Hello world!

The United States is celebrating its independence day today. I am embarking on yet another blog. My first blog had my name on it and was on Blogspot. It was a Tibetan blog talking about alternative services to those provided by Google that first turned my attention to WordPress. I have since used Drupal, Tumblr, Vox, LiveJournal and the self-hosted WordPress. At the end I am back here again.

It has been a journey where I have learnt a lot. In the meanwhile, I moved away from being a mechanical engineering undergrad to being a banker. No MBAs were involved. In the end, I use my most favourite of the names of blogs I have used thus far.

Parallel Spirals is my imagination of how I see myself following these various parallel interests that I spiral down into once in a while.

My Experiences at BlogCamp Mumbai

While Mumbai has had a fairly good frequency of BarCamps in the recent past, BlogCamps have been few and far between. I don’t even remember how many blogcamps there have been so far. I was happy to hear the announcement for the BlogCamp at the BarCamp I attended the week before last.

Getting to the BlogCamp was an interesting task in itself. I turned to Google Maps to suggest me a good way to get to the venue at Vidyalankar Institute of Technology in Wadala. The route that it suggested took me via a bus route that left me at a place called Shanti Nagar and had me traversing through the slums of Wadala and along the outer boundary of the Institute to reach the venue. Hmm.

The crowd wasn’t as big as BarCamp but more importantly, it was an interesting crowd! We started the morning with a session by Rakesh Kumar on content strategies for your blog. He suggested that there were more ways to add content than just text – images, slides, video, visualisations etc. were now possible and made content more interesting and easy to comprehend for an attention deficit audience. He suggested ideas for having a time table for what to write about in the coming days. He suggested doing guest posts on other people’s blogs and also inviting guest bloggers on your blog to encourage a more diverse set of opinions on your blog. He suggested having a tone for your blog would be worth considering and building on.

Rakesh really got the audience involved and the audience did have many questions. I think this set the stage for a very interactive BlogCamp, overall. I’ve hardly seen audiences involved in the talk as much as in this BlogCamp. Quite different.

Ashutosh Bijoor was the second guy. He dazzled us with a beautiful set of pictures from forts and caves from near Mumbai. They travel to these places on their cycles beginning at Andheri or Thane. After breezing through Mumbai’s history and geography, Ashutosh told us a little about the group that he started. They call themselves the Mumbai Historical Sites Cycling Association (MuHiSiCA) and was started because the Archaeological Survey of India speaks only to organisations and not individuals. They research on places, cycle to forts and caves in and around Mumbai, clean them up, takes photos and then blog about it.

We then had a talk on Video Blogging by Mihir Joshi. Mihir has a YouTube-based talk show called The M J Show where he talks to musicians and some Bollywood celebrities. He went to a digital content company called Ping Network to help produce the content for his shows. He suggests that companies exist that are looking for such content and are ready to provide help with production. He said that it was a route worth considering besides Doing It Yourself which always exists as an option if no one is willing to take you on.

After a lunch consisting of Mountain Dew, rice, dal and potato curry, we went back in for a session on Indic blogging by Nikhilesh Ghushe.He started with getting the audience to get the Hindi equivalent word for words in English. Through the example, he sought to establish the nuances that one is able to achieve through the Indic languages. He said this provided the basis for some experiences and understanding that English gets rid of. He suggested that we miss a lot of this nuance even during consumption of English language news which does not understand nuance. He also says that not reading Hindi literature means we’re missing out on a large chunk of literature ourselves. Nikhilesh writes poetry on his blog and admits that Hindi is much better for poetry than prose. During a brief description of the history of Hindi literature, Nikhiles says that upto about the 1830s, Hindi did not have prose – only drama and poetry.

The next session was by Alexander Gounder on SEO. In earlier BlogCamps, I have heard a hatred being expressed for people who do SEO for their blogs. Alex’s talk today seemed to suggest that the SEOers have adopted a more organic route on things now. The talk was way too technical for me for a nuanced reproduction here. I will link to any post that explains this better.

The next session was by Mahafreed who did a session on Vine. Vine is a way to produce 6 second videos and upload them online. They’re like a Twitter for videos. Not interestingly, Twitter has acquired them. Placing a limitation on a technology helps bring out creativity and I think this is what makes Vine very interesting. We also co-developed the idea for a Vine.

The last talk was by Anubha Bhat on why people should blog and on her own personal experiences of having kept a blog since about 2007.

 

Blogging in Malayalam

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on February 20, 2011 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

This is another project that I have been trying to do for a very long time. It has been a long time dream to write my blog in Malayalam. I started on this curve by trying to write for the Malayalam Wikipedia. I found here Malayalam that I could not easily understand. This led me to try and read Malayalam newspapers once in a while. Finally, reading this blog post over at Gerrard’s blog, pushed me to write Malayalam online.

I do not much of the concepts that have been talked about on Gerard’s blog. These are things that would be awesome to learn more about. I have put them separately to learn and research about them. Perhaps, it may not be essential to understand all of them before blogging in Malayalam but this is a good starting point.

Being born and brought up in Mumbai, I have been practicing to write in Hindi and English primarily. I do speak in Malayalam daily at home but do not write as often as I could. This has made me feel sorry sometimes and also feel a sense of contribution to the death of a language. It may not be as the same many other Indian languages with nearly 36 million people speaking the language world-wide but it could very easily get there.

One of my efforts on having these thoughts was to try and write Wikipedia articles in the Malayalam Wikipedia. The thing was that I was not really sure about Malayalam spellings. I knew the alphabet set to read Malayalam but not really write it well. Perhaps it is a great way to reconnect with my grandmother as well.

So, I’ve written a blog post today without any help from anyone. I’ve written it using Google Transliteration and have not paid any special attention to the spellings. From tomorrow, for every alternate day, I hope to write something on the blog and begin the curve to improve my Malayalam.

February 21, 2011 is being celebrated as International Mother’s Language Day. I hope you do something to begin speaking, reading or writing in your mother tongue.