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How blogger meets blogger

Jai Arjun Singh | January 12, 2006

Blog meets are misunderstood things, even within the circuit itself. 'I thought this was supposed to be a virtual activity,' wrote a popular blogger (in half-jest) recently, 'so why all the fuss about meeting up in the real world?'

Then there are the sceptics from Big Media, out to do 'exposÚs'.

In a ludicrous pretence at 'undercover journalism' a few weeks ago, a young tyke from a city supplement participated in a blog meet under a false name and then went back and wrote about how sparsely attended it was. 'There are more blog meets than there are bloggers,' he scoffed, also merrily misquoting many of the things that were said at the gathering.

To be honest, I've been a little ambivalent about these meets myself since I'm not too comfortable meeting more than, say, four or five strangers at once.

Consequently, my first few blog meets (though I didn't really think of them as such) were one-on-ones, typically initiated by a blogger-acquaintance who asked if I was interested in meeting for coffee. These invariably went off well, friendships developed -- and so, when I started going to bigger meets, there were always at least a couple of people around who I knew. Comfort levels rose.

What typically happens at a well-attended blog meet? There can be no one answer to that question, but speaking very generally: at the start, there is some self-consciousness. The bloggers who haven't met before feel obliged to discuss each other's sites, perhaps drop in a compliment or two. The well-known bloggers (the ones with the most traffic on their sites) have to contend in equal measure with effusiveness and light-hearted jibes.

The non-frequent bloggers who have come more out of curiosity than anything else usually leave early with a polite wave at everyone. There is mumbling, snatches of forced humour, uncertain attempts at finding a topic of discussion that everyone can participate in.

But soon enough, everyone settles down and realises that it makes more sense to form their own little groups rather than force a single thread of conversation down everyone's throats.

This is where things get relaxed and what could have been an embarrassing misfire turns into a genuinely engaging forum that brings like-minded people together. So if you're a blogger -- even an irregular one -- don't shy away from the next meet being held in your city. It can be intimidating at first, but chances are it'll grow on you over time.

Tailpiece: Bloggers are sometimes painted as social misfits using the Internet to meet people offline. While admittedly there are all types, the perception that a blog-meeting is a mere extension of chat room hook-ups is an annoying one.

In actual fact, when you've been reading another blogger's writings for weeks or months, you get a good sense of what the person is really like; there is little scope for posturing or pretending to be someone you aren't, as is regularly done in chat rooms.

Bonus: While on funny blogs, don't miss The Dullest Blog in the World, a site that hilariously plays off the common perception of blogs as exercises in navel-gazing.

Jai Arjun Singh, aka Jabberwock, blogs at http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com.


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