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17th Anniversary

This blog completed 17 years today -  started this blog online in 2004. But I've been writing since far before - I had a lot of my handwritten posts locked in my drawer, even one unfinished and one completed science fiction. I was 22 when I started blogging and had gained access to a computer with a 24x7 internet connection only a few months ago.

The first version of my blog from 2004

Over the last 17 years, I've written on several topics and in the process discovered myself. My writing style has undergone changes, personal posts with memoirs got replaced by views and viewpoints. Off late a lot of my thoughts find their way to Facebook and Twitter rather than here. But writing in prose is still my preferred method when self-musing on a subject. Whenever I've felt to think deeply on a subject, I start researching about it and the researched material usually lends itself to a blog post.

To me, 2006 to 2012 was the golden period for blogging - this was a time when blogging went from being a new-fangled hobby for a few to being the next wave of Media. Several popular online publications and columnists of today started with blogging. Some of my favourites from that period are Sidin Vadukut, Gaurav SabnisGreatBong, Amit Agrawal, Rajesh Jain, and Atanu Dey. Some international bloggers I followed in this period were Dave Winer, Ariana Huffington and Richard MacManus.

I was, and still am, inspired by the utopian dream of blogging as an open and fair system of exchange of ideas. Blogs, which can be read by anyone without logging in, discovered by anyone through a simple Google search and commented upon by anyone - are probably the most unbiased medium discovered by mankind to date. Their existence has been overshadowed in the last decade by the rise of gated social networks like Facebook, and either gated media publications or those which have an ideological bias. 

The predecessors of blogs - usenet and later egroups (Yahoo groups, Google groups, mailing lists - many names) were also suboptimal as they required membership. I was a participant in some towards the end of egroups era as well and quickly discovered the ills of moderation and in absence of moderation - flaming within the groups. Not surprisingly, today the same kind of flaming is seen on Twitter and Whatsapp groups where biased media articles are circulated.

Notably, the predecessors of usenet were newspapers and magazines and they were already overly commercialised and biased by the time the Internet arose. Prior to newspapers were pamphlets - the type used by Benjamin Franklin during American war of independence to spread the ideas of freedom and justice - which I think were similar to blogs.

Blogs represent an alternate future - you write what you want, people can comment on it, but you retain absolute editorial control over your space. This actually reduces the chances of flaming - though it isn't unknown to see a flaming comment on a blog - but just the fact that this isn't a communal space but where the author retains editorial rights discourages flamers. Needless to say, it is unmoderated and hence provides ample opportunity for open expression of ideas.

The overshadowing of blogging by Facebook and biased online media houses / gated publications is a bad sign for democracies and mankind in general. The ill signs of this are being seen all over the world where people long for an open and unbiased exchange of ideas - forward-looking policies and non-regressive socio-political discourse. Ideas and their exchange is the bedrock of our progress. If we can't trust what a media house or a person writes, the writing and ideas in it are of no use to us as a collective. At the same time if we lose the freedom to express ourselves openly - if we have to pay - either by cash or through our attention; advertisements or a biased / gamed timeline of posts - it is again of no use because the medium is simply being used to program us rather than help us grow as individuals which then leads to social progress.

I long for the blogging era of 2006-2012 to return; I wish we have more 'commoners' give up the narrow confines of Facebook and start blogging in an open universe. I long for a system where biased media can be overshadowed by genuine blog posts by commoners, where we can discover like-minded bloggers simply based on their writing and not because we know them from someplace else or that they've spent advertising dollars on advertising.

In short, borrowing a phrase from Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore:
Where the head is held High and mind without fear - let blogging awake! 

Side Note 1: 

Incidentally, the most popular post on my blog is a translation of Gurudev's most popular poem Ekla Chalo re. Read it here

Side note 2: 

I find Twitter can co-exist very nicely with an open blogging ecosystem - Twitter not only serves as a micro-blogging platform but more importantly, it's a way to discover like-minded people and hence a gateway to discovering great blogs.

To cap, here is a list of all topics on which I've written ordered along descending order of the number of posts in them. SocioPolitics closely followed by Technology describes me quite accurately.  


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