SMism: I Like You

A page with your name on it, clicked.

My only problem is that Facebook put it in past tense.

“She liked you.”

Social Networking-The Creation & Consumption Of Content

Earlier in the month, I began writing for Social Samosa. My brief was to recap the major events in social networking over the past few years in India. Given how vast this is, I broke it up into two parts. I started with an article titled, ‘Social Networking: How Communities Were Built’. In that post, I looked at the connections aspect of social networking.

Image via Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot,

The second part of that story is now online in a piece titled, ‘Social Networking: The Creation & Consumption Of Content‘ where I discuss the other harbingers of the social media revolution – blogs, commenting systems, bulletin boards, discussion groups and everyone’s favorite birdie – Twitter.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Online content creation began with a few individuals putting out text & images that could be consumed by other users of the internet. In the recent years, though, we’ve seen content creation get closer & closer to the space that we call social networking.  A content creator is not an artist working in isolation but the initiator & propagator of conversations.  The social networks are but channels to drive conversations, which need content.  Thus it was inevitable that social connectors and content holders should find themselves merging in a borderless space.

‘Content creation’ is a misnomer since, increasingly, we are all becoming both producers & consumers of content.  One person feeds into the network a piece of information or an insight or a personal account (a phenomenon now called ‘seeding’ if done with the intent to propagate).  Others read it and share it on their networks (the phenomenon now called ‘going viral’).  Along the way, comments are added and other bits of content spring up in response to the first piece.  These could take several forms – blog posts, tweets, comments, status updates, pictures and videos, to name a few.  The conversation now spans multiple users, data points, media and web locations. Every user in this process has now become both a consumer and a creator of content.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Social Networking-How Communities Were Built

December opens in one of my favorite ways – a new writing project! :-) I’ve been an active member of the online community from 1996 and the social sub-community that emerged in the early years of the last decade. Now I get to lay down my observations in a commentary of this space. I’m quite excited to be part of Social Samosa!

Social Samosa is a venture by Ankita Gaba and Aditya Gupta and will focus exclusively on the Indian social media space. That’s a tall order, as you may imagine, considering just how much there is, firstly, to social media and secondly, to how Indians are using it.

I start with by exploring the advent of social networking in a 2-part article. The first post titled ‘Social Networking: How Communities Were Built‘, looks at the prominent players and their individual attempts to build the social community we have today. Facebook stars prominently of course as does LinkedIn but Orkut, Google Plus and Egroups feature along the way too. Do read it and tell me what you think!

“The primary function of a social network is to connect people. However, it is not enough to link people and assume that they will prolong the interaction, or indeed keep their interactions within the network. Furthering those connections & retaining the conversations within the network, is crucial for the network to survive. People need activities in order to transition from connection to community. “

Read the full article here.

Image via Jscreationzs

Misogyny Trending On Twitter With #LadiesWeWantAnswers

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I was looking up the #mencallmethings hashtag on Twitter, when I noticed #LadiesWeWantAnswers trending in India. A search of both tags revealed a near-stagnant stream on #mencallmethings while my Twitter stream was throttled by the tweets on #LadiesWeWantAnswers. Here’s a random sample of some of the tweets on today’s Twitter trend:

@Mr_2Smooove: #LadiesWeWantAnswers why u tell us to come over & yo period on??? You serve no purpose for the night lol

@iRICKYMINAJ: Do you like it in the ass? #LadiesWeWantAnswers

@RAWjasekaram: jealous u can’t pee standing up? #LadiesWeWantAnswers

@cockyseaman: #LadiesWeWantAnswers why you look so fat in them jeans?

@BadaBrother: #LadiesWeWantAnswers i think we should offer you money.

WordPress Takes A Leaf Out Of Facebook

I just noticed that WordPress is following Facebook’s stead.

Look at this toolbar. My attention was captured by a bright red 2 (now showing as a grey 0). Clicking on it resulted in a dropdown list of notifications. The images next to it is my gravatar or what WordPress reads as my display picture. A click there leads to a menu with basic options like sign out, profile edits, Help and navigation to my other blogs. Very Facebook/Google

After ‘Likes’, Facebook sets another standard in the socially-networked universe.

Ideamarked Oct2011: Public Transport, Blogger Events & Watching What You Say

October has been a better month than the couple of months preceding it. For one, the rains have finally stopped!! Even if they did give way to scorching, melting, burning sunshine, for me, that means the shorts, summer dresses & flip-flops can finally replace easy-dry clothes & plastic footwear!

I’ve been traveling a bit, first to Bangalore and then to Bordi (posts coming up, of course!). There’s also been a fair bit of socializing with two back-to-back blogger meets by Indiblogger – the first, a blogger preview of MasterChef India2 (photos) and the second, the launch of Dove’s Damage Therapy range via a mini-spa for bloggers. Both were delightful, fun and had some great giveaways (now come on, bloggers are human too – we like freebies just like everybody else!).

The club badge (also the logo of Cadbury's)

Image via Wikipedia

One of the highlights (lowlights?) of the month was when Cadbury’s-Sula asked me to host a Dark Duet Party and botched it up, then topped it with a bad rescue attempt. Incidentally another friend reported another fiasco at her Dark Duet Party, the following weekend.

And finally, Marvin’s World back! After a bit of acting up, my Android has been taken care of with a SD card format and is app-browsing again! Onto some link-love:

  • Social Networks Defined Through Peeing‘: Oh ewww! And hahahaha! (via Reface.me)
  • A new reason to watch your words: Barring a witty retort, the other person might say “That’s what she said!”. And here’s more TWSS! (link courtesy GautamGhosh)
  • Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...

    Image via Wikipedia

    Apple founder, Steve Jobs passed away a few hours ago. The products he pioneered have touched many of our lives in different ways, whether it was the iPod that was the first thing you saved up for & bought with your own money or, like me, if you were lucky enough to have a Mac for your first computer. Fans, detractors aside, here’s what stays with me – Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. (via Youtube)

  • Tomato Bruschetta

    Image via Wikipedia

    If you ever wondered about the correct way to say ‘bruschetta’ or ‘panini’, here’s an easy guide: ‘How To Order At An Italian Restaurant Without Sounding Dumb (Or Pretentious)‘ (via HowAboutWe.com).

  • Hope for public transport-tortured Mumbaikers may be around the corner in the form of a 24-hr dial-in autorickshaw service. Login to Rickshawale.com or check their Facebook Page. And here are some early impressions (link courtesy SharinBhatti, )
  • An auto rickshaw in Bangalore, India

    Image via Wikipedia

    Schedules and timely updates on the Mumbai train lines (via MumbaiLocalTrains, spotted at the Indiblogger-Dove meet).

  • Annie Zaidi & Smriti Ravindra’s latest book ‘A Bad Boy’s Guide To The Good Indian Girl’ explores the relationships women have with men, with each other and themselves. The promotional video features me (!) and a number of other women talking about The Good Indian Girl. (via Youtube).
  • Always a good read or listen: ‘Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen‘ (via Youtube, link courtesy Sanjita)

Facebook Is The New Prom Queen

Facebook logo

Image via Wikipedia

Facebook is now that annoying classmate you had in school, who got too busy upstaging her rival (Google Plus) to be any kind of friend to you anymore. This new look does precisely what for any of its users?

I wonder if anyone actually cares about the most popular girl in school.

lowercase "g"

Image via Wikipedia

Google Plus, Facebook – The Race Is On!

I jumped onto the Google Plus bandwagon the day it was launched. For the following fortnight, my mailbox was innundated with notifications of people adding me to their circles. I’m still receiving requests to send invitations. Suffice to say Google’s ‘let’s make this an exclusive club’ policy continues to work wonders.

I’m still not terribly impressed by Google Plus, given that it just feels a lot like Facebook. The share-with-who-you-please feature that they rode in on, has been possible on Facebook too. I don’t remember if this feature was already there or if Facebook introduced it as a knee-jerk reaction but now I can choose who sees my status update right when I post it.

Google Plus’s Sparks gave me a chance to pause and think there might be something different on offer. But it turns out to be no more than a list of shared content under a particular tag. Well, it could be an interesting enough feature one supposes. Google Plus certainly is trying to straddle both the Twitter (with tag-searches) and Facebook (sharing, communities) worlds.

Some of the things that I’m waiting for Google Plus to come up with:

  • Pages
  • Login accounts on Seismic and Tweetdeck
  • Comment with/ Share on options on website/blog toolbars

Facebook tagging doesn’t seem to be working. I usually link to related content on the Pages of my blogs (The Idea-smithy, XX Factor) and if the source is also on Facebook, I tag their Pages/Profiles. People who are on my friends lists and Pages I’ve liked are uniformly not appearing anymore in the drop-down menu after I type in ‘@’. If this is a bug, then it’s a mighty bad time for it to happen, Facebook. If not, I can’t see why Facebook would do away with a feature that makes it easier to connect and engage with people.

At the moment, I find I’m unable to Unlike Facebook Pages that I’ve liked before. The error message of,

“Something went wrong. We’re working on getting it fixed as soon as we can.”

is all I get for my clicks. This might seem like a simple technical bug (perhaps not as drastic as a security leak). But consider why a user would want to Unlike a Page that they’ve liked before. The Facebook algorithm that shows up only Profiles & Pages you interact with a lot means that most users probably don’t care to ‘unlike’ a page after it has been liked, even if they don’t care about it any more, because they simply don’t see it anymore. A user who takes the effort to visit a Page to Unlike it is aware of its existence and does not want to be made aware of it through updates any more. This is probably the most extreme negative emotion a user can have with a Page. Not being able to Unlike and hence being forced to see those updates on one’s stream can be severely off-putting. It made me shut my window and switch to the other one with Google Plus (where there were only friend updates and no marketing messages from brands whose Pages I may have once liked and was now unable to Unlike).

I’ve said before and I still say that a social network is only as good as its members. I’m on Google Plus only because most of my community is hanging out there at the moment. The minute I see them all moving either back to Facebook or onto something new, I’ll move with them. Features notwithstanding, I’m hardly likely to hang around a cool hangout if there are no cool people to hang out with.

The Careerist: The Online Advantage – Marie Claire India July’11

I’ve written an article for this month’s (July 2011) issue of Marie Claire India – ‘The Careerist’ section. The story, ‘The Online Advantage‘ looks at how a professional can use the online social networks to improve their prospects, present themselves better, leverage the value of networking and in general, carve a place for themselves in the new workplace – the internet.

Harness the power of social networking to get ahead in your career. The cost is minimal, the impact maximal.

Bombay Elektrik Projekt (Open Mic) Gets Personal When The Feedback Gets Negative

Over a year ago, I saw something in the newspaper about an open forum for poets and other performers of the written word. Intrigued, I roped in a friend and went for the event. It was an Open Mic organized by Bombay Elektrik Projekt. It was held once a month at Café Goa in Bandra on a Monday night.

I listened with rapt attention as people acted out, read out and performed various pieces that they had written. Once I watched a beatboxer, an a capella rendition another time, and a budding guitarist/songwriter on yet another occasion. And that’s over and above the everyday citizens who’d stop by after work to share a piece of their soul in the form of poetry, verse and other original expression. I became a regular, sometimes performing, always enjoying the varied creative output that came from everyday people in this city.

Some time ago, following some unsavoury behaviour by a member of the Bombay Elektrik Projekt team, I decided to stop performing myself. But the other performers (only one of whom is Ashwini, a.k.a. my dear Mr.Everyday) still held charm in my eyes. I’ve always admired people who excel at their chosen art so I continued to attend as a member of the appreciative audience.

A couple of Open Mic sessions ago, a drunk stand-up comedian began a slew of offensives which didn’t amuse me. Ashwini wasn’t impressed either and didn’t crack a smile. The comedian took umbrage at that and started a personal volley of attack on Ashwini and then at the person he was with – me. I let it pass. Ashwini’s turn came up right after that and he settled it in his oh-so-classy way, with a fitting reply and without any personal slurs.

Yesterday was the second anniversary of the Bombay Elektrik Projekt Open Mic and a competition among the poets. Ashwini was the last on the line-up and getting ready for his characteristic freestyle rapping. The music was yet to come on when one of the audience members offered to beatbox for him. He agreed and they started off. The performance started off a bit shakily as would be natural with two people who were jamming for the first time. But they got into a groove together and the performance was picking up.

Just then, another person leapt up and grabbed the mike from Ashwini. He proceeded to perform (if you can call it that) an expletive-ridden volley of words that didn’t have much to do with the earlier performance that had been interrupted. It stunned most of us into silence and I’m choosing to believe that’s why no one reacted.

When I got home, I tweeted the following:

Quite disappointed by Bombay Elektrik Projekt 2nd anniv Open Mic. Disrespect to ur artists & ur regulars is bad form and bad business.

The response came in the form of a status update on Facebook and on Twitter as follows:

@ideasmithy well ramya,you seem to be the only one disappointed with last night. i suggest you speak for yourself… http://fb.me/Ln6P4qM7

What followed was a rather vicious fight across Twitter (me, Bombay Elektrik Projekt) and Facebook, which I reproduce as follows:

Note their tweets:

@ideasmithy @spitphyre I’m sorry its always petty with u ramya but you’re exaggerations of last nights events are misleading, misdirecting

@ideasmithy @Finelychopped its funny how you only always tweet when it concerns ashwini, whom we’ve still to hear from

@ideasmithy would be nice to see how many people agree with ur misdirected angst ‘clique-y kids playing at being cool. you’ve lost the plot.

After the first couple of tweets, I started retweeting their tweets. That resulted in a number of other people getting into the discussion. Many expressed their dissent over personal attacks in response to negative feedback. At this juncture, the Facebook conversation came alive. The Bombay Elektrik id started on a defensive, even arrogant tack. These were followed by an attempt to soothe the furore down.

The Bombay Elektrik Projekt

Hey Tarun,Ashiwini,Ken,Saurabh and Ramya.. thank you for everything you guys have shared on this wall.. I was present last night and yes, keri did take the mike away from you to add in a rhyme or to as is what he must have felt was just par…t of the performance. it was after all a rap battle of sorts. You did well in your comeback after the mic was snatched from you.

This does no way justify what he did, so if you felt offended then ashwini, i apolgise.

As far as what you said ramya about us not respecting our audience or our regulars, im sorry but that just has not happened. Yes you are entitled to an opinion and i respect that, but if you chose to say that we have no respect for all the people that help make our night, that hasnt happened during the course of the last two years.

For you to say that last night was disappointing is again surprising. Yes there was this one incident but then wheres you talking about the 30 wonderful poets who came and performed, or the smile that everyone walked away with at the end of the night.

We have built a solid reputation over the past two years as being one of the few people at the forefront of the art and culture scene in the city and it hasnt been easy.

May i just add that if you have a problem, then why not just address it and sort it out then and there, im always around so come and talk.. why wait a day to put it up online and then have someone action this.

Understand that people who follow you on a social network would have only a part account of what happened and do you think its fair to get everybody to assume that the entire night was disappointing, which in a sense reflects on all the people participating last night or that we have no respect for our audience or participants.

well, ashwini..again, if you felt keri insulted you in anyway im sorry, but please bring this up more promptly if you feel so strongly about this next time

Regards
Sudeip

Ashwini had gotten involved by this juncture (as you can see in the thread). And that thread seemed to end on the happy ‘all’s well that ends well note’.

But wait, the story doesn’t end here! Twitter came alive again. This time the Bombay Elektrik id was tweeting (and I say ‘id’ because I can only assume that the conflicting messages from the same account are because of different people accessing it) but not including my id in their tweets. Instead, they were doing the Twitter version of backbiting and here are some of their tweets:

@wanderblah @priyal no,what’s weird was why she didn’t dm or msg us.again @sudeipv reply not bizzare but a correction of the facts

@priyal @wanderblah @sudeipv I agree but then why give ramya berth on twitter #ideasmithydeepfried

@angadc thanks angad, but were covered. if she chooses to rant, well that’s her choice and right. we have nothing more to say to her

So much for the facts of the case. As I see it there are two distinct and clear issues. The first, deeper one is the cliquish treatment of the events. These events ask attendees to pay and do not compensate the performers. Bombay Elektrik Projekt also establish themselves are promoters and organizers of cultural meetings and events. With this, they take on the onus of maintaining the integrity of the platform they stand for. If an artist or indeed, a member of the audience is insulted, it definitely is their problem, something that they need to take responsibility for. Interrupting a performance and in such an offensive manner is a serious issue and cannot be written off as one drunken act. These are not small intimate gatherings of close friends in somebody’s house. These are public events, calling to and entertaining a wide network of people, familiar and otherwise. Bombay Elektrik Projekt enjoys the attention and other benefits of being such a wide platform. They cannot then, shrug off the responsibility for things that happen on it.

The second issue is their response to criticism. My tweet was negative but it did not lash out at any one person. It addressed an actual incident that had happened and expressed my disappointment over it. Their response was first to ask me to shut up and then snigger and taunt me over being the only one to think so. I don’t know if they honestly believe that one person’s opinion doesn’t matter or whether they just don’t want my opinion for more personal reasons. Either way, because my making it public brought in a good degree of support for my right to my opinion, I think they backtracked. I would have been happy to let things settle there, since after all an opinion is an opinion and if someone is unable to take it in perspective, well, tough. But their snippy attitude continues, despite other people suggesting that they just let up.

I’ve been receiving some messages asking me to just forget it and let it drop. The point is, that I haven’t actually done anything after that first tweet. Everything after that has just been relaying what they’ve been saying and making it public. If I’m relaying what you said about me and to me, that doesn’t make me an accessory to this ugliness. I’m having to ask for public support on this precisely because of Bombay Elektrik Projekt’s first challenge that my opinion (since I’m the only one expressing it) doesn’t matter. What’s noteworthy is that there haven’t been too many people from yesterday’s event speaking up for their side either. It’s possible that there will be some tomorrow. Since their tweets haven’t gotten them the response they hoped for, I expect them to call in their inner circle members to attack me on the public forum and I say this from an earlier experience with trying to have an adult conversation over a disagreement. (Note – I just checked into the thread and it’s happening already. The same person who lashed out at me last time is now asking me to take lessons in battle rapping).

So, my dear friends who’ve been asking why I’m upset and Twitter followers who’re asking what the big deal is, this is the story. It is about having an opinion and being attacked for it. It is about what constitutes basic respect. It is about claims to artistic appreciation and the farce that actually happens.

Actually let me not say any further. I just checked out their latest tweet. After all this, this is what they have to say. Draw your own conclusions.

@angadc but angadc we’re used to calling a spade a spade. public or otherwise. does this mean we face public ire

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

Update on 8 December 2010: On the Facebook thread, Kerry (the person who snatched the mic) and Ashwini (the artist who was performing) had the following converation.

Kerry Harwin: Sorry, not being a big social media user, I’m late to this game. I won’t address the facebook/twitter furor, because I don’t know anything about that.

I do want to apologize to Ashwini, though. My intention was just to join in the excitement. I thought it was fantastic to have a rapper close out the night, and wanted to be a part of that. I apologize if my manner of doing so upset people. Everything was meant in good humor and in jest. MNS (wow, I just realized what unfortunate initials Monday Night Slam has) is a very interactive space and some dialog between performers, host, and audience is quite common. If I took that spirit too far, the error was all mine, and I apologize both to Ashwini and to those audience members who had a worse night because of it. I had hoped to add, not to subtract.

Ashwini Mishra: fair enough.apology accepted.just for the record, i have always encouraged collaboration and especially on the spot. But when the mic is snatched in the middle of my rhyme, that irritates the hell out of me. but it’s fine. let’s bury the hatchet. maybe we can battle again sometime. god knows i have enough material now..:)

That’s issue no.1 reached resolution (or at least one incident of it). As for issue no.2, Bombay Elektrik Projekt have not issued any further statements, slanderous, apologetic or otherwise. And there have been a few nasty jibes directed my way, by one of the judges at that event.

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