I started blogging in July 2001 at a blog named Knowledge El Dorado, initially hosted on Blogger. Knowledge El Dorado was a blog on Knowledge Management, Collaboration and Communities. Social Media, as we know it today, did not exist. My job required me to figure out how knowledge management ideas and new tools like blogs can be used for knowledge sharing within organisations.
In the beginning, I had little idea about the space I was blogging about. But nearly two years of blogging and working in that space, resulted in a deep understanding of collaboration and social media. It later helped in making sense of emerging phenomenon like social networks and public conversation tools like Twitter.
Knowledge El Dorado was my first blog but it was the second act of internet publishing that I had undertaken. In the year of my introduction to the internet, I had started a site called The NothinOfficial Hangout. Blogging was yet to be invented in August 1998. User generated content and publishing were championed by Tripod and Geocities.
NIIT’s software course did not teach programming for the internet at that time. So building The NothinOfficial Hangout taught me how to create websites. The goal of the hangout was to create a clique of “aam admi” (mango-men) writers who wanted to express themselves. This self-publishing capability engendered by internet was simply wonderful to a twenty-something.
Around the same time I started JainList, an email discussion list on Jainism. JainList along with companion website JainNet was my way of giving back – philanthropy through skills instead of money. JainList has grown to become the largest email discussion group on Jainism.
Nurturing JainList helped me in learning Jain philosophy and also the principles of cultivating an online community.
This blog, Mobile Pundit, was started in November 2004. Earlier that year, using Reliance’s internet capable CDMA phone as well as reading Howard Rheingold’s book Smart Mobs got me excited about the potential of mobility and the impending mobile revolution in India.
Doing Mobile Pundit not only helped in tracking a fast evolving space, but also led to founding of the Mumbai chapter of Mobile Monday.
In all of the above illustrations, the common theme is “Learning by doing”. Whether its Knowledge El Dorado or Mobile Pundit, my knowledge of the subjects increased manifold after I started blogging. Unlike authoring books, there is no need to be an authority on a subject when writing blogs. On the contrary, I find it very useful to start a blog on something I don’t know much about.
- Choose a subject that you have no clue of
- Start a blog on that subject
- End up being smart on that subject
The magic of blogging is that it instills a discipline of reading and thinking. Read-Think-Blog. Regular reading about different aspects of a subject helps in building a conceptual model. Learning-by-doing and Learning-by-Blogging are specially useful when dealing with emerging technologies, where there are no textbooks.
Last but not the least is the people and social angle of blogging. Reader’s feedback clarifies your thinking, adds bits you may not know, points out flaws in writing and often encourages to write more. Blog is also a great way to connect with like-minded people who are passionate about the same subject. Read-Think-Blog-Feedback-Connect. Blogging is a form of thinking-out-loud.
Starting today in the new year (Samvat), I have decided to get regular with blogging again. And yes, the reason is the same – learn about a new subject or two.
Going ahead the scope of this blog would not be restricted to mobility alone. Because mobility is no longer just about mobiles. It is about how Indians adopt technology (connected smartphones, tablets, smart TVs etc) and how convergence changes the personal, social and political landscapes of our great grand land.
Throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain)