TECH TALK: India’s Next Decade: Weblogs

(Note: This column is part of an ongoing series on “India’s Next Decade”. Over the next few columns, I have compiled a series of notes from various writers on what Kevin Werbach has called the Next WWW: Web Services, Weblogs and WiFi. Later, I will provide the context of how this is the set of opportunities our generation has to build new companies, and perhaps, a new India.)

Continuing our journey of (a) examining where the next set of innovations are and (b) seeing how India and Indian companies can build out this new future, this week we will survey the current thinking on Weblogs and WiFi and then consider how to leverage the new set of opportunities.

What is it about Weblogs that is creating excitement? What is so interesting about personal diaries and journals that make it part of the triad of the next WWW (with Web services and WiFi)?

Kevin Werbach in Release 1.0:

Weblogs give anyone who wants it a new means for personal expression via the Net. They promise to complete the revolution that HTML and Mosaic started.Weblogs do for personal sites what content management did for corporate sites. They make it simple to add, modify and distribute content dynamically.

Think back to the early days of the Web. Homepages started sprouting all over the Internet on sites like Geocities and Tripod. The problem with home pages was that they were hard to update. Yet, they had a quality about them which added to the diversity, richness and depth of the Web. Weblogs take this personal journey further by eschewing with the need for fancy formatting and focusing on the content and the linkages. Weblogs rely on the world of mainstream content, their experiences and comments by other webloggers for their commentaries. They have a grassroots feel about them, tapping into abundant user energy. This is a web, to borrow a phrase from Kevin Kelly, build on Love, not Greed.

Writes Andrew Sullivan in Wired (May 2002):

In the beginning – say 1994 – the phenomenon now called blogging was little more than the sometimes nutty, sometimes inspired writing of online diaries. These days, there are tech blogs and sex blogs and drug blogs and onanistic teenage blogs. But there are also news blogs and commentary blogs, sites packed with links and quips and ideas and arguments that only months ago were the near-monopoly of established news outlets. Poised between media, blogs can be as nuanced and well-sourced as traditional journalism, but they have the immediacy of talk radio. Amid it all, this much is clear: The phenomenon is real. Blogging is changing the media world and could, I think, foment a revolution in how journalism functions in our culture.Blogger could be to words what Napster was to music – except this time, it’ll really work.

A comment from Louise Kehoe of the Financial Times, who has recently started her own blog:

I am a convert to blogging (web log writing). When I first came across web logs a year ago I was derisive in this column. I saw them as derivative, mostly comprising links to articles written by other people with brief comments. I thought of them as the digital equivalent of scrapbooks containing pictures and articles cut out of magazines and newspapers.

My new-found enthusiasm is based in part on finding a few high-quality examples with original thoughts. I am also drawn in by the format and interactive nature of the web log.

At their best, web logs have a fresh, raw quality and provide a personal perspective on the topics they cover. Although I do not share the purist’s zeal for displacing commercial online publishing with these personal logs, I see them adding “more voices” to the web at a time when commercial investment in new media is retreating. I am also intrigued by the opportunity to interact more directly with readers.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.