By Saswat Pattanayak
If there is just one way to define a blog, I would do it thus: a series of chronologically arranged journal entries available online alongwith several sourced hyperlinks. In terms of type, this one definition does it well. In terms of degree though, if there are to be more definitions than one, which I am sure is the compelling case: there are plenty. And it is amidst this scope of plenty, that some journalists seek their most preferred explanation.
Needless to say, I have found one which is as varied in degrees as possible, to include comments, pictures, external hyperlinks, and poems ranging from mine to Woody Guthrie’s.
Where exactly I have transcended the conventional definition is in my way of incorporating the “personal is political” views. When it started, according to tech pundits, blogs were web-logs, i.e., compilations of active links made by detached record-keepers. Jesse James Garrett, editor of Infosift, began compiling a list of "other sites like his" as he found them on the world wide web. In November 1998, he sent that list to Cameron Barrett. Cameron published the list on Camworld, along with other contributors’ records. Jesse's 'page of only weblogs' listed the 23 known to be in existence at the beginning of 1999.
Second coming was of the personal reveries. Right from the seafood delicacies to digital camera know-hows, from the exotic vacation packages to alternative lifestyle tips, I could find the mushrooming of the weblogs during the last four years, going straight from the hand-codings of the technical experts to the socialite evenings of the whoswho. Whoever could afford the time and the money, could hijack the elite grapevine, turn it accessible online for class consumption and rave about them in the old bloggers’ networks.
Around this time, I thought of the folks missing on the world of blogs—those sans access or control, those who did not talk the talk, and did not have an old network to get their messages hit the board. Majority of people in the world do not lack a voice, they lack a platform. Blogging, being a free forum, could be utilized towards evolving as such a platform, I was sure.
As a journalist, I could not publish opinions in newspapers I worked for—Hindustan Times, The Economic Times or The Asian Age. And my contract with HT prevented me from writing even for a magazine I edited. Moreover, as a lavishly paid Staff Writer for India’s largest circulated newspaper (thereby one of the world’s biggest presses), I had certain obligations: to be objective and report as much as the sources confided. I have come to realize, one cannot be both truth-seeking and a mainstream journalist at the same time. For, truth has multiple layers and a journalist can have access and can cover only a certain layers even while doing a full report. After reporting over two thousand stories, some of them under harshest conditions of natural calamities and authoring two books, I was still the voice recognizing the way it was being conditioned. In an attempt to break free of the conditioning, to acknowledge my gratitude to my unquoted sources, to stand by the causes espoused by myself—not by a millionaire media baron, I decided to use blog as a platform.
Incidentally, the third wave of blogging, as I would call it, has recently emerged. And it’s heartening to see that there is a scope for the “third world” bloggers in the third wave blogging! In the third wave, it’s an outright rejection of individual obsessions with gadgets and name-dropping games. The rise of Independent Media as a cry against corporate public relations driven mainstream press has boosted the third wave blogging. And it’s such a relief to see a connect, finally among the previously disconnected. It’s a long and substantial journey for me, finding the journey as one of digressing from the mainstream minority, to be part of the alternative majority.