Why I’m blogging less

My blog’s been through a number of phases. Between 1996 – 1999, it was just a website with a few facts about my and some of my juvenile ramblings. Inspired by robotwisdom.com, I converted it into a blog – except that I didn’t know what blogging was and just called it “updating my site every day.” It was mostly a link blog.

In 2006, around the time when I moved from Mumbai to London, I reduced my link-blogging and started writing longer articles talking about my experiences. This was a fairly productive phase, and I was churning a few dozen articles every year until 2012.

In the UK, I didn’t know many people, and wasn’t comfortable going out of the way to interact. My blog was the primary means of sharing my thoughts and work.

In 2012, when I moved back to India, that changed. I started speaking at various events. (Some of my talks are recorded.) I’ve been speaking at one or two events every month, which is roughly the volume of blogging I was doing since 2006.

So, effectively, my output medium has changed. Instead of writing, I speak. Correspondingly, my blogging has come down.

How does it feel? Well, on the one hand,  there’s a lot more direct feedback when you’re speaking to an audience. You can interact with them, ask questions, play games – all of which I can do on a blog as well, but this is real-time. When my audience laughs, I steer my talk more towards funny insights. When my audience claps, I steer it towards more impressive techniques. When my audience reacts like dead fish, I switch to Q&A. When my audience is lost in their own conversation, I terminate the talk early.

Effectively, my content is often shaped in real time. And that can be (usually) an exhilarating experience. I used to worry that the talks didn’t have the permanence of blog posts. But like I said, many of them are recorded. I also worried that the audience response would not be permanent, like blog comments. But Twitter fills that void.

For example, yesterday, I was speaking at the Great Indian Developer Summit. Here are the tweets going out as I was speaking.

Kashinath Pai. P.: #GIDS visualising data by Anand »

Naresha: Looking forward for a cool ‘Visualizing Big Data’ presentation from @sanand0 #gids »

ARAVIND CHEKKALURE: #gids watg for a solution in visualizating bigdata..woww »

Raj: Analysis of big data and visualization of big data is very different #gids »

Sundarraj Kaushik: Now to visualize data with Anand at #gids »

Raj: Anand’s session on visualization of big data surly interesting talk of day. I attended previously #gids »

UK Gupta: Another Excitin &Interestin Session “Leveraging #Cloud Services2Build & Integrate Analytics in Ur #IoT Solutions” by @Ragural #IntelDZ #gids »

Siva Narayanan: Doordarshi party is the worst loser in Indian politics #gids »

Siva Narayanan: Very cool viz about Indian Elections from gramener #gids »

ARAVIND CHEKKALURE: Examples for visualiztion that anad took is rally imprazv #gids »

Siva Narayanan: Margin of victory for winner isn’t affected by number of candidates. Affects runner up. #gids »

Goutham G: Enjoyed every bit of information on xls by vinod #GIDS »

Sanaulla: Very interesting facts and presentation by s anand in visualizing big data #gids »

THIYAGARAJAN.R: #gids Hi everyone, Anand session on Data visualization is interesting… happening on Main Hall »

Sanaulla: Visualization helps grasp huge amount of data quite easily #gids »

Vignesh Rajendran: Sanand might be called @NateSilver538 of Indian politics analysis #gids »

45hw1nk5: By far the beat talk so far, visualising data by S Anand from Gramener. #gids »

Rahul Sharma: On the Everest of knowledge with S Anand.. Courtesy – ‘Big Data’ 😀 #gids »

Sundarraj Kaushik: A very pertinent subject visualization of election statistics at #gids. »

Siva Narayanan: UdayKumar has 1600 cases against him #gids »

Rishi Raj Srivastav: Great Indian politics (data) visualization by Anand. #GIDS »

Siva Narayanan: Singh has been most popular last name in Indian elections every time #gids »

ARAVIND CHEKKALURE: Big data visualization is this much easy..like anand speks #gids »

Sundarraj Kaushik: A very colourful presentation without actual mention of big data or visualization. Wonderful presentation at #gids. »

Govind Kanshi: Gujarat, Maharashtra have longest names fighting in elections #gids powerful story as usual by @sanand0 »

Venkat ramanan v: Data visualization at it’s best. #gids »

Kamlesh ®: RT @govindk: Gujarat, Maharashtra have longest names fighting in elections #gids powerful story as usual by @sanand0 »

brntbeer: Talk about last names and regions of India. I’m definitely an outsider! #gids »

Sundarraj Kaushik: Is the dropout of girls the cause of better results of girls. Anand at #gids »

Sanaulla: Best session of the day: visualizing big data #gids »

ujwala: Visualizing big data session is very very interesting. Nicely done. #gids »

Siva Narayanan: Sun sign has a big impact on exam performance #gids »

Venkat ramanan v: Intriguing session on visualization #gids http://t.co/sezeRP48BM »

Siva Narayanan: Almost nobody is born in august in India! #gids People are fudging birth dates. »

Raj: Thanks #saltmartch for invite such a good speaker. #gids »

ujwala: RT @K2_181: Almost nobody is born in august in India! #gids People are fudging birth dates. »

Vinod Srinivas: @greatindiandev #gids #Anand was at his best in his session on #Visualisation »

Kiran Bhat: Lets get people to SEE data #Gramener #gids »

Sonali Patnaik: #GIDS “lets get people to see data” good session @sanand »

Amol Khanapurkar: Easily the best session at #gids for me by S Anand from http://t.co/1lVuBMpPlW »

isha jain: Amazing facts and awesome session on data visualization by Anand… #gids »

Kashinath Pai. P.: Absolutely mind blowing presentation by s anand #GIDS »

Sundarraj Kaushik: Thanks to Anand S for a marvellous and pertinent presentation at #gids 2014 »

Naresha: @sanand0 Those were amazing visualizations of data. One of the best sessions of #gids. »

Amol Khanapurkar: Data visualization can provide insights that no amount of analytic processing can hope to provide. #gids »

Vijay Singh: Session on big data visualisation was a joy ride #gids »

Mrugen Deshmukh: @Gramener Most entertaining talk yet. by S. Anand #gids »

Kashinath Pai. P.: Wonderful work @greatindiandev . inviting @sanand0 was absolutely amazing. #GIDS »

Sachin: That was an really awesome session on big data visualisation.. Had fun… #gids »

ARAVIND CHEKKALURE: Its reLy gd session by anand on visualizatg Bigdata..but never touch any tools and technologis. DisAptD #gids »

Harpreet Singh: Great session by anand Add visualisation to data to make it information #gids »

Raja Guru T: #gids thing of awesomeness visualization of large data. Lovely session by Anand. Way to go Saltmarch. Loving it. »

Raja Guru T: RT @ujwala: Visualizing big data session is very very interesting. Nicely done. #gids »

Prashanth: #gids data visualization session was amazing »

Subhashish Dutta: At #gids today, awesome visualization of some big data in the Indian context by Anand of Gramener. »

Japesh Thyagarajan: An impressive and fun session from Anand on Visualising Big Data, amazing illustration of Election and Education system , Hats off #GIDS »

Raj: I must say visualization of big data best session of #gids »

Apart from being able to preserve comments, I get to hear of this feedback a lot quicker than on a blog.

What I miss, though, is discoverability. When I blog, search engines index the content for anyone to find. I still get relevant comments on 15-year old blog posts. That, I suspect, will not be the case even for recorded talks.

But in any case, I’m afraid I will continue blogging less and speaking more over the course of the next few years. Please bear with me until then!

A utilitarian’s apology

A couple of years ago, my HTC Explorer’s screen died. I bought a Micromax A50. This triggered a series of reactions prompting this post.

I have many defects. Like most men, I can’t tell colours apart – like the difference between pink and purple – and am constantly corrected by my six-year-old. I can’t hear two people at the same time – or even in-between each other. I can’t find things outside of my narrow field of vision. I can’t recognise faces, and need at least three one-on-one interactions before I place people. (If you ask me “Do you recognise me?” and I say “Yes, of course!”, I’m usually lying.) I can’t place voices on the phone. My memory is terrible – my wife’s learnt to make me write errands on my laptop. I cannot identify cars – in fact, I couldn’t drive until recently.

I also lack a fashion sense, despite being a keen student of design. I can understand rules of thumb, like how large line heights should be, or why high saturation colours are jarring. I can even give passable judgement on the quality of clothing.

The trouble is, I don’t see much value in it. I’m a utilitarian.

This post is an apology from all utilitarians like me. We’re sorry – we just don’t see the the point of a Mont Blanc pen or a Cartier watch. Our Bic pens and digital watches work just as well. We’re not saying you shouldn’t buy them. It’s just that we don’t understand why you would.

This is not an argument against expensive items. I bought the iPod and loved it. Same with the iPhone 4. I have two iPads. I’m fairly picky about the earphones I buy. The thing is, the reason I buy these is because there’s a value that matches the price. Where I don’t see the value, that’s just throwing money away.

So that’s why I travel in buses or autos. I can work on my laptop while someone else drives. That’s why I walk or climb stairs. I get to lose weight without wasting time at a gym. That’s why I don’t wear a watch and don’t subscribe to newspapers or TV.

For my non-utilitarian friends out there, this is from us utilitarians. Please forgive us. We don’t see the value.