Mid-day: We want to know who you are


by Bhairavi Jhaveri

After a UK-based journalist unveiled the identity behind award-winning blog NightJack, that gave behind-the-scene insight into frontline policing, detective Richard Horton chose to appeal to the court to stop the newspaper from publishing his name. a ban on anonymous bloggers is being anticipated in the UK. What could that mean in the world of blogging? FYI finds out


Thanks to its nature, the online world gifts everyone anonymity to be somebody you are not, to say things you can’t otherwise. This also makes it almost impossible to monitor, control and force laws that curb the outpouring; it would amount to creating an antithesis of cyberspace in cyberspace.

Reasons for preferring anonymity could be many:

  • He/she may be blogging on a controversial subject.
  • Could belong to an organisation that limits using his/her real name while spewing personal opinion.
  • He/she may want to create and maintain a relevant buzz around the subject (for instance, the Fake IPL blog).
  • The blog information is so private and observational that revealing who is behind it could lead to it be taken offline.

But, things still need to be said, people need to know what’s going on, and somebody needs to get their hands dirty. While the counter effect of anonymity is credibility, people forget that a blog can be credible even if anonymous. This depends on how discerning the reader is and who he/she chooses to believe and follow. So why should a ban like this even be considered?


Cultural fabrics are different
Rajiv Dingra, a technology blogger on www.WATblog.com, says laws of some kind are necessary. “In India, religious matters are deemed most sensitive. So, if a blog is going to create religious tension, it shows that a country is not mature enough to consume this change. It would only be wise to force laws related to certain subjects like politics and religion. Most bloggers are educated; they will not flout rules. It will be a self-correcting mechanism.”


But a blanket rule is unnecessary
An avid blogger and writer with the Mumbai edition of a national daily (who didn’t want to be identified) points out how ironic this move would be when social media is gaining power. He gives you the example of  anonymous Iranian tweeters. “They were updating the world about the protests in their country; the US government even asked Twitter to schedule their site maintenance in a way that didn’t disrupt this ongoing dialogue,” he adds.

Uditvanu Das, a sales producer intern for a leading online portal who blogs about everything from social media to books and the media scene, says you can’t discount the sources bloggers have. “They often get into areas where even media channels have limited access,” he says, citing blogger Kiruba Shankar who wrote about his distasteful experience with travel site www.Cleartrip.com.


Such a ban will never take place
Bloggers who want to remain anonymous will continue to do so using tools like Psiphon and Tor, says Gaurav Mishra, co-founder and CEO of social media research and consulting company, 20:20 WebTech. A bunch of bloggers also think that if the Government were to start regulating content on the net, how would democracies like India and the UK be any different from China and Russia. Priya Shah, 22 year-old student of Masters in Corporate Communication at NYU sums up the feeling with a rhetorical, “Wouldn’t it be like saying you can have only one email account!”


Corporates can impose their own rules
Social media observer and MD and founder of Mosoci India, Dina Mehta says, to avoid confidential information from being disseminated via an employee’s blog, companies can chalk out their own guidelines and policies. “Let them know what they are allowed to do, and what they aren’t,” she says. Blogger Uditvanu Das thinks most bloggers are responsible enough to ensure the content they put up is genuine, honest and unbiased.
Track Dina on www.Dinamehta.com


Be safe while blogging on sensitive subjects
Asfaq Tapia, Corporate Communications, Pinstorm
There is no point being irresponsible, because you can be traced easily in the online world. Bloggers must associate themselves with a group of bloggers; ask them for advice on how to say things that are sensitive.
Track Asfaq on www.Asfaq.com

Kaushik Chatterji, Engineering student, an avid blogger on politics
I prefer to keep names out when I am voicing opinions related to parties, politicians or reporters; you can get into serious trouble. But I wouldn’t want to be anonymous either, since I look at my blogs as articles. I want people to know who has written them.
Track Kaushik on www.Ibanov.blogspot.com

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DigiMouth.com: Interview


by Ashwin Murli

Asfaq Tapia

Asfaq Tapia has been a prolific blogger and online junkie way before India had heard the term ‘twitter’. As one of the most popular Indian tweeters Asfaq has ingeniously managed to transcend his passion for technology into a livelihood. Other than being a Communications Manager for Pinstorm Asfaq plays a key role in popularising the Indian online industry to the world. Here is your chance to know what’s on his mind (and plate) these days!

You are one of the most famed Twitter personalities. How did it happen?

Damn! You make me sound like a star of sorts! Thank you! I like to believe I got the ‘early adopter’ advantage with Twitter. Back when I joined the service there were hardly any Indians on there. While Twitter is all about engaging in multiple con-current conversations today, back then, it was like a big IRC chat room in slow motion with around 15-20 users in it.

I am a geek and early adopter at heart. I love signing up to and using all software and services when they are in beta or alpha. That’s how I managed to be on Twitter. Once you get beyond the ‘I don’t see the point of this’ feeling, it becomes addictive.

Twitter has become an instrumental business tool. How effectively have Indian businesses and entrepreneurs used Twitter to their benefit?

Indian business are slowly starting to wake up to the entire Social Media phenomena – which is a good thing. However, they tend to use ‘networks’ like Twitter in isolation and believe that by doing so, they have a Social Media presence

Take the case of Kingfisher Airlines. What is their Social Media presence? In my humble opinion, they have some way to go. Creating a fan page on FaceBook (which happened a year ago) is of no relevance if you don’t engage with your users. They received a lot of press for their Twitter id, but really, its the same depressing story (http://twitter.com/FlyKingfisher) there too.

The ones who are doing it really well are SlideShare and MTV India (on FaceBook too). They talk about themselves, engage with the community, follow those who follow them and encourage users to create buzz for them online.

During the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, we at Pinstorm, used Twitter to spread important information about our blog that contained hospital and emergency service phone numbers and information related to the attacks. We later used it to help raise 33 lakhs to rehabilitate those affected by the tragedy. We also use Twitter to engage with the community and spread information about Pinstorm related news and events.

Tell us about your role at Pinstorm

As a Communications Manager, I am in-charge of all official communication for Pinstorm, apart from ensuring our presence at key industry events and conferences. This role also extends to being the ‘Online Evangelist’ for the company and maintaining its various online presences across Social Networking websites and Micro-blogging networks.

I am also in-charge of maintaining the website and the Pinstorm Blog. Apart from all this, I liaise with journalists and bloggers for maintaining ‘top of mind recall’ amongst relevant media outlets and blogs.

Tell us something about the unique model Pinstorm offers, I guess you have taken the PPC model further to Pay per Lead

Its called ‘Pay-for-Performance’. We are actually the only India-based multinational advertising firm, with offices in USA, Europe, China, Singapore, Malaysia and India.

Pinstorm is unique in its integrated approach which re-bundles creative and media in the digital world. Our solutions are created across Display, SEM, SEO, WAP, SMS, Social Media, Viral and other digital media – while they are charged for only on a pay-for-performance basis. Clients don’t pay for strategy, creative, servicing or media – but only pay for the measurable branding impact and prospect responses generated. Our clients around the world include Yahoo!, HSBC, Jet Airways, Standard Chartered, Canon, Panasonic, and Nestle among others.

Tell us something we do not know about you

I am left-handed, love to sing while I bathe and prefer non-vegetarian food

If you wouldn’t have been a blogger, you would have …

Remained a tech writer
Most memorable user feedback

To be told that my insights on Social Media and the tools to use for the medium were effective in generating revenue for a friend’s business.

Twitter Now! What Next?
Location Based Services and Location Aware Apps

3 Tips / Tricks / Cheats for budding Tweeters

  • Dont bother about your ‘follower’ count. Instead, try to follow as many people as you can
  • Dont be a snob. Engage and participate in conversations
  • Get a life. Go out there and attend those offline meets and events.

5 Bloggers and Tweeters you recommend

I follow so many interesting folks! But some of them I really enjoy are

@Netra – if you want to know about events and twitter meetups
@Dina – for Social Media related info
@Krist0ph3r – for his humour
@DarthVader – Star Wars related humour
@E71 – for all the news

Bloggers: WatBlog, Rohit Bhargava, Sampad Swain, IdeaSmith, Manu Prasad.

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