May 30, 2014

Directory of Best Indian Blogs 2013-14 is out!

The wait for the 2013-14 edition of the Directory of the Best Indian Blogs is over. You can visit the Directory at the following link:


The Directory contains 525 Indian blogs [blogs by Indians and blogs on India] in English, arranged alphabetically. The category-wise version of the Directory will be issued after some time.

The operative part of the blog's URL has been used for alphabetisation and so you'll find a blog with URL 'www.uglyworld&&.com/hardeep.html' and title 'Photos by H.Mithi of Hamirpur' listed as 'hardeep Photos by H.Mithi of Hamirpur'. We take the title used in the blog with its capitalisation, punctuation [and errors], except that we convert ALL CAPS to Title Case.

The 2013-14 edition of the Directory carries 380 blogs from the 2012-13 edition. Thus about 140 blogs in the previous edition have gone out of the Directory, mostly due to irregular postings, too much commercialisation, restrictions on use of content or introduction of new elements such as cluttering widgets, self-playing audio, irritating pop-ups etc.

At this link, you can visit all posts relating to compilation of the 2013-14 edition of the Directory
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Blogger friends whose blog finds a place in the Directory may consider putting the badge as seen above on their blog. This is purely voluntary. For putting the badge on your blog, copy the html code given in blue text below and paste it somewhere in a post (to be opened for editing in html view) or in an html widget. 
<a href="http://www.indiantopblogs.com/p/the-directory-of-best-indian-blogs.html"><img src="https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-St9TFqv3S1U/U3RDgBPwKPI/AAAAAAAACLw/paCEP5rXnOw/w139-h38-no/itb-dir-1314.png" style="border: 0;" /></a> 

May 25, 2014

Selfies for blogs - do's and don'ts

This is the second post in 2-part series on selfies for blogs. The first part can be visited here: selfies for blogs - share your joys.

LET THE SELFIE CAPTURE THE BEST YOU WANT TO CONVEY
This selfie taken after voting by India's new PM, Modi,
in May '14 got enormous response on Twitter.

Self-photos are taken either with some preparation or instantly. We will not talk here about selfies taken with preparation and will like to call them portraits or portfolio shots rather than selfies. 

A selfie in its true sense is for sharing and enjoying-together rather than for archival or fashion purposes. 

The selfie MUST communicate a feeling, even if it is a still pose. It must, even without a caption, convey what you want it to convey. 

Some do's and don'ts:
  • Remember that the basic purpose of a personal photo is to show one in good light. This goes even more for a selfie. Avoid posting ‘this is how I’m looking after getting up from the bed’ selfie.
  • Be playful, be silly, but not too much. On one hand, do not look aloof, posing stiff-necked or showing smile just for photograph; on the other hand, do not look vulgar or kiddish [unless you purposely want to show yourself that way].
  • People often pose with lots of trees and flowers behind them, especially when they are on a trip to a sceneic place. Nature is fine and it looks good in photos, but it usually makes selfies cluttered. So, unless it is very unusual [e.g. a distant snow-clad mountain range or a curtain-like waterfall behind you], do not include it in the selfie. If you must take a selfie to establish your presence in a beautiful location, at least keep the surroundings at a distance. 
  • You might want to highlight facial details or show off accessories. Just take care to focus right and have proper lighting. Add proper caption so that people don't mistake you.
  • Do not overdo. No more than one selfie in an album of 8-10 photos. On a blog post, no more than one selfie. No more than one selfie even in a series of 2-3 posts. [Exclude portfolio or a series of fashion photos or a series of funny faces to amplify emotions: these are often photos taken with a professional purpose in mind and are not selfies in its true spirit.]  
  • Photos of people taking selfies look good, but this has been overdone.
  • Add a nice caption to the photo. The caption should be short and crisp, and should complement the mood of the selfie.
  • Do not take selfie in a situation where you will invite undue attention. Do not take selfie during a tragic event. Do not include people in embarrassing situations or being seen in poor light. Do not expose people’s private lives in the garb of selfie. 
  • Finally, pause before you upload the selfie on the web. Even if you have erred while taking a shot, a bit of self-control and caution at the time of posting is what can save embarrassment and legal problems. Remember, once you post it to the public, some of it has gone into the web and is out of your control even if you remove it after sometime.
Why not publish a post with selfie on your blog today?

May 24, 2014

Selfies for blogs - share your joys

These days, social networking and photo-sharing sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, Instagram and Whatsapp are flooded with selfies [=one’s photos taken by oneself*]. Availability of cameras on mobile phones, especially the front camera, has made it possible for people to capture themselves on camera anytime and anywhere. In most smart phones, there is facility to immediately post the photo on the web. This has taken away the bother to first download the photo to a computer / laptop and then post it on one’s web-space.
One of the most popular selfies: taken at Oscars 2014

Selfies are excellent means to relate oneself to people and places, the mood of the moment, the surroundings, the event and so on. While these have been extensively used on other platforms, blogs do not carry as many selfies. There could be many reasons for this, e.g. bloggers want to post more permanent content on blogs, there is no seamless posting facility for blogs like that on Facebook, and blogs are not for instant sharing of feelings with friends. Yet, we visualize a range of situations in which selfies fit well into blogging. 

A FEW TECHNICAL MATTERS FIRST

A selfie is not expected to be as good as a photo taken by professional photographer and with high-end camera. Yet, the photo should look well-lit, well-composed and of overall passable quality. So, take care of some basics:
  • Try to have enough natural light falling on the face(s) but not too sharp light [e.g. direct sun]. When indoors, try to position yourself in a way that you get good light. Flash gives too sharp a light and distorts shapes and colors when you take a shot from an ordinary mobile phone. 
  • Hold the camera as far from the face as possible. Holding camera close to the face distorts facial features.
  • Remain still; avoid camera shake. 
  • Try to have a clear, uncluttered background. There should also not be too reflective objects and mirrors in the background.
  • Know your best angle. Some people look better from a slightly higher position or from one particular side. In general, don’t hold camera too high or low, and not too much sideways. But yes, you can and should experiment with unusual angles for dramatic shots.
  • Click and click. Digital cameras give you the option to keep clicking, so click more than one shot even if you think one is enough. You always have the option to use the best shot and delete all others. When taking a selfie on the move or when an extra-ordinary happening prompts you to have a quick selfie, click in quick succession so that you do not miss the desired action. 
  • You can touch up the selfie if it is required, especially to crop unnecessary details and to improve lighting and colours. For this, you can use an ordinary software or web-service or the software available in the camera / phone. But avoid touching up beyond that. Sometimes, in-built filters such as sepia or flare effects add drama to the selfie but generally avoid them.
*: Oxford Dictionary definition of selfie: a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website
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In the second post of this 2-part series on selfies for blogs, we discuss do's and don'ts for creating the best selfies and putting them on blogs. The post will come out at 9:00 am tomorrow, i.e. on 25th May, 2014.

May 20, 2014

What's going to be there in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs this year?

The Directory of Best Indian Blogs is almost ready and will be out on 30th May. This will be the fourth edition of the Directory.

You can expect to see the best Indian blogs in the Directory. The word ‘best’ is intrinsically subjective, and the Directory can’t be an exception to that. Our explanations to what we consider as the best was explained in detail in this post last year: ‘Best Indian Blogs Directory: What’s going to be there?’ We also gave the range of blogs that the Directory contains [‘Types of blogs in the best Indian blog directory’] and that remains true for the 2013-14 edition of the Directory.

Earlier this year, we gave the ground rules of what will be included in the Directory and what not. This, together with the general FAQs about ITB, explains all that we consider while selecting blogs for the directory.

We keep receiving feedback and we value it. We have made many changes in our selection procedure and criteria since 2011 based of visitors' feedback. Yet there are times when we find our logic sustainable and stick to our stand. Let’s respond to some observations that our esteemed visitors have made since last edition of the Directory:

Does ITB spurn monetisation?

May 18, 2014

blog find: Rajinder Puri's blog

This time, we introduce you to an 80-year old blogger's blog on current affairs. Eighty years, you heard us right.

Rajinder Puri, a long-time political leader who is no longer directly aligned to a political party, has been maintaining his blog very regularly for the last two years. Puri is an established cartoonist and columnist.

In his blog, Puri dissects current happenings with his sharp political insight.


May 15, 2014

Are Twitter followers of popular Indians fake?

Socialbakers have put an app on their website that allows you to find out show many Twitter followers of an account are genuine. This is in beta stage yet, but the results thrown up by the application tell a story about how an account is being maintained.

We checked accounts of some very popular Twitter account holders of India including leading politicians and political parties, government social media accounts and electronic media houses. We have given the stats for @BarackObama to juxtapose them with Indian politicians' stats.

The graph below shows what percent of followers of an account are 
A- supicious or empty (lowermost, grey bar) e.g. @arendramodi has 64% followers of this category.
According to the website, they take  Twitter accounts as suspicious or fake or empty if these are followed by a very small number of other Twitterati (less than 1 follower for every 50 followed) or use spam phrases or repeat tweets or have majority of their tweets just retweets of others' tweets or have no bio or location on the profile., 
B-  inactive (yellow bar). Socialbakers would call a Twitter account inactive if it does not tweet at all or tweets infrequently, especially if it has not tweeted in the last three months.
C- good (top bar, blue). Twitter accounts that do not fall in the above two categories are supposed to be good accounts.
Followers of some popular Indian Twitter accounts (includes @BarackObama for comparison):
graphic shows % good, inactive and bad followers

We take some of Socialbakers criteria with a pinch  of salt and we have no way to know whether their trackers capture the conduct of Twitter accounts accurately. So, we leave it to the viewers to make their own judgement after seeing the stats or to trash the stats altogether.

You can visit here ITB's all social media discussions.

May 12, 2014

Free images for bloggers: 10: London monuments

This time, two photos of London monuments. With this, we close this series of free images for bloggers. 

You can visit here all posts with free images for bloggers.
For terms and conditions for using these images, do click here.


London Eye: 135 metre high observation wheel on the bank of the Thames. 

Palace of Westminster: the parliament house of the UK. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.

May 8, 2014

How big is the blogosphere?

Till four years back, Technorati used to bring out a ‘State of the Blogosphere’ report, which gave a fair overview of the size and working of the blog world. They have stopped doing so. Some tracking sites used to come out with rough estimates of total number of blogs based on known figures, interpolations and assumptions, but they are also less frequent now. The problem with estimating blogs is that while some platforms such as WordPress and Tumblr make their numbers public, Blogger and some others do not reveal their numbers. Then, how to check whether websites not on these platforms are blogs. Well, if you arrive at some guesstimate, how do you know, how many of them are active? No one, therefore, seems to be certain about the size of the blogosphere. 

We’d go by the figure that looks not too much off the mark: over 600 million blogs, out of which only about 200 million blogs would be reasonably active. This is based on some credible earlier figures, growth trends, others’ guesses and some logic. 

Okay, let’s settle for 200 million active blogs. When talking of ‘active blogs’, we refer to blogs that have not been totally abandoned or closed, and have been updated at least once in the last one year.

Now that one can compose blogs in all major languages including Mandarin (Chinese), and Indian languages, the number of such blogs is supposed to have risen exponentially in the last 4-5 years, but English blogs still rule the roost. We reckon that there are around 100 million active English blogs, and out of these, between one and one-and-a-half million should be Indian blogs – written by Indians and/or prominently dealing with India.

How about Indian Top Blogs’ reach?

We at ITB feel proud of being the only people who have browsed around seventy thousand Indian blogs to check their content. But we feel so humble when we compare this figure with the size of the Indian blogosphere. In fact we are unable to manually handle this number too. The database was bloating so fast year after year that we finally decided to stop maintaining records for all blogs that we pass by. In the current season of checking blogs for the Directory, we’ve removed all blogs that had not even once updated since May 2013, and we are left with about ten thousand blogs.  
Well, our humility again turns into pride of sort when we compare the size of our Directory. It contains fewer than 600 blogs and in the graphic above, this number shows up as a hardly visible white dot. And we go a step further; we bring out a 'Platinum list' of Indian blogs, which contains no more than 50 blogs. Aren't we trying to search precious stones in the vast ocean of blogs? Give us a clap, friends, we need it. ;)

May 6, 2014

nipmu

VERVE : The Quintessence of my Life
http://nipmu.blogspot.com/

"Through my journey of life I realized the power of words. Words which stem from dreams, thoughts, observations, analysis, learning, conversations, view-points, emotions, perspectives, achievements, mistakes, failures, lessons learned and conclusions. These words capture the spirit of my life in a way that it encompasses every facet of my life - hence the name "VERVE: The Quintessence of my Life".
I write on a range of topics close to my heart. Themes typically revolve around Life, Creativity, Today's Realities, Cooking and Culinary experiences, Parenting, Relationships, Human Experiences, Emotions and my perspectives of life."
- Nischala

May 3, 2014

India's most influential politicians?

The two politicians who have figured in Time's most influential list for 2014: no prize for guessing: Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal.

It is interesting to see what Time tells about them:


Narendra Modi

The divisive politician poised to lead the world's largest democracy 
Elections are reactions, often negative reactions. That is surely the explanation for the breathtaking rise of Narendra Modi, who — if the opinion polls are accurate — is poised to become India’s next Prime Minister, and thus the world leader chosen by the largest electorate on the planet. India is currently ruled by Manmohan Singh, a mild-mannered 81-year-old technocrat with no political power of his own and a passive leadership style. Reverse every one of those traits and you have Modi, the charismatic, intense, utterly decisive head of Gujarat, one of India’s fastest-growing states. Most Indians believe that their country has lost its way as its growth rate has been almost halved while inflation has soared. Modi has a reputation for quick action, encouraging the private sector, and good governance. He also has a reputation for autocratic rule and a dark Hindu-nationalist streak. But those concerns are waning in a country desperate for change.

Arvind Kejriwal

A powerful outsider in Indian politics 
collage taken from Time website
Arvind Kejriwal is the antithesis of the modern-day Indian politician. He’s no Hindu nationalist, he doesn’t have a famous surname, and no, there is no evidence that he has made money from politics.A former civil servant, he cut his teeth in public life as an activist campaigning for greater transparency in government. But it was his role as the driving force behind a grassroots anticorruption movement in 2011 that catapulted him onto the national stage. Late last year, he became chief minister of Delhi following a remarkable political debut by his Aam Aadmi, or common man, party.Though his administration lasted a mere 49 days, with Kejriwal proving less adept at turning the wheels of government than campaigning against it, his image as the quintessential outsider taking on powerful interests — a David versus many mighty Goliaths — has earned him a unique place in Indian politics.
Modi has been included in the category of 'Leader' and Kejriwal in 'Pioneer'. The list also includes Arundhati Roy in the category of 'Icon'. What happened to Sonia and Rahul?