Sabji Acchi bani hai – Part 1

Setting: A typical IT company office in India. 3 cubicles (cutouts) can be seen, Stage center back. Three men are sitting with backs facing the audience. They appear to be working. They are – Sumit in the Stage Right cubicle, Shanky in the Stage center and Rahul/Ashutosh on Stage Left. Loud sighs can be heard coming from Shanky when the curtain opens.

After about 30 seconds of listening to the loud sighs.
Sumit (turning to Shanky): Abey yaar Shanky, itna udaas kyun hai?
Shanky (turns to Audience and rolls his chair to Stage Center): Ama yaar kya btaun, kimkartavyavimoodh ho rakha hun.
Rahul (turns and rolls his chair to Center Left): Kim Kardashian? Abey tu itna udaas hai ki khud ke words bnane lag gaya hai?
Shanky: Abey ghonchu, hindi ka shabdkosh khol liya kar kabhi, authentic word hai.
(Rahul is still scratching his head)
Sumit (rolling chair to Center Right): Shanky, itne bhaari words mat use kar, usse samajh nahi aate, (turning to Rahul) dude, vo keh raha hai ki vo confused hai ki kya kare! Shanky, tu ye to bta ki tujhe hua kya?
Shanky (showing disappointment with ‘shucks’): Kya btaun yaar, jab se shaadi hui hai, meri pyaari preeto ne Anarkali ko chodd ke Kali ka roop dharan kar liya hai. Life jhand ho gayi hai…
Rahul: Accha, teri bhi yehi halat hai?
Sumit: Yaar sabki yehi halat hoti hai, ismein naya kya hai?
Shanky: Naya hai yaar! Pehle to main preeto ko compliment karta tha, to has ke kehti thi, ki tum to bade romantic ho!
Sumit: Aur ab?
Shanky: Yaar ab agar usse kehta hun ki sabji acchi bani hai, to usse sunta hai ki sabji KACCHI bani hai! Bekar mein har subah jagdha ho jaata hai.
Rahul: Yaar, ye to mere saath bhi bda hota hai, tang ho gaya hun!
Sumit: Yaar same here. Life ne bda hi ajeeb mod liya hai, Socha tha shaadi kar ke life mein shaanti aegi.
Shanky: Dude shaanti to aayi, par sukuun waali nahi, DD ki Mandira Bedi waali Shanti, aur uske rehte kisi ke life mein shaanti nahi ho sakti! Continue reading

Childhood

In a sea of faces
walks a child,
his mind swimming
in a sea of books.
He seems lost
in the reverie
that some call the Schoolyard.

He looks at the children,
smiling, playing, happy.
He is distant,
but not angry or sad,
just different.
There is a moment,
a flicker in his eyes
and out comes the pen,
to write words,
nay, observations,
into his notebook.

He sits in the sidelines,
toiling as hard as
the basketball players,
on rhyming his words.
Sometimes two lines
do not rhyme
and the world seems
like a dark, filthy place.
But then the light
of imagination shines
and the words come rushing.

He dares, he dreams,
he imagines, he infers,
he observes, he opines.
He holds his rhymes dear,
Till one day he will grow up
And grow out of the rhymes
With dulled imagination
and a weary soul
drifting in a sea of adulthood.

But not today!
Today he writes,
today he cherishes,
his energetic soul.
Today is not for worrying.
Today is for the now.
Today is for
Thinking, Dreaming, Hoping.

Tech Bloggers should sell their articles

tl;dr – Tech bloggers should sell articles to News companies, much like Reuters and AP have done in the past.

GigaOm Pro is an interesting service. While most of the tech blogging industry is ad-supported, it has a subscription based model. It’s not unheard of, but surprises me that it works. I don’t have any numbers, but the fact that the industry pays good money to read and listen to GigaOm Pro analysts seems to point to a healthy business model. Why does GigaOm Pro work? Because it is attached to a name, that of Om Malik. That name carries weight in tech reporting circles. People care about what he has to say.

Why is this relevant? Because good writing is always rewarded. Newspapers around the world have always depended on wire services like Reuters, AP and BBC, to name a few, to fill their columns and inform their readers of news from around the globe. This makes sense for two reasons – it is cost-effective and companies such as Reuters and AP can be trusted to do the right reporting in a timely and impartial manner. I have seen news reports being replicated in different newspapers without any change simply because the headline was followed by a reporter’s name and a small (Reuters) mention.

Today, the Internet, in its goal to be an open sharing platform, has skewed this reporting standard. Companies such as ABC News and NYT often quote a blog post or a tweet and wrap their own story or analysis around that. This works so long as the original writer isn’t a paid professional writer, like when I write on this blog. But when the quoted links are tech blogs and independent writers who lose out on page views; and thus ad revenue, this becomes a lousy proposition for the bloggers.

I believe that tech blogs should become similar to Reuters and AP in their reporting. Traditional news companies cannot afford to send reporters to every tech event, nor are they invited to do so. Tech blogs have reached the level where if you’re not writing well or covering the latest topics, you’ll get laughed off the Internet quicker than it takes to set up a Tumblr blog. So, instead of keeping in-house writers, news outlets can take articles from tech blogs for a fixed price, along with deeper analyses and more contextual content. They could do this without compromising the quality of the writing. Not every tech blogger would qualify for a payout, but those who have proven their worth will be able to earn more than just page views on such a program.

Why would this work for news companies? Right now it’s a free-for-all. They can quote anyone, attach a link and bet that no average reader will click on it, all for free. The benefit of paying up? Syndication. Right now, tech news trickles down from everyone who was on the scene and this means that everything links back to the tech blogs. By offering to pay for their writing, media companies will be able to get their hands on exclusive content without having to link to any blogs and without having to worry about legal issues related to trackbacks.

The negatives for tech bloggers are not negligible. The first is that many companies will require bloggers to officially become journalists to protect them in case of First Amendment issues. This will require that the following question be addressed – is a blog post talking about a recent event a news report or an opinion? I myself believe that it is an opinion, since the writer does not necessarily have the required training to be impartial to the subject. This debate has often played out against bloggers. The other issue is that upon paying money, the company will require the blogger to not publish the article on their own blog, as this would duplicate the syndicated article. This hits the blogger exactly where it hurts. Tech bloggers write on their own platform for the single purpose of gaining popularity; which can then be converted into money using the traditional means of sponsored posts or advertisements. The work around would be for tech bloggers to either accept less money in exchange for permission to post the article on their blog after a fixed period of time or write a short article on their own blog while syndicating a longer, much more detailed version for the news media. The final problem is that this move would take us away from the open nature of the Internet where RSS feeds and pingbacks allow a level of sharing that doesn’t exist on any other media platform. I do not know how negatively this will affect the Internet, but it would not be a small change.

In conclusion, I believe that tech bloggers should strike deals with traditional news media to provide them with syndicated news feeds. This can mean that tech bloggers do not need to depend solely on advertisements on their own platform to earn a living. This will benefit news media outlets because they will get accurate, real-time news and analysis from people who are in the field and understand the context very well. There are still a lot of issues that need to be resolved before such a step can be taken, but the idea is worth looking into.

Interesting sub note – The Wikipedia page for Syndication lists print syndication as “where individual newspapers or magazines license news articles, columns, or comic strips” but web syndication as “where web feeds make a portion of a web site available to other sites or individual subscribers”. In web syndication, there is no mention of licensing, money or purchase of rights. This is what Riptide has concluded to be the problem with news reporting on the web.

Editor: Anna Tarkov [ADN|Twitter]
Note: I’d love to thank Anna for her help in editing this article. She provided me with invaluable help in getting the message across and pointing out some of my idiosyncrasies. Anna is a journalist from the Chicago area and she’s steeped in the digital life. She runs a personal blog here.

The Path of the Creative person

I was talking to my friend Rahul[ADN|Twitter|Facebook] about an idea I had about ‘ideas’ and how I would represent visually the need to protect our precious idea from all the negative people around us who would rather see that idea die than to help or even support us. He captured it quite brilliantly in this sketch he made –

The Path of the Creative


Rahul does some pretty creative work on his Tumblr – LicenseToDraw

The Zen of Zen

I have tried, many, many times, to read books on self-help, management, zen and “How to Keep on Writing” topics. But except for the wisdom I found in the stories in books like Shiv Khera’s ‘You Can Win’ or in ‘The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey’ and the one immensely powerful book – ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield – which was more of a conversation with a fellow writer than the inept preachings of a management ‘guru’, I have never been able to finish one of these so-called ‘life altering’ guides. Continue reading

Short Story: The Author

On a quiet night, in a quiet neighborhood, twenty quiet police officers quietly broke into a quiet man’s quiet house, arrested him and quietly took him away.

When he woke up, he was alone in a large, dark room with a bright light shining on him. He called out, for someone must be listening, but no one replied. He called out again, then shouted, but no one came. He got angry and shouted, cursed and rocked his chair. His hands were tied to the back and his feet were tied to the legs of the metal chair and did not budge. He tried hard and long, but he could not move an inch. At long last, he noticed a small red light switch on, right next to the bright light glaring in his face. A voice spoke from somewhere behind that light, booming into the room, “Please state your name, age and occupation. Also state your reason for betraying your country.” Continue reading

The Death of the Author

there is, however, someone who understands each word in its duplicity and who, in addition, hears the very deafness of the characters speaking in front of him-this someone being precisely the reader.

via The Death of the Author by Roland Barthes Full Text, Downloads, Cliff Notes, and Essays.

 

This text, pointed to me by Dan on ADN (which was in response to this article posted there by Matthew) reflects what I believe about writing today – that in as much as we want to give meaning to the text in terms of the context of the author, the real meaning can only be derived by the reader himself. The same is true, in my book, about any art – paintings, sculptures etc, where it is not the artist’s life, times, societal pressures or addictions, that define the true meaning of the work, but the impressions it makes upon the viewer that truly reflect the value of the art. Continue reading

How to end a story about a war – Lessons from World War Z

So I saw World War Z a few days ago. It turned out to be a better story than I’d anticipated. I expected it to be either too soft or too macho, but it struck the right balance. After I finished the movie, I realized that there were some lessons in it for me, specifically, about writing fiction.

The story is about a war, a war against zombies. Quite simply, it’s a war that cannot be finished in one book, one film or even one lifetime. That reminds me, I have to compare this story to how Resident Evil handles war. Continue reading