An unfettered vision of the world

Salman Rushdie writes in the Guardian:
The old idea of the intellectual as the one who speaks truth to power is still an idea worth holding on to. Tyrants fear the truth of books because it's a truth that's in hock to nobody, it's a single artist's unfettered vision of the world. They fear it even more because it's incomplete, because the act of reading completes it, so that the book's truth is slightly different in each reader's different inner world, and these are the true revolutions of literature, these invisible, intimate communions of strangers, these tiny revolutions inside each reader's imagination, and the enemies of the imagination, politburos, ayatollahs, all the different goon squads of gods and power, want to shut these revolutions down, and can't. Not even the author of a book can know exactly what effect his book will have, but good books do have effects, and some of these effects are powerful, and all of them, thank goodness, are impossible to predict in advance.

Literature is a loose cannon. This is a very good thing.

Replace "books" and "literature" in the above excerpt with "blogs" and "blogging" and tell me: does it not hold true?

Feeding print

Have you read the Asian Age lately?

If you read the supplement (the maybe-even- smaller-than tabloid-size one that has a little city-news, a little entertainment or party-stuff, a couple of education or youth-related pages), you will have noticed a blog-column.

It is intended as a sort of youth-speak 'attitude/opinion' column, but the content is derived from various blogs run by young people, for the most part.

I don't know whether the sub who puts the page together gets in touch with the authors and seeks permission to quote from a blog, or not... I suspect he/she does, since the column is headed by a name and a mug-shot, which are not always available on blogs.

This is such a step-up from a newspaper's traditional method of seeking public opinion.

A cursing-fuming reporter used to be dispatched with an equally resentful photographer; together they'd accost unsuspecting citizens on the roads, in campuses, outside office buildings and in restaurants, and pop the question - 'What is your view on... '. The questions would range from a constitutional amendment to Tendulkar's endorsements to Kareena's Kapoor's kisses.

Most often, the poor accosted citizen would be frightened, would wave off the camera and refuse to divulge his/her name, age and sundry details. Most often, he/she would have no opinion whatsoever on the given subject. The reporter would probe, prompt, and sometimes just put words into the mouth of a citizen, who would play along happily, if suitably excited at the prospect of having his/her mug-shot in tomorrow morning's newspaper.

Now, a newsroom is seeking out an opinion that already been expressed (and therefore, one may assume a certain amount of passion, if not information, exists, about a given issue... making it worthy of publication). Besides, you're saving a photographer/reporter's time. Also, a sub-editor doesn't have to sit down and key in the column, line by painful line... A win-win situation, if there ever was one!

For me, this is doubly interesting because I like watching media-exchanges as they happen. People keep talking about different media competing, but rarely about how one form of media feeds the other. I have no doubt that blogs cannot wipe out print media (do they even want to?); but newspapers will begin to source content, reviews, columns, gossip and a host of information from blogs. And vice-versa!

Of course, a key assumption here is that permission to print has been sought and granted. We've already seen that newspapers do not hesitate to 'lift' content from blogs, without attribution, when it suits them (a very naughty thing to do... no?)
Independent, Individual, Indian.

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