Tag Archives: Netra Parikh

The BarCamp Mumbai 8 Round-Up

I spent yesterday at Barcamp Mumbai 8. This has been my first unconference in nearly 2 years. My last Barcamp was over 4years ago, overrun by techie discussions and only drew me because it had a teensy segment for bloggers. BlogCamp evolved as an offshoot of that.

Yesterday was a pleasant return. For one, the event that usually struggles on time, breezed through the multiple sessions, speakers and classrooms easily. There were 4 classrooms in the ultra-posh Mukesh Patel ….. The wiki was flowing with colourful post-its even at 10:15 a.m., which is when I got there. And most delightfully, the subjects spanned a diverse range of intellectual tools, hobbies & interests & scientific applications in fun real life ways. One had to be truly ruthless to pick sessions to attend since there were so many good ones, several happening simultaneously.

Off the top of my head, these are the ones I attended:

Interesting titbits from the day:

I entered Rehab’s session late, having misread the wiki schedule. It was interesting and fun, though occasionally highjacked by someone who claimed that genocide made him happy. Quick tip – if you’re demonstrating or talking without a powerpoint, avoid the big conference room. The larger crowd is harder to maintain & engage. Rehab did a great job though and showed off a mind technique that will help anyone from an artist to an executive stuck in a business dilemma.

Harrish is always entertaining and touching in equal parts. His first talk was about the film AMEN being denied a certificate by the censor board and he did a superb job of bringing out the inconsistencies in their policies. His second talk though, was the one that really had people talking. He was speaking of how gay people are treated in India, when partway through, he was interrupted by a very fervent member of the audience who insisted that,

“According to Hinduism, you can only have sex with your wife, inside a closed room. Only after marriage and only for procreation, not for fun.”

The uproar that followed had to be taken out into the corridor to make way for the next speaker. The episode illustrated one of the reasons that unconferences are a great way to seed ideas, bring out thoughts and get people talking, sometimes about controversial and difficult topics.

My session on ‘Social Content’ happened on the fly. It’s been years since I spoke completely extempore, as I did yesterday and it was a great experience. I was actually hoping to create interest for my upcoming series of blogging workshops, beginning with ‘Unboggle The Blog‘. But instead, I found myself naturally touching on several related but disjointed thoughts about this space. My 20 minute, stream-of-consciousness ramble imitated the way we consume and add to social content, on our Facebook Walls, our Twitter timelines and all out other channels of social media. I touched on the artificiality of traditional media, social media as an extension of normal, human behaviour, how trolls are mirror daily social miscreants experimenting in their own ways and that we’re all creators & consumers of social content. Here’s the talk:

I missed the #TWSS talk by Aditya Sengupta since the room was so packed that even the door couldn’t be opened. From what I hear, it was a tongue-in-geek demonstration of an algorithm used to generate and viral #TWSS (That’s what she said). But the geek in me found a corner in Anubha Bhat’s talk on diagnosing bipolar disorders using algorithms.

I’m not going to dwell on how great it was to catch up with old friends again, since that’s a given in any gathering. Yesterday was more than just friends catching up and people networking. It really was a meeting of minds, a true sharing of ideas. A big thank you to the Barcamp team for pulling off such a great day!

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.

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

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