BlogCamp Mumbai Sept 2012 at MPSTME – REDUX!

Update 2: And the event is back! Called BlogCamp Redux, here’s their event page.

I didn’t have a chance to say this earlier but BlogCamp is a movement, not the sole property of a small group. It doesn’t matter who the organizers are, so long as the events happen. Everyone who expressed an interest in being there, make sure you make it to MPSTME tomorrow! It looks like it’ll be a great event!

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Update 1: This event has been cancelled due to internal issues. BlogCamps will happen in the future, hopefully under better circumstances. Stay posted!

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

After a gap of 2 years, BlogCamp Mumbai is back! New and improved like the space, this time it’s not just about blogs. We’re going to be talking about online communities, social tools and all the ways that public conversations happen.

What’s BlogCamp?

For the uninitiated, BlogCamp is an unconference, along the lines of BarCamp. An unconference is an open forum, a space to discuss what’s happening and connect with other day people who’re playing with the social media. Unconferences really are about fun and people. This is a great place for interesting conversations and meeting people. You may see a few friends there and perhaps people you follow or read but have never spoken to.

The day will progress through 15-minute sessions, happening in parallel, in different rooms. These sessions will be timed strictly, to ensure everyone has a say.  Anybody can volunteer to take a session, so long as they have something interesting to say about this space. You can choose to attend any session. You can also interrupt, add to, argue with the speaker and the rest of the audience. And finally, you can walk out anytime you like.

What’s going to happen at BlogCamp (and not)?

Unconferences are traditionally free-flowing, unmoderated events. However, in order to keep the event interesting, we’re going to ask that speakers AVOID the following:

  • Commercial agendas
  • Professional networking talks
  • Sales pitches

But you can speak about anything related to:

  • Blogging
  • Use of other social media services
  • Social networks
  • Online communities
  • Anything else in the social space

Who can attend?

BlogCamp is an open forum and welcomes anybody who’d like to spend a Sunday walking  baround, talking to and listening to random people and ideas about the social space. You don’t have to be a blogger, tweeter or a social media professional. You don’t have to have attended a blogger meet or a tweet-up before. Honest, even if you think pins and pokes are painful things, you’re still welcome. If you read blogs, if you follow Twitter, if Youtube is your guru or if you just like conversations, come down and spend Sunday with a bunch of others who do.

I’m in! How do I participate?

Date: Sunday, 9 September 2012
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Place: Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management and Engineering,
Along the Mithibai-NM college road, Vileparle West, Mumbai

BlogCamp is a free event. If however, you’d like to take a session, drop us a comment at the Facebook Event. We’ll get in touch to confirm the details. Or just turn up and take a chance at getting a free slot on the whiteboard at the venue.

BarCamp Mumbai On 19 Feb @ MPSTE, VileParle West

All of 2011 went by without my being able to be part of a single unconference. Which is why I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Sunday, 19th February 2012, will see the first BarCamp Mumbai of 2012.

Image via Wikipedia

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of unconferences, these are completely democratic gatherings of minds, coming together to share and discuss their ideas on various things. BarCamp in its early days, was an open forum on technology, especially the IT & networking end of it. BlogCamp emerged as a specialized community from within the BarCamp framework. This space has seen much discussion and evolution through the course of various BlogCamps.

I’m going to be attending a BarCamp after nearly 4 years. The agenda has evolved considerably, to keep up with what’s hot and new in thinking minds. A quick look at the sessions list promises that the day will touch on restaurant reviewing, origami, online communities, yoga, urban commuting and graphology among other things. These will continue to be added on, as more participants sign up.

Here are the things you can do at BarCamp:

  • Listen to speakers talk about their pet subjects
  • Interrupt with questions, opposition or related thoughts
  • Juggle between sessions, rooms & speakers, walking in and out whenever you like
  • Hear your favorite temperamental blogger speak
  • Talk about something that you like
  • Connect with other people with similar interests, tastes or opinions
  • Have a lot of fun!

And just in case you missed the bold, underlined hint above, I’m going to be addressing a session on something close to my heart these days – Social Content. :-)

Here are the details:

BarCamp Mumbai February 2012

Date: Sunday, 19 February 2012
Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Place: Mukesh Patel School of Technology, Management and Engineering,
Along the Mithibai-NM college road, Vileparle West, Mumbai
Facebook: Confirm your attendance and invite others.
Wiki: Register your session and check out the agenda so far.

Ideart: Mere Pass WOGMA Hain!

Another Ideart opportunity and my marketing mind tells me this should be called co-branding. :-) At the Mood Indigo-BlogCamp Dec 2010 that happened over the weekend, I had a chance to showcase one of my works.

I first met Meetu at a common friend’s party. A few months later, we connected at the 2008 BlogCamp at IIT Powai. We kept in touch, our blogs establishing a mutual admiration society. Last year, I called to tell her I’d be in Pune and she invited me to crash at her place. I don’t know if she has had a chance to regret that (!) gesture as yet but her place feels like my home away from home to me now. I have also had the honour of being a guest author at WOGMA, the blog that makes Meetu famous.

So it was nice to have the opportunity to show my solidarity for WOGMA and Meetu in a very personalized way, the Ideart way! Meetu wanted a fun WOGMA tee-shirt to wear to the BlogCamp event. She also sent me the inscription and a detailed description of the design. I think she was quite happy with the result. :-)

The tee-shirt says,

Tumhare paas
…actor hain,
director hain,

Mere paas,
…WOGMA hain!!

(a filmi tribute to Deewar)

I considered two fonts for the message. Since Deewar came out in the 70s (my favorite decade of pop-culture!), I first wanted the curly-wurly psychedelic font that characterised those references (think the title of Om Shanti Om). But the message was too long to fit such a complex font onto the tee-shirt and I didn’t want to risk taking away from the WOGMA logo.

So I picked the other font which was what I think of as a ‘Las Vegas’ font, since Hollywood movies often show casinos and clubs with their billboards flashing names and surrounded by bulbs around each letter.

As with many Ideart projects, the conceptualisation took up the bulk of the time. Once I knew what I was going to do, actually carrying it out took very little time. The main words were painted on with a flat brush and touched up with the hairfine point. Once dry, I applied tiny yellow spots on top of the black letters. You can’t actually see the yellow dots too well and the effect isn’t quite what I had imagined with the Las Vegas lights. But it does brighten up the otherwise severe black strokes without detracting from the colourful WOGMA logo.

I was quite nervous about the WOGMA logo since this was the only thing that Meetu really wanted replicated as closely as possible. The logo on the site is an online print and I was not sure I’d be able to reproduce it in fabric paint. So I took some liberties with the shades and tried to stay close to the shape of the coffee-stain style ‘O’. I used my favorite technique of dabbing water-diluted colours and blending them where they met, before they dried. The ‘W’, ‘G’, ‘M’ and ‘A’ were done in a slightly narrower flat brush using a maroon colour (I didn’t have the plum shade of the actual logo, sorry Meetu!).

The back of the tee-shirt was even easier since I just replicated the WOGMA logo and practically scribbled the ‘movie reviews from a part of the audience’ that Meetu had asked for.

There was still something missing and it looked too much like the kind of tee-shirts that corporate types give out at conventions. So I gave it a neckline to make it look less like a tee-shirt and more like a dressy top. The same yellow-dotted black stripe ran around the V of the neck in the front. I didn’t have a chance to do the back and I figured Meetu’s long hair would cover that anyway. The entire exercise took all of one hour but a lot of frantic phone calls to Meetu. :-)

Garment: Standard V-necked women’s tee-shirt

Material: Tee-shirt cotton

Background colour: Plain white

Paint colours used:

  • Fevicryl no.02 Black (for basic script)
  • Fevicryl no.302 Pearl Lemon Yellow (for dots & ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.311 Pearl Spring Green (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.303 Pearl Pink (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.24 Vermillion (for ‘O’ of WOGMA logo)
  • Fevicryl no.10 Indian Red (for ‘W’, ‘G’, ‘M’ and ‘A’ of WOGMA logo)

Mood Indigo-BlogCamp Dec 2010: Visual Blogging, Quality versus Quantity, Travelogues & More

On the coldest day of the season (according to the news), I stuck one toe out of my cozy blanket and groaned. “But it’s a Sunday!” Of course, since I’ve quit my daily job, every day could be a Sunday. But still…it’s the principle of the thing! By the time I’d washed my face, better mood set in as I remembered, “It’s BlogCamp!” Annkur was already at the other end of my phone line, brimming with all the energy of his (annoyingly) 20-something self and asking when I’d get there.

The best part about getting out early on a Sunday morning is the lack of traffic. I made the hours-long journey in 25 minutes flat, counting the autorickshawalla abruptly stopping mid-road to go pee. When I raged at Moksh about the weakness of male bladders, he chuckled and said, “The question to ask is why does this always happen to you??!” Good humour indeed, considering he had travelled through the night and just hopped off a train and I can’t accuse him of the same (annoying) youthfulness of Annkur. *evil smirk*

The last unorganizer, Netra was (hopefully) comfortably ensconced in the family home, following a bout of illness. We missed her even before the event began. And finally, our official partner BlogAdda were represented by Nirav Sanghvi.

The IIT campus was brimming with the usual high energy of a student community and trebled by the preparations for what they’re calling Asia’s biggest youth festival. Getting a BlogCamp fit into the Mood Indigo schedule was indeed, a coup de grace. (Pause to pat collective selves on back). I left behind the Mumbai dust and grumpiness at the gate with the security guards as I hurried into the lush greenery of IIT. The School of Management was home to the original BlogCamp, which started off as one room tossed out by the Barcampers to us low-lifers called bloggers. And to underline the nostalgia rush, I spotted Meetu (of WOGMA fame) entering at the same time. BlogCamp is where we got to be friends and she’s one of my dearest cronies today.

Aditi and her quiet-but-efficient team of Mood I (creative) volunteers had already set up the whiteboard, the auditorium, the projector and screens. I paused to have a word with Meetu about the WOGMA tee-shirt that was my last Ideart project, before whizzing onto the important-sounding business of setting up the wiki. Having entered the first slot onto the whiteboard ’11:00-11:20’ (with black marker pen…isn’t that fun?!), I proceeded to calm down Annkur who was in a terrible panic that no one would turn up. By 10:30 a.m., the auditorium had magically started to fill in and we started BlogCamp with a round of introductions.

The speakers

Meetu (Twitter, Blog) was the first speaker with her talk on ‘Writing Reviews Online’. She talked about the need to respect the creator of the offering that one is reviewing and backing up a viewpoint with explanation. Meetu’s WOGMA is one of the finest review blogs I have ever seen. In person though, she’s just an everyday person, nervous about being on stage. It was really refreshing to see how her confidence has grown, in her work and in talking about it. Listening to and chatting with real people (and not superstar celebrity types) forms the crux of BlogCamp so Meetu felt like an appropriate opening speaker.

Harpreet (Twitter, Blog) began with an image-bedecked presentation on ‘Sketching Experiences’. Harpreet shares his reflections and views with the world, online just like the rest of us (bloggers) do. But instead of text-based posts, he uses sketches and diagrams to depict his ideas. Harpreet’s presentation threw up a new aspect of this free-flowing medium.

John Matthew (Twitter, Blog) spoke about his experience of blogging. He said his being an SEO professional certainly helped in content creation. His suggestion to write often, daily if possible seemed to run into trouble as a number of bloggers placed quality over quantity. The next speaker, Tarun Chandel (Twitter, Blog) directly contradicted him when he asked bloggers to not use their blogs as dumping grounds and clutter up the online space. Personally, I’m more inclined to John’s suggestion as I believe that blogging like all else only gets better with practice.

Sonesh Prakash (Blog) talked about a comic strip that he has created featuring two characters called SoBo Chick and Suburban Guy. Sonesh did not have a blog or a twitter account when he walked into BlogCamp (and he set up one in the course of the event!). Sonesh has been working with these two characters for weeks now and sharing their conversations on his Facebook status messages. This doesn’t fit into the ‘traditional’ purview of a URL with a profile page and a set of chronologically ordered posts. But considering that blogging began as a one-to-many sharing of content, his work certainly fits into that description and brings out yet another aspect of this ever-evolving medium.

Srinivas Kulkarni (TwitterBlog) talked about his passion for travel and outlined his plans to travel to the South and live-blog the journey. Aniket Thakkar (Blog) described the Flash Fiction project and the concept of multi-author blogging. Harish Iyer (Twitter, Blog) spoke about being gay, child abuse and how blogging has helped him share his experiences as well as touch other people’s lives. Manoj Kewalramani (Blog, Blog, Blog) touched on political commentary, travelogues and image-blogging.

Interestingly, four people touched on one particular aspect of blogging that I’ve never seen discussed at BlogCamps before. Harpreet, Tarun, Sonesh and Manoj all talked about using the visual instead of/along with the verbal to depict ideas. None of these people are professional artists or work specifically with images in their daily life. But they’ve each picked on a way of sharing a thought using sketches, cartoons and collages. The web tools for these are as yet clunkier than the ones available for text-based blogging. Services like Flickr target the high-end professionals while those like Twitpic simply approach visual blogging as an add-on to the ‘main’ text blogging. It looks like it’s time to recall the adage of a picture speaking louder than a thousand words.

Indeed an event like this would be of tremendous interest to the worlds of media, marketing and knowledge services since it brings out various ways in which people are choosing to create and share information, opinions and other content.

The discussion

We started the day planning for parallel sessions in different rooms. But the turnout didn’t seem big enough to break up the group into smaller groups so the BlogCamp stayed within the confines of the SOM auditorium. The sessions proceeded more or less continuously and people would step out for breaks as and when required. There wasn’t exactly a before- and after- lunch flow. However, after the aforementioned speakers, it seemed like the group was dissipating into smaller factions having mini-discussions within themselves.

Moksh, our resident teacher took charge and turned the event into a group discussion. The mikes flew across the room chasing ideas, questions and opinions as we discussed paid blogging, citizen journalism, advertorial content, buzz creation, social media marketers, blogger voice, media celebrities, sponsored events, influencing opinion and ethics. We officially called it a day at 5 p.m. with a round of feedback on the event itself. It was heartening to see that most participants had stayed on for the entire duration of the event.

The Twitter feed of #blcm was buzzing through the day and I heard (unconfirmed) that the tag was trending in Mumbai for awhile. Here’s a choice selection of the tweets about the event:

thecancerus #blcm “build your blogging muscle by writing daily like a body builder” by @johnwriter

_alps Did you know that you can visit webseo.com to get a certification in SEO. Tip by @johnwriter #blcm

SudhirU less text, more images in @tarunchandel ‘s Walk That Extra Mile presentation, iLike. #blcm

intelshwets Put effort on your posts, half cooked posts taste bad – @tarunchandel #blcm #MoodI

crazymms #blcm @tarunchandel walk that extra mile….good session, quality over quantity on blogging, tats why i dont blog for yrs :D!

ideasmithy #blcm @srinistuff is trying to figure out dependable connectivity for his blogging on the road project.

_alps Check pixton.com (like Toondo) to create and customize your comics. Tip by Sonesh. #blcm

beeayeanoowhy This guy Sonesh made a backpacker trip to Kerala and back in 3500 bucks. Includes a decent room stay w/ bathroom&TV for 150. Awesome. #blcm

manojnayak #blcm someone here with an iPad he is guarding it with all his life

adityahbk Is going to use it… RT @GHarpreet: #blcm use pixton.com to create online comic strips #utility

mohitnanda Talks are on, from Travelblogs to Backpacking to Haiku to… #blcm

manojnayakc #blcm whoever this guy is, He created a new theory called sandwich theory.

manojnayak #blcm ok it’s flashfiction.in he is wearing a Tshirt with tue same!

mohitnanda “You only become normal by becoming as abnormal as other people are.” via @hiyer #blcm

srinistuff Funny… Im sitting behind @ideasmithy And tweeting out 2 her rather than talking to her. :P #microblogging #blcm

manojnayak #blcm most interesting talk was by @hiyer on his use of humor/quirkiness to talk abt homosexual/gay perspective, and his poem sasuma

actionink @monishd No, me neither. Had tickets for a theatre performance. but I was following #blcm n some stuff on visual blogging seemed interesting

aditi_jain @iitb_moodindigo yayyy! we did it! #moodi #blcm

The past BlogCamps have struggled to stay on course and often been hijacked by the unrelated domains of business ventures, technology and advertising causes. But as a constant participant of BlogCamp, I feel like this particular event really hit the golden mean by touching on various aspects of blogging, driving multiple conversations and attracting a good mix of long-time and new bloggers. Feedback to the contrary (or in support of) continues to be welcome.

That was the ‘un’official round-up from the unorganizers. Here’s what the participants had to say about Mood I-BlogCamp December 2010. (Do post links that you don’t see on this list and I’ll add them – pictures, blogposts, tweets are all welcome).

Srinivas Kulkarni: Srini’s Stuff>>What a bloggy day!!! #blcm

Pradeep Mohandas: Parallel Spirals>> BlogCamp Mumbai – MoodI 2010

Vishal Gadkari: Facebook Photos

Ramya Pandyan: The Idea-smithy Facebook Page Photos

TechGreek Stuff: Facebook Photos

Harish ‘Aham’ Iyer: The Pregnant Thought>>BlogCamp @IIT Bombay

Manoj Kewalramani: Voter Files>>Blog bang!!

Sampath Iyengar: Facebook Photos

Vishal Gadkari: My Point of View>>BlogCamp Dec 2010

Aditya Trivedi: Facebook Photos

College Festival meets Bloggerati!: Announcing Mood Indigo – BlogCamp Mumbai 2010

December opens full of the promise of parties, outings, fun and festivities! For this one month, educational institutions are about fun. Employers are about vacations and parties. And the blogosphere is buzzing as always!

How better to host the last blogging event of the year than in the most colourful festival in the most prestigious tech institute in the country? Here’s presenting a joint intiative by Mood I (IIT Bombay) and BlogCamp Mumbai!

The other popular conventions and meets in the city maybe about technology, business and money but we never forget that BlogCamp remains, first and foremost about the people. We really want to know who you are, why you love blogging (or hate it..is that possible? Come tell us why!) and what you write about.

Format

The unrules (yes, that is a word, we just uncoined it!) of an unconference state that anyone can speak about anything related to blogging. Yes, isn’t that wonderful?! But please, please don’t forget to read the last four words in that sentence (the underlined ones). We’re sure you have something really interesting to say and we hope you’re passionate about it. But since time is limited and so is the audience’ patience, we humbly, sincerely, sternly request that you only pick topics that are about blogging.

Note – if you’d like to speak about technology, no, that’s not really blogging. But BarCamp may be just the right forum for you. If you’re a business person and networking is your thing, sorry you’re not likely to find your ilk here but we suggest you check out Startup Saturdays. If there’s anything else that really drives you, we but is not concerned 100% with blogging, honestly, we respect that so please respect us by not intruding into this forum. We love free expression but we also respect the attention of the people who’re attending. So we reserve the right to regulate and refuse (if necessary) topics, if we find them unsuitable for the BlogCamp agenda.

Participation

That note aside (whew, that was uncomfortable!), we’d really love to discuss everyone’s experiences with blogging. Yes, didn’t we mention? You’re allowed to interrupt…no, wait, correct that, you are ENCOURAGED to interrupt. This is an ‘everybody’s unconference’ which means you can disagree with, add to or correct a speaker’s opinion. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Also, please do tweet about the event. Ask questions, raise issue, talk about what you’d like to see and share memories of earlier BlogCamps on Twitter. The hashtag to use is #blcm and that’s where you’ll find other people who you’ll catch at the event. The Mood I team is figuring out the logistics and we are trying (as yet unconfirmed) to ensure WiFi access at the venue.

Now here’s how you get to do all of it:

When:
10.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
Sunday, 19th December 2010

Where:
IIT Bombay,
Powai, Mumbai

How to get there:
By train:
Western line: Andheri east
Central line: Kanjurmarg west

By road:
Central side: Eastern Express Highway-Vikroli-Powai
Western side: Western Express Highway-Andheri Kurla Road-SakiNaka-Powai

How:

Register at the Mood I page to participate in BlogCamp 2010. If you’d like to take a session, please add a note in the space provided.

We’ll see you at the BlogCamp!

Team

The BlogCamp unorganizers are:

Annkur Agarwal
Moksh Juneja
Netra Parikh

Ramya Pandyan a.k.a. Ideasmith (yes, that’s me!!)

The Mood I team that makes this possible is:

Aditi Jain
Rohit Shroff

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Update 1: The venue is IRCC, inside IIT Powai. Ask the watchman for directions to IRCC.

Update 2: WiFi is available. Your laptops are welcome only if you promise to tweet about the event (#blcm)…okay, I’m just kidding. :-D

Food & Fiction, Housewives & Health, Causes & Gripes, All At BlogCamp Mumbai 2010

We concluded the first Mumbai BlogCamp of 2010 on Saturday, 20 Feb 2010. First of all, thank you and congratulations are due to Gaurav, Adil, Arushi and their team at ACM for setting up a great venue for us. My backbencher-at-college days of yore had not prepared me for the spanking new campus, the soft cushioned chairs in an airconditioned room complete with whiteboard, podium and projector. Boy, colleges sure have changed!

BlogCamp really began for me about a week ago when I wrote a post announcing it. After that I got swept away in the thrill of helping organize the event. At last count, the night before the event, 189 people had registered. Fewer people than that actually showed up. The good thing was that several of them were newcomers, first-timers to BlogCamp. I say this is good because the purpose of a BlogCamp is certainly to widen the community and interact with various people whose only common point is that they blog. We had a wonderfully diverse bunch.

The familiar faces were the other unorganizers Netra (but of course, it’s not social media if it’s not Netra), Neeraj (who set up the BlogCamp website), Annkur (responsible for getting us the venue) and Moksh (whose superb compering peppered jokes, glossed over bloopers and held the day together). Hardik made a surprise entry at 10 in the morning reminding me of the other person without whom it’s never going to really feel like BlogCamp. He brought a Microsoft sponsorship :-) with him. The event’s blogging partner was Indiblogger while Harish & Nirav brought in media coverage with BlogAdda.

I had the reluctant privilege of opening the BlogCamp with my talk on ‘Blogging for Writers’. The idea for this really came from Novelrace but I’m afraid I erred when I put it at the very end (hoping to build up to the grande finale) and I ended up having to rush through the last bits.

Satish and Ranjeet did a brief interlude talking about their pet project, The Sapling Project. Their talk was unscheduled but short, brief and it touched a chord in all of us. Perfect.

This was followed by Sanjukta (whom I have only ever twittered with, never met before) speaking about the ‘Bell Bajao’ campaign on social media. She talked about breaking the stereotype of a social worker being a jhola-toting, bearded, impoverished man, which provoked much laughter. Her talk was to set a tone for the rest of BlogCamp. It has to be a sign of the community maturing that we’re moving on from talking about money-making ideas to cause-related initiatives.

The last BlogCamp touched on how we feel about our families having access to our blogs. This event added a different perspective to that notion. The third speaker was the Hobbitt (a.k.a. Jaya), the housewife blogger. She talked about how she got into blogging, what it was like to be the only one of her peer circle in this activity, what she wrote about, her personal highs (getting a comment from tarladalal.com on one of her cooking posts) and lows (being trolled). I found her talk surprisingly smooth and relaxed, considering how little experience she had with public speaking. The content was not new to me but I was proud to be able to say, “Whooooopeee, that’s my mum there!!” :-)

Meetu, Pune’s celebrity blogger stepped in for another brief interlude to tell us about Dr.Major Ritu Biyani’s drive against breast cancer. She took all of 5 minutes and galvanized what could become the next social media-for-a-cause case study.

Shaun Tassavur took us through a description of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a blown-up picture of which had all of us shrieking,

Change the slide!!!

Annkur, jumping in the spirit of things took us through a series of exercises that supposedly check the onset of the syndrome and help combat it.

Kalyan concluded the morning sessions with his talk on the ‘Food Blogerazi’. This was one that I tremendously enjoyed. I’ve been a reader of Kalyan’s blog for a good while and it was refreshing to hear about a passion so different from my own and yet expressed with the same enthusiasm as I bring to my own. I particularly liked Kalyan’s observation that blogging need not be seen as a revenue-generator in itself but could be a facilitator of other means to that end like a book deal, for example.

Lunch was pav-bhaji served up downstairs and delicious in a way that only college canteens manage to be. No, I’m not being sarcastic, don’t you remember what fueled those adrenalin-ridden teenage years? I however passed up this golden opportunity at nostalgia when Hardik ordered a bunch of us out with,

Vada-pav! Gurgaon mein vada-pav nahin milta hain!

So our lunch hour was spent at the stalls opposite Mithibai college, munching vadapavs and Chinese dosas.

I’m rather afraid that the morning’s highs and that roadside banquet in the sun rather lent a drowsy air to the rest of the afternoon. The first speaker post-lunch, Akshay Surve, was already letting himself in for trouble already when he took that slot. It might have helped if he had kept it to the requisite 20minutes but most of us were too woozy to argue when he persisted with a,

Wait, this is important!!

I understand that he was quite passionate about his cause but since most of his talk went right over my head, I think he quite lost any benefit that could have been derived. We’ve had quite a bit to say about avoiding outright marketing spiels and tech talk (and we tried our very best to keep all that out this time). I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for this but I have to say it. Championing a cause is just as much of hardsell as marketing teeshirts or books or movie tickets online is. No one doubts the significance of the cause, or indeed the propagator’s belief in it. But at the end of the day it is an advertisement and you do your audience a disservice by forcing it down their throats, even as they protest.

I’m sorry to say this …. but your fervour turned me against you rather than for your cause. You may be doing something noble but BlogCamp is not the forum for you to crusade your cause. If it is a new idea, take it to Startup Saturday. If it involves technology, drop into BarCamp.

This incident rather turned the mood of BlogCamp around, forcing Pragni to take up the mic and voice a protest. She asked,

What is the real purpose of BlogCamp? Is it to share our views on where we see this phenomenon going and how it affects each of us personally? Or is to push a personal agenda?

A pertinent question, I think. Only as one of the unorganizers, I must hasten to add that it is not exactly within our control to restrict the actual event. The essence of BlogCamp is lost if a small group of people decide to dictate who can or cannot speak. At the end I think it boils down to the responsibility lying with each member of the community to speak up but also respect the feelings of the rest of the community.

The second half of the event was considerably salvaged by the other speakers. From 16-yr-old Farrhad’s talk on Corporate Blogging to Monish speaking about the legal issues surrounding slander on the blogosphere to Monik sharing his experiences to 11-yr-old Raj who talked about his blogs on cookery (!) and gaming, the young ‘uns quite saved the day! One of the last talks was by Sunoj about meeting his now-wife through blogging.

Moksh concluded the event with a random pop quiz (Who fell off the chair? What was the URL of the food blogger? What’s Ideasmith’s real name?) and giving out teeshirts and caps. Hmm…so to take stock. We heard a housewife and three minors. We heard about fiction-writing, food critiquing, social causes, health issues, finding love online, legal issues and corporate blogging. We also had a great lunch, a BlogCamp argument and some great sessions. If you think this was fun, it serves you right! Get to BlogCamp next time and be a part of it!

Pictures of the event can be seen here: Ranjeet, Preshit, Kumar.

The twitter coverage of the event can be found under #blcm and for posterity, here’s a specimen of tweets:

@Lol_Bot RT –>@monikkinom giving a session blogging now, he has his english exams in school this monday #lol #blcm

@imasoom Freedom of expression as a limit #blcm, Debate between@manan and @mihirlakhani continues :) #blcm

@Netra @fundacause – Chandni speaking on social media for social change #blcm @ideasmithy @sanjukta Someone ran away with my pepsi at #blcm

@shirrin_k Listening to @ideasmithy @mihirlakhani talk behind me rather than the speaker upfront…shhh..quiet guys…:D #blcm

@si0007 Hardik from Microsoft speaking on Windows live writer using the much loved and hated MS live essential suite. #blcm

@gameboyzone Attended [IndiBlogger] Blog Camp and it was good to connect with the best of bloggers in Mumbai. Food was good. Overall 3/5 for it. #blcm

@nehabagoria #blcm sessions on bloggin tricks,personal bloggers’ experiences,NGO support,bellbajaon,project sampling,filmkar-short film on slum were nice

@_nwaz great so this is what it feels in a #BLCM wanted to voice my views on bdutt issue but well just sat to hear instead:)

@bombaylives I think everyone forgot to Thank the Caterer for the Amazing Pav Bhaji :)

Others who have written about this event:

Jaya: Blogcamp Mumbai-Mukesh Patel School of Tech.Mgmt & Eng

Kalyan: “This one time at Band camp”… BlogCamp Mumbai, Mumbai College Eats

Satish: @BlogCamp Mumbai

Priya Kanwar: My First Blog Camp Experience in Mumbai

Anu: BlogCamp Mumbai – Experience

Moksh: BlogCamp Mumbai – January 2010

BlogCamp Mumbai 2010

Announcing the first BlogCamp of 2010!

For those of you who don’t know, BlogCamp is an unconference, an open forum of social media users. BlogCamp began as a module of BarCamp (which looks at the wider net of technology and business) but has gained enough popularity to merit an event of its own.

The format is as follows: Participants register online. Speakers volunteer to take sessions and are allotted time-slots. Anybody can speak and on any topic so long as it is related to blogging, tweeting or social media in general. The event is an interactive one so expect to find the audience jumping right in and at times, even taking over the mic from the speaker.

BlogCamp is an excellent place to network with other social media users, hear about what other people are seeing and experiencing in this space and share your own ideas. If you are a blogger or tweeter, you already have an opinion and a voice. BlogCamp is just a wider offline platform to share this.

Previous BlogCamps (1, 2 and 3) have seen a wide response from the Twitter community as well as from technology bloggers. The focus has largely been on the commercial aspect of social media. Since this is a forum that aims to address all aspects of social media, it would be good to hear from the other factions i.e. people who generate and follow other kinds of content – personal blogs, topical blogs, celebrity blogs, science blogs, photo-blogs etc.

So if you’re reading this and will be in Mumbai next Saturday, sign up and drop in. We’re all really friendly (okay, some of us are not but we’re all interesting to say the very least!)

The details of BlogCamp Mumbai 2010 are as follows:

Date: Saturday, 20th February 2010
Time: 10:00 – 18:00 hrs.
Venue:
Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management & Engineering (MPSTME),
Behind Homeopathy College, Bhakti VedantaSwami Marg,
JVPD Scheme, Near Irla Lane,
Vile-Parle (West), Mumbai – 400056

Since we don’t have the inimitable Mr.Shah to organize the Microsoft office as a venue anymore, this is a different place and here’s a map to help you get there.

Please register your participation here and carry a printout of your ticket to the venue. (Did the word ‘ticket’ scare you off? Come back, it’s free!)

Internet access will be provided through Wifi so feel free to carry your laptops to the event. If you would like to tweet about the event, please use the hashtag #blcm.

Afterwards, if you blog about the event (and yes, do! It’s good blogettiquette!), do drop me a link to the post here and I’ll list it in the after-event summing up.

The event is still looking for sponsorships so if you’d like to help out, please contact Annkur Agarwal or Moksh Juneja.

See you this Saturday!

Pune Weekend: BlogCamp2, Beer Tweetup, Geeks & Elephants

I’m just back from Pune Blogcamp2. My weekend began at 4:30am, being woken up by Astra who got the timings wrong by an hour. I grunted and went back to sleep only to get up and rush out half an hour later. Emboldened by the hour, I walked up to a bunch of guys standing on the kerb and asked, ‘Blogcamp?’ They looked at me blankly (no, that’s not true…they looked hungry and interested…tch, boys). Then one asked, ‘Where are you going?’. I said, ‘Pune’. To which he burst into a wide grin and said, ‘We’re not going to Pune but can if you want.’ Idiot.

Anyway, we found @sensonize and @farrhad standing across the road and not at all angry with us for our 45-minute delay. How sweet, they’re learning early. After a pretty comfortable ride down the expressway, away from Mumbai’s dirty grey weather, we were in Pune. Even the air tasted delicious!

I thought the Punekers were a much better behaved lot than the Mumbai junta at BlogCamps. I mean, no one shouted, no one got into any arguments, no one sniggered vilely and even the tweet-bitching was absent. Okay, I tried to add to the last but I since my recently buffed-up pal isn’t on Twitter, it lost its tang. Incidentally, the twitter hashtag to check is #blogcamppune which methinx was a tad too long (bcp would do just as well for next time) but thanks, Tarun for unorganizing it and inviting me too!

Meetu got BlogCamp to a promising start with a talk on niche blogging. In my opinion (and hers too!), WOGMA‘s success really comes from the fact that Meetu is truly passionate about what she does, not because it is marketed well. Not all of us can find a niche but if one of you does, Meetu is your poster-child.

This was followed by a number of discussion on the big, heavies of the ‘how to make money online’ variety. Sue me but I think these belong to Barcamp or perhaps, Startup Saturday (if they’re innovative), not BlogCamp. But then again, I’m just the voice of a poor, penniless personal blogger.

I really liked Aditya Marathe‘s session comparing Blogspot to WordPress. He also had some cool (non-geeky) analysis on hit spikes and visitor profiles. This was through lunch and a number of people may have missed it but it was worth a dekko.

The Kabras were obviously in charge of revving up things since Navin kicked off the second half of BlogCamp with an intriguingly titled ’300 years of blogging’. Among some of the interesting things he mentioned, he suggested tracking Google Alerts on keywords relevant to one’s blog to keep up-to-date on the topic and also for story ideas. That’s exactly the kind of idea that you look forward to hearing when you meet other bloggers. It’s simple, easy and workable.

This was followed by Sandeep Gautam who runs a science blog. Tech-blogs I’ve seen galore but this is the first time I’m hearing of a science blog. What’s really interesting is that while this is a niche area, it provides relevant, incisive analysis to its interested audience. One big difference between such a blog and the regular personal blogs is that the former is factual, written in a reporting style, akin to a journal which provides an objective look at current trends while the latter are purely subjective, based on perception and (in some cases), not supported by facts. I daresay the session came across as rather heavy but in retrospect, it was good to have been able to sit through it because of the quality of his content.

By this time, the post-lunch somna was setting in and the Mumbaiker restlessness asserting itself. With some egging on, Thakker was persuaded to take the stage. Since the rooms were both busy, he took his session out onto the staircase and would you believe – some 80% of the audience followed him! For an hour, our man held forth on the woes of a geek’s life, his (mis)adventures with dating and matrimonial matches and photography.

We ended BlogCampPune2 at the cafe next door with chai and bun-maska. The evening was fruitfully spent savouring Meetu‘s bhajia spread at the Kabras’ residence (which requires a map – not to get there but to get around within). At 8pm we got going…no, not to turn in but to the beer tweet-up. The beer brewery is part of The Corinthians, a club/lounge bar/hotel on the outskirts of Pune. The sweet, really sweet part of the occasion was the free, freshly brewed beer on tap.

I tried and liked a wheat-flavoured beer, which tasted more like a nice fruit juice than alcohol. As the beer went down, the jokes began to come up. Not the intelligent ones that (usually) intelligent, evolved people make but the ones that can only be categorized as PJs. Here’s a sample:

How do you kill a black elephant? With a black gun.
How do you kill a white elephant? – Throw mud on it, it turns black, now use a black gun
How do you kill a red elephant? – Scare it till it turns white, throw mud till it turns black, use black gun
How do you kill a blue elephant? – Make it blush red, scare it white, throw mud till black, use black gun
How do you kill a purple elephant? – Choke it till it turns blue, make it blush red, scare it white, throw mud till black, use black gun
How do you kill a yellow elephant?- Pagal hai kya, yellow elephant kabhi dekha hai?!

Amidst elephant-homicide discussions, one of the guys started telling me a story about Eval Conneval (I hope I got that spelling right). When I inquired who he was talking about, he yelped,

Don’t you know the greatest motorcycle stuntman of all time??!!

When I protested, I was accused on being a bonafide girl-geek. I am most certainly not. I mean I get some of the geek jokes but I am not, not, not a girl-geek!!! For the uninitiated, girl-geeks are even lower on the social scale of geeks, than the geeks themselves (a rating of about minus forty-five). Hmph, just you wait, Mr.X (protected to ensure privacy from boy-geek-big-brother), I’ll see you at XXFactor!

This morning I woke up to a full-of-naughty-beans Rabad saying it was time to wake up and how long was aunty intending to sleep? Pune Mirror had a story titled ‘Fourplay at BlogCamp‘ illustrated by a photograph of the event, my bright red tee-shirt clearly visible in the very center of the pic. Bleh, even a girl-geek is just accessorial (men, I tell ya!!!). But the lovely Pune weather must have made me a Punekar too since I didn’t feel like grrrrring about it. (This post was written after I got back to Mumbai, good ol’ irritable Mumbai!).

Fourplay at BlogcampPune

As the toll-naka approached, I felt the surreal magic of Pune slip away from me as easily as the clouds surrounding us at the ghats vaporized. It’s a sticky, warm night and the rain is pelting down incessantly outside my window. I’ve been woken at an ungodly hour, endured cheesy pick-up lines at 6am, been called a girl-geek and been inducted into an elephant-homicide cult. But Pune is a mere 3 hours away and Meetu and Navin are each a phone number and tweet away. It was a glorious weekend, guys, thank you so much!!
After much dawdling over chai, ek aur chai and breakfast-nahin-pahije-na? Sunday morning, we went out to ‘yewdhe lambh!’ Flag’s for lunch. Full awesomeness happening, I thought to myself over a Turkish moussakka, Italian crosstinis, lasagne and pasta. Then we ambled over to the taxi stand and I rode back home.

photo

* Photograph taken by Aalaap

BlogCamp 2 Pune

The charming Punekar, Tarun is back from his globe-trotting travails to organise BlogCamp 2 Pune. I’m seeing a number of the known faces from the Mumbai blogosphere/twitterverse in the attendees but I’m also looking forward to meeting the Pune people. See you there, people!

Here are the event details.

After 2 hugely successful blogcamps, BlogCampPune and BlogCampMumbaiStyle and a gap of 2 years we are back with the 2nd edition of BlogCampPune. We are very excited to set the Puneblogosphere buzzing again :)

What is BlogCamp Pune?
BlogCampPune is a FREE unconference focusing exclusively on blogging, organized by bloggers for bloggers. It‘s built upon the principles of the famous BarCamp (ad-hoc unconference) focused on sharing, learning and new ideas. This is going to be an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction between attendees. Any blogger who wants to contribute is welcome and invited to join. The event is an unconference where a relevant audience comes together to discuss all possible subjects related to blogosphere. Blogcamp Pune is an open event where anyone may sign up to attend and choose to speak on a topic of common interest.

There is no restriction on anyone participating nor is there an entry fee. Total audience size is expected to be 150 – 200.

Event Details:
Date: 27th June 2009
Time: 10:00AM to 5:00PM (In Barcamp Style, the schedule is drawn up at the last minute as speakers come and pick up an available slot.)
Venue: SICSR (Symbiosis) 7th Floor Atur Center, Gokhale Cross Road, Model Colony PuneNear the OM Super Market
Google Map

Would you like to attend or speak at the event?
The Registrations for the Blogcamp Pune 2 has started. Grab yourself a ticket right away athttp://blogcamppune.eventbrite.com
If you want to speak on a topic or run a session/discussion at the Blogcamp Pune please mention your idea while you are buying the ticket.

For more details please visit our wiki: http://barcamp.org/BlogCampPune2
Looking forward to see you at the Blogcamp Pune on 27th June 2009.

BlogCamp Mumbai: Traditional & Social Media, Knowledge-Power Systems, Identity & Anonymity

I’m just back from BlogCamp. It was held at the Microsoft office in Kalina and sponsored by Ibibo.com.

Going by last year’s BlogCamp-part-of-Barcamp, I figured it would be a series of important sounding sessions about SEO and monetization and techie tips. Such a pleasant surprise it was for my techno-greeky (Technology is Greek, Greek, Greek to me!) self to find myself sitting in on conversations about traditional media versus new media, personal blogging, live coverage during the terror attacks and sharing social media with our families!

I thoroughly enjoyed Thakkar‘s humorous talk tracing his early blogging experiences right down to what his relatives thought he did for a living. Techies do have a sense of humour (I stand corrected!) and some of them, like this one are bloody brilliant!

The talk on traditional media and social media turned confrontational (and fun!) when I interrupted to share this experience of being misquoted in a national daily, not completely realizing that there were journalists from that very newspaper in the room. I come away with a slightly improved  impression of people in the profession now. :-)

Rohan started off a talk titled ‘Reflections on blogging’ which lead to an interesting discussion of truth and knowledge, the future of power structures and the world as we know it. We concluded that Knowledge isn’t going to mean Power for very long as we increasingly move into an age of completely democratic, easy-access-for-all knowledge sharing through social media.

It was a personally fulfilling experience for me to address a talk on ‘Anonymity is a game of identity’ where I shared my twisted path through different URLs, multiple blogs, many identities and the schizo/blogicidal impulses that finally brought me to being Ideasmith today. I was surprised (as with so many of my posts) that people were actually interested in hearing what I had to say, many identified with it and still many others were appreciative of my speaking up. Thank you so much, fellow-bloggers, listeners and readers!

I’d like to add a few snippets from my own talk, just to add to the scrapbook of my blogging memories. When I entered the venue in the morning, the security guard asked for a photo-id. “Tricky”, I thought to myself since I had registered as Ideasmith. For a brief moment, I contemplated showing him a printout of my blog. It does have my photograph in the header after all!!! After a much roundabout conversation, I did manage to make it into the blogcamp.

Right after my session, a fellow tweeter in another city set about to discover my identity. Now why that should be of interest to anyone at all is beyond me since I have a pretty ordinary, if not boring real world name and life. But I guess the more of a mystery there is, the more curiosity there is being built up, regardless of the fact that the mystery may be completely not worth it. He succeeded in finding my name and published it which resulted in my having a ‘Oh my god, I’m choking! I’m freaking out!’ few moments. A quick couple of calls and that got sorted out. My faith in the blogosphere not just as social media but a social community is really restored. I’m much indebted to everyone who listened and was sympathetic to my albeit melodramatic outburst and who just ‘took care of it’ for me.

In a very strange sort of way it was as if my before-talk and after-talk experiences both added to my talk itself. Anonymity is something that I and a lot of other personal bloggers are still struggling with. All I can say is we’re not alone here. As soppy as it sounds, I’m just glad I connected with the techies at blogcamp and for the first time saw them as facilitators, friends even instead of ‘the other kind of bloggers’.

I was also really happy that I had a chance to meet Aham even though I came in a little late and missed most of his talk. I carry back from him, one of the sweetest compliments that anyone has ever paid me, as a blogger. When I spoke of having a unisex handle so as to combat allegations of getting hits only because I was a woman, he grinned and said,

You’d get hits even if you were a guy!

:-) And then it is always fun to catch up with other people I know from my social media activities like Meetu and Aalaap.

We ended with a hullaballoo, quite befitting for an unconference, a photo-session right in the middle of a dusty road and then jetted off to fuel up. From BlogCamp to HoggyCamp, I think it was a Saturday really very well-spent. Thank you Netra, Moksh, Hardik and Sampad for organizing this. You guys truly rock!

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