Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pony tale

Once upon a time, the magnificient ponytail descended upon the Pink City to talk leadership. It was an event sponsored by the Birla Paper's Marketing Arm that Targets Only Schools and naturally a reporter had to be sent out to cover the event.

I was sent (I wish I could say veni, vidi, vici)

What me, and other citizens of the Pink City, were treated to was new age rehashed Gita meets the Bible in Central Park, New York/New Delhi.

Thankfully, memory doesn't serve me too well. The events of that day are a little hazy ... which is how it should be.

And, my article the next day didn't destroy him completely. What can I say, I was young, inexperienced, naive ... I still thought people were nice.

The Ponytail is not an intellectual powerhouse. All his energy is used up in the 1000 watt smile he flashes from time to time ... and in combing his hair. I wonder why a toothpaste company hasn't asked him to endorse their product yet.

Let me get a little serious ...

It's time to thank the magnificient Ponytail.

He's showing us the future ... a future where control over information is increasingly taken away from the information elite - the political-media complex that controls what goes out, and in what form.

The blog -- and variations of it in the form of both the pod and the vlog -- give people a voice that can be heard. All arguments about who's hearing are valid, but there is no denying the shift in power (Hey Alvin T. Respect!) ... What this also means is that traditional means of controlling image - the advertisement, the paid article, the junket will have to increasingly share power with the blogger: with you and me. More power to us! Do I state the obvious ... quite probably. But there is some good in that.

At some point, the eep,me!(s) of this world will have to come to terms with this shift. Does anybody remember the story of mediaah? What a blog it was ... and continues to be with the odd post. It was shut down by legal notices from the Indian Toy. Is eep,me trying something similar? Well, their effort resembles the legal notices sent out by collection agents posing as lawyers. A notice sent by a lawyer is a piece of paper that can be thrown away. Unlike a notice sent from a court (which comes via registered post or is hand delivered).

I may be rambling out here, but it seems to me that the first reaction to any kind of threat seems to be to become a bully. Is The Holy Ponytail the only person to react like this. Have we not, at some time or the other, become miniature bullies ourselves. Is this a very Indian reaction? Could it even be that Indians as a race/society are far less tolerant of criticism ... of any sort. Do we encourage the asking of questions -- like a certain nobel prize winner suggests -- or do we actually stamp out dissent by encouraging questions from the textbook.

I don't have the answers.

But I do have opinions. And technology is empowering my opinions. It is allowing me to be heard. More importantly, it is also allowing feedback. Your comments which take an argument forward ... or rip it apart. The comments that make me want to write more ... or not at all.

In fact, it is the stuff that advertisers dreams are made of. The instant reaction to an ad. The instant feedback. The instant sale.

The Ponytail might have his own theories about blogs - which we should get to read about soon enough in the M&B of Business Journalism, B&E - but what he does not have is a blog. And without one, he is as ineffectual as Iraq's vaunted nuclear programme, or North Korea's food programme, or America.

He, and others like, him will learn the hard way what it is to be left behind. Every word we write, every shred of evidence we present against him, every opinion left behind for posterity (barring legal notices that translate into changes of address :) does what no ad campaign can ever do -- reveal a truth .. not the truth, certainly not his truth, but a truth. And every truth is only as powerful as the number of people who believe in it - the more the people, the closer a truth gets to becoming the truth. Hello Goebbels. He had this down pat. Murdoch in his hey day wasn't too bad either ... Fox is kinda losing the script nowadays.

So we've got it right when we say the only way to take on legal notices from The Shiny Ponytail is to blog blog blog.

Tomorrow: Ipod Nano review, I get my hands on one tonight at 11pm India time.

1 comment:

thalassa_mikra said...

Snakeman, thankfully that is not the case, otherwise we would be living under the shadow of authoritarianism and face the heat like Chinese and Iranian bloggers.

Yes our powerful elite do get rattled by criticism and try to clamp down on it, just as those everywhere in the world do, but we do have institutions to ensure that there is free exchange of ideas.

I think far from being a race of bullies, we are a race of garrulous rabble rousers, and the anticipation of a robust showdown fills us with glee :)!