Tag Archives: Life in Digitalia

Tiny Tales: The Day You Should Have Stayed In Bed

The day stretches on like a chewing gum that’s lost its flavour a long time ago. Yet, you won’t spit it out. Maybe you’ll swallow it and feel a twinge of guilt as you remember your biology teacher telling you that it’ll stick to the inside of your stomach and ruin your digestion. Memories of school always depress you. How can anyone call them ‘the best years of their lives’? Such horrible lives those people must have now. They must be lying. All you remember of school is sarcastic teachers, leering bullies and the breath-choking fear that a single red mark can produce.

It’s a hot day, the kind you’ve missed the past two months, feeling awkwardly guilty about it since the whole world is waxing eloquent about how nice it is to have winter in this city for a change. But all it makes you want to do is close your eyes and go back to sleep. If only the blanket didn’t feel so prickly. The delicious comfort of the woolen blanket is gone with January. Now you feel slightly disloyal to summer.

With massive effort, the kind that no one else could possibly understand or appreciate, you heave out of bed and brush your teeth. You remember to water the plants, trying hard to smile at the fact that the basil leaves planted a week ago are finally taking root. But as you move away from the window, your smile drops like actors must drop their costumes the minute they’re off-camera. In the brooding non-thinking that follows, you manage to tidy up the room, make the bed and run a load of wash. Enthused by the thought that maybe that was just waking up grumpiness that ailed you and that activity will make you feel better, you run a second round of wash on the cotton sheets. Time to clean them and get them ready for summer. Yeah Yeah! Yeah! The washing machine rings and gets running and shows that it’ll take 67 minutes for the ‘Blanket’ cycle of the wash. *Sigh*

Twelve minutes are successfully wasted checking email, messages and comments. When the phone rings, it’s forty minutes over already. And you’re trolling weird articles on random sites, feeling shittier at the thought of the scumbags who share the online world – and the offline – with you. The phone is jumping up at you, admonishing you for your useless, wasted little life. You stare at it, defiance being all that you have the energy for. And you hit ‘Silence’ vindictively. But the flashing light even on the muted phone gives you no sense of real satisfaction.

Satisfaction, that’s an elusive concept. Do you even remember what that felt like? You must have been satisfied once. You must have been happy once. You’re usually a happy person. That’s how the world knows you. And does it?

You’re all alone in the white-yellow brightness, in the throbbing aliveness of summer. Then the doorbell rings and you know you’re not. You’ll never be alone just when you want to be left alone. Enough already. Defiance deepens to something else. The heat behind your eyelids is sinking down into your breath. And suddenly you remember how to turn that into energy. You could be a poster-child for both, Freud and Einstein.

The doorbell is still ringing, the sounds getting closer. You imagine the doorbell getting pushed…the finger that pushes it…jabs it…RING….RING…RRRRIIINNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGG.

That’s the last thing you remember.

“No more questions, milord.”

This post also appears on Social Mantra.

Quoted In Mid-Day FourSquare Story: Shraddha Jadhav Isn’t The Only Mayor

Mid-Day has a story by Kasmin Fernandes on Foursquare today. Moksh and Daksh Juneja have both been quoted while I provide a counter-perspective on this social media game that’s rapidly gaining popularity. Here’s what I said:

Virtual rewards aren’t for everyone

If you don’t like being followed, though, location-based apps and the virtual rewards they offer are not for you. Blogger Ramya Pandyan (right) aka Ideasmithy (http:// ideasmithy.wordpress.com) joined Foursquare in 2010, but deleted her account within a week. “During that time, I must have ‘checked in’ twice,” says the 31 year-old who found the format “engaging and attractive, the way Twitter was, when it first made an appearance”.

“It was a deliberate decision to delete my account. I realised that I could soon be drawn into frequent usage and I didn’t want this level of information about me to be in the public domain. For instance, my favourite haunts, where I was, for how long and how often. I value my privacy and the freedom that the Internet offers me.

Keeping the balance between accessibility and privacy is really tricky. Twitter and Facebook fell in my permissible range while Foursquare didn’t,” says Pandyan.

Ask her why she didn’t forsake the location-based app instead of deleting her account on it, and she says, “It would have been risky to leave the account unused, especially if an option to tag other people came into existence. Other people would be able to point out my location even if I didn’t.”

I must add, reading what the Junejas had to say on this was like facing temptation all over again! I was an avid ZyngaGamer after all so I’m a natural target for any community-based online activity. But I’ll stick to my stand and keep off the lure of mayorship for now!

Ideamarked! December 2010: Internet Delights, Online Wars, Schooltime Nostalgia, Curd Rice, Romance, Art & Writing

I’ve had a busy December, what with friends from out-of town, the big relationship questions, getting started on the Yahoo! Real Beauty arrangement and a month-long writing exercise (you’ll have to read further to know what!). But I still managed to keep an eye on things of mutual interest, dear reader. *Pause for applause* 😀 I’m feeling upbeat and high-spirited this month. So be nice and leave a comment or two telling me what you think and what else you’d like to see.

  • This would have been par de course in an 80s Bollywood flick dhak-dhak style! (via AwkwardFamilyPhotos)
  • Getting ready for the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2011.
  • This really appeals to the Ideartist in me! (via PS-IMadeThis)
  • A month-long writing exercise with a daily prompt (via Reverb10) Hat-tipped by Lakshmi Jagad. Also see my posts on this, here.
  • I first heard this song featured on the soundtrack of ’13 Going On 30′ and then fell in love with it. It was the theme song of my journey to the big Three-O and beyond. (Billy Joel’s Vienna Waits For You via YouTube)
  • Two drifters off to see the world, there’s so much of world to see. A classic. (Breakfast in Tiffany’s Moon River via YouTube)
  • Stoopid copywriters, funny fails! (via Failblog)
  • An interesting concept: Turning off your phone as a technological gesture of affection. (via Arzan Wadia)
  • Some of us miss the forest for the trees. And then there are those who remind us to stop and pick a fruit and savour it before burning the forest down. (Ashwini Mishra on the small things)
  • I came upon this blog from a reader response. It took me back to my early days of blogging when blogs were personal journals (not blossoming ebusiness ideas) and bloggers were ordinary human beings (not the next big Internet celebrity). I particularly liked the idea of this tag (yes, another throwback to those days of yore) and his answers. (via Yuva Anandan)
  • I ran into an online war with Bombay Elektrik Projekt after I tweeted that I was disappointed with their Monday Night Slam event. They slammed me on their Facebook page and on Twitter. An account of the event is here.
  • I didn’t send this one in but it instantly reminded me of my Best Friend. (via PostSecret)
  • An ode to that humble king of South Indian cuisine – thayir sadam (curd rice to you philistines). The article has liberal local references so you’re advised to carry a Tamil-English dictionary. But it is worth a read. Damn, my stomach’s growling. And this after having had a sumptous dinner of the aforementioned thayir sadam!! (via HawkEyeView)
  • Remember the teenage sleuthing trio of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews? My early adolescence was checkered with the adventures of The Three Investigators. Here’s remembering.
  • Horsing around (via AwkwardSchoolPictures)
  • Things you would never know without the movies (via TheTopSpace)
  • “Not email but Facebook may launch its own country by Monday!” (via FakingNews).
  • Hardware meets software? The clash of the giants. A good read, even for the techno-greeks. “Apple versus Google” (via IntelligentLife)
  • From the idea-archives: My article on learning to cook from the internet, which featured in JetLite’s in-flight magazine in October 2010. Cooking wannabes and seasoned chefs, do take note! (on The Idea-smithy)

If you see yourself (or your site featured here, if you’d like to be or if you’re just intrigued by the Ideamarked posts, do drop into The Idea-smithy Facebook Page and tell me about it. I love company!

‘The Chef’s @’: Article In Oct 2010 JetLite Flight Magazine

October opens with promise, delectable aromas and lots of windows open on my computer. What am I on?

'The Chef's @' by Ramya Pandyan for Jet Airways Flight Magazine Oct 2010

My article titled ‘The Chef’s @’ appears in JetLite’s’ in-flight magazine through this month. It is a go-to primer for the culinary-challenged (like me) who nevertheless have appetites and luckily for them, an internet connection. If the kitchen scares you, don’t worry. The Internet is benevolent and bountiful and will teach you how to cater to this most basic of needs, in an easy, efficient and tasty manner.

If you’re flying this month, please do read the story and send me your thoughts. Bon voyage and bon appetit!

‘The Chef’s @’ by Ramya Pandyan

The kitchen has never been my favorite room in the house. But the hunger pangs come knocking every few hours, reminding me of the mealtime that looms up ahead. For most urban dwellers, the daily preparation of food can be a real problem. At the end of an demanding day full of gargantuan commitments of work, bills, children and household management, who has the time or energy to devote to several hours of preparing something, that will be gone in a few minutes? Like several other chores, this too could be sourced out to external help but finding a person whose skills (let alone temperament and salary demands) match one’s needs could be problematic. You are not a super chef but you don’t always want to order in or reheat packaged food or live off cup noodles. So what do you do? I decided to check online. Google was the solution to many of my needs so I figured, why not ask about the most basic one?

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BlogAdda 3: Protecting Your Privacy

My third post is up on BlogAdda. Last week I talked about how to build accessibility for a blog through feeds and link-sharing mechanisms. This week I take a look at the exact opposite.

While the internet opens you up to a broad range of people and experiences, it also leaves you open to a number of undesirable elements. Fortunately, filtering mechanisms are available that can help you tailor your online presence with the level of accessibility and privacy that suits you the best. Privacy is as relevant an issue as accessibility and I felt that after talking about how to make one’s blog visible, it was vital to know how to also protect oneself online.

(Click here to read the post)

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Review: Fabulis-An Online Gay Community

My friend Nikhil (okay, no pun intended there, that’s really his name!!!) told me about a project that his firm was working on recently and I thought it would be interesting to the Gaysi community. This is Fabulis, a social networking site for gay and gay-friendly people.

Fabulis appears to sit on top of the Facebook framework (it requires a Facebook account to login) and works more like an extended application than a network in itself. I guess this has its advantages since Facebook is an Internet phenomenon now and anybody who is anybody is on it (or is that Twitter, again?).

The site asks you to provide an email address and a location. My first entry threw up the following error message:

“Oops! Please enter a valid city. Please enter text as Boston, MA or Paris, France”

But when I started to type ‘M’ (since that looked closest to Mumbai even if Mumbai doesn’t abbreviate to MA), the drop-down menu of suggestions did list other cities including my home city.

When you sign in, you are asked to identify yourself as either a ‘gay man” or a ‘friend to gay guys’. Barring the obvious oversight in leaving out gay women, it’s a nice enough start. You’re also asked to enter tags to describe yourself and your interest with a default tag of ‘friend to gay guys’. I changed this to ‘friend of gay people’ and happily found that the drop-down menu of suggestions contained various versions of it.

Fabulis pulls the information from your Facebook account (including privacy settings), imports photographs and also shows you which of your friends are already using the application. It also draws up information from your Facebook calendar and posts updates of your public events inviting responses from other users of the community.

Once you’re in, the network works a little less like Facebook and more like Twitter. That is to say, you don’t exactly befriend people. You can follow them and/or be followed by them. The privacy settings allow you to raise the bar on who can follow you.

In addition to the obvious networking features, it also has its own network currency of Fabulis bits. Fabulis bits can be earned by participating in activities. Similar to the Zynga Games model, you can also earn by engaging in side-offers. These are plowed back into the monetary ecosystem as you spend them on answering other people’s questions or helping them along in their contests. You can also use Fabulis bits to buy upgrades and cheat codes for the games and contests. And finally, Fabulis bits are what you spend if you really, really want to follow someone who is ultra-picky about their privacy and has enabled the setting that forces followers to pay for the privelege.

I also tested the account deletion options (after an unsavory experience with ibibo.com which still refuses to let me go and insists on bombarding my mailbox with spammy messages). Happily Fabulis doesn’t believe in clinging on and the detachment process if fairly simple. You just click on ‘Settings’ under your profile name on the top-right which takes you to a list of options. The last of these is ‘Close Account’ with the expected “Are you sure?” message. Do note though, that if you choose to leave the network, you’ll have to go to Facebook and delete the application from having access to your account. If not, your Fabulis account will still be connected a la social networking on life support systems.

The prizes for the contests are apparently available to users in every location and are supposed to be very attractive to the gay community. I can’t confirm this myself since I haven’t participated in any of the events but it sounds like an interesting way to target the community. I guess a social network undergoes a collective learning process. Identifying itself as a network that addresses itself to this community is the first step and it will probably depend on the user group and how they choose to utilize the features that the site offers.

Fabulis is also on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

* Cross-posted on Gaysi and The XX Factor.

The Intrusive Internet

I promise you, I’m not going to preach, I’ll try not to editorialize and I’ll keep the ranting to a minimum. All I’m going to do, is tell you three stories, all of them based on fact.

Story no.1: A Twitter Tale

@randomstranger: I’m in XYZ location. Who is here?

@friendswhoshouldknowbetter: I’m here. And @ideasmithy is in this area too.

Just for the record, I don’t even know @randomstranger and from what I can see, the tweet wasn’t particularly inquiring about my location. As a subsidiary point, I checked out FourSquare earlier this year and deleted my account since I find it too privacy-intrusive.

Story no.2: The Date

I met my date in a very public place at an event. Understandably there were people I knew there. We shook hands all around, introductions were made, everyone mingled. We left later and went to a nearby restaurant that is known, if at all, for how quiet (decently so) and discreet it is.

Some of my friends turned up there as well. It’s not completely an unknown place after all. The sighting, the recognition, even the teasing faces from the nearby table were all normal and manageable.

What came as a unwelcome surprise the next morning was to see twitter updates of my evening as well as a photograph of my date and I. Thankfully, my date’s face is not visible. I say ‘thankfully’ only because it’s bad enough having my privacy invaded by my friends, imagine how mortifying to discover that they intruded on his as well!

Story no.3: It’s art, not life

A friend of mine is an artist and has shown me some of his sketches in the past for feedback. Recently he has also started sharing his work on Facebook for more feedback and conversation with his audience. One of them is a reworked sketch based on some of my comments.

I logged in to find myself tagged in one of his pictures. I clicked on the notification only to find myself looking at a slightly familiar sketch of a couple engaged in a hot clinch. It wasn’t till I saw his comment that I realized he was asking for my opinion on the revised sketch. The first thing that hit my eyes (and I suspect it will be the only one for the average viewer) was that I was the only one tagged in a picture of a hot couple.

Now all the people I’ve mentioned in these three stories are friends. They are intelligent, nice and not particularly insensitive. I know for a fact that each of their actions could be deemed thoughtless at worst but not worse than that. However, the consequences of each of these could be pretty drastic.

My long struggle with anonymity and open identity has been fraught with questions of this sort. It just seems like people will take extra care if you force them to, with an artificial construct like an anonymous handle or a vehement policy of no photographs. But in the more prevalent ways of the world, most people seem to be quite insensitive about such things.

I promised I wouldn’t editorialize and I won’t, mainly because I don’t know how to with this post. I can’t take my anonymity back. I can (and already have) requested said friends to rectify the situation. But I have no way of ensuring that such things don’t happen again. And I sure as hell can’t teach people to be sensitive to things that could affect me.

Thoughts?

Twitter Story For Marie Claire India Sept’ 09

I wrote an article about Twitter which was published in the September 2009 issue of Marie Claire, which has just come out on the stands right now. If you’re already an avid Tweeter, it won’t say anything that you don’t know already. If you’re a techie, you’ll probably turn your nose up at what I’ve written. But if you’ve just been hearing about the Twitterumours everywhere and are wondering why it’s so hot, you might find a few answers. Because this is a layperson’s understanding of the Twitterage, an account of personal experience, which is really how I believe a tool should be explained and understood.

Marie Claire Sep09 p213 - Twitter story

I’m happy with the way it looks. And hey! I even got my photo in the contributors page. Thank you so much Aekta for the opportunity (and Sumit for the photograph)!

Marie Claire Sep09 - contributros

And again, considering that the book I’m writing is about the ways that ordinary people (the mango junta as Saif would have us know) experience the internet….writing this piece was almost like a test run. I hope you enjoy it!

Personality Of A Blog

Do blogs take on personalities of their own? To their owners, I think they do. Owners I say, but perhaps that’s wrong since it implies a pre-supposed relationship already. So let’s just ask – What is the relationship between a blogger and his/her blog?

A blog is more than a bulletin board or a chat forum. It’s a place where you watch your words, your ideas, your opinions take shape and be shaped in turn by the others who visit. You develop the theme, the header, the widgets to depict a certain image. You give it a name, and yourself a handle sometimes to add to that. You fill it up with words, pictures, audio and video. You reply to comments and comment on other’s blogs thereby developing a presence. You link to the popular networks of the moment,

Is it platform to voice your opinion? Your own personal soapbox?

Or is it an ongoing personal advertisement? The starting point of your own social network?

I’ve written multiple blogs, authoring around 10 blogs across 4 different identities at one point of time. It was mind-boggling but it was an entertaining exercise in exploring my relationship with each blog. And really, I had a different relationship with each blog.

XXFactor remains my longest surviving (and most surprising) experiment and in my mind is slotted with chick-lit books, chocolates, Sensorcaine and Lucky. Why? Because these are things and people I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about but I know will be there whenever I need them (which is fairly often) and just the way I want them to be. XXFactor is my galpal.

The Idea-smithy on the other hand, with domain switches and even name changes is the closest to the real me since it has essentially mirrored every change in my life from the minor weekly/monthly mood changes to the big sweeping changes that come with age and experience. IS is my mirror.

Only one of my other blogs, Office Capers was an experiment and one that didn’t work out as well. In exact replication of my relationship with my profession, my colleages and place(s) of work, it slid smoothly in and out of existance and didn’t really move me profoundly. I guess I was never as deeply involved in that relationship either. OC was the friendly colleague I’d shared a few lunches with and occasionally wonder how he turned out.

All the remaining blogs were diaries of various sorts. They were intensely personal, I loved them, they were good to me and now they’ve been tucked away for safety in a place no one will find them (I hope!).

So do you bring a part of yourself to your blog each day? Or do you create something new each time you touch it? Is it an extension of your personality, an expression of something that doesn’t usually surface or an experiment to see what it would be like to be someone else?

What’s your blog to you?

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