[Times of India, Bangalore, 27 August 2010]
It has been five years since I put in my first post as an early blogger in Kannada. This medium was interesting because this was the first time that there were no editorial constraints on me. I could post something that is short – here and now, and more importantly I could post something that was more than 2000 words. For somebody who would like to elaborate on issues that were to be discussed, this was a blessing as a medium. I have seen the blogworld evolve and progress geometrically since. I have found blogging emanating from unexpected quarters – from the celebrated UR Anantha Murthy who happily blogs, and even uses google buzz to a great extent to eminent poet HSV to journalists like Jogi. I have found some very tech savvy people keeping themselves away from the blogworld. Vivek Shanbhag who runs a successful literary quarterly “Desha Kaala” and might have designed many an IT intervention for Unilever has assiduously kept himself away from this world.
Kannada blogsphere is now as cluttered as any other language. We have bilingual bloggers, bloggers who use English font for Kannada and find blog posts that are good bad and indifferent. The anonymity of blogging helps many of budding poet to post her poem, an aspiring writer to get instant feedback and serious writers to connect to their readers. For long, it was a challenge to take unedited, intemperate, instantaneous feedback on ones writings, but over a period of time, one has realized that the language and idiom of the blog world and even the etiquette of the blogworld is completely different from the sanitized lives we live in the published world.
A dedicated website for kannada literature kannadasahithya.com was in a way precursor for many of us who where looking for Kannada resources on the web. However this site made accessible several serious writings that were not available because the original books were out of print. This was followed up by Sampada – a portal set up by an young IT enthusiast HP Nadig. Sampada had a community of bloggers who preceeded the individual blog addresses that came in later. In addition to Sampada the best writings in contemporary Kannada can be found in a web journal at Kendasampige.com – edited by one of the most brilliant literary minds of our generation Abdul Rasheed. As these resources are getting more and more accessible, I find the need for a personal blog space reduced to posts that are very personal, instantaneous and impulsive.
I personally have used the blogworld as a parking space of most of my serious writings. I have most of my works of fiction parked on the blogspace as it is the best way to connect to people who want access to my older books. Apart from this, I have found places like Kendasampige.com a good outlet for creative writing, which like a literary journal does not have constraints on word lengths.
The greatest challenge for a blogger in Kannada was the use of technology. A good font, a good keyboard layout, an easy way to express oneself in a language that has a complicated script with super and subscripts is not easy. The reason why we have so little resources on the shared space in the webworld is to do with how one can post something aesthetically. Easy templates that are available are in English. How does one have a template that provides the link titles in Kannada – [Archives, Recent Posts] unless one gets into the source and tries to port on the Kannada font. Kannada uses several codes – Unicode/ANSI and depending on when one started and what package was accessible at that time, most of us have a preference that is not standard. So for the uninitiated like me, it is always a challenge to get the font right, the design right and the aesthetics right on the blog, without really tearing my hair apart.
One of the most bizzare experiences that I have had in the early days of blogging was the reverse of what would happen in English. I have found many columnists and writers ‘parking’ their writing in the form of blogs after they have appeared in print. In my case – in Kannada, I thought some of these writings did not fit into a regular newspaper/magazine feature, but were serious writings which I wanted to share. I put them on to the blog and for a while I would find that Kannada newspapers would pick up something from my blog to be published as a feature in print. I did have a sub-editor call me once to say that I have not posted anything for a while and therefore s/he is unable to pick one of my pieces as a feature – and they had space for the Sunday supplement…. I guess we have moved on from that era where sub-editors used to surf the blogworld to fill in the features section of Sunday supplements.