IndiBlogger Singapore Meet

As I pen this post, two things are running through my mind. First, this was truly a memorable evening with the very first IndiBlogger meet off Indian soil being a success. The second, ten other fellow bloggers are going to do a MUCH better job of writing about this evening than me!

So I began thinking (and at 3:00 AM, that’s NOT an easy task!), and it struck me, KISS. no not the act of locking lips (and much more in some cultures!). I was referring to the acronym, Keep It Simple Stupid. So here goes.

The evening in question was being planed for almost two weeks (or was it three?). Being a blog meet virgin, I was naturally anxious. And the proposed agenda of the evening did little to ease my jitters. With a formal introduction round, a powerpoint presentation (well a Keynote one in my case!) and a showcase of some form of entertaining talent the meet was beginning to sound like a Mr. Universe Contest.

But my anticipation overpowered my anxiousness. The idea of connecting with diverse people who shared the same passion for blogging as I do, was simply irresistible! And so I began counting down the days to the fateful encounter.

The day of the meet, I chose to go prepared and even risked reaching late to the office that day as I spent time preparing my “Blog Meet Kit”. Don’t get intimidated. The so called “kit” was simply my camera and my Mac (yes I could’ve said laptop, but Mac sounds so much more cooler!). The decision to take the camera was an obvious one. Taking the Mac was to showcase my other talents, sketching and photography, which would’ve been difficult to exhibit without a display medium.

I had done very little reading on the works of the people I was to meet that evening, which is to say that I had simply read the titles of their blogs! Nonetheless, I was certain that their respective blogs must’ve been great reads.

So we now move to the actual meet itself. Having arrived just a shade after the designated rendezvous time, I was delightfully surprised to find that almost half the attendees were already present. This was a great sign, since it meant that the other bloggers were as eager to attend this meet as I.

Having only interacted with these people via the Internet, meeting the real people was surreal. It almost felt like going on a blind date, except that unlike the date, here there would be written accounts of the evening floating in cyberspace for thousands, if not millions, to read!

I could sense that almost everyone was a little jittery. But we all loosened up pretty quick. Informal introductions were underway as we waited for the remaining names on the roster to show up.

As formal introductions began, I began what I do best, taking pictures. Which did not mean that I wasn’t interested in the bloggers’ stories. But from experience I know that the best shots are the natural ones. And what better time to find someone in a more natural pose than when they’re trying to break the ice with a set of strangers!

With just one short of the confirmed list of attendees, the meet was definitely a success.
I was impressed with the diversity in not only the backgrounds of the people present, but also the contents of their blogs. As each person at the table described his or her motivation and inspiration for being a blogger, I was enamored.

As the evening progressed, discussions swerved from related topics such as the choice of blogging medium, attracting readers, coming up with catchy captions to absolutely random stuff like favorite movies, the world cup and Beauty products!
Conversations led us to realise that the world was even smaller than we had originally perceived as it turned out that most of us were living examples of the six degrees of separation.

Einstein’s theory reared its ugly head as we realized that the two hour long meet was coming to a conclusion too soon! It was obvious that no-one wanted the meet to end anytime soon, but commitments to family and friends (and the fact that the restaurant manager was eyeing us suspiciously!) forced us to call it an evening.

As we parted ways, there was a sense of disappointment. But also a sense of happiness, since now I had made new friends, friends who shared my passion for writing.

The IndiBlogger meet in many ways was more than about just meeting fellow bloggers. To me it was more about understanding why we do, what we do. They were mothers, students, consultants, techies and perhaps even stand up comedians, but at the core, they were individuals who were passionate about writing. Their passion for writing was what truly defined their characters, their inner persona. For me the evening was truly a memorable one and I sincerely hope that the IndiBlogger gang here in Singapore continues to meet and interact.

On a more personal note, the bloggers meet helped me answer the question, Why do we blog? We blog not only because we like to, but because we like it when what we blog is liked by others. It’s about the appreciation. The comments, the re tweets,  the Facebook “Like” button clicks is what drives us bloggers to go to extra-ordinary lengths to write “that” one post.

Here’s hoping that the Singapore IndiBlogger gang stay connected and meet up more often.

The Gang

Pleasure and a Privilege to have made your acquaintance fellow bloggers.
Advertisements

Follow Me!

So you’ve got yourself a twitter account, but are still struggling with followers. How is it that geek you went to high school with has hundreds of followers and countless retweets and you’ve got squat!
Well there are a few unspoken rules that us tweeps “follow” when it comes to following and tweeting someone back.

Where To Begin?
Firstly, get the basics right. Upload a display pic to your twitter account. That goes double for the men! And please no random pictures of nature or celebrities (unless you’re the said celebrity!). People are more comfortable with tweeps with faces, even if they aren’t much to look at! So take a picture of your best side and upload.
Fill out your profile. When you meet someone for the first time, do you simply expect that someone to start talking to you? No, you need an ice-breaker, something that lets them get (and more importantly gets you as well) comfortable and relaxed. Throw in some random gyaan, some quirky one-liner or simply write something about yourself. But please don’t copy paste some stupid Muhawra!
Location, Location, location. As in real estate, this fundamental principle applies to your Bio as well. You don’t need to get real specific with the latitudes and longitudes, but a simple City or Country name sure helps tweeps to engage in relevant conversation with you.

I Have An Identity!
OKay so your Bio is respectable, you have your best picture uploaded and people can see what city has the misfortune of calling you its inhabitant. But that doesn’t mean you’re all set to get a huge following, unless you are @sachin_rt!
Nope twitter is all about engaging with other tweeps. Follow interesting tweeps and reply or retweet their tweets. Since following on twitter is far simpler than on facebook, finding and following new tweeps wont be an issue. And if the tweep you’re following hasn’t blocked you, you’re free to reply or retweet that person.
Don’t lose heart if someome you followed doesnt follow you back instantly. Give it time, let the tweep see your tweets, your retweets and build a realionship. Lets face it, you don’t go to second base on the first date, do you!
Another thing to remember is that when you begin following someone new, Tweet about it with a mention of the said tweep. If there was a specific reason you chose to follow that someone, state that as well for a more meaningful tweet. 9 times out of 10, these tweets guarantee an automatic follow.

I Wanna Tweet Now…
For god’s sake, unless you’re stuck in some twister or being roasted by the sun, do NOT tweet about the weather everyday! Once in a blue moon, when the weather IS pleasant, go ahead tweet about it, but don’t be twitter’s unsponsored weather channel!
Tweeting about current topics is a big Yes. After all, many news flashes spread across twitter before they hit the mainstream news channels. So go ahead be the next Woodward and Bernstein!
I find twitter a great way to relieve stress. So if you’re pissed, angry or simply mind-fcuked, go ahead tweet that emotion and let it soar in cyberspace. Trust me, these are the tweets that grab the most attention. So you’ll benefit with your grief!

Finally, remember its not just about the quantity, its ALSO about quality. No use getting 1000 followers if more than 30 percent are bots/spammers/internet marketers. Engage with real tweeps and you’ll have plenty to tweet about.

I’ve been on twitter for over a year now, but really started using it about 8-9 months ago. Following these simple rules I’ve had the pleasure of befriending many interesting and insightful tweeps. And I’m sure will continue to do so in the future.

Like a fellow tweep once tweeted –

Facebook is filled with people you knew in high school
Twitter is filled with people you wished you knew in high school

This post is part of the Twitter Critter series. Click to read other related posts.

Return Of The Clients

If you been using twitter (and after reading my previous posts, I sincerely hope you are!), then you are definitely familiar with the twitter website and it’s features or lack thereof!
Don’t get me wrong, the web-site is very simple and clutter-free (unlike facebook and orkut), but reading tweets from multiple peeps becomes somewhat of a challenge. Also, you have to constantly refresh your page to check on different portions of your twitter page (read favorites, followers, mentions, etc.)

What if you could organize the people you follow, keep all your favorite tweets at easy reach and have a holistic view of your twitter experience?

Enter the twitter clients!

Table Top Wonders!
You’ve got Outlook (or ThunderBird if you’re into open source!) to manage you mail offline. So why should your tweets be treated differently. Desktop clients are the key to tracking your tweeps and their tweets in an organized and fun manner. Here are some of the best desktop twitter clients –

TweetDeck

Managing your tweets couldn’t get simpler than this! Built on the Adobe Air, TweetDeck offers integration with your twitter, facebook and myspace accounts.
TweetDeck is the complete package, upload media, shorten your URLs, maintain your hashtag history and even translate your tweet!
A prominent feature of TweetDeck (one which makes it my preferred desktop client) is the column. Create separate columns for different functions, i.e. one to track all your DMs, one for all your mentions, one for your list of followers and so on. This is great if you’re interested in organizing all your tweets and focusing on specific aspects of your twitter timeline.
If you are serious about tweeting, TweetDeck is definitely the way to go!

Seesmic

Next to Tweetdeck, Seesmic is perhaps the most sought after twitter desktop client. And for good reason. The client has a web, desktop and mobile avatar and also supports integration with your facebook profile.
Although I’ve downloaded the seesmic desktop client, I don’t really use it much, but those who have,swear by it. So do check it out before you zero in on a client.
Pssst…if you are really interested in a more detailed comparison between TweetDeck and Seesmic, check out this link

HootSuite

Although a web based client, HootSuite offers most, if not all the functions available in TweetDeck and Seesmic. Labeled as the twitter client for professionals, HootSuite is essentially targeted at those organizations who wish to leverage twitter for their social media presence.
But that doesn’t mean that you need to be the CEO of a company to appreciate the features provided by this baby!
A few things that I liked, were the customized shrunk links that allow you to track the number of hits on the target web-page, provision for scheduled tweets and profile statistics summary.

Fun On The Run!
Tweeting is all about keeping your updates mobile. Let’s face it, not all of us spend hours together in front of the PC, well not voluntarily at least. So if you need to keep feeding the twitter bird on an hourly basis with your tweets, how do you do that? Well thankfully there are a plethora of clients designed for every mobile phone platform (read OS). Some of the most popular ones are –

Gravity

Designed for Symbian smart phones (read Nokia N&E Series and the likes), this is by far the best in its class. Apart from supporting all the standard twitter functions (retweet, reply, favorite, Direct Message, etc), Gravity also features other cool features. These include forwarding a tweet as an SMS (super awesome!), uploading pictures to multiple media sharing sites (Mobypicture, posterous, twitpic, twitgoo, yfrog, img.ly), creating groups of your followers and even schedule your tweets.
Gravity also integrates with Google Reader. So if you have a RSS feeds synced with your Google Reader, then you can read them right off your phone!
Recently even a facebook integration has been introduced. Although it’s still a little buggy, but nonetheless a great addition to an amazing mobile client.
Be warned, this application is not freeware and comes with a price tag of $9.95 (plus taxes). But it’s worth every cent!

Tweets60

Tweets60 was the first free native twitter application for Nokia S60. Tweets60 lets you change your status, read the tweets of people you follow, re-tweet, and manage who you follow.
With a fairly simple interface and basic functions of twitter, this is the a great mobile client for those who don’t want too many fancy features.

Tweetie

Tweetie is the twitter client for the oh so sought after iPhone and iTouch. Well to be fair, it is originally the twitter client for the Mac, and has a mobile version for Apple’s touch products.
Needless to say that the features of this bad boy are at par with the other touch applications. And in true Apple style, Tweetie has seamless integration not only with your web profiles but also your phone address book.
Apart from that the client is fully loaded with features like one-touch media upload, group management, landscape support and much more.
If you own an iPhone (or the iTouch), this is the client you need on your device.

And with that, the Twitter Critter series comes to an end. Through this series I have tried to cover as much area as possible to make your twitter experience as simple and hassle-free as possible.

I hope that these posts have been helpful in demystifying the twitter universe, oops I mean Twitterverse.
Do let me know if there are any other aspects of Twitter that you’d like more gyann on. Till then…


Happy Tweeting!

Previously in the series:
The Twitter Critter Strikes Back!
Attack Of The Apps

Attack Of The Apps

Welcome to the second post in the Twitter Critter Series (third if you consider the original Twitter Critter Post!), focussing on the new social networking (soc-net for short) site, Twitter.  In the previous post, we saw the basics (and I mean real basic basics!) of using twitter. This week’s post focuses on how you can leverage your twitter account to truly immerse in the soc-net experience.

Look Mommy I Shot That!
Networking on the web seldom involves mere textual updates of one’s life. Today we can share our personal experiences with family and friends in full color, motion and sound. YouTube, Picasa, flickr and many others allow us to upload those candid moments to the web and share them with everyone.

Sharing pictures or videos on twitter can be as simple as posting the link of your photo album elsewhere (picasa, youtube, flickr, photobucket and the likes). But why resort to such ‘prehistoric’ methods? Twitter has spawned, or is at least supported, by many third party media upload websites. The seamless integration between your twitter account and these applications, enables, nay, empowers you with a one-touch upload and tweet functionality.

Here is the low-down on few of the third-party applications to enlighten you on the possibilities of your twitter presence.

Say Cheese!
A Picture, they say, is worth a thousand words, which is tremendously helpful when you’re dealing with a 140 character limit! Some of the most popular photo upload and tweeting sites include –

twitpic
A simple no nonsense site which lets you upload photographs directly from the website or through supported phone applications. Apart from seeing the snaps that you uploaded, twitpic also lets you see what the world is uploading in real-time.


snaptweet
Snaptweet allows you to integrate your existing flickr account and tweet uploads to the Yahoo photo sharing service. You can send your latest photo or send tagged photos only or even send all emailed photos.

tweetphoto
Fairly similar to twitpic, this service allows you to tweet about your photos on twitter and facebook

Lights, Camera… Action!
If a photo is equivalent to a thousand words, one can only imagine the power of a video clip. Here are some of the top video sharing services for twitter –

twiddeo
Twiddeo lets you upload video files (mpg, wmv and avi file formats). The service also allows yout upload directly from your webcam and as well as your cellular phone (using an email based service).

vidly
Rated as the application of choice by many, this video sharing service also has an iphone application which lets you directly upload via your treasured apple phone.

12seconds
Fame may last for only 15 minutes, but it takes only 12 seconds to become famous. Record your emotions, thoughts or just what you’re upto in a 12 second video clip and upload it to this site and watch it spread like wild fire across your twitter and facebook accounts!

Mix It Up!

Don’t want to be restricted to just images or videos? Well then try these sites that offer multiple media tweeting support –

tweetcube
TweetCube allows you to share files on Twitter, period! Upload your images, videos, music and more and your files are automatically posted on Twitter.

mobypicture
Not to be confused with twitter’s own fail whale, this whale of a photo and video upload service allows integration not only with twitter, but also other sites like facebook, flickr, youtube, blogger, wordpress and typepad (Phew!).

There you go, some really cool web-applications to add media richness to your twittering experience. So what’re you waiting for? Start sharing!

The next post (which is the final one in the series) will shed some light on some great twitter clients to help you tweet from anywhere!

Previously in this series: The Twitter Critter Strikes Back!

Next in this Series: Return Of The Clients

The Twitter Critter Strikes Back!

 I know I have already sung songs of high praise about twitter in an earlier post. But many of my friends, who are quite active on other social networks (facebook, orkut), don’t seem to be very accepting of the latest entrant in the soc-net scene. So I decided to break the ice, so to speak, between these skeptics and twitter by spreading some ‘gyaan’ through my blog.

This post is the first of a three part series detailing (in a manner of speaking) various aspects of the Twitter Universe (or as we tweeps call it, the twitverse!). This post will talk about the basics of twitter and how to use it. The next post in the series will talk about third party applications that help you enrich your twitter presence and the final post in the series will discuss various twitter clients to help make your twitter experience simple yet effective.




So What is this twitter thingie?

Conventional Blogs tend to be lengthy and are usually topic/theme specific, periodic and well let’s face it sometimes downright boring (qualities that this particular blog hopes never to live up to!). It’s almost impossible to leverage your blog to stay in touch with your friends, family and colleagues, well not on a personal basis at least.

Enter the micro-blog. Same concept as a blog but with a size limit. You pen your thoughts, but since the length of your “post” is limited (with 140 characters, that’s an understatement!) your thoughts are pretty short. This lets you get creative with your posts and lets you  update people about what’s happening with you or as the tag line on your twitter page says it – What Are You Doing? Users ‘tweet’ their thoughts, rantings, comments, jokes and absolutely anything that can be put into words. Well within 140 characters to be more precise.

If you’re familiar with facebook, twitter is essentially the ‘What’s on your mind’ section of your facebook page. At the core, Twitter is all about letting the world know what you are upto, plain and simple! To start off, simply go to the twitter website, register yourself and you are ready to be part of the twiterrati!

What do I tweet about?
Most newbie tweeters get intimidated by this thought (I know I was!). Well it’s simple. Tweet about what ever catches your fancy. What are you doing, or going to do, or have already done! Start with a simple “Hello World” (programmers you can dig this one right!), talk about the weather, the news, latest movies, music, food, pets or even  the color of your boss’s secretary’s eyes! Yes tweeting is all about being who you really are and what goes on in that head of yours!

But you can only hold up a conversation with yourself for so long. Being on twitter (or any other soc-net site) is about building your network. So start following other tweeters. Start by finding your personal friends who are already on twitter. Invite a few from your mail address book if they aren’t already users. You can even use twitter’s own Recommended Users list. But don’t go overboard and follow every tweep you see. Gradually build up your twitter network. Then start tweeting with them, about them, or just at them!

Follow The Leader

In twitter lingo, following someone is equivalent to adding that person to your twitter network. Following someone automatically lets you see their tweets. Conversely if someone follows you, they get to see all your tweets. Following someone results in their tweets being displayed on your twitter page. The list of tweets you see is commonly known as a time-line.

And don’t be surprised if you find random tweeple (twitter people a.k.a peeps) following you. If you don’t like that kind of thing, don’t sweat it. you can keep your tweets private and allow only people whom you authorize to follow you and in effect your tweets.

Apart from your own network and other random people, there are many celebrity tweeters out there who are worth following, start with them. Since following anyone on a twitter is fairly unrestricted, you can follow your favorite celeb tweeters and stay in the loop about the latest gossip and happenings in their lives.

Do keep in mind, just because you are following them doesn’t mean they are following you as well. With twitter, the follow could be one-way. But don’t worry,if your tweets are interesting, they’ll soon turn around and start following you!

Give And Ye Shall Receive

Want to mention your fellow tweeter in your tweet? Simply send out a tweet by prefixing his/her user name with a @. You’ll see that the peep’s name is now a link redirecting to their profile. Neat nah? This is a great way for you to mention your friends on twitter and encourage others to mingle with them.

Another way to mention your fellow peeps is by retweeting. Retweeting is similar to the concept of forwarding messages or emails. Retweets are prefixed with a RT followed by the fellow tweeter whose tweet you are retweeting. Its a fun way of spreading jokes, news articles or any interesting material across the twitverse. Retweeting is equivalent to flattery in the Twitter World (hmmm shouldn’t that be Tworld?)

Like something a fellow peep tweeted? You can save it for quick reference by simply making it a favorite. Keep in mind that your favorites, like your tweets, are public.

Talk Back

Want to answer a question someone tweeted? Have some advise for another tweeter? Then reply to their tweets. Replies are similar to mentions. The difference is that a reply begins with the user-name mention and continues with your message.

A reply only appears to those for whom it is meant. However if someone were to visit you profile page, these replies along with the intended recipients are visible to them. So a more secure way of communicating with a fellow tweeter is using the Direct Message (DM) feature. Simply start your tweet with a D followed by the reply message.

Keep It Relevant

A feature of twitter which I find personally very useful is the hash tag. Prefix any word with a # and it becomes a keyword with a hyperlink which can be easily searched. Any and all tweets in the twitverse that contain that particular word can be found by simply clicking on that word in any tweet. This feature is particularly helpful when you are tweeting (either randomly or to fellow tweeters) about a particular topic and want to review all past tweets containing that word.

The hash tag is also used to start trending topics which can be followed and continued by other fellow tweeters. This is very useful when you want to track what people are talking about and keeps you updated on the latest news and trends across the globe.

Voila, it’s as simple as that! Hope this hs been helpful in understanding the way twitter works and has cleared most of the queries that you have about the soc-net site.

So go ahead and create your twitter profiles. Start following interesting tweeps. By the way, my twitter profile name is Aaragorn1984, in case you were considering to follow me!

The next post in the series (may not be the very next post!) will shed some light on the different third party applications that will enrich your twitter experience via media sharing.

Happy Tweeting!

Next in this series – Attack Of the Apps