Credibility of Blogs

Everywhere I talk as a blogger, my audience are skeptical about the credibility of the blogs. I always have to answer the question: how can blogs go ahead since it lacks what the traditional media consider as one of the most important factor – the objectivity.

What I answer to them? Before going to my answer, let’s ponder on some issues.

Is there a absolute truth? NO. Truth depends on how you see it or who see it or at what situation you see it. Truth is subjective, not objective as many claim it to be.

Suppose you see a woman on the bikini at a place. What you would think on her? Ah, beautiful. And, will your thought remain same if you come to know that the girl is a Muslim? And, what if you are a Muslim yourself? I believe you thoughts will be different after each added piece of information and even your biases changes it. So, what’s the truth about the girl for others.

Media is not run by the sufferers or say insiders. Media professionals are always outsiders. They collect the information, view the entire event from outside and include their biases while writing the news.

Then wouldn’t it the media professional who filters the information and way to present it. Now, in this step those are involved who are not even the ones who acquired the information. So, how come traditional media be fairly objective?

In blogs, the bloggers posts their opinions on any events or the way they see it. Bloggers do not claim the information be entirely true – they just present it in their own way. But isn’t that what the ‘free press theory (or liberatian)’ : let the audience decide themselves. How much space does a blog entry leave for audience to ponder upon and how much the traditional media?

There is no straight-forward answers to any of these questions. Blogs at time can be objective, but are mostly subjective. Traditional media too can be subjective. So why there needed much questioning about the blog’s credibility?

Read blogs as subjective opinion of an individual – what matters you most: the numbers (or facts) or the human emotions? For me, I am as a human more interested in human emotions than the plain numbers.

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Talking Blogging

After a weeklong tour to Seoul, South Korea, I am happily back to Nepal. And, now I find time to share the experience of talking about blogging as a panelist in one of the many sessions during the Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit at the Shilla Hotel.

Along with me, Enda Nasution of Indonesia, Dr. Awab Ali of Pakistan, Scarlett Li of China and Lam Oi-Wan of Hong Kong were the panelists of the session – Citizen’s Media Revolution moderated by an Asia 21 Fellow Joshua Ramo.

As I was first to go, I talked about how I started blogging and how is the Nepali blogosphere right now before going into what a blogging and citizen’s media is all about. Ali told about his experience with the Donate the Dollar and the government blocking of blogspot.com while Oi-Wan went with the her experience in Hong Kong.

Li was critical about Chinese blogosphere much to dismay to me and Ali and said Chinese blogging holds very little value in China.

Ali was much optimistic about blogging and said that the quickness of the blogging would one day replace the newspapers. I disagreed with him and said that it may change the role of newspaper but not going to replace it. We had a brief talk about it after the session too, and I think he agreed with my idea (well, probably I was trying to be optimistic about my professional career as a journalist).

The final question was about the creditability of blogs and I answered that saying that readers have to understand that blogs are written by an individual subject of personal biases.

I always believed that objectivity is itself subjective (I will tell you why sometime soon in another post) and that there is nothing called absolute truth.

Meanwhile, here are the entries I wrote for the official Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit blog – First Impression in Last Impression (Day I), A Fish in A Bowl (Day II) and Yeah! Yeah!! Yeah!!! (Day III).

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South Korea – as a Blogger

I am going to South Korea to participate in the Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit – as a blogger. This will be the second conference for me as a blogger – the first being the Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace held in Manila, the Philippines earlier this year.

More than a foreign tour, what I like most about these conference is that I got to meet new people and learn from them. It was at Manila, where I met with Rebecca McKinnon of GlobalVoices and conceived the idea of NepaliVoices along with the realizing that we, as a blogger, should do something for the vibrant Nepali blogosphere.

What Nepali blogosphere, no matter how small it was, did during the direct rule of King Gyanendra is exemplary for the blogging world in understanding what blogging can do. Bloggers from China, Iran and even Singapore giving headaches to their rulers, but the role of Nepali blogs in advocacy for freedom of expression and democracy has contributed, probably only in a small scale, for the April Revolution – the mass revolt that forced the king to step down paving the way for people’s rule again.

The April Revolution is also important because it also paved the way for peace process that looks like ending the bloody insurgency. Nepali bloggers can be proud of that history – and of course, there are few bloggers like me who can really be proud of being the bloggers at that time. Sometimes, not-so-good events are opportunities.

In South Korea, I will be talking about Nepali blogosphere and the opportunities blogging provides to the citizens including the leaders. And, I hope to learn a lot of lessons from it despite the conference itself not being much about the blogging. I will share new things about blogging and the summit from South Korea if possible.

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Female Bloggers’ Own World

[This is a translated version of a blog entry by Say Na Something that talks about Nepali female bloggers. Thanks to her for allowing me to put it up here. The original Nepali version is here.]

I will start from myself. How is the lifestyle of a married woman? How they begin the day? What food they can cook? How they reach the office in hurry after finishing off morning duties? And, why bargain on vegetable price? What on Saturday? Normally, a married woman’s life is weaved into such things. But my life is different. This could be because, well, I and my husband have been separated physically and psychologically.

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Proposing Bloggers Association of Nepal

More than a year ago, a few bloggers proposed an association by the name of Bloggers Association of Nepal (BLOGAN). The discussion went for some time and then went silent.

KP Dhungana of Hamroblog was one who had always talked about BLOGAN. A few of us invited each other for the talk on the issue at Martin Chautari on the day I talked about blogging in Nepal there. There were only a few – KP himself, me, Darshan of Zade Xpress and Rosha – then a non-blogger, and RP Dahal of NepalInfo who left but said he was with us.

We decided that for the time being the association should act as a social-network group so to gather a few of us and agreed that one of the bloggers would be nominated as the co-ordinator unless we are able to register and form a committee.

As agreed on that discussion, I am proposing the Bloggers Association of Nepal (partly modeled as Media Bloggers Association of USA to which I am a member). As we have agreed, all the bloggers identified as regular and Nepali by origin would be listed as our members unless they choose not to, every blogger is a member.

BLOGAN will be a nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and educating its members; supporting the development of ‘blogging’ as a distinct form of media; and helping to extend the power of the press, with all the rights and responsibilities that entails, to every citizen.

BLOGAN will also celebrate diversity of experience, purpose and opinion thus creating an environment where they can blog as freely as they used to as an individual. It will also believe in the freedom of expression. BLOGAN will accept anonymous bloggers as members provided that it could be confirmed s/he is a Nepali.

What you think? Please provide us with your ideas on BLOGAN, how should we move forward, and about anything else. Also please email or tell your blogging friend about it so that s/he can join the discussion and the association.

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A Free Blog Host (By a Nepali!)

Have you heard of Citizen Journalism Nepal? It’s a site modeled on OhMyNews of South Korea (that anybody can write news on it and get paid for).

CjNepal is also a free blog host that means anyone can register and start their own blogs as in the blogger.com or wordpress.com. The site has been around for quite a few time but there is not much blogs registered so far (probably because many have never heard of it or maybe because we have a tendency of not believing on something started by a Nepali).

The site uses WordPress MU (also used by WordPress.com and blogsome.com). For the blogger, it’s same as using WordPress. The best things with CjNepal are the selection of 47 templates for the site, no bandwidth or space limitations. Right now, the server has 140GB of space and the site is supported by Syracuse University (not financially).

How come the idea of starting a free blog host for Nepali? The founder Prameya Bhandari says: “I was seeing a lot of Nepalese starting blogs on third party website. However, as I see they seem to stop blogging after a while, probably due to lack of related traffic, as CjNepal is a Nepali website, it might help get better traffic, thus encouraging more people to write regularly.”

He assures the site will have more templates and plugins in near future and promises to provide good support. Hopefully, he will think of using database backup plugin so that users can be assured their posts will be saved even if chose to go with new hosts.

Note:NepaliVoices has created a test blog at blogs.cjnepal.org/test and you can login with username test and password test if you want to go through the admin area for test purpose.

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Promoting Blogging (or Each Other)

At United We Blog!, during the time of our peak, I realized the power of blogging. The way we were getting response and they way in which UWB! and Radio Free Nepal created a whirl in the blogging world by writing about the situation of the country made me question myself in amazement – if a few blogs can do this, what will it be like having a thousand bloggers?

The search for answer of that single question put something into me that I ventured into promoting blogging. I wanted a big Nepali blogoshpere – at least a thousand active bloggers not only a vibrant blog site. The listing of all Nepali blog sites in my personal The Radinat Star and creation of NepaliVoices is certainly a result of that thinking.

What I did that time to promote blogging was giving guest lectures in a few college teaching journalism with help from two of my friends – Bhuwan KC of Kantipur Television, who is also a journalism teacher, and blogger Tilak Pathak. We developed a course called Online Media as Alternative Media and took an hour long classes at Don Bosco, Madan Bhandari Memorial and Kathmandu City College. I don’t know how many participants of those classes began blogging.

My experience in blogging so far has made me learn a few way of promoting blogs – own and others. Here I am listing those so that I believe Nepali bloggers can help each other and create a vibrant blogosphere.

  • Link – linking to each other’s blogs is the best way to promote each other’s blogs. It is also sharing readers (but not dividing them as they will continue visiting any blogs that interest them). Linked blogs are also rated high by search engines giving more visibility to the blogs.
  • Read & Comment – if bloggers don’t feel like reading blogs then who else? So read the blogs that interest you and always take a minute to comment on blogs (that not only encourages bloggers to write more but also gives a link back to your blog).
  • Talk – get in touch with fellow Nepali bloggers for, at least, a social network because you share a similar passion. Keeping in touch with fellow bloggers encourages you and her/him blog more. Compliment or comment on his/her writing through emails and chats.
  • Act – tell your friends about your blogs and about Nepali blogosphere. Encourage them to start their own blogs. The more blogs created, the more bloggers will be there and certainly more blog readers.

Just I wanted to write about helping out each other.

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How big is Nepali Blogosphere?

The easiest answer would be: who knows?

Because there is no way anybody can correctly answer the question. The same question was asked to me when I was discussing ‘Nepali Blogging: Around Feb 1 & Now’ – a discussion organized by Martin Chautari last week and I said, “Well, it’s very difficult to track the personal blogs. But regularly updated blogs are between two to three dozens.”

How wrong I was. I found that a week later when Anamika of Say Na Something asked me the number of Nepali woman bloggers. Initially I emailed her saying – just TWO. A day later, Deepak told me there were two more blogs – Avinashi and Unshared Thoughts. How did I miss them?

So I tried to search for more Nepali woman bloggers and every time I did some labor, I will find more. The number grew and I was amazed to see results. Some were blogging like professional bloggers, some had blogged for a few months and stopped. Some were leisurely blogging – but none-the-less there was quite a few woman bloggers – I sent a total of eight links to her. (And I didn’t do much tried to get into blogs hosted in MSN Spaces because they open too slow in my browser!)

After finding those, I couldn’t even estimate the number of blogs run by Nepali – even though I have listed a lot of them in NepaliVoices.com, I believe this is just a chunk for the pie. I will certainly find more in coming days and thus thinking may be it would be better if I list them only on the separate page – not on my sidebar.

I don’t want to reveal all the woman bloggers’ blog because Anamika is working on an entry which I hope also to put up here. But if you know blogs by Nepali bloggers not listed on my sidebar, please send the links to me so that I can TRY to keep track of them.

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