BlogCamp India: Day One Report

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Our India correspondent is in Chennai, India covering the first Blogcamp, India’s largest unconference of bloggers. She will be filing occasional updates and indepth reports on the event – Om

Chennai, India: Atul Chitnis credits blogging for spurring Domino’s to open a branch near his house in Bangalore. He said his posts about Domino’s not delivering to his neighborhood, a fact commented upon and picked up other Bangalore bloggers, inspired the pizza chain to actually mail him and ask him where he lives. “A branch is soon opening up, well, not next to my house as I would like it to, but close enough for them to deliver.” Neha Viswanathan’s spleen on some of local ICICI Bank’s policies caused the hapless bank to write to her offering to help, she said.

Blogcamp, India’s largest unconference of bloggers—yes, almost 200 people from around India showed up –kicked off with such anecdotes this morning in south Chennai at Tidel Park. According to Blogstreet India, there are some India-based 4,500 blogs in India, with Chennai having the maximum of 368 blogs which tracks some 4,500 India-based blogs, says the country boasts around 80,000 active blogs in total, with Chennai having the maximum of 368 blogs. The stated purpose of Blogcamp is to provide a forum where bloggers “can share their stories and be inspired by innovative and successful blogging experiences.” There was a lot of such sharing on Day One but one got a sense that there was a lot of preaching to the converted.


‘Blogging as a Career,’ a session by Amit Agarwal was one that a lot of the bloggers were looking forward to. I overheard several dewy-eyed, young ‘uns going up to Agarwal saying they were really looking forward to hearing how he makes money as a professional blogger. The session proved to be a bit of a damp squib as Agarwal, a) didn’t volunteer the exact amount he makes, which is what people (unfairly?) really wanted to hear b) his tips were, well, a bit trite c) some participant started to dispute adsense numbers and Agarwal instead of dealing with it head on insisted, “we can talk about it offline,” whatever that means.

One rather tasteless (depending on your taste) shill came from either an organizer or someone with Yahoo India. “If you haven’t tried the beta upgrade of Yahoo mail, you must try it now!…Ever wished you could backup an SMS from a special person? With Yahoo’s new beta you can!” Methinks the hard-sell didn’t work. Syed Nazir Razik, sitting in the audience and unable to resist, added, “It’s similar to Outlook and takes a long time to load even if you have a broadband connection.” Nokia, also a sponsor, had a stall to enlighten people about its Nseries phone, useful for mobile blogging. Thankfully they kept it on the down low. Also, an Intel India representative was there scouting for bloggers for this! (Call her!)

On Day Two participants have a video cast by Robert Scoble to look forward to. I, though, can’t wait to see and hear cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar, in the flesh, talking about podcasting. And if Yahoo India’s shills are what it takes to get to hear the original ‘Little Master,’ all is forgiven Yahoo I!

Notes from the sidelines:

Nevertheless the participants were rewarded for their efforts (okay, they will say attending was reward enough) with, among other small thingamajigs, a pretty decent backpack with sponsor Yahoo India‘s logo and a very, very large T-Shirt (judging by the one I got) that said on the back, “I am blogging this.” And some of them were, thanks to Sify providing WiFi and the organizers Kiruba Shankar et al ensuring plug points for everyone to connect their laptops to—a rarity in electricity-starved India’s buildings. Getting into the first world groove, the first thing most did on entering the large auditorium was to whip out their laptops and check their mail. Most continued to surf through the day ;-).

* * * * *

Geek sessions (‘Introduction to Word Press,’ ‘Word press Hacks,’ etc) were held in a conference room above the auditorium where the non-geeks interested in discussing things like, “Disaster Blogging’ and “Group Blogging Strategies,’ hung out. It was all nice and friendly on the face of it but there was a definite competitive undercurrent, and I’m sure Veer Chand Bothra‘s announcement of the launch of blogstreetindia 2.0 didn’t help any. “Many people have complained about our rankings and with this new version we hope to improve,” he said. (Witnessed a lot of rolling of eyes at that statement.) Hopefully thing will improve for the ranking service in the near future.

27 Comments

Indian Bloggers

enewss was also assosciate sponsor of blogcamp event. enewss.com specializes in categorizing Indian blogs and displays them as latest news to readers.

–best regards

AM

Where the hell do you live lady? I have lived in India, USA, Europe-and I never lacked plug points to plug my lap top (or any of the assorted electronic paraphernalia I carry with me)

Tell me-are you one of those who are given a taste of the ‘first world’ once a year-for a week or two-courtesy your employer. Is that why once you do get the chance, you feel the gap so much? Quite natural-can’t blame you. Like you can’t blame a poor kid given a piece of sweet by a wealthy neighbor for feeling that her mother feeds her crap.

Suggestion-travel more, judge less, and if you end up learning some perspective in the bargain-good, if you end up learning some sense too-great!

crawford

hilarious. Touchy lot, aren’t you all? Blogcamp was great because Kiruba did such a great job ensuring wi-fi and plugpoints, etc. Dudes, its true! There IS an electricty shortage in India. There ARE problems finding plugpoints! Everything the post said is true and I agree about the hideous yahoo “shill” as Neelakantan writes…Neelakantan’s really good by the way..have you seen other articles Neelakantan’s written? They are superb. I just posted on anothyer lame blog about it.

Atul Chitnis

Doh. Why does everyone write to me about this? :)

IAC, as has been pointed out to me by tons of people, the very first link in this article is kaput, while the second one works. Could someone fix this? Thanks!

rh mayo

The great Bongs comments are relevant. One does not have to diss the Indian experience/infrastructure in the context of blog meet. He has expressed himself very well and, I do not think it is expression of jingoism to state it as such.

vuttaa

Andrew,
Sorry dude, u being reality stricken indian dont mean that u wud bang ur chest with all the minuses that boost india’s image! if u work from a building that supplies software, there’s hardly a powerCut, let alone be starved. rite? we have the uncanny habit of attaching a derogatory adjective whenver we can, like some saddist. but i’m glad that there are many modern day YUDHISTHIRS – go and beat the drums abt how we share roads with cows and buffaloes. ur blog will have many HITS, i’m sure!!

Andrew

Debolin and Vuttaa,
Do you live in India? I do and I can vouch that it IS electricty starved. I think the problem with many Indians, as also with many Americans, is that they prefer to gloss over realities because of their misplaced ideas of patriotism. Saying a country (or its buildings) is electricty starved is a fact and does not diminish from the other good things about India.

Saying that the US is wrong in being in Iraq does not diminish from other good things the US has to offer.

I’ve noticed a lot of jingoistic comments on the India posts here. Quite sad and as bad as Fox News in the US.

Can’t we all be more constructive?

vuttaa

electricity starved indian buildings – too irrelevant! and many facts / numbers are probably concieved by the writer! disappointed write-up. cant even whip up the excitement :(

dEbOLiN

Nice article. But have you seen Greatbong’s take on this article (http://greatbong.net/2006/09/14/the-third-world-groove) of yours?
Well…don’t know about other readers but I personally can’t agree more with Greatbong.
It’s just that I can’t write as beautifully as he does…otherwise I too would have expressed similar views about certain sections of your article in my blog.

mustaq

Hey

Surprised to see blog camp post over here (I am not part of blog camp-chennai), thanks for supporting blog camp -chennai
I missed the camp well not in chennai during the camp, this camp really exposed the chennai guys around the world

Jace

BlogStreet’s rankings are extremely unreliable. Chennai is by no means the largest at 368 odd. There are over 1000 bloggers in Bangalore on LiveJournal alone (check the directory; LJ truncates search results at 1000, there could be far more).

Sunny

A lot of what Amit Agarwal says is wrong – he didnt quit his job because of blogging. He quit to join his family business..(have known him since past 8 years), and I am sure most of his numbers are overly-hyped (to create that “superior” feeling among others)..

Hmm..but that’s what journalism is all about. Creating FUD!! :-)

Rajan

The number of blogs that is mentioned is that of Blogstreet. IIRC the count that I’ve seen of Indian blogosphere is around 85,000+. Rashmi Bansal quoted that number in a post of hers a while ago, I don’t seem to be able to get my hands around it. Will share it here when I get it.

Rajan

Ravi Kamdar

Unfortunately I am not able to attend this meet. And I don’t know whether any one would have recognized me there or not as my blog receives daily a cool 10 hits and 0 comments :D.

I tried to organize a blogger conference here in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. (my city). But wasn’t able to find enough numbers of bloggers. I found sponcers even, but bloggers are not enough!

And I doubt your figure of 4500 bloggers in India. There are certainly many more. See blogger.com, wordpress.com, rediff, indiatimes, typepad, msn spaces , yahoo 360 all will lead to many blogs. What about Hindi blogs?
check here. http://www.tarakash.com
and imp, http://www.akshargram.com/narad

Rajan

There are many tags to search for to follow all the those who are live blogging. There seems to be a confusion on what tag to use. blogcamplive is the latest agreed upon tag.

Rajan

Amit

dispute adsense numbers and Agarwal instead of dealing with it head on insisted, “we can talk about it offline,” whatever that means.

You don’t know what that means. Oh so you are a professional journalist :)

ang

Om & the folks @ GigaOM, catch tomorrow lice Unconf via irc aas well.. lotsa fun happening there on:

http://irc.blogcamp.in

blogcamp and opensource geeks there too.. Yahoo India should have done some research on their latest Yahoo Search which crawls blogs as well.. because it’s powered by an os language – PHP.. and built by the Father of PHP (www.lerdorf.com/bio.php) – Rasmus Lerdorf.. instead of trying to do a beta mail plugin… i was also left wondering why Yahoo India didn’t mention upcoming bites on Yahoo 360…

glad they sponsored and the like.. but hello! there’s loads of excite blog widgets in development or those popping out from the research labs — to talk about ;)

Sportsnob

I was there and I loved it! Was upset that I missed Amit’s session but by the looks of it I didn’t miss much.

Excellent review. And very frank too :)

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