Friday, July 27, 2007

Blogging in the Time of Commentators

Of late, I've been trying not to contribute to my comment box, the reason being I do not want to push up the number of comments with 'Thank yous.' I have seen posts that have, say, 20 comments; and when you open the comment box, you find that 10 of them belong to the writer who is expressing gratitude to each commentator individually. Therefore, the '20 comments' figure is not only misleading but also meaningless. In any case, a heart-felt 'thank you' is supposed to be felt, not spelt out. Every sensible commentator will know that his or her comment has been read with a deep sense of gratitude.

Still, I felt compelled to reply to an 'anonymous' comment on my previous post, but I decided to stick to my resolution. Then I realised there's a more effective way of replying -- by writing a post. The commentator, obviously a very well-meaning one, said:

If only i was an editor ... i wld ve removed the first three paras from this art coz they are unnecessary and have been written just to attract the attention of the readers, according to me!!

Just to attract the attention of the readers! Now, isn't that we all do? We write for readers, and if we fail to attract their attention, we have failed as wordsmiths. Why else do editors insist on 'catchy' headlines and intros? When a story has to be told, it has to have a beginning, middle, and the climax. That is why it takes filmmakers three hours to tell a story that can be told in four lines: Girl meets boy. They fall in love. But there is a villain. The villain gets killed and the girl and the boy get married.

Most Indian movies are based on these four lines, yet people watch all of them and have different opinions about each of them. And that's because of the narrative -- the way each story is told. So it's not a crime to capture the reader's attention: in fact, it's a necessity.

But to be honest -- and do trust my honesty because a glass of sparkling, golden liquid is sitting on the table -- I don't feel obliged to attract the reader's attention when I write a blog. My only obligation is to write in a manner that it can be followed easily by anybody -- even my driver, if he ever were to go online and check out Ganga Mail.

If my posts begin in a certain way, that's because that's the way I am thinking at that moment. Most often, I do not know what the next sentence or paragraph is going to be. One thought usually leads to another, and only when I realise I've made a point I try to wind up. Though there are times when I write a post with the prior knowledge that I am going to make a point. But even then, what is the hurry in making the point. The blogosphere is your own space: you can stroll to a point instead of jumping to it.

Also, there is something called 'Killing two birds with one stone.' There are times you know you have a point to make, but as you go along, you decide to tackle a few other points that have been sitting heavily on your chest. So if you can squeeze in several points in one post without making it sound jerky, what's the harm?

The real harm would have happened if you, the well-meaning but anonymous commentator, happened to be an editor. Thank God you are not one. But I still love you.


Anonymous said...

"So if you can squeeze in several points in one post without making it sound jerky, what's the harm?" Golden words, BG, golden words. If there's one thing that's scary these instant-information days, it's how everyone wants you to come to the point AT ONCE. It's as if no one wants to be lulled (or as you'd probably term it, "seduced") into a story any more; they want to be bludgeoned on the head with the essence and then move on. And the funny thing is that there *are* information sources that cater to this need. So instead of going to those sources, why pounce on blogs, which are increasingly becoming the last bastion of -- as you put it -- wordsmiths? Baddy

Usha said...

There are some of us for whom Blogs are a medium for social interaction - exchanging views and opinions. We do not just stop with making our point in the post but respond to comments and carry on the discussion through the comments section too. In any case who cares about the number of comments? It is just one's own space to use the way one wants.
I also generally do not bother to leave a comment on blogs where the blogger does not respond to my comments although I go regularly to read them. I like to see my comments acknowledged and to know if my point made sense at all.
I guess you journalists are used to this one way kind of writing and don't feel that every comment requires a reply or an ack.

Anonymous said...

but i don't.. i just like the way u write.. an yes, no thanx to God that i am not an editor, it's just my bad luck!!

this time i would keep the last 4 paragraphs :)

Anonymous said...

Hi ghosh,
I stopped writing comments to your column because i knew that our praises and opinions do not count for you. Frankly you are a genius but a spoilt genius. You always take up Hindu gods to speak against. The problem with you is that you are like a congress party or this DMK party. Kalaignar says that he is an atheist and would not go to temples but he will visit masjid during ramzan days to make political stunts there.

Hinduism is a way of life. This is how we have been and our inhibitions are difficult to be left out. For millions of people standing in tirupathi it is a way to reach god. (their belief) Everybody is not successful in life. Why man begs to god is to make him rich, happy and have a peaceful life. Everybody is selfish. Everybody wants success. But things do not work out people find it easy to reach god. People are in a hurry to get everything. the problem is there.

The way archana to god is done is like fixing a broker to reach him. But this is how it has been.
Why should christians go to church only on sundays and pray then.
Your way of feeling inner silence and all will not work out. Do you expect all people to have such emotional stability to do those things. It is this spiritualism which has helped india to reach this level. When india looses this faith on spirituality india is over.
Any way a good post. As you said you always bring up sex in your post to make it more seeable. But we want to see you something more than this. The variation of the tone in each of your post is what makes your writing good.

Anonymous said...

Now things turn interesting on this blog! :-)

You write wonderfully is beyond any discussion; however, for who you write is the million dollar question.

Being journalists, we are 'taught' to be writing for readers. we are 'taught' that each word should be worth its white space in a newspaper (this I am writing out of my own experience), and each headlines should be interesting enough to entice and lure readers to read the entire article.

The problem arises when a journalist becomes a blogger. A blogger usually writes for himself and his blog is usually an interior monologue. If there are readers, wonderful! If not, no worries; a blogger writes for himself anyways.

But in case of journalists, this line between a journalist and blogger is blurred. It's a kind of tussle between habit and practice. And I know old habits die hard.

I personally feel that a blog should be written for oneself, and not to earn readership. After all, blog is not a personal newspaper, or is it?

- You know who! :-)