The life, thoughts and teachings of Beau Peep

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Location: New Delhi, Delhi, India

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Web 2.0 and new age spamming and ethics

This is going to be a short post; at least I intend to keep it as short as possible. I just have a few things to say about this recent Web 2.0 phenomenon with all kinds of social networks, communities, blog networks, niche blogs, AJAX scripts in news and info aggregators, publishing platforms etc, etc.

In the last two years we saw dozens of blog networks like Weblogs Inc., Gawker Media, B5 Media, Creative Weblogging springing up. We even have one from India called Instablogs. These networks have a large number of blogs catering to ‘niche’ audience. However, none of the blog networks including Weblogs Inc. that runs the famous Engadget blog is above spamming. All the above mentioned networks have spam content in their blogs. Simply stupid and plain spam.

Typically, they have an army of rewriters of news stories and while some do it with finesse, some are downright unprofessional. Also, some do it with impunity and some on the sly. More often than not, most of these networks pay people who can rewrite stories, and not necessarily anyone who has any knowledge of the domain he/she is writing upon. In time, they start gaining some knowledge on the subject and at best they become pundits with half-baked knowledge.

Then comes the point of being ethical in the business. No matter however critical these networks are of mainstream media (MSM), especially print media (read newspapers) they still want the old media to give them publicity whenever they are doing something ‘different’. In one hand they would loathe MSM to be in the league of blogging brothers, but on the other hand, they would even lick the anuses of the old media for publicity. This is duplicity; hypocrisy at its best.

Whatever the case is, a few blogs have indeed become a part of my life and for the last 2 years or so hardly any day passed when I didn’t read blogs such as Techcrunch, GigaOm, Mashable, Engadget, Robert Scoble, Read/Write Web to name a few.

I am afraid to say that given the very personal blogs such as Read/Write Web, Scobleizer, and to a great extent Mashable, every other blog mentioned either stooped to rewriting or yellow journalism like the recent GigaOm post by Shailaja Neelakantan that incidentally didn’t escape the notice of perhaps the best writer of Indian origin and most ‘commented’ blogger in the blogosphere today – Arnab Ray a.k.a. Great Bong.

The venerable Michael Arrington also didn’t prove to be above unethical practices with his recent sacking of Sam Sethi from the helm of affairs at Techcrunch UK over what I would term as a clash of egos. This is despite his pathetic attempt to justify his act following the expected outcry.

Pramit Singh in MediaVidea has written a must read article titled - ‘Ethics 101 for blog network owners - part 1’. I shall be looking forward to the rest of the ‘series’ if he continues this from where he ended.

The point is that when the only objective is to earn money through online ads, why take the pain of employing high profile editors, writers etc, etc for your blog-based magazine or blog or blog network? It can be done in a much simpler way. What are you folks trying to prove?

It is such a shame isn’t it? At least the Clue Chick is original and for news, we have online editions of the BBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Hindu, The Times of India etc, etc, etc…

Alas! This post hasn’t remained a short post as I intended to keep it. Sorry folks.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Leander Paes: India’s greatest sportsman?

Leander Paes: India's greatest ever sportspersonAfter watching the day’s proceedings at the Asian Games at Doha yesterday evening, the question that came to my mind was – If one had to choose, who would he choose to be the greatest sportsman India ever produced?

I asked myself the question many a time over several years and entered into mild arguments with people. I have and still rate chess super grandmaster Viswanathan Anand above the most common answer I get from people, i.e., Sachin Tendulkar.

India’s greatest sportsperson can be one of the following due to various reasons:

a) Sachin Tendulkar (Cricket)
b) Viswanathan Anand (Chess)
c) Leander Paes (Tennis)

No, sportspersons like Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Milkha Singh, Jaspal Rana, PT Usha, the legendary Dhyan Chand, Bula Chowdhury, Kunjarani Devi, Vijay Amritraj, Ramanathan Krishnan, his son Ramesh, Prakash Padukone, Geet Sethi, Kapil Dev or Sunil Gavaskar can't be in the list at all.

Why? Because, either they have won limited and relatively lower prizes or dominated a sport that cannot be termed as global or was global at the time they used to play the game or their records surpassed by now by long margins (despite the fact the US played hockey then and Dhyan Chand bludgeon it with his hockey stick and Kapil was a great all rounder, world record holder once and the captain of the World Cup winning team in 1983).

Now, coming to my shortlist of the three people – Sachin, Anand and Paes – I have the following to say on the three of them individually.

Sachin Tendulkar: He might have scored centuries and by the bagfuls, but I have never seen him winning matches on his own. Even if he did, he did so in times not more than the digits on your left hand (hexadactyly and amputations included). His record is not unmatched by modern day cricketers; in fact, bettered or on the verge of being bettered now. Apart from his 40 ODI centuries, all his other records will tumble while he still will be playing. One might argue that he carried the burden of the team single-handedly when the rest of the team collapsed routinely in the last decade plus the expectations of a billion Indians.

Viswanathan Anand: A true champ in a truly global sport. He alone walked his way right at the top and not many can boast of what he has achieved in a fiercely competitive sport like Chess. A true genius, a rare talent and still is dominating the international chess arena. He is truly India’s top sportsman.

Leander Paes: Achieved nothing as a singles player, never had any kind of rankings to be proud of. However, his record as a double’s player is nothing less than extraordinary. Nonetheless, they don’t qualify him to be amongst the top sportsmen India ever produced. There are greater achievers by other Indian sportsmen in their respective field like Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand, Geet Sethi, PT Usha etc. His above moderate achievements in professional circles notwithstanding, he gave India everything. He gave his heart out. When it came to do something for the motherland, he fought out of his skin and gave it all.

Just take a moment and remember his Davis Cup exploits where he beat greats like Pete Sampras, India’s lone medal at Atlanta Olympics over a decade back and his golds yesterday at the Doha Asiad. No one can claim to even match up to him when it comes to bringing glory to his country.

He is by far the best sportsperson India has ever produced. Leander Paes is the crown jewel of India, and of course without any doubt a billion and half times more worthy of the Bharat Ratna than the obscure and nationally irrelevant MGR who received it posthumously for reasons not beyond cheap political gains.

If you have a different idea, maybe another name that can fit the bill of India's greatest ever sportsperson please let me know.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

There is but one God – Mithun

Mithun ChakrabortyStarting this month, I found myself running into some rough time with health and household chores. It was my birthday last Sunday and I spent it under the quilt due to high fever with shivers. Today is also the first day after weeks when I am yet to down a single peg of my all-season favourite Old Monk (and it is 9:10 pm now).

It seems the fever has decided to migrate from my body to someone else’s (pity those blessed souls who came to wish me when I was down). I decided to watch Dance Dance in SET Max that I watched in 1988-89 in Hasimara, Jalpaiguri as a school kid. I still remember what a craze the movie had become there. Mithun Chakraborty is no less than the Almighty himself. The Jalpaiguri angle in the movie made it some kind of a rage, a phenomenon that was more than the normal ‘rages’ of a Mithun movie in Bengal.

Coming back to the movie I watched today, I had to go out just as the last dance started for a minute. On return, I found myself having missed the opening lines of the song, but immediately took out my N93 and recorded the whole dance from the TV. Mithun was really awesome, awesome. Just before I started to compose this post, I decided to look around for the clips of the movie in YouTube and I got them aplenty. However, I was particularly searching for the Zubi Zubi number, which was there but didn’t star anyone from Bollywood, but someone who could have well made it there.

Just watch the clip above and let me know about your thoughts on this. I am sure the number one Mithun fan Great Bong would surely love it. :-)

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