I’m in Delhi, working on some programmes for Digital Planet, and I’ll write more about my first time in India later. But on saturday evening, seven hours after my plane touched down, I was lucky enough to be able to go along to a meeting of the Delhi Bloggers.
It was their eleventh meeting in the last two years, which is pretty impressive, and around thirty people showed up, which is more than normal. It would be nice to think they came because the fame of Digital Planet has spread to the Delhi blogosphere, but I suspect that wasn’t the case…
The meeting was organised by Sanjukta, who blogs at http://meateccentricitydotcom.blogspot.com/, and it was really great of her to put so much effort into it all. By the end of the evening, when we abandoned the last dozen or so of our fellows to the bizarre door policy of the pub in the basement of the Turquoise Cottage Thai restaurant in south Delhi – we gave the DJ a miss because we had to go and make a radio show – I felt I had really arrived in Delhi.
The meeting took place at the India Habitat Centre and even though it says on its website that it was ‘conceived to provide a physical environment which would serve as a catalyst for a synergetic relationship between individuals and institutions working in diverse habitat related areas’, it was a pretty good venue.
The centre has several conference rooms and halls, a few places to eat and drink and a large covered area with a roof of plastic diamonds that keeps out the sun but still allows the (warm) air to circulate, in which there’s an amphitheatre. The bloggers meeting was to be there, but when we arrived shortly after six we found an earnest group of politically-minded young people about to discuss social integration, as the space had been double-booked.
We eventually assembled on the steps near the entrance, and although it meant that the acoustics were far from ideal, about thirty of us managed a great discussion about the issues around blogging, the sort of stuff that Delhi bloggers write about, the differences between different countries and cultures when it comes to the evolution and impact of blogs, and the likelihood of actually making any money from it all.
I didn’t get to write down nearly enough names, so can’t thank people individually – but for me as a newly arrived stranger it was the best way to connect with Delhi and to feel that I was in touch with something genuine about this fascinating city. I know that the bloggers aren’t representative – as Sanjukta said, few people in India have computers and connectivity, and of those few bother with blogs – but the range of people there was pretty wide, and you have to start somewhere whenever you’re somewhere new.
They were a great bunch, and what we talked and argued about will, I hope, help me think more carefully about the way blogging is developing, and how the use of these new tools for self-expression is influenced by culture and background. It’s too easy to have a western technocratic view of the world, and having to defend my views in front of this articulate, argumentative and skilled group of practitioners was great exercise.
Paavani has written a good summary on her blog, I think therefore I write (at http://www.paavani.in/blog/ and astute readers will notice that she’s used the same WordPress template as me, so she’s obviously a woman of taste and discernment), and Solzaire has really captured the essence of our discussion on his Journal at http://solzaire.livejournal.com/82891.html. I suspect others will be adding their points of view too, over the next few days, even Amit.
Since many of those present will be blogging from work or college, expecting them to head off home and go straight online wouldn’t be realistic – I’m the sad one for sitting in the lounge of my expensive hotel and using their overpriced wifi to post this!