Are You Okay, Web?

Believe me or not, but there’s something seriously wrong with the web. In fact, I have observed that it has never recovered after the May 14 trauma that it experienced when Google systems went out of order.

During the past 10 days or so, most of the sites are showing totally erratic behavior. They’re either not opening up or only some pages are working for them. When you click on the links, they refuse to work. Or text appears but pictures disappear. And after sometime, everything is suddenly normal. No, it’s not any evil spirit. I don’t believe in that. Then?

First, I thought the interruptions are happening to high-traffic content sites. But no; it’s true even for one-visitor-a-day kind of company sites also. As I couldn’t find any pattern in this change, it seems to be all random. This could be a local problem also in my area (I live in New Delhi, India and use a Wi-Fi connection for Internet access.)

If other users are also facing such a problem, they may use the “Comments” section with this article to share their experiences.

This may be a local or temporary flaw. In general, however, I must tell you that this web thing is not yet stable. I have been using various web tools and technologies for over 10 years and have written a lot about them. During this period, I’ve observed that their number has been increasing exponentially, but their reliability has always ebbed down. Most of the web technologies – from search to social sites to analytics to content systems – are too raw and shaky.

And now this “social” trend is adding fuel to the fire. Today, any company that has anything to do with the web is hugely infatuated with this social thing. In the process, these companies are encouraging users to throw everything brought from everywhere into their own or public social sites.

So there’s an unruly hoo-hah in and around social media or social networking sites. While that has resulted in the creation of some colossal “information junkyards,” there are millions of people all over the world who want to be part of this mad social scramble. Obviously, when this crowd is growing, web is going to wilt under the pressure.

This could be a reason that after sometime web needs rest these days, and it’s slow in responding actively to users’ requests. Do you agree?

Rakesh Raman is the managing editor of My Techbox Online.
This article was published on May 25, 2009 at
You may please see the original version that also has reference links.

Twitter TV On, Twitter TV Off

The microblogging site Twitter has put an end to all the gossips about it making a TV show. It says it’s not making any such show. As the celebrity world around Hollywood was also abuzz with this hearsay, the No.1 Twitterer, actor Ashton Kutcher, threatened to shun the site while wife Demi Moore expressed her displeasure on Twitter’s move.

Here’s what Twitter said in its blog post of May 26: “Just to be clear, Twitter is not making a television show. Some Hollywood folks are developing something that leverages Twitter and they are extremely enthusiastic as evidenced by all the media hubbub yesterday and today. We have little to do with their efforts but we wish them success.”

It was rumored that Twitter will join hands with Reveille Productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners to make a “Twitter TV Show” that will allow viewers to chase celebrities. This had irked Kutcher and Demi who thought it’d be an attempt to trespass upon their privacy.

However, Twitter clarifies: “Regarding the Reveille and Brillstein project, we have a lightweight, non-exclusive, agreement with the producers which helps them move forward more freely.”

Today, many celebrities use this 140-character blogging site for social networking. They report about everything to everything else – all from their routine toilet-to-bed stories – in the short text format.

Last month, there was a highly publicized contest between Kutcher and CNN played out on Twitter. Kutcher had issued a challenge to CNN saying that his account would set a new record on Twitter, attracting 1 million followers before the Twitter account @cnnbrk, held by CNN’s breaking-news feed. Kutcher won. And the contest also helped Twitter gain a lot of publicity in the struggling social networking market, which looks like a mere bubble.

Even Twitter, which was launched in 2006, says: “While our business model is in a research phase, we spend more money than we make.”

That’s true for other social networking businesses also. Even video-sharing network YouTube, is trying hard to make some meaningful money and it’s costing the owner Google $1.65 million a day.

Like deep-pocketed Google invested in YouTube, most of these social networks are surviving on investors’ money. Facebook too has just raised some capital. Digital Sky Technologies, an investment group with stakes in Eastern European and Russian internet businesses, has made a $200 million investment in Facebook.

While there’s a noisy hoo-hah around social networks, they are nothing more than some free hangouts for gullible youngsters who want to have some “cheap virtual fun” – sometimes even with fake identities.

Twitter is one of them and it’s simply based on the “I-follow-you-if-you-follow-me” principle. Users just feel some temporary excitement with more number of followers on their Twitter accounts. Otherwise, it has yet to prove its utility. Will it?

Rakesh Raman is the managing editor of My Techbox Online.
This article was published on May 27, 2009 at
You may please see the original version that also has reference links.

Excuse Me, Will You Please Visit My Blog…

No thanks. This is the tacit response you’ll get invariably for your invite if you’re an individual blogger. Believe me; nobody is interested to read your blog posts except you, yourself. As you’re always looking for a few eyeballs, you’ve to virtually drag and drop visitors to your blog. But it’d be interesting to see how this new book “The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging” by the editors (including Arianna Huffington) of the Huffington Post will help you learn blogging and get some traffic. [I wrote this article in December 2008.]

You’d have heard the term quite often and many of you would have ventured into the blogging world, but there’s no new rocket science involved in blogging. Rather, blogging is just another herd phenomenon on the web like you’ve seen for social networks. As now you get free blog space, you always had free web space on services like GeoCities to write anything you want. Blogs are nothing but small websites in the shared domains.

Though it’s as difficult to count the number of bloggers on the web as it’s to count the number of crows in a town, by some ballpark estimates, for every 10 Internet users in the world, at least one is a blogger. As there are about 1 billion Internet users, you can expect around 100 million blogs, including active and sleeping ones. In fact, bloggers are like stars, stars in the sky – now they exist; now they don’t…when you open your eyes. And like stars, they keep appearing and disappearing. So let’s not get into the numbers.

While most of these blogs are in a state of deep coma, the blog hosting sites will keep counting them to ostensibly show their own strength. There are others, which hardly get visitors. You won’t believe, some bloggers would visit their own blogs a dozen times a day to see their posts that they write at the rate of one or two per week. If they’re lucky enough they’ll get their wife’s, son’s, granny’s, or neighbour’s support. And all these supporters would look at everything on the computer monitor except the blog write-up to which they’re specially invited. If there’s no other ray of hope, the bloggers won’t hesitate to tell about their new pursuit to even their washerman, milkman, or even the housemaid.

Some proponents argue that blogs give voice to commoners. Yes, agreed; but mostly their own ears are ready to hear that voice. Don’t think I’m exaggerating, but it’s easier to conquer the Mount Everest than getting some meaningful pageviews for your blog.

For most individual bloggers, it’s extremely difficult to survive in the blogosphere. Nobody is interested to read them because they lack discipline, their sources are shady, they don’t have control on language, they’re irregular, and so on. Writing is an art, and writing for the masses is a scientific art, which all can’t master – even after reading the books. To succeed, you need a lot of patience, passion, practice, deep subject knowledge, and plenty of reading. Only then you can hope to become a good writer to attract some readers.

After uploading a small video clip created with your personal camera on a free hosting site like YouTube, you can’t say that you’re ready to become a Hollywood director. Similarly, you can’t get the qualities of a professional journalist by writing a few posts on a free and freewheeling blog.

As this so-called “social media” has become a kind of “chaos media,” it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the serious readers to cut through the clutter and get some genuine information.

So what’s the lesson? The mass social media in its current form just can’t challenge the traditional media. There are only a handful of blogs that get regular visitors. You can call them blogs, but they’re actually full-fledged websites run by groups of professional journalists or writers.

If people are reading Reuters’ blogs, for instance, they’re not reading them because they’re blogs but they’re interested because they’re created by Reuters. That way, tomorrow if a popular media property like Reuters decides to write on flying balloons, people will fly in the air to read those reports. That’s the power of content. If your content is strong, people will come to read it. Then you don’t need any “social” support to get noticed and heard.

So by equating the naïve new media with the respectable traditional media, you can always hoodwink the gullible “learn blogging” book buyers, but you just can’t teach them how to create readable content. And that is the whole point.

Rakesh Raman is the managing editor of My Techbox Online.

This article first appeared in My Techbox Online, at