social media
  • open publishing is not just about blogging/wikis ... it is also about keeping track of conversations - session on RSS, trackbacks, social bookmarking, technorati, digg etc ... the entire ecosystem around blogging
I'd love your suggestions on other topics in this area you feel would be good to cover with NGO's and Small and Medium Enterprises. Do drop in a comment or email me.

I hope to blog my experiences while there!

Technorati tag: AsiaSource II


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Monday, January 08, 2007

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What should marketers be looking at in 2007?


TRANSUMERS from GENERATION C(ASH) living transient, connected, participative lifestyles, showing off their STATUS SKILLS, experiencing TRYVERTISING, masters of their YOUNIVERSE, indulging in TWINSUMER ventures, within the TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY of the GLOBAL BRAIN moving ever closer to CROWD CLOUT.

(Images from the trendwatching website). Go there to find out more on status, transparency and consumer power, the online revolution, more adventurous consumption, and a shift from consumption to participation.


Some excerpts:

"GENERATION C(ONTENT) is joining GENERATION C(ASH). If consumers produce the content, if they are the content, and that content brings in money for aggregating brands, then revenue and profit-sharing is going to be one of 2007's main themes in the online space. It's not like brands will have a choice: talented consumers are going to be too sought after to remain satisfied with thank you notes. Get ready for an avalanche of revenue sharing deals, reward schemes and sumptuous gifts aimed at luring creative consumers."

"TRANSUMERS are consumers driven by experiences instead of the 'fixed', by entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom, who increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions. The fixed is replaced by an obsession with the here and now, an ever-shorter satisfaction span, and a lust to collect as many experiences and stories as possible.* Hey, the past is, well, over, and the future is uncertain, so all that remains is the present, living for the 'now'."

"(Oh, and just wait for TRANSUMERS to be amongst the first to accept if not desire virtual goods. After all, the more time they spend online, the less need they have for expensive, fixed, hardly ever used physical goods. But we're getting carried away here...)"

"emerging TWINSUMER trend: consumers looking for the best of the best, the first of the first, the most relevant of the relevant increasingly don't connect to 'just any other consumer' anymore, they are hooking up with (and listening to) their taste 'twins'; fellow consumers somewhere in the world who think, react, enjoy and consume the way they do."

"Now, through an onslaught of new collaborative filtering software, millions of new personal profiles, exclusive communities and what have you, the TWINSUMER phenomenon is turning millions of reviews, ratings and recommendations into truly valuable results fitting one person's very particular preferences or even lifestyle. Whether it's a one-off TWINSUMER union or an ongoing relationship. TWINSUMER therefore isn't about access to reviewings or ratings or even trust in general (those are fast becoming hygiene), but about relevance."

"At the core of all consumer trends is the new consumer, who creates his or her own playground, own comfort zone, own universe. It's the 'empowered' and 'better informed' and 'switched on' consumer combined into something profound, something we've dubbed MASTER OF THE YOUNIVERSE. At the core is control: psychologists don't agree on much, except for the belief that human beings want to be in charge of their own destiny. Or at least have the illusion of being in charge.

"And because they can now get this control in entirely new ways, aided by an online, low cost, creativity-hugging revolution that's still in its infancy, young and old (but particularly young) consumers now weave webs of unrivaled connectivity and relish instant knowledge gratification. They exercise total control over creative collections, including their own creative assets, assume different identities in cyberspace at a whim, wallow in DIY / Customization / Personalization / Co-Creation to make companies deliver whatever and whenever, on their own terms".

"Remember the promises of flawless matching of supply and demand, and limitless consumer power, when the web burst onto the scene a dozen years ago? While the last few years didn't disappoint (consumers are already enjoying near-full transparency of prices and, in categories like travel and music, near-full transparency of opinions as well), 2007 could be the year in which TRANSPARENCY TYRANNY really starts scaring the shit out of non-performing brands."

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Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm attending the Global Voices Summit in Delhi! Global Voices Summit in Delhi. Rebecca MacKinnon, one of the co-founders of Global Voices Online sets out some thoughts before the summit. In an email to the GV group, she says: "I've posted on my blog with some thoughts about what I'm hoping to accomplish at this meeting, plus some context of where we've come from and where we may be going."

Latest news from the wiki:

Here's how you can participate online for the open session on Saturday:
Get to know the participants through this Facebook.

See you there if you're participating ...

Technorati: -



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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I have been tagged by my friend Rob Paterson in a Blog tag game where you tag 5 people whose blog you enjoy and ask them to tell the world about 5 things that most people may not know of you.

Along with me, Rob has tagged:

Heh ... it's tough thinking up 5 things that most people don't know about me ... I'll try:

1. I am an obsessive napper - give me 10 free minutes anytime, anywhere and I will nap.  If my day doesn't graciously offer them up, I take 60 minutes!

2. I love driving and am quite the speed freak - I spent hundreds of hours playing those computer racing games and only got myself a real license when I was 34 - I'm convinced I drive well (not everyone thinks so!) because I played those computer games.

3. Related to driving, I intensely dislike auto-rickshaws and their drivers - I never did when I didn't drive myself.  I have had this vision of lining them all up by the sea, giving each one a really hard kick in their ratty butts, and watching with glee as they topple over and into the sea.

4. My broad shoulders come from hours and hours of training as a swimmer.  Yeah I swam the nationals and was more of a long-distance swimmer - one race I will always remember is a 20 nautical mile stretch when I was 14.  Much as I wish they were smaller,  I think they have their uses - I can be a good listener :)

5. I cry bucketloads at movies - however inane or silly they are, however silly it makes me feel.  I like sad movies.

Five blogs that I'd like to tag, as my little nephew says 'just because' ...
Take it on if you will ... but don't curse me for tagging you :)


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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Reuters Newsmaker - Social responsibility: whose business is it?


Reuters is holding a live event on Corporate Social Responsibility. The full announcement is here. There is a live chat that will be curated by the Global Voices Online team at the event - to facilitate interaction between bloggers/ remote participants. The event page is here - http://tinyurl.com/yzo66p

It would be great if we had more people from South Asia in the discussion though the time is a little odd - 5 AM IST on Friday November 10. If you're up then, and interested, do join in.


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Stuff that's caught my eye recently:

  • Delete Your Bad Web Rep - bad idea I think .. we leave traces of ourselves when we put ourselves online. Against my belief in transparency and the open web. There's always good and bad .. and to hide the bad .. hmmm .. paranoia?
  • Alec Saunders on creating a meme through blogging:

    "In 12 months time, we've managed to insert an idea, which now has apparently a ton of currency, into a very old industry. We haven't relied on large marketing budgets, or heavy lifting PR campaigns. Instead, using just blogs and conversation, we set out to cause a change that would produce an environment that would be more conducive to our success, and the success of hosts of other companies like ours.

    And that, my friends, is why blogging is powerful."
  • Computing, 2016 - What won't be possible: "The new social-and-technology networks that can be studied include e-mail patterns, buying recommendations on commercial Web sites like Amazon, messages and postings on community sites like MySpace and Facebook, and the diffusion of news, opinions, fads, urban myths, products and services over the Internet. Why do some online communities thrive, while others decline and perish? What forces or characteristics determine success? Can they be captured in a computing algorithm?

    Social networking research promises a rich trove for marketers and politicians, as well as sociologists, economists, anthropologists, psychologists and educators. "This is the introduction of computing and algorithmic processes into the social sciences in a big way," Dr. Kleinberg said, "and we're just at the beginning.""

  • Am enjoying playing with Twitter and iLike ... first impressions - both are really easy to use, and fun! Twitter is amazing .. am currently experimenting with an SMS-Blog interface on a research project and I see lots we can do with a Twitter-like application. I see lots of potential for online campaigns and disaster information/relief as well.
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is on November 14, 2006.  An interesting initiative from Making Life Easy:

As part of World Usability Day we’re asking you to make some noise about things that are hard to use. London-based research and design consultancy Flow is marking World Usability Day with a campaign to get people to speak up about the things that make their life needlessly difficult.

Confusing cash machines, unclear signs, frustrating websites - poor usability is everywhere and it gets in the way of life. Sometimes it is just annoying. At other times it stops us doing what we need to do. It can even be dangerous.

World Usability Day is an international event promoting the message that people have had enough of things that are hard to use. We want people to share their usability frustrations with their fellow sufferers. Record your experiences at the campaign website MakingLifeEasy.org and:

1) See what is frustrating other people
2) Rate these annoyances on a scale of Usability Pain (coming soon!)
3) Upload a photograph and describe what makes life needlessly difficult

Get Involved!
Submit an Entry
Usability Hall of Shame/Hall of Fame
Send us a photo of your good or bad usability example! Either add it to our Flickr Group or email it to us and tell us what's good or bad about it. Then, join our blog and you can write and submit a blog post to put your submission in the running for the Usability Halls of Fame/Shame and we'll post it to the blog where everyone can comment and vote!
Log In To Add A Submission Here

Vote for the Usability
Hall of Shame and Hall of Fame
Cast your vote on any of the examples you find on the site by adding a comment with a +1 (for Hall of Fame) or -1 (for Hall of Shame). We'll tally the votes and announce the inductees on World Usability Day, 14 November 2006.



11:46:57 AM    comment []  trackback []


Wow .. this is just fantastic.  The folks at Savage Minds have set up an open access wiki on anthropology journal articles and papers, and have created a discussion list and IRC channel for those interested in anthropology to hangout at:

Learn about the issue
openaccessanthropology.org is now up and, while it's still very much a work in progress, it is the best place to go for an overview of the issues - and will get even better as we all help grow it.

Sign up for updates
There is an Open Access Anthropology group which people are using as a mailing list - you can sign up today to share your ideas or just keep up to date with what is going on. So far the list is not very high-volume, so you won't be drowned in email if you sign up.

Join the conversation
We've started an IRC channel where there’s been a fair amount of chat about OAA (although really it is just a place for anthropologists to hang out in general). It's #savageminds on irc.freenode.net. If you are unwise in the ways of IRC just go to IRC at work type in a nickname, for 'server' put irc.freenode.net and for 'channel' put #savageminds and then you should be good. If you are looking for an IRC program, we recommend GAIM (PC) or Colloquy (Mac).

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

If you care about Internet Censorship, today's the day to register our protest. Reporters Without Borders urges internet users to join in a 24-hour online demo against internet censorship.

"Everyone is invited to support this struggle by connecting to the Reporters Without Borders website (www.rsf.org) between 11 a.m. (Paris time) on Tuesday, 7 November, and 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 8 November. Each click will help to change the Internet Black Holes map and help to combat censorship. As many people as possible must participate so that this operation can be a success and have an impact on those governments that try to seal off what is meant to be a space where people can express themselves freely."

Here's one of the things you can do to participate:

"1 CYBER-DEMO against "Internet black holes"

Go to www.rsf.org during this 24-hour period, find the list of 13 countries that are Internet enemies and click on an inter-active map of the world to help make the Internet black holes disappear. Each click will help to change the map’s appearance. The aim is to re-establish the Internet in the countries where it is censored, to rebuild it before the 24 hours are over. Every vote will be counted. Every click will help Reporters Without Borders to speak with more force when it condemns the behaviour of those regimes that censor what should an arena for free expression."

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Am looking forward to the Global Voices Summit at the Indian Habitat Centre in Delhi on December 16-17. Details and signup here. Day One is open to all, Day Two is for the GV team. If you're not a part of the Global Voices team, I'd still recommend you attend Day One .. its a fantastic and perhaps the only opportunity worldwide, to meet such an amazing and wide spread of bloggers from all parts of the world, from regions that are almost never represented at other 'blog' conferences. To look outward and not inward.

I had such a good time in London last year at the Summit!

GV is also running a survey among readers, to help re-design the site. From Ethan's blog: "If you're a Global Voices fan, please take a minute and take our survey. We're trying to poll our readers before redesigning the Global Voices site, getting a sense for what people like and use the most on the site. It would be a big help if you'd join us and tell us what's working and what isn't working for you on Global Voices. Thanks in advance."



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I was delighted to read that Dr. Muhammed Yunus has won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 for Grameen Bank - some say he is an economist and should have been nominated in that category .. I can't help feeling this one is really appropriate because:

"Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development." The Norwegian Nobel Committee

"Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below serves to advance democracy and human rights." Ole Danbolt Mjoes, director of the Nobel committee. [via Washington Post]

A picture named credit_money.jpgHis model is being followed in India as well ... and the proliferation of Self-Help-Groups (SHG's), typically groups of women who are given access to microcredit to start a small business, has the potential to empower women by enabling them to make economic decisions and help increase family income. [Image from Lifeonline]. Access to credit can be a great catalyst in enhancing the socio-economic conditions of the poor. Where earlier, they were considered 'outsiders' in the world of banking, as they had no collateral, they are now 'bankworthy'.

"In one village in Nellore District, for example, women have acquired land titles in their names and taken Rs.180,000 as loans towards construction of their houses. They have said that they will not tolerate wife-beating and have forced their husbands to stop drinking alcohol. The longest-standing group in the village has rotated the revolving fund 25 times and also has a savings deposit of Rs.30,000 in the bank. In another village, a group has saved Rs.800,000. In total, the women of the district have mobilized savings of Rs.60 million.

The women have used the revolving funds for productive activities, emergency consumption, health needs, marriages and children's education. The Total Literacy Campaign launched in the district in 1991 has brought education and information, with the savings groups becoming important centres for disseminating information on health, education, water and sanitation. There are visible changes in the health and nutrition of women and their children. Women have identified sanitation as a major problem and are exploring possibilities of financing sanitation improvements, with matching funds from the Government. Women in the credit groups have a positive self-image, recognize their own health needs better and find themselves consulted by men, who realize that credit and information can be accessed through the women's savings groups."

More reactions, links and resources about the Prize, Grameen Movement and Microcredit:

Economist wins Nobel Peace Prize: "The winner is Muhammad Yunus, economist (!) and founder of the micro-credit movement, along with his Grameen Bank. Here is the story. Here is his Wikipedia entry. Here is my New York Times column on micro-credit. Here is the best piece on what we know about micro-credit. Here is Yunus's book on micro-credit, which also serves as a memoir and autobiography. It is a captivating and well-written story."

From the BlogHer blog: "You can learn more about the Grameen Bank and Muhammad Yunus watching The New Heroes, a PBS series that profiles 14 social entrepreneurs and is available on DVD, by reading Yunus' memoir, Banker to the Poor: Microlending and the Battle Against World Poverty, or watching this video by the Grameen Foundation USA on YouTube"

The Fast Company Blog : "A simple business plan based on the concept of microcredit just won Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus the Nobel Peace Prize. Yunus was awarded the prize today for the bank he founded, the Grameen Bank, which provides average loans of only $200.
A pioneer in the use of such small loans, Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in 1983 in an effort to help poor Bangladeshis who didn’t qualify for bank loans. At the Grameen Bank, no collateral or credit history is needed, and individuals who take out loans are held to a simple standard: the honor system. As a result, anyone and everyone qualifies for a loan. A scary prospect to consider if you’re the lender. But amazingly, the bank has a 99 percent repayment rate, which is attributed to the method of lending through social responsibility. Loans are given to individuals in groups of five. Initiall, two of the five group members are given a loan, and only after they repay the loan in full are the three remaining borrowers eligible for funds. An amazing 97 percent of Grameen Bank's 6.6. million borrowers are women who need start-up capital for their own handmade crafts. An estimated 17 million individuals have received $5.72 billion in loans since the Grameen Bank's inception."

From the Bangladeshi Blogosphere: "People are delighted over at the Bangla blogging platform "Bandh Bhanger Awaaj". Drishtipat has news, pictures and more links to texts and videos on Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank. Mudhpud Chickness says Dr. Yunus has put Bangladesh on the map. The South Asia Biz says "Today is a great day for Bangladesh." Tanvir says: "I hope that this success will allow the Bangladeshis to dream big and lead the country to prosperity." Atunu says "Finally, a deserving Bangalee wins the Nobel Prize". Shahidul Alam of Drik posts an wonderful tribute to Dr. Yunus." [via Global Voices Online]

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Andy Carvin sums it up: "Perhaps what's most exciting about this Nobel selection is that the people of Bangladesh can rightfully claim that they as individuals have won a share of the Peace Prize. Approximately 94% of the bank is owned by its 6.6 million borrowers - the farmers, the women entrepreneurs, the beggars - while the remaining six percent is owned by the government of Bangladesh, which of course represents the people. No matter how you slice it, this years Peace Prize has been rewarded to the Bangladeshis themselves. Muhammad Yunus may be the one standing in Oslo this December - and rightfully so - but he will be standing on the shoulders of millions of Bangladeshi citizens, each of whom must be swelling with joy this day."

[Image from PBS's The New Heroes Series on Muhammed Yunus.]

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Ethan Zuckerman, has been on holiday to Zimbabwe and has a series of really insightful posts.

My Holiday in Harare :

"I spent less than three days in Zimbabwe, never left Harare and spent almost all my time in the company of different flavors of civil society activists. So I got a very brief and one-sided picture of the country. Still, I learned a lot - most centrally, I learned a little about why people who have the option to leave continue to live in Zimbabwe: it’s one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to, and the Zimbabwean people I interacted with are some of the smartest, bravest and friendliest folks I’ve ever met.

Which doesn’t mean that I’ll be hurrying back. The ways in which Zimbabwe is broken are deep, profound and would be intolerable to most people around the world. The fact that Zimbabwe continues to exist - that people go to work, to the market, to the bars and cafes - is a tribute to the resilience and flexibility of the Zimbabwean people. I’d snap, within days or weeks."

You Might Be Having a Currency Crisis If…

"I’ve never seen currency with an expiration date on it before. The bills I carry are, technically, “Bearer Cheques”. They read:“Pay the bearer on demand Twenty Dollars on or before 31st July 2007 for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Issue date 1st August 2006.” In other words, good luck getting my $20 - (about two and a half US cents at today’s black market rate) after August 2007 - the currency is technically worthless at that point. (Friends tell me that previous currency marked like this has been “extended” by legislative act to maintain its worth.)

This currency looks temporary, too. It’s got one ink color (as opposed to the multicolored fantasy of earlier bills) and no security thread. Given how much it costs to print money, how little the bills are worth, and how fast they’ll become worthless, it seems no surprise that a government scrambling to make ends meet might cut some corners in the national mint."

Photos from Zimbabwe - with pictures on Flickr

Reading Between the Lines:

"The effect of suits like the case against VOP is to scare the heck out of anyone who might be tempted to engage in media broadcasting. But innovators are still testing boundaries. Unable to get a license for a community radio station, Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo is creating programming and disseminating it on cassette tapes, which they hand out to the drivers of minibuses. The bus drivers play the tapes on their runs, “narrowcasting” to their passengers and avoiding most reasonable definitions of broadcasting. Still, the reach is small and Radio Dialog like others would prefer to reach the airwaves, not just the highways; as their site puts it, “Radio Dialogue is a non-profit making community radio station aspiring to broadcast to the community of Bulawayo and surrounding areas.”

."........What’s really going on in Zimbabwe? I don’t know. Neither do you. And neither do most Zimbabweans, whether they live at home or abroad. Reading the BBC or CNN won’t help - they’re not on the ground here either. And like every other situation in Zimbabwe, it’s both better and worse than you’ve heard."

His last post talks of how the internet is under threat there.  Here's an excerpt: 

"I find it hard to believe that a government which can't pay its bandwidth bill is systematically monitoring the internet communications of half a million people. But threatening to monitor those communications creates a panopticon effect - by telling people they're under observation, many (most?) will behave as if the government's watching. And in a country where transgression can mean indefinite detention and abuse while in custody, it's hard to blame people for wanting no remain firmly on the right side of authority"

Fantastic blogging really as he shares what he loves about the country and his frustrations with the complexities and the unknowns.



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"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by Google" - New Scientist - Bruce Sterling. [link via Ethan]

An almost-real, funny-scary take on the internet from the eyes of a "miserably-happy" teenager. Here's an excerpt:

"My Dad - he's still alive, apparently - he sent me an email from China and said I ought to "recruit" Debbie into my "social group dynamics of online identity production". My Dad always talks like that. I haven't seen Dad face-to-face in six years. Look: I am a 17-year-old male, okay? I don't want to send Debbie any hotlinks and digital video. I want to take Debbie out! Maybe we could take some clothes off! But there isn't any "out" for me and Debbie. There isn't any "off", either.

Okay, I admit it: Debbie is insane. The fact that Debbie really likes me, that just proves it. Debbie ACCEPTS this sick state of reality. She EMBRACES it. We are doomed.

Imagine that Debbie and me somehow go out together. We want to network with our peer group, teenager-wise. I need to figure out what's hip and with-it and rebellious, and Debbie needs to know what the other cyber-Goth chicks are wearing. Is that okay? No!

It's not that we can't do it: it's that all our social relations have been reified with a clunky intensity. They're digitized! And the networking hardware and software that pervasively surround us are built and owned by evil, old, rich corporate people! Social-networking systems aren't teenagers! These machines are METHODICALLY KILLING OUR SOULS! If you don't count wall-graffiti (good old spray paint), we have no means to spontaneously express ourselves. We can't "find ourselves" - the market's already found us and filled us with map pins."

Also read Men standing around broken machines by Paul Ford, a short but well-written essay where he goes back to a much-older future:

"I think about the men because there are two futures: the near and wild future—the future of Web 2.0, the war on terror, and midterm elections—thrashing and blind like a baby mouse in the grass. And there is the other, much older future, which is basically an enormous, ever-widening archaeological dig. They're digging up old Roman bones, pilgrim gristle, and mysterious chunks of iron that may have been astrolabes. Shovels in hand, people fall over dead onto the piles of ancient coffeehouse newspapers and loose pioneer trash that they have themselves exhumed. Time passes; it could be a few days or a millennium. Someone digs them up and holds their skull in hand and wonders: what was the dig like then? There is nothing wrong with the newer future. Those who make it work for them will be powerful and rich. But that older future seems to have more room in it for those quiet, dry-eyed men. And I know I want, someday, to join their group as it stands frowning around a steaming car engine, each trying to figure out what went wrong."



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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I had a good time in Chennai at BlogCamp over the weekend. The best part, as is with most conferences and unconferences, was meeting folks from a wide array of fields. And the gupshup that always occurs when you catch up with old friends in person and are able to shake hands (and hugs) with your favourite urls. And the IRC which I did enjoy a lot and thought was really useful - thanks Bala and Ange for setting it up - a lot of questions for speakers came from there and much fun was had. And meeting folks you fight censorship battles without even meeting, like Jace, who is not only smart, witty and insightful, but is a fantastic photographer who makes his subjects look sooooooo good. I've grabbed most of the pics here from his Flickr feed.

It was fantastic to soak in the enthusiasm and energy of the young guys at Chennai, who couldn't contain their joy as you see in this pic, and who's hard work made this event possible. Adel, Aswin, Hitesh, K Shyam, Raghu, Andy, Kausikram , Ganesh, Varun, Vignesh... and all the others I didn't quite get to meet .. you rock!

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Peter, Neha and I briefly shared our experiences on Disaster Relief Blogging and I was part of the Corporate Blogging session, where we had 6 speakers in about 1.5 hours .. and so we all got 10 mins each. Instead of getting into more detail on Brands and Blogs, I just thought I'd share one aspect of it .. which are the risks involved, through the Kryptonite and Chevy Tahoe Apprentice cases ... the first company which ignored the blogworld and got a lot of flak for it, the second case an example of a company that preferred to manage the risk they took in asking ordinary folk to create ads for them, using stock files the company provided. Some learnings I shared on new 'rules' emerging for brand managers:

  • Risk Avoidance to Risk Management
  • Speed, Real-time
  • Emergent not pre-determined
  • Open, trust, transparency
  • Conversation not Silo
Its a pity I missed the Blogging Outreach session, as it was parallel to the Corporate Blogging one. I really enjoyed listening to Rajesh Shetty share his tips for bloggers, and was amused by how Amit fielded questions on how much he really earns through blogging, in his Q&A session on Professional Blogging. I also enjoyed Sunil Gavaskar's session - he was erudite, humble and honest in his sharing of his experiences with podcasting and really engaged the audience. Sessions that annoyed me were those that were boring PPT's or those that were pitching their products blatantly. I think, as Indians not so accustomed to such events, we have a lot to learn about how to engage the audience and recognize when to carry on and when to stop.

In the closing session, before the quiz, Kiruba, Peter and I, with Veer's inputs thought we'd like to hold an open discussion with the whole group, on some of the deeper issues around blogging - responsibilities of bloggers, blogging as an addiction, Jace's neat insights into the overlapping of our public, private and secret selves as we blog, and on what popularity means. I thought that went off quite well and was happy to hear many many views.

It was quite a grand show with sponsors and kits and free wifi and back channels. However, there are some things I feel we need to re-examine as we go into more BlogCamps in India which is something Peter, Neha and I talked about over many cups of sweet coffee, where we felt we should have them more frequently, in different cities, and with more focus areas.

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Unconference as a Format
The first thing I was uncomfortable about was what Bothack calls this whole obssession with unconferences - he makes some neat observations and useful suggestions:

"I feel, Chennai bloggers are obsessed with the term ‘unconference’. After the phenomenal success of the BarCamp, every other meet here is in the unconference mode. Unconference is a good thing, but not for all kind of meets. I would suggest narrowing down the content and more importantly having workshops instead of ppt sessions.

Also instead of having a BlogCamp 2007, I would suggest BlogCamp should follow the BarCamp’s steps. It should become global and initiate other cities to have their own BlogCamps. They can transfer their existing site to say chennai.blogcamp.in and have a registration page similar to BarCamp.org, so that other cities can register and share online resources."

While I don't feel unconferences are overrated, they do have a time and a place. I've been part of a pure Open Space Meeting coordinated for NPR by the amazing Rob at the New Realities Forum where the agenda was set completely by participants - if I remember right, there were more than 300 participants. However, it had a core theme - a very clear objective - and was really well-organized in terms of a lot of care taken in figuring out the venue, the rooms, making it easy for people to navigate through the free-flowing structure, and run by a real maestro in Johnnie Moore, who Rob describes as "an exemplar of calm courage and astonishing presence" which is a really perfect description of Johnnie.

The absence of organization around content does not mean its an unconference. For an event that has folks from all over the country and a wide array of bloggers -- we had tech bloggers, livejournal-ists, professional bloggers, mainstream media, corporates who blog and who don't, newbie bloggers and those who've been blogging for many years now -- perhaps the classic unconference might have been one big pool of chaos with participants having difficulty navigating through. I think our attempt at a classic unconference might have been disaster at this level.

Although there was some planning out of sessions, and those who wished to 'speak' on a topic had a space online and on a 'paper-wiki' (term coined by Kiruba) I do believe depth in content suffered as a result of the diversity in participants, the fact that this is the first time such a large event is being organised by bloggers for bloggers, the absence of a basic theme, and most importantly, the resistance to have sessions moderators and coordinators prior to the event or any sort of scheduling. Now this is alright when you're running a local event for a homogenous bunch of folks, or when the agenda is single-minded, but in our case, there were people who had invested time and money in travelling to Chennai for the event, and needed an agenda and a little structure. Here's a shot of the paper wiki Neha took:

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This last area is what might have made BlogCamp truly great --- where the session coordinators might have planned a little in advance how many 'speakers', whether to have ppt's (yucky) or speeches (yuckier) or conversations and dialogues (yummy). With a focus on depth of discourse rather than width which is what we achieved. We realised this while there, and tried to get some folk to moderate sessions - while some did a great job of it, others had much to learn. And we would have retained the spirit of an unconference by veering away from formal presentations and lectures .. to conversations and dialogue.

Venue - conference hall!

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The venue wasn't right for an unconference .. the auditorium was too large, too formal in its set-up and the sound system was quite horrid. The smaller conference hall on the first floor, where many of the tech tracks were, was much better in evoking participation from all.

Where are the women bloggers?

More needs to be done to bring in women who blog to such events. Suggestions? All-night beach parties aren't really motivating for all of us :):):).

I think we've all learned much ... I certainly did in the area of what needs to go into planning events at this scale!

Here are links to tons of pictures and blogposts on the event.


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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Rediff News has this article on the Honey Bee Network which is focussed on creativity and innovation at the grassroots level.

"A bicycle that can peddle both on water and the road, a motorcycle used to pump out water from deep wells and a cellphone that can switch on electrical appliances within a specific radius! Self-taught mechanics in India are pioneering these and many more. With such inventions, self-taught mechanics or villagers with little or no formal education to their credit are transforming the limited opportunities available to them in remote and rural areas, say experts."Formal and informal science can be linked to create new innovations and transform the opportunities available in rural India," says Anil Gupta of the Indian Institute of Management, who has taken upon himself to collect and collate such traditional information scattered all over the country under his Honey Bee network."

You can search their innovation database for more grassroots innovations.

Om Malik makes a point about how technology cannot be an end in itself, in response to the media blitz around Nicholas Negroponte's 100-dollar laptop and the news item that a small village in India got itself a website.

"One gets fairly fed-up reading articles that tout such trivial things like getting a Web site as this great signpost of development or that (falsely) show technology as being the great equalizer and an end in itself. And at the risk of being considered partisan — towards the Indian bureaucracy, Bill Gates and Intel all rolled into one — I hold even Nicholas Negroponte’s “One Laptop per Child” (OLPC) initiative guilty of overemphasizing technology as an end in itself. What is a kid who goes to a school with rampant teacher absenteeism, no infrastructure to speak of –like desks, fans or electricity to run those fans –going to do with a laptop?"

And Atanu Dey has a requiem for the One Laptop Per Child project in India [link via Ethan] where he says:

"Spending a few hundred million dollars will help some children, and also enrich the manufacturers of the laptops (Chinese manufacturing), and all the middle-layers that will be invovled in the selling, maintenance, and support. Compare that to the alternative use of the same money.

Tens of millions of children don’t go to school, and of the many who do, they end up in schools that lack blackboards and in some cases even chalk. Government schools—especially in rural areas—are plagued with teacher absenteeism. The schools lack even the most rudimentary of facilities such as toilets (the lack of which is a major barrier to girl children.) Attention and funds need to be directed to those issues first before one starts buying laptops by the millions."

I think grassroots innovations are great when entry barriers to using them are low, and they tap real and relevant human needs that are culturally relevant and economically viable. Moreover, in the case of the Hansdehar website, its an experiment I'd love to follow, and see what transformations it makes in the lives of the villagers, whether it really gets picked up by other villages as a tool to better their lives, whether villages then will form communities and interact with each other in a manner that brings about social and economic change.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

It has been a while since I have been promising myself that I must share my thoughts on BlogHer 2006. One of the best things for me there was hanging out with with old friends and making new ones ... so shout out to danah, Nancy, Beth, Lisa, Elisa, Phil, Marc, Amy, Toby, Stephanie, Nicole, Susan, Grace, Sara, Salim ..... the list is endless :). I enjoyed the Yahootinis at the cocktails - thanks Salim for leaving behind tons of free coupons! I even got a hug from Dave Winer - not a sexist one methinks - it was because I am one of the rare species that still uses Radio Userland and after attending our session on community assistance, he thinks I am tough as nails :)

Some of my reflections on the conference follow.

On the Structure of the conference
This is really a recap for those who weren't there. It's useful for those thinking of organizing events and I shared this with the group working on the BlogCamp in India earlier. I think the way the sessions were laid out for the most part, worked well. A few of the breakaway sessions were really large - and the audio system wasn't great in all the rooms. Day 1 was instructional where we had about 1 hour sessions around certain pre-determined topics - where presenters made some formal-ish presentations - those that didn't were much more useful IMO - they ran workshops around questions the audience attending that workshop had, with some moderation. These sessions were run in parallel - and each ran for about 45 mins to 1 hour, with a repeat immediately thereafter, so a fresh lot of participants could take part in the session. So each participant at the conference was able to take part in about 2 sessions in the slot. Day Two was really just workshops - and much more unconference-like. These sessions were either run completely open, or the panel spoke for about 5-10 mins each and then it was thrown open for discussion. And action points were set too which was nice !

There were open discussions at the start of each day, and at the lunch sessions, with some keynote speakers - again this was done in the form of a moderated group discussion, and the whole attempt was to involve the audience in it - which they managed so well even with 400 folks on day one and 750 odd on day two. The one bugbear was that because they had so many sponsors, they allowed the sponsors 10 mins of spiel before each of the open discussions and keynote sessions - which wasnt received too well. The other thing they did with sponsors - was give them a separate area to show off their products and this was more effective I feel.

I was a little lost finding my Birds of a Feather group - I think what was missing was a little board or something to suggest the title of the session. By the time I got there, there was no place to sit, and I couldn't hear everyone very well and so I lost interest in the session.

Here's a great post by Christopher Carfi on conference marketing and how the sponsors handled themselves - some well and others making a real ass of themselves - at BlogHer 06.

On Our Session on Community Assistance
I really enjoyed it. Really. It was wonderful to meet Grace and Sara and work with them to ensure we had a session that really rocked. These are ladies who really have their feet on the ground, and hearts of gold - and I feel so priviledged to have heard their stories and learnt from them.

Some of the posts done around our Community Assistance Panel after our conversations there, which were greatly enriched by participation from the audience:

What I really liked is, apart from sharing stories, we did manage to take the discussion further into actionable points and came up with some promising ideas, which I have lifted off Christine Herron's blog post here:
  • Ham radio operator clubs have periodic field days, in which they pack up their gear and generators, and practice how they'd work in a disaster. Why not have a blogging field day, that would enable bloggers to work on how they'd be able to help in case of disaster?
  • Bloggers could connect with clubs of many useful stripes - ham radio, off-road driving, etc. - to form collaborative relationships that deliver more effective impact in case of emergency.
  • Take advantage of SMS on blogs - services such as 411sync can deliver blog content to cell phones, and many services (including Typepad) support posting to blogs via SMS.
  • Work with press associations to get information from individuals into mainstream media. Especially in affected areas, the mainstream media may be the last outlet capable of broadcasting information.
Some things people said that I liked:
Jeremy Pepper -"This is the only time that I have not seen the newbies attacked as idiots or undeserving the veterans attention, but rather working together to make the community better. Let me ask you: is that such a bad thing?"

Lisa Stone - "Own the fact that you're a writer. A lot of women, and especially bloggers, don't do that" (smiling - Dilip where are you? and Peter .. who always ask me whether I am a writer or blogger .. and so far I've always said blogger ... I own up now to be a writer:))

Nancy on the culture of love - "If we cannot feel safe to speak our individual truths, even if they are not the truths of others, we won't get anywhere. I know I still have a long way to go down this road. But if I continue to react hatefully and in the culture of fear (fear of men, fear of women, fear of making a fool of myself) I won't get anywhere. So I'll keep trying to move more towards the culture of love. That includes apologizing for inadvertently hurting you or anyone else. And trying to be more thoughtful in how I express myself."


On the Other Sessions:
I've blogged about three sessions I really enjoyed earlier - What's Your Crazy Idea, Ten Types of Web Writing and Tagging.

Here's a great summary of the Get Deeply Geeky session which was quite inspiring as a lot of geeky girls got together - and here's a really neat map created by Nancy while the session was running.
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While I liked what each member of the closing keynote address said as individuals, and I felt that most of the audience were enthralled and inspired by them, personally I couldn't help feeling a little uneasy about the tone of the discussion there - it reminded me a little of those early TV shows talking of women's liberation movements - while this spirit is great at one level, in some ways it made me uncomfortable and a little fearful that the gender divide would only be greater because of such discussions.


I was a little disappointed too, that there wasn't more discussion around the crippling DOPA - and as I told danah - I would have loved to see BlogHers translate their dissent into action of some form - set up a petition, set up common tags and commit to write against it on a specific day, google-bomb it in some way. The spirit of BlogHer could have been used so effectively then ... I think its a wasted opportunity.

BlogHer 06 Links Resource:

Technorati on BlogHer
BlogHers on Flickr
The conference blog
Amy Gahran's wiki on Blog coverage of BlogHer 06. I really enjoyed meeting Amy who contributed a lot to our session - she's done some great live-blogging too.

And finally, my message to Elisa, Lisa and Jory:
A warm hug from India, and thank you for inviting me to be a part of this really wonderful and real movement called BlogHer. And for the opportunity of meeting so many women who I would have never had otherwise. I've been following some of the rumblings and ramblings in the blogosphere - around sponsors, around the Mommybloggers, around the food, around the venue, around the erratic wifi. Hey there are some things you can fix, but you can't really please everybody and shouldn't even attempt to! These ramblings and your thoughtful reflections as you go ahead into BlogHer07 are all signs that it is a real 'movement' (for want of a better term - revolution isn't quite it) and that there is momentum. It is really the natural extension to chaotic organisms as they grow - chaos and creativity!

And I keep feeling that BlogHer is bigger than the tools that enable us to participate, its bigger than the conferences and meet-ups and networks that are built. It is about, as Stowe Boyd so eloquenty states in a really thoughtful post on context - taking our eyes off the tech in the foreground to acknowledge the world behind, forming the background. It is about rolling snowballs that Euan Semple articulates wonderfully in the context of citizen-based politics:

"Who knows, maybe out of all of these conversations and exchange of ideas that blogging has enabled we will some day tackle the really big stuff. The stuff that matters. How we run ourselves and conduct ourselves in the world. It may not be any one particular group and certainly unlikely to be some sort of "killer app." but I am more and more confident that the connected worldview that we are fostering is different from what we have experienced before and certainly affords us a new means of expressing ourselves and making our views known. Maybe we will be able to regain some of the ground lost to those who see life as a fight which has to be won and polarise everything into black and white maybe the middle has something to add after all."


blogher


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Saturday, July 29, 2006

10 Types of Web Writing - Lisa Stone and Lynne D. Johnson.

Words are Power. What does the audience want to learn - open floor - ideas, comments:

Having trouble finding out the rules of blog writing --- what is blog writing? Ans - anything you want it to be - there are no rules. My add - blogs are conversations - about engaging people in dialogues, not just publishing.

10 Tips:

Neat quote -"She shared the delusion of all writers that things written are shared" - Virginia Woolf, ORLANDO

10 types of web writing:

Readers, presentations,, word choice, conversations ..... the first four are a change in mindset as opposed to books and print and TV. Headlines, attribution, link blogging, essay blogging, Q&A, Reviews and how-to's.

A new mindset - the difference is the words we write CAN be found WILL always be found = Google!

Is writing on the web an art or a science? Both ... Words are our identity online, still creating our identity online requires using what we know about how humans experience technology.

1. Readers: How effective a writer are you? Lisa says ask your audience and "Own the fact that you're a writer. A lot of women, and especially bloggers, don't do that" and evolve and learn. Nice.

2. Presentation: Even the best prose can be lost on the internet. How you're connecting with the reader visually is important.

3. Word Choice - clarity, professionalism, voice, punctuation, profanity - , buzz - which can work for or against you. Be careful because your words are 'eternal'

4. Conversations - do you want to have one ... or not? Legal team made one business blogger (a winery) close comments - its an issue facing some business bloggers - I wish they'd let us screen them and post them. She circumvents this by offering up her email for readers to send comments to. A Newspaper columnist who just started a blog says closing comments runs totally against what a blog is about. One lady opens and closes comments off and on - she misses them when closed, but sometimes gets flamed on her parenting patterns. A paid blogger shares with us that she had to educate her employer about what a blog is - she sees herself as a content provider and not a blogger as she sends posts on Word and no comments are allowed. An author who now blogs asks ... does a blog have to be a conversation? Is it not a blog if you don't invite comments?

Here's an old post I had done on comments being closed.

5. Headlines: clarity, professionalism, voice, punctuation, profanity, buzz. Many examples given. Discussion on the use of profanity was interesting - one of the points made was that when you do curse, you get huge loads of traffic from sites you maynot want attention from - the other point of view was that if you do curse, hey if you curse, you do. Amen.

6. Attribution - don't steal!

7. Link blogging - two egs - repeats headlines and does a short excerpt and links them on a link blog. Or

8. Essay Blogging - chris nolan and danah boyd's blogs are examples of great essay blogs.

9. Q&A - good example at Mommy Blogers - three step Q&A - a.Call to action b.Interview c.Op-ed

10. Presentation - the layout of the content - see Elise's Berry and Banana Terrine Recipe in Elise's Simply Recipes for a good eg.





4:09:20 AM    comment []  trackback []

Its great to be here in San Jose at BlogHer. Weather's nice .. I wish it were a little cooler thoough. Was good to catch up with some old friends and am meeting lots of interesting people. And its amazing to be in this space with almost 400 women and a handful of men! Check the BlogHer site for updates, liveblogging, and Flickr feeds here.

This morning I attended - What's Your Crazy Idea - which was a workshop about blog-based communities. The session started with introductions from the convenors of the workshop - and then we broke away for short discussions around issues on building community.

Some of the discussions around this were on: Tools, Legal Issues and How do you get Communities started. I attended brief sessions on Tools and How to get Communities started.

How do you get communities started: some things that emerged from the discussions:

  • what is the purpose --- what benefits/drivers/motivations for the individual and community
  • listen well .. communities morph .. norms change over time ... engage the community in way forward
  • multimodal - use pictures, develop memes

Nancy has more in her notes at the Online Facilitation Wiki and more from Heather Barmore

I like the way this workshop was structured - no PPT's and lots of discussion through sharing stories and experiences.


2:41:06 AM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I leave tonight and will be on a panel discussion on Day Two on Community Assistance:

Community Assistance: BlogHers are cutting through the red tape and doing it for themselves, delivering tangible aid to communities in need, locally and around the world. Many blogs focus on raising awareness, but sometimes they actually raise money, become a hub for victim assistance or even put those who want to help directly in touch with those who need the help. Betty Sullivan, whose Betty's List has been assisting the San Francisco LGBT community for years, talk to Sara Ford, Grace Davis and Dina Mehta about why and how they did it. Learn how you can too.

Will try and blog the event. There are some really interesting sessions lined up here are some that I have earmarked to attend - they might change when there :):

Day One:
So you have this crazy idea, Audience building and $$$s, Tagging, tracking and what's this structured blogging
Day Two:
Identity and Obligations, From Here to Autonomy - Blogger as Entrepreneur (which i will miss as it runs parallel to our session - will keep one eye out on that if i can), Next Level Naked,

I hope to share experiences and learnings around all the work we've done with the World Wide Help blogs and wikis, with MumbaiHelp and the Mumbai Help Wiki and the recent Bloggers Against Censorship activism. And am looking forward to learning about how others are using social media for community assistance!



11:28:09 AM    comment []  trackback []

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

W. David Stephenson sent me a link to his speech to the International Conference on Complex Systems on how social networking projects such as TsunamiHelp and KatrinaHelp could leverage emergent behaviour that would make the general public effective participants in disaster relief.

In making his case for the adoption of networked communication technologies that encourage emergent behaviour, he draws upon the experiences following 9/11 and the Tsunamis and Katrina. I quote:

"In one of his essays describing the applicability of emergent behavior to the business world, Eric Bonabeau wrote that the three characteristics that emergent behavior exhibits are flexibility, robustness, and self-organization. When we look back at the Katrina experience, I think we'd agree that all 3 properties were missing from the governmental response.  

By contrast, think back to 9/11, when the only -- the only -- effective response was a classic example of emergent behavior: the way a group of total strangers on Flight 93 coalesced in circumstances when no one would have blamed them for instead dissolving into hysterics, to thwart the hijackers' plan to crash the plane into the Capital or White House. That was flexibility, robustness, and self-organization!

Less well known is the way that other individuals, many of whom have still never met physically, coalesced via the Internet to provide a variety of invaluable and reliable information to victims first of the tsunami, and, more recently, of Katrina. In particular, some of these people took it upon themselves to create, first the tsunamihelp blog and wiki, and, then a core group of those people took the lead in creating the Katrinahelp wiki."

Mr. Stephenson then goes on to ask the question - does the knowledge that emergent behavior is possible even under the trying circumstances of a terrorist attack or a natural disaster warrant making encouraging emergent behavior a formal part of homeland security planning, and, if so, how can it be done?

"In part, fostering emergence should be part of the plan the technology has already made the choice for us, whether or not officials recognize that reality. The advances in networked communications, combined with human nature, make it almost inevitable that, in a disaster, individuals will automatically turn to the increasing array of electronics they use every day to reach out to others for comfort and mutual assistance.

Equally important but less understood by decision makers, unlike landline phones or the broadcast media, these devices are themselves increasing networked, self-organizing, and self-healing. In many cases, such as mesh networks that were originally developed for the military in battlefield conditions and now are being used by civilians, the networks don't require any kind of external networking: simply turn them on and the network self organizes."

And ends with a powerful message:

"However, my closing message is to homeland security executives: you really don't have a choice whether to embrace this kind of networked homeland security system. Given the power of networked communications and the science of emergent behavior, government has already effectively lost control of the flow of information during emergencies. We, the people, have the power at our fingertips to network -- and human nature dictates that we'll use it in an emergency." 

Great speech - read it in full here.




7:41:44 PM    comment []  trackback []