Pune Blog Camp 2: Reflections

Many folks asked me for an update on Pune’s Blog Camp, after the previous photo-post. How was the experience? Was it worth it? Who was there?

Not being diplomatic, I can say that the experience was an interesting one for me, with positives and negatives. I had never been to any blog camp, bar camp, or Tweetup before, so I did not have any expectations, and that probably helped.logo-main-krity

There was an interesting discussion going on even before the blog camp in the comments to Navin Kabra’s PuneTech Why You Should Attend Pune Blog Camp post. At the other end of the spectrum, post-event, the insights from the camp led to Dhananjay Nene’s Why I was disappointed with Pune Blog Camp 2.

Some others have shared their experiences too. Sandeep has a largely positive thank you note at his blog The Mousetrap. Anant has a detailed write up on his blog, Rahul has an update on the Devil’s Workshop, Aniket has shared his awesome feeling about the camp at Melody in Dissonance, while Deep Ganatra raises an important concern about unintentional session-hijacking. Almost all of them have written about the various sessions that took place, so I will not repeat them. Nor will I remember the names of all the presenters! So I will just share a few of my thoughts. You can also read Pune Mirror and TOI’s coverage.

A word of thanks to the organizers is a must. Tarun Chandel led the tone of the camp beautifully, making people get comfortable with his opening presentation and stepping in to facilitate whenever he could. I think the facilitation needed more support – it seemed he was the only one intent on facilitating.

Meeting In Person

BlogCampPune 006There were a few specific people I wanted to meet and that was one of my motivations for going to the camp. There were a few surprises too. I knew about sites like Wogma and Track.in, and it was good to meet online entrepreneurs Meetu Kabra and Arun Prabhudesai in person. I met fellow Twitter contacts like Amit Paranjape, an entrepreneur who shares myriad interests like me, who was busy with his Smartphone throughout the camp as I’d expected! Dhananjay Nene, a software architect, was another Twitter contact and meeting him personally was a surprise as he wasn’t as old as he looked in his avatar!

Friends in need are friends on Friendfeed. I recognized Sandeep Gautam instantly, even if we had only recently started following each other on Friendfeed. Sandeep writes on psychology and neuroscience while being into software development and poetry, at The Mousetrap. Sneha Gore has done a survey-based research into motivations of young bloggers which I found interesting, and meeting Pune Mirror’s Vishal was also good.

Negatives

  • Despite what the self-analysis kit says, the camp was not centered around a theme or purpose. Blogging is a wide umbrella term for any camp to succeed without having a theme – SEO, journalism, the ubiquitous ‘musings’ – some theme is needed for greater audience-presenter harmony.
  • Despite all the marketing-SEO focused presentations, the Golden Rule of SEO was not emphasized at all, or I missed it altogether. Content is king. Period.BlogCampPune 005
  • No talk of the future of blogging. Yongfook, author of the popular open-source self-hosted Lifestreaming application SweetCron has proclaimed The Blog is Dead. Wired magazine advised not to start a new blog, and to pull the plug if you already had one. ReadWriteWeb asked if the future of blogging is lifetreaming. I thought these topics will come up in a ‘blog camp’, but either they didn’t or I missed them.
  • Sometimes, I felt disenchanted with the perspective of an SEO/Marketing oriented pro-blogger that looks at readers as pure numbers and statistics on a graph. Rather than a birds-eye view of traffic flowing on a freeway, I prefer seeking the company of people actually driving those cars – those who take the time to comment and share their ideas and opinions on my posts. But that’s just me.
  • Despite the monetization related talks, there was no talk about writing. I take the blame for this. As a professional writer who is making money out of writing on a blog, and not looking at promotion, marketing, or SEO, I could have talked about how you can earn money as a blog writer without being keen on SEO.

Positives

  • Meeting lots and lots of bloggers! And especially meeting the few I wrote about above.
  • The passion and entrepreneurship of youth that I witnessed was inspiring. Young people in their 20s have .com domains and are discussing SEO. Wow. I actually felt out of place.
  • Navin and Vishal’s presentation on what newspapers can learn from blogs and vice versa.
  • Sandeep’s presentation on niche science blogging.
  • Regional focus – Shantanu Oak talked about Devanagri spell-checking.
  • Seeing lots and lots of newbie or wannabe bloggers.

Lessons

  • BlogCampPune 016Bloggers should be on Twitter if they want to expand visibility of their blog.
  • Some folks try to make money out of blogging. The clever folks make money from bloggers.
  • The ‘blogger elite’ usually doesn’t comment on each other’s blogs. They use Twitter to keep in touch with each other.
  • I personally feel there should be disclaimers within the presentations on monetization, when a lot of impressionable young peo
    ple are in the audience. I could sense that many such people got the feeling that one can easily make money out of blogging, if one is geeky enough and knows a few ‘secrets’.
  • In a blog camp, the law of two feet is very important. I did it successfully – rather than being felt obliged to listen to sessions that I was not interested in, I preferred spending one-to-one time with people, which is what worked best for me.
  • If I go to a blog camp again, I will present. In retrospect, I could have shared:

A few days back, Asuph asked how one can reduce the page rank of one’s blog and I replied. I would have loved to see the reactions if this exchange had happened at the blog camp!

Thus, all in all, an interesting experience. Will I go to another camp? If it is not centered around a specific theme, definitely not. Else, depends on the theme!

This entry was posted in blogging, India, Personal, pune and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • That’s really cool. Thanks for providing a summary. There were few surprises for me on your thoughts about Twitter and monetizing. Oh and I noticed you reverted to a simpler theme.

  • Dev

    Thanks for the detailed write up. Iam not aware of any such blog camps happening around my area; though I would love to visit such camps. Even though I have been blogging for a while, I have just met one blogger in real till now, and that also happened when I went to India early this year. Here in Canada and even in US, blogging does not have much of a social dimension as it’s in India. If I look at Indian bloggers, mostly it’s social blogging where bloggers meet new people and even make quite a few friends through their blogging. I read a study also on this once when I was researching for a presentation on India. It said that in India, approx 90% of blogging is social in nature compared to just 25-30% in the US.
    As for twittering, Iam quite happy with just blogging as of now. Iam not sure if I wanna use twitter as I find it bit intrusive for my taste..besides, I do my bit of twittering on facebook through my status messages. 🙂

  • Let me ask a real dumb question – What/Who is an SEO?

    Arun

  • Nice post. I liked the comprehensiveness, the balance, and most importantly the introduction of “What I (not others) could have done differently”.

    A counteropinion on the event theme however. I choose to favour broadly themed events with threads focusing on different themes thus allowing for a more interesting and contrasting people discovery and interactions (so long as there are multiple parallel sessions being held).

    Great post. +1

  • just reading this post makes you feel there’s so much to learn.. I get very confused with the SEO thing and though I have recently got a guide on using blogger, have been getting hopelessly lost in the html codes and stuff.
    can you suggest where one can learn to make a customized template?
    also, curious abt the lesson that elite bloggers twitter instead of comment. could you elaborate on advantage tht twitter has to a string of discussions on the comment thread itself?

  • Possibly related :

    http://asuph.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/blogs-blog-camps-and-a-thousand-words/

    (Yeah, I’m being a publicity hound now, contrary to everything written in that post).

    cheers,
    asuph

  • Thanks mahendra for linking in, and that post actually inspire’s me to think WHAT I CAN DO TO MAKE IT BETTER NEXT TIME.

    I will be updating my blog soon on how can i make a differnece or contribution to blog camp or as a matter of fact any camp next time.

  • Mahendra, firstly it’s good to see your face. 🙂
    And that was a nice comprehensive look at what happened at the blog camp. I have never been to one and was curious about these things. Somehow I never thought these blog camps were anything more than social get togethers and so I avoided them!

  • Hi Mahendra,

    Congratulations to you and Dhananjaye for being honest and forthright while narrating your experiences. Its heartening to note that you realize that it is up to us who attend the blogcapms to make it interesting/ useful and that you have decided that you are going to do something about that next time.

    Reading other post-blogcamp analysis (from the above thread as well as elsewhere) I’m really deeply puzzled about the fragmentary nature of our blogging reality and what diverse people expect from blogcamps- one can see that for some fun element is paramount (Thakkar rocks; all the ‘gyan’ or formal ppts sucks; to others the disappointment revolves around focus on monetization/SEO vs. content; while I believe for most of the people party was spoiled even before it started with one group of bloggers (topical/serious?) pitted vs the other group (personal/whimiscal?) of bloggers.

    Perhaps we need multiple threads with all permutation/combination of above and yet perhaps the greatest realization is not whether there are multiple threads or less- it is about participation as you pointed out in your post – that you should have taken a session yourself and made it what your vision of a blogcamp should be.

    Its good we are seeing some debate on what a blogcamp should be and how it should be unoragnized- hopefully we’ll see more variety in sessions(by having multiple pre-themed threads and strict timed events – but then that would necessarily make people like asuph feel unwanted who value spontaneity more- and perhaps that is one sort of people we should try to attract more to such events) . Lets not doubt our abilities to get what we want- as long as we are willing to work from within the system and open to change – we need not be restricted by what blogcamps are supposed to be or how they have historically been unorganised. But whichever way we go, lets try to integrate all streams and concepts of what blogging means to different people and I would certainly feel uneasy if we end up with just one sort of people at the blogcamps and focusing on one particular version of the blogging story.

  • Great thoughts, may be you should also take a look at Clay Shirke views on New ways of socializing, here >> .
    I was not aware of any such event either, with a Week in Pune could have extended, stay and stopped for metting.

  • Hi Mahendra,
    Thanks for pointing this out and also making us think as to how can we contribute to this and when i searched for areas where i can contribute and they were many, so listed them out here http://blog.anantshri.info/2009/07/04/blog-camp-pune-2-reaction-continue/

    also listing all of them here in order reduce pain of clicking the link

    list of topics i can contribute to or discuss about

    * Peek into wordpress plugin development (basic intro) based on My profiles plugin(still under development)
    * WordPress customization tips including (speed enhancement)
    * Changing world of internet with web 2.0 / 3.0 and its importance to us. (intro to web 2.0 for those new to this concept)
    * A peek into the world of blogging clients. I am talking about clients not servers. (ex scribefire or bleezer or flock)
    * Why i still blog even though i am also lot more then just active @ twitter, orkut, facebook or what not.

  • Pingback: #BlogCampPune 2 – Late Reaction :P | Annkur()