Desi search engines on the prowl

It is heartening to see the Indian language usage on the net picking up. It may be due this reason or the Web2.0 startups mushrooming around but there sure has been a sudden surge in the area of vernacular search engines showing around. Whether these Web2.0 offshoots hold any ground is being debated upon but I think its sunny days for people like me who wish Indic content usage on the net reached the glory of the firang bhasha.

Khoj was probably the pioneer but with Indic blogs giving Unicode a good push Google did pretty well in digging out vernacular content. Recently there has been buzz around companies like Raftaar, Guruji and now Bhramar (interesting name). When we did a Story on Webaroo for Nirantar, we certainly thought that an offline search was revolutionary but a solution whose hasn’t yet come in India; with the conventional ones, I do not see what is really different, though all claim to have a USP of their own and none claims to be taking on the big G.

Raftaar seems pretty elementary with ability to input Hindi characters, doesn’t work on Firefox though. Bhramar has the edge that it also launched a Kannada search. Both have facility for a categorized search. The results page has scope for improvement and Guruji seems to be better off here.

I think the Web2 element of User content is already creeping in with these sites relying a lot on Blog content. Engines such as Guruji are focusing on local content search as well and which may server as their revenue source. Early days, but promising enough for Indian language users. We will surely see many search clones propping up with a keypad to input Indic characters, I don’t remember but I saw one such site simply show the Google Blog search results in a frame page. Only time will tell what separates them from the ordinary.

Bhasha Blogs: Indic Blogs in the Indian Blogosphere

This was a piece originally written for Desipundit. Patrix recently announced that his team desires to draw curtain over the link blog. This is indeed sad and I really hope they bounce back from the burnout and are back soon. I reproduce my piece that appeared here.

Sanskrit blogging on the riseDesipundit is turning one. Congratulations guys! It has been a fabulous year for you people and I am happy to see Desipundit graduate from a link blog to a movement. The welcome addition of links to Indicblogs has given it a wholesome flavor. I salute the dedicated team for relentlessly pointing to the best of the Indiblogdom. What Indibloggies does once in a year, you guys do on a daily basis.

Patrix recently asked me to pen my thoughts on the scene and I must say that I am honoured. I am not good at writing longer posts and the following are a collection of jottings spread over several days, so dear readers do bear with me if you find a lack of coherence or flow.

On hindsight my own personal blog journey seems pretty insignificant to me. My English blog Null Pointer, with which my blog journey started, by virtue of it being techie in nature and being hosted on JRoller, a den for technology bloggers, didn’t ever earn much notice from desi readers. So being a timid blogger that I am, I get more casual visitors than regular ones, the latter are probably being those who rely on the feed. My Hindi blog Nuktachini probably gets better attention.

Continue reading “Bhasha Blogs: Indic Blogs in the Indian Blogosphere”

Think before you write

I have been simply amazed by the IIPM episode and the happenings in the Indiblogdom for the past few days. While it cannot be denied that bloggers are supposed to remain united at times of distress such as this, especially when the episode took a bad turn and one of the vociferous blogger has to quit his job, I find it amazing that so many blog posts sprouted steadily grudging against IIPM and Arundam Cahudhary. I cannot vouch for it, but most of the posts contain unsubstantiated allegations and sadly, the language is no different from that used in the said “fake blogs” or the comments at Rashmi's blog. I don't think if there is any way to verify whether these comments and blog-posts were indeed posted by the IIPM students only. Moreover, even if they were, do they represent the official IIPM view?

This is what I understood of the whole episode:

  • A magazine publisher Rashmi Bansal also happens to run a blog called “Youth Curry”. Her publication JAM, a youth magazine, runs an investigative story on IIPM. They had fathomed lot of unknown facts,
    but they choose not to publish the IIPM's version.
  • Another blogger Gaurav links to this story
  • Gaurav gets a legal notice over email which he does not take very seriously (I am unable to get this part though, shouldn't this notice have been slapped on the JAM magazine?)
  • This ignites the IIPM rage in the blogdom and every blogger worth his salt, has a post condemning IIPM in a bid to uphold the “freedom of speech”. A lot many so-called fake blogs also mushroom that bloat in favour of the institute.
  • In a strange turn of events, IBM is arm-twisted by IIPM, one of its clients, to take action against Gaurav. Gaurav listens to his inner voice and decides to resign without any instigation from IBM.

In all this, the bad part have been the “fake blogs” who actually made the matter worse and indeed the IIPM administrative staff that did not deem it fit to talk to the bloggers directly. Still I do not find any version of IIPM anywhere and that is probably the worst part of this whole episode. If there is an aspect of the Mediaah story, there is always another point of view, and both deserve a mention. When things take this proportion, and when people have been writing to Instapundit and Newspapers for support, it would have been better to write to Arindam and IIPM asking for their version. I think even Gaurav realized that the huge outrage against the institution might very well hurt the career prospects of the students there.

The point that has been unarguably been proven here is that a line needs to be drawn between blogging and journalism. Though the conviction has been strengthened by entry of the “journalism dropouts”, as someone pointed out recently, blogging IMHO is not journalism, it cannot be, because being run by individuals the facts are not seldom verified, nobody checks your copy, and as an author you're mostly forgiven for behaving irresponsibly, or shall I say unethically. When others link to you, they become part of the same vicious circle.

IMHO for an employed blogger, for whom blogging is not a profession, it is all the more necessary to think twice before writing anything and ascertain before clicking the publish button that the matter does not conflict with the interests or IPR of their employer. While it was very dignified for Gaurav to quit IBM but I think he should have been careful because he had to pay a heavy price and the entire episode may have tarnished IBM's image too. This is also high time that the employers decide on formulating a clear blogging policy for their employees, the lack of any such policy only adds to the confusion to the extent to which one could write on his blog.

I just wish the blogdom sheds this attitude of turning any such episode to “David vs Goliath” proportions, I could empathise with fellow bloggers, the kick they are getting on being “instapundited” and all, but I wait for the day when we could really claim to be non-partisan and ethical in what we all blog.

Update [17 Oct]: When I did not get many comments on this post I wasn't startled, for my post was marked at Desipundit as a “pro-post”. And I wondered if I am the only one who thought “against the current”. However, in the crowd of posts I did not notice that few others had expressed views simiar to mine. Savor these: