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Blog: the online Truman Show

Mumbai, May 27: Dear Computer, you have replaced the diary.

There is a new home for the insomniac, the world-weary, the stressed corporate, the poet, the young mother — or for anyone else who is in severe need of unburdening his soul. It’s called the blog.

Short for web log, the blog, the hot new thing in the Net, is fast becoming the refuge of the urban despaired. Rediffblogs, hosted by rediff.com — the first Indian website to offer blog service — claims an addition of a 100 new users every day.

A blog is a personal page in the Net that allows the user to say anything, except pornography or abuse. Since it comes under a website, the Netizen finds it much easier to access than a stray personal website.

The writer, especially if he is smart with the language which is often the case, has the satisfaction that there are many pairs of eyes devouring the prose — in some cases poetry — that flows abundantly from his fingertips to the screen.

It’s like talking to the computer. It is also like holding up your life, down to its last detail, for the world to see — a voluntary Truman Show, online.

“I am typing this blog on a laptop connected to a Reliance mobile. I think this is the coolest thing I have done in a while. I didn’t get this feeling when I wirelessly synched my Palm. I didn’t get this feeling when I first transferred images from my digital camera to my laptop,” posts Prakash Dantuluri at Rediffblogs where a new blogger is registering every 10 or 15 minutes.

The readers can post their messages to the owner of the blog and these are often put up, too.

Aashish Chandorkar, who writes well, wonders why he is a subscriber of so many e-groups, then goes on to talk about a friend’s wedding where he meets his former boss who tells him he has put on weight. His life, documented every day, has a huge following: he gets 115 visitors daily after his website put up his blog on its first page.

In the blog called Absurdity, the young woman who hosts it posts: “I just got back home and am feeling absolutely exhausted and completely thrilled. I didn’t have any breakfast this morning so I pigged out on le chocolat as usual..., simply don’t know what I’d do without cocoa; and my justification: “Hey! It is better than overdoing the happy pills, isn’t it'”

She goes on to say, possibly not thinking of the immediate context: “The fact that you’re scared to talk about the nitty-gritty in your life ’coz you’re worried that someday, it might somehow be used against you, and you equate anything with an invasion of privacy'”

But sharing the nitty-gritty of your life is that important, especially in times when social interaction is a vanishing phenomenon. rediff.com reports 8,000 users registered on Rediffblogs since its launch in February this year. In April alone, Rediffblogs has touched 7,50,000 viewings. Google has acquired bloggers.com, the original bloggers’ site and AOL and MSN are reported to be at work laying the foundation for blogging at their sites.

At the Silicon Valley, the growing popularity of blogging seems to hold out a new hope.

But blogs are not only places to lay bare the soul. Their popularity, ironically, started with the most momentous world event of these times: 9/11. After that, the survivors, the witnesses, the sufferers and anybody and everybody had something to say, a statement to make. That is how blogs, which started in the early 90s, really took off. They became the places where millions of troubled minds could at least let off some steam and interact.

In China, where the government monitors the Net, bloggers.com was banned before Google bought it.

With the Iraq War, blogs took on another function. They became the vehicles of alternative media — reporters who couldn’t file their stories in the mainstream media turned to blogs, posting their reports on their individual sites. There was an explosion of war-related news on blogs, many of which challenged the CNN brand of journalism.

But credibility remains an issue. Blogs, because they promise absolute free speech, also allow anyone to say anything.

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