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!

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  • 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.

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