have the right to your opinion and Chintamani has the right to his. Just that I am a bit jealous of your blog URL being splashed as the headline in the article where you belittle SEA-EAT
and similar blogs, as also the idea of citizen journalism at large. How many hits are you getting! And to be listed as a blogger beside such star bloggers as Amit Varma
and Jai Arjun Singh
- what wouldn't I do for that! So: congratulations!
Let's come down to business. In that short piece you write how blogs like Mumbai Help can't save lives in a disaster, and so can't be equated with heroes: "Thankfully, some of the saner bloggers agree that it is impossible to prove that blogs save lives or make a difference."
is a mainstream publication. Tell me, how many lives did Outlook save in any of the various disasters of 2005?
Now you would say Outlook's job is to report disasters and not become a disaster relief NGO.
Bang on! So why expect a blogger to be Hercules?
You write: "For Mumbaikars who were stranded without water and electricity for a almost a week it wouldn't have mattered much which paper said what. Helpline numbers of electricity and healthcare providers were reproduced on the Collablog from other newspapers. Astronomical web-page hits and Technorati.com searches apart, what citizen reportage are we talking about?"
Now you would know that web-page hits and Technorati searches are an indicator of popularity. They indicate that people are reading this, which obviously means they are finding it useful. Am I right?
You would probably also agree with me that the internet is a global medium. Indian bloggers' first sight of a statcounter is shocking in that more than half the visitors are from outside India. People from all over the world visited these blogs. One of the things the Tsunami blog did was to direct people to charities where they could donate: making a difference, did you say?
If a Mumbai Flood relief blog is not of help to someone stranded in the floods, the same goes for a newspaper or magazine, because you would remember their circulation too was hit for some time by the Mumbai floods.
Another point about citizen journalism is that a blogger does not see himself as a citizen journalist! That is a label that media academics have coined, and does have some basis - why else would blogging be so big in the US? But then you wouldn't know about US scene, because you think Dan Rather
was a blogger
! But anyway, the label of citizen journalist is also one that the mainstream media has popularised and now MSM wants the blogosphere to live up to the label.
Now you would agree that that's grossly unfair. Bloggers blog to blog, to communicate. A blog is a mode of online communication and could be used in any which way. As a blogger, Chintamani is not bound by rules of writing or editing or any imperative to be a citizen reporter.
Your last sentence is very interesting: "For the urban twentysomethings with intellectual pretentions and the hope of being spotted by the commissioning editor of a publishing house, it's the new P3, or rather the virtual world's own India International Centre."
About a commissioning editor seeing my blog and publishing my book, you have said this earlier as well, and let me tell you that no blogger blogs just for that hope. One blogger actually turned down such a request from a well known publishing house.
About India International Centre, what do you have against the place? I have attended so many illuminating talks and what not at IIC that it is a compliment for you bloggers to be compared to the denizens of IIC! As for intellectual pretensions, hmmmm, okay, another day.
I hope you will respond.
CC: Vinod Mehta