Monday, July 13, 2020

Notes on using Blogosphere as a Reddit alternative

You may think of the blogosphere as a more decentralized and magnanimous version of Reddit which might be lacking in things like organization and searching but wins hands down when it comes to content quality and quantity.


The "blogosphere platform" is organic in nature

Now, one might wonder how come the blogosphere is more content rich than reddit which has so many mods and admins patrolling the subs and removing posts every now and then. On Blogosphere, the content quality is maintained organically, the user (audience) maintains the quality by her decision to visit and read a blog post (or not), decision to comment on that blog post, decision to share that link across on other social media platforms like reddit, quora, etc. These decisions, in turn, affect the search engine's priority for that particular blog post link. Google will either accept or reject that link in the ranking algorithm and Google's decision is usually correct, especially when it comes to ranking!

Thus the blogosphere is a far more organically evolving and decentralized platform compared to moderated platforms like reddit, quora and others.

Free speech still exists in the blogosphere

In this regard, you may compare the blogosphere with a sort of republic or democracy where people's will drives the beast whereas other content platforms are like mini dictatorships where the moderator or admin diktats rule the show. Because the former is unmoderated and free of any "above interference" as such, free speech is virtually guaranteed and the blogger is pretty much free to speak up her mind (at least compared to the latter).

Content searching and organization is slightly different on blogosphere

You may roughly think of each blog as a sort of subreddit, only it could be far less topical and far more flexible in organization and content structure. Some popular technology blogs like Engadget and Ars Technica could be too generalized and the posts may include anything and everything from smart-phones and laptops to web based software to even politics and the content mill always keeps on churning as posts are made round the clock throughout the day.

On the other hand, there are blogs of commoners like Prahlad Yeri's blog, Aramin Ronacher's blog, Julia Evan's blog, etc. where posting frequency is much lower but they are typically far more topical and content quality is better in the sense that you get individual spin or different take on stories who's topics could be too broad for other popular tech blogs to cover in sufficient detail.

Thus, you get to read what you search for on blogosphere and for that you must follow the right blogs, just as you might follow the right subreddits on reddit or spaces on quora.

RSS/Atom feeds can help you organize blogosphere content

As mentioned earlier, content searching and organization could be tricky on blogosphere and some organization skills are needed on the individual's part. There are many popular feed readers such as Feedly and Flipboard which allow you to follow, organize and read all kinds of blogs in one place. If you prefer simple and old school, simply bookmarking your favorite blogs in your browser isn't a bad idea. Since bookmarks can be easily synchronized across devices with Firefox or Chrome these days, organizing the blog content through bookmarks shouldn't be a problem at all.

Disqus and similar projects can help the blogosphere

Disqus is a great example of a micro commenting platform which helps the broader blogosphere platform by allowing all users to comment on each other's blogs with a single sign in. With tools like Disqus, the rapport between blog authors and their audience increases manifold due to the network effect (Blog A's author can comment and interact with the audience of Blog B too). The network effect of popular social media sites like reddit and quora could be realized on the blogosphere too if more and more people start using Disqus.

Users must still be signed on with multiple services

Until a tool such as Disqus becomes universal, those who wish to interact on the blogosphere through comments should still be signed on with multiple online services to be on the same page. At the very least, you must be signed in on these three:

1. Disqus (for most blogs)
2. Google (for Blogspot, etc.)
3. Wordpress.com

If you want to stay anonymous on blogosphere, most blogs allow for anonymous commenting too, so you can post with a name like "Anon" and an email address where you'll get notified about replies, etc. Alternatively, you can sign up for an alt account on Disqus or Wordpress.com.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

On depression, loneliness, judgment and trust

We increasingly live in a world of political correctness. It all starts with judging other people: your colleagues, subordinates and bosses, friends and sometimes even your own relatives.

When one starts judging other people then he/she becomes fearful of others being judgmental on him/her too, and starts treading extremely cautiously everywhere. Trust and Faith in other humans is getting lost at both individual and family/group/community level. The world is no longer the ideal of Vasudaiva Kutumbakam (वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम) that it once was. And as the world shifts away from that ideal, the curse of depression starts making an entry.


In circa early 1990s started the era of nuclear families in India. These days, it has gotten much worse, its the era of loneliness and depression. People are more and more trying to live in their own eco-chambers instead of having a dialogue with others. Few renowned people including a famous actor committed suicide recently, these are just symptoms of something deeply wrong within the human psyche.

If only we could start loving and appreciating all the other human beings despite all their faults, if only we could start having a more positive outlook towards life, if only we could start seeing good in everyone, then life would be so nice, isn't it?

But that's easier said than done. Firstly, we need to start believing that the world is a very good place consisting of kind and lovable individuals. But this may not be true at all, the world could be a very terrible place for all we know! But even so, having faith in the good can actually start bringing us good from everywhere just like those placebo pills!

But again, easier said than done. When one faces hardship after hardship in life, seeing good in others is a next to impossible thing to do, falling in depression is much much easier. Falling into depression becomes thousand times easier if one also faces the curse of loneliness during such crisis. That's the most vulnerable time when you need a buddy or friend to share your misery, listen to your tale, give you a hug. Wish each one of us manages to have that buddy during the depressive times. But clearly, that isn't the case considering the increasing number of suicide cases.

The judgement and trust problems mentioned earlier spread like a virus like most other human emotions. And just like COVID-19, the viral load effect is also there - one or two happy individuals cannot hold their happiness against a herd of depressive ones, they often get drowned in the latter's depression!

Unlike the COVID, the depression problem has already spread its way across the length and breadth of this country, it is too entrenched and too chronic now. Reversing it is almost like reversing the wheel of dharma itself. Nothing short of a revolution is needed, and the revolution itself can span several years, decades or even centuries depending on how humans behave and cooperative going forward.