June 29, 2014

When Indian PM finds blog as the best medium to communicate

We have earlier talked about the web habits of Indian politicians. Just to recall, many of the top political leaders are now available on Facebook and Twitter and some have their own websites / blogs. Not all are professionally maintained.

The new Indian government, led by #NarendraModi, is reported to be keen that Ministries, Ministers and senior officers communicate with people through social media. Either willingly or just to comply with Modi’s directions, some have made amateurish attempts to have a presence on the social media. It was also reported in a paper yesterday that a 'social media hub' in the I&B Ministry supplies 4-hourly analytical reports to Modi on what is happening on the social media. Modi has the fourth  highest presence on the social media, another report this week said. 

Amidst this social media cacophony, Modi yesterday posted a post on his blog to share his own assessment of his government’s performance in the last one month. Mind it, he (or his backroom team, that hardly matters) is a shrewd communicator and chooses his medium carefully; he didn’t choose Twitter on which he keeps on posting, he didn’t give interviews to selected channels as he did in the last phase of general elections, he  didn’t make a speech, didn't make an ‘address to the nation’ through the government media. He even did not issue a statement. He went about writing a blog post!

Modi’s most important lieutenant, #ArunJaitley, also uses his website (in fact, a blog) to reminisce, discuss serious matters, make a point, argue his party's line. He has also written a long post, ‘Remembering Emergency’ in which he has recounted his experiences of emergency that was declared by Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1975 to suppress political opposition. 

But others are sleeping!

Other main political players seem hibernating at present. Congress leaders, after a crushing defeat in the elections, have started recovering only now. To them, our advice is to get active on blogs, especially to discuss policy issues on which the present government is likely to err. Websites / blogs of Bihar ex-CM Nitish Kumar and Rajasthan ex-CM Ashok Gahlot have almost died as the official support behind these websites is no longer there. Ex-Agriculture Minister Sharad pawar and ex-Communications & IT Minister Kapil Sibal do not seem to have anything to say, having been badly bruised at the hustings. Even Advani is silent, having been hurt by Modi’s rise within the party. Ironically, on the blog of Ajay Maken (social media head of the Congress), you see this notice: ‘Latest post:  Coming soon. The area is under construction’.

We have carried many posts on social media, including some on Indian politicians. You can find them all on the link given here.

June 26, 2014

So many requests for inclusion in the blog directory!

This is in a way a self-congratulatory post. But we were overwhelmed enough to share it with our esteemed visitors. Forgive us for blowing our own trumpet.

Since the publication of the current edition [2013-2014] of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs, we are flooded with numerous requests for including their blogs in the Directory. The response this time has been much more than in previous years. 

This makes our job harder and simpler in equal amounts. Harder, since we will have to check so many blogs even for the mid-year updation after six months; and simpler, because we are likely to find some excellent blogs that we have failed to discover on our own. 

Since we are keeping the Directory's size around a half thousand, the 'turnover' in the Directory has to be high. This year, about a third of the blogs listed in the previous edition had to go out of the Directory. Though we feel bad about such blogs, we feel that this will keep improving the overall standard of blogs in the Directory.

June 24, 2014

janakinagaraj

Memoirs of a Homemaker
A blog by Janaki Nagaraj, who describes herself as 'an emerging writer'. The blog has her poetry, short stories and fiction, and also snippets from her life.



June 21, 2014

ISIS and the use of social media for wicked purposes

The current social media campaign being run by a dreaded Islamic Jehadi outfit, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) is the latest example of effective use of social media for anti-social purposes. 

ISIS is using many social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The group is working very professionally in use of social media. It has posted high-quality videos of soldiers being executed, structures being exploded etc. It even has a twitter app to keep followers updated about jihad (= holy war). The quality of videos shows that the campaign is well-funded and a part of a bigger geopolitical design, feels a CNN report on this subject. 

To reach the maximum number of target audience, this group is relaying social media messages in different non-Arabic languages including English and French. The messages usually consist of call to fight for the holy war against Shias, says a report by Channel4

The impact of the campaign seems to be high, especially among youth. In terms of quality of graphic content, message control by a close group, and re-distribution of messages on the web on a large scale, the use of social media by ISIS appears much more professional. Among its many dangerous fallouts, it seems to have led many youth to like violence if not outright enrolment in the present war in Iraq, and shattered the morale of Iraqi people who are against use of brutal means for political and religious purposes. 

June 18, 2014

India's best blogs arranged category-wise

It is a fortnight since we released the Directory of Best Indian Blogs. As earlier, we try to fit the blogs of this Directory into different categories, some blogs finding place in more than one. Some categories tend to overlap, however best we try to define them.

The link given here takes you to the category-wise listing of India's best blogs. [At this link, you can see the alphabetical listing of blogs.]

We have grouped blogs of the 2013-2014 edition of the best blogs' directory into the following categories:
  • Art: This category includes blog on arts and crafts, design, decor and architecture. 
  • Audio-visual media: Blogs on music, movies and theatre find a place here.
  • Culture & Travel: We had to mix these two subjects as we found a good number of blogs with content that overlapped travel and culture. Also includes history blogs.
  • Current affairs: Blogs predominantly dealing with news and giving opinions on topical issues are kept here. 
  • Economics: Blogs on economic and financial matters, business management, leadership, entrepreneurship, jobs and product reviews [except beauty products] are placed in this section. 
  • Environment: This section also includes blogs on wildlife. 
  • Expatriates: This category has blogs by foreign nationals living in India. 
  • Fashion: Blogs on fashion as well as the beauty business and reviews of beauty products. 
  • Food: Cooking, diet, restaurant reviews.
  • Health: only one blog here but we thought we must keep the category alive.
  • Humour & satire: Blogs with humorous content, including in graphic and video formats.
  • Improvia: Blogs on self-improvement and spiritual matters, and also those on social issues have been put in this category. 
  • Information technology 
  • Literary: This section also includes blogs with a significant number of book reviews. 
  • Local matters: This category showcases blogs that talk of matters specific to a location.
  • Niche: When we found a blog on a very narrow theme, we put it here.
  • Personal matters, comments: This omnibus category includes blog in which bloggers write mostly on personal matters and also where they comment on any / many subjects. [However, where bloggers discuss mostly topical matters, such blogs find place in 'current affairs' category.] 
  • Photography 
  • Sports
Blogger friends whose blogs are there in the Directory and feel that their blog needs to be in a different category may write to us at : kp.nd.2008@gmail.com. We'll have a re-look at their blog's categorisation.

June 14, 2014

How to avoid trolls on social media and blogs

Have you sometimes been getting offending comments from mostly unknown visitors? Do such comments offend you and you tend to respond in the same coin? Do you get depressed, when comments are very uncharitable about what you think about your strong points on the account or in real life? If yes, you are under a troll attack.

But, don’t panic. Trolls are not viruses or Trojan horses, not even spammers; they are people who get kick out of offending you. They are web-surfers who, either habitually or in a state of depression, post inflammatory or off-topic messages on blogs, social networking sites [e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+], forums and chat rooms. Their idea is to provoke people to respond in a similar fashion. If people respond to them and the main discussion is disrupted, the troll has served his purpose.

AVOIDING TROLLS

Though trolls do not harm your computer or deface your website, they do upset you and others, trivialize the discussion, ward off genuine people and hurt the reputation of your web-property. They are like barking dogs whom you have allowed to roam free in your courtyard.

Trolls’ success starts with making their victims believe that they are not trolls but genuine participants in the discussion. So, whenever you find an out-of-the-ordinary response during a discussion or in response to a blog post [even a friendly but uncalled for advice], be suspicious. Respond in a normal, friendly, manner but observe his next comments. If these try to derail you or piss you off, ignore them. The best way to unnerve a troll is to not respond to his comments even if these are abusive or personal.

The matter of trolling has been analysed psychologically and some experts suggest engaging them positively or being kind to a troll. That may be theoretically OK, but we don’t think we need to indulge in such experimentation requiring lots of time and patience.  

You may like to also visit this related post on content spam.


June 12, 2014

Indian blogging communities and forums

The Indian blogging scene is live and kicking, and so are forums, despite the meteoric rise in the popularity of social networking and bookmarking sites in recent years. But when it comes to blogging communities, we found only two good ones. Talking of 'closed' blogging platforms of major newspapers and other media organisations, we found that only a few such platforms are active and contributing to the blogosphere. Some good newspapers started blogs and then let them decay. A few papers seem to be under the impression that their regular news-items when posted in blog format become blogs. Some Indian open blogging platforms started with a bang but poor promotion, not updating the platform with changes in technology and failing to monitor the content of blogs have ruined them. We have seen even forums with good following lose the buzz and decay.

The following is Indian Top Blogs' listing of GOOD social media portals relating to India. We have checked their authenticity and robustness over time, and we present the best among the ones we found on the web. 

We plan to keep updating these listings at regular intervals. This update is as of : June 12, 2014.

June 9, 2014

standupforacause

Stand Up for a Cause...

Blog by Burt Phoenix

"A blog discussing human rights, equality, justice and crime. 
The differentiating feature of the blog is the research, analysis and honest statistics supporting each post."

June 5, 2014

Minimalist blog designs

Blogs and other websites look great when they have simple design. Yet, when we have so many of our resources to show, we tend to carry a number of them on the homepage. We use widgets, menus, link lists and so on to display these resources, cluttering the website. 

Many webmasters and bloggers manage to reduce clutter by grouping similar links, colour variations, drop-down menus and other techniques but many others fail to do so. 


Traditional and ultra-mod web designs


There are inherent plusses and minuses of the traditional designs, like that of this very site, Indian Top Blogs. Such designs are eminently functional and easy to navigate, but they look conservative. Subtle shades of colour, as used by various Google properties, add some style to the design but often at the cost of readability and sometimes even navigation. 

Then there are websites and blogs that use the designs and colours in fashion and introduce latest gimmicry to look 'advanced'. Such websites may awe visitors with their technical sophistication and quirkiness but most often end up confusing visitors about navigation and diverting their attention from the main theme / content.


Introducing the bare-bone design


As a blogger, you always want your content to take prime position on the blog's pages. But what if you say, you want the content without disturbing frills of any kind? In that case, the text, photos and videos should take up almost all space on the web pages, [as in the case of readers such as Kindle] no? 

We introduce here one such minimalist blog design and its variations. 

June 2, 2014

The Modi wave on Facebook!

PM Office of India launched its Facebook page last week and within 5 days of its being on air, it has clocked over 1.8 million likes!

The rate at which the likes are growing, we won’t be surprised if the figure crosses 3 million marks before July end.


Narendra Modi on PMOIndia's Facebook account
The new Indian PM has advised all his Ministers to utilise social networking platforms to reach people. Social media is credited with giving push to the ‘Modi wave’ that spread over most parts of the country in the recent elections and gave Modi an absolute majority in the House of the People. 

Modi is one of the few world leaders with such fan following. His personal Twitter account has nearly 4.7 million followers.

It is reported that an army of volunteers helps create a buzz around Modi’s social network. So, it can be assumed that some of the ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ may be due to this, but even discounting that the following is awesome and is growing by the day. 

ITB had long back spotted Modi’s blog and his social networking force and written about them. The latest one was on the genuineness of social media following of Indian politicians and others.