'Blogosphere is meritocratic'

INTERVIEW


Amit VarmaAre we saturated with a decade of blogging? Is twitter - microblogging - the phenomenon of today?

Different media have their own uses and charms, and I find blogging is perfect for much that I want to do. Twitter is a phenomenon, but it will no more displace blogging than blogging displaced traditional media. All of these have their own place.

Tell us about the time when you first began blogging. Were you among the minority exploring a new medium? What were the Eureka moments?

I began blogging in 2004. There were quite a few bloggers already in India, but obviously not as many as now. I wanted to check out the medium because of the flexibility it gave me as a writer, which I didn’t have as a traditional journalist. I wasn’t constrained by the news cycle, I could write posts that were as long or short as I pleased, and I could write in my own voice, and not have to adapt to the house style of any publication. I started enjoying it thoroughly, and my traffic grew gradually until I had a fairly substantial readership. That alone was enough to motivate me to be regular.

You insist that it’s a misconception that your blog, India Uncut, led to your book My Friend Sancho.

I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, and other things like journalism and blogging just happened along the way. My blog has nothing to do with the book I have written or the books I will write. I see myself as a novelist first and everything else later.

Would you agree that a decade after the first blog, Indian blogs remain mostly urban?

Broadband penetration in India is still relatively low, and as a consequence, blog readership in India is also quite low. Hopefully, as broadband penetration rises over the years, this will change. In 10 years time, I expect vernacular blogs to be the most widely read blogs in India.

Everyone wants to express himself. This is common to humans everywhere, not just Indians. Blogging put the tools of production in the hands of the consumer, and made it easy for people to make their thoughts available to the world at large. And the blogosphere is meritocratic - anyone producing compelling content on a regular basis builds up a readership fairly fast. There are no entry barriers for blogging.

Blogs have given space to marginalised voices. Do you agree?
Absolutely. Blogging is a tool of empowerment in the sense that voices that were never heard before now have a platform to express themselves. It also helps people on the margins find others like them easily, and form online communities that can then become real-world communities. Blogging and Twitter are also awesome tools for political mobilisation.

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