One of the most exciting month end ever, was of this Augusts’. “Kolkata Bloggers” had three different events on the 28th, 29th and the 30th. This 31st August also marks the one year anniversary of “Social Media in Photography”, our first self organised “BIG” event.
The three events were:
a. Data science summit, Kolkata on the 28th August 2015.
b. QnA with Bongpen (Tanmay Mukherjee) on the 29th of August 2015.
c. Bloggers workshop in IIT Kharagpur on the 30th of August 2015.
This blog post is very close to my heart for more reasons than just one. I present to you 9 thoughts from the events, we were a part of and 1 thought, from my personal experience with Senco Gold and Diamonds.
I hope you enjoy reading this. This is long, I understand. You can choose topics and read as well. Whatever you read, please leave a comment for me. Thank you.
Slowly I would be adding photographs to the blog post.
Thought #1: City of Analytics, Kalyani.
In his speech, Ambarish Dasgupta (Head, KPMG) spoke about the technologies of the future that Calcutta should equip itself with. I had previously heard of the city of analytics, Kalyani from the newspaper and from Dr. Amit Mitra during NASSCOM Product Conclave 2015. I am optimistic as Mr. Dasgupta went on to say how proactively the present Bengal government granted 55 acres of land to start with and how overwhelmingly the world is responding to this idea of a township dedicated to analytics.
Previously Dr. Amit Mitra had promised space to NASSCOM for the 1000 startups warehouse. Within months, it materialised and now it hosts a few really exciting startups.
Thought #2: Analytics to seek branding opportunities.
Arindam Som (Global brand director, Unilever) was one of the earlier speakers during the Datascience Summit. His point was very simple – go beyond quantifying results and use the data analytics to better your organisation’s branding. It was an engaging talk and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it.
Branding is primarily how people perceive the person/organisation. It is developed by how the organisation wants to portray itself as, in addition to the user/customer experiences accumulated. To take Kolkata Bloggers’ example – What does the mass think we do? The past seven months we had several clients, are they happy? Do they keep getting back to Kolkata Bloggers to work? So far, mostly – yes. Hopefully the user experience that goes out is a good message, contributing to a good branding. But we need to concentrate on how the mass perceives us. In the last seven months, as the leader, I do not think we could give out the correct message in the crispiest possible manner.
Thought #3: Relevance of Bangla blogging in today’s world.
There was a point in time when people laid their lives not to protect their piece of land or protect their kin. They laid their lives to protect their language which is their identity. Each celebration of the International Mother Language Day, relives that day. From gifting to this nation, its brave hearts, its national song and national anthem to contributing to this world, various scientists whose theories still contribute extensively to the global research. And yes, world cinema. I am proud to be born a Bengali. Not everyone is as blessed.
The second most populated country, one of the youngest countries of the world with the average age being slightly above 28, a country that speaks 1700 languages, an overwhelming majority of whom lack confidence because they do not know English. Apparently only 15% of the Indians know English. This leaves for the Indians, an opportunity to blog in their native language and reach out to more people. Around 65% of the internet usage in India today is by mobile devices and the number is not going to get down any time in the future. The number of mobile devices would only increase with the increase in Indian mobile handset manufacturers like Lava, Micromax. The internet service providers too are decreasing the cost, making it more affordable. But the number of English medium schools is not catching up the pace. Not that there is no will, there is no skill. We require skilled English teachers, which I doubt we have in large numbers. And nothing could possibly ever replace the mother tongue.
I take pride in being a Bengali. I am ashamed in equal measures for not being able to speak Bangla without mixing English words in between. However, I am trying to improve upon this and anytime soon you might see me writing in Bangla.
Thought #4: Bangla Sahityo Utshob. (READ this)
Ok, so there is a big news. Oxford Bookstore (Apeejay Group) and Patra Bharati is organising a Bangla Sahitya Utsav (Bengali Literary Festival) on October 10, 2015. Kolkata Bloggers too is a part of the core organising team. They promise to bring to you the best of Bengali authors, poets, film makers and musicians from both sides of the unfortunate border and discuss their fields of interest. Kolkata Bloggers and at a very personal level, I am heavily enthused and am endorsing it.
If you are interested in the Bangla Sahityo Utsav, please click on this and fill the form: CLICK HERE. We would be sending you important updates via emails. Do ask us if you have any questions as well.
Thought #5: Getting back to Vikramshila, IIT Kgp.
It is no secret that I used to stammer. After my grandmother’s death I hardly spoke. I started speaking publicly in my second year of college life. IIT Kharagpur Spring Fest 2009 was when I took part in an extempore. I was apprehensive but I had nothing to lose, no one there knew me. It was a packed hall and I spoke my heart out. Not that I made sense, not that I know of, but yes, I discovered that I did not really stammer. Soon after I mastered the courage to speak publicly as a blogger-spokesperson of the entrepreneurship cell.
Kolkata Bloggers was approached by IIT Kharagpur Spring Fest 2016 committee for a collaboration and promotion of their events. We agreed to it and proposed the idea of a bloggers workshop. They agreed. It was not a much publicised affair. Around 40 people turned up and 25 continued to remain attentively after 3.5 hours of workshop. It was a good brainstorming session as well. I liked being there.
More because I figured out it was the same V2 of Vikramshila where I spoke during the extempore. This feeling to having got back there, the same stage and speaking again is an inexplicable feeling.
Thought #6: Indian Copyright Act videos & Senco Gold.
Not everything that we do is successful. The videos that we made to promote the Indian Copyright Act 1957 fell flat. However my blogpost which is primarily a long text has more than 720 likes so far and getting me emails from Gurgaon, Kolkata and Mumbai. Happy that people are connecting to me. Sad that there are several malpractices and that people are not very aware of their rights.
There is something to learn about brand behaviour here. Whenever we speak about a better brand behaviour, we speak about replying to customer complaints with grace and dignity, looking into the matter and giving a sense that their grievances are taken care of in a proper way. Mr. Suvankar Sen (Executive Director, Senco Gold and Diamonds) went a step ahead. I would like to tell this story.
Senco Gold organised “Swarna Samman”. Very naturally, the creatives and designs were outsourced. The advertisement maker searched for Soumitro Chatterjee’s photographs over Google and found my blog post. S/he did what s/he thought would go unnoticed – Lift it from my site and use it. I saw the photograph on the streets, somehow got in touch with Mr. Sen.
Now he is not responsible for what had happened. He could have easily washed his hands off it. I expected him to do so. Instead, he was extremely polite and humble. After knowing the entire thing, we wished to meet me. He had been extremely humble and good mannered. I did not take money from him as a compensation. Instead he gave me a five digit sum, a part of which was spent to make the videos to promote awareness of the copyright act. He also gave me the contact details of his lawyer for us to interview him.
The videos were made and Senco shared it from their social media page. I was humbled. It did not stop there. Later when I dropped him a personal message, he replied and humbly as well.
There is something to learn from this person and this entire episode. Humility. The more the education, the better the person is placed in the society, the person needs to be humble, keeping his feet on the ground. Mr. Sen is a perfect example. In the future, if there is an opportunity, I would definitely like to work with him. I’ve never really cared about the money. I might never. I’ve always cared about the people I work with and the quality of work, we deliver.
Thought #7: The perceptions of “Success”.
Well, ok THIS. A lot of people do a lot of things in this city of Calcutta. From 2009, we had these regular social media meetups, photowalks and what not. What are all these contributing to? No, I am not mocking or criticising anyone. I am not eligible to even have an opinion about them perhaps. But a slight introspection might just be required.
a. How are the leaders behaving to the outside world? What is the message that is construed? How is it being perceived? Is that what is desired? Is the leader able to attract younger minds? And more importantly – sustain them?
b. Are everyone just chasing numbers or is anyone focusing on the education aspect of all these affairs. If we are chasing numbers and are hyper-enthused about it, which category of the society is our target and who are actually participating? What is our end goal and is the path we are choosing for ourselves, good enough for it?
c. We all have ideas. A hundred crore people with a hundred thousand crore ideas. In today’s world, if you are one in a lakh, be informed – there is more than a hundred crore people only in India. How many are like you in India alone? Do the mathematics. What matters in reality is the implementation of the ideas, process of execution and the way things are perceived (for the longer run).
d. I see people very boastful about numbers without ensuring quality of the content. At a certain point in time, even I boasted of numbers. But I also ensured education and user/customer experience. That needed to be enhanced to the optimum level. My work was to give in my bests of effort.
a. If it is the photo-walk, the organisers should review the photographs and talk about framing. This is what we did in Kolkata Weekend Shoots. I believe this is what is done in CSFK (Click Start from Kalighat). This needs to be done after the photowalk. Else we cannot help the new comers to learn.
b. If it is a Bloggers meet, we need to see how many are happy about it and speaking about it. In a place like Kolkata where people generally do not spill their hearts out publicly online, we need to see how many faces are regular in the meets and bringing new people into the folds of the system. A high dropout rate might not be a good indication for the organisers.
c. In a workshop, my lookout generally is – how good are the discussions? How many new bloggers did that one particular session generate? How many are getting in touch with me after the event? And in the 6 months span, how many blog consistently. My next step would be to tell them / send them links on how to generate more traffic, better their content etc.
d. As a blogger it feels great as more number of readers come to your blog. Along with the huge quantity, we also need to ensure that the conversion rate is moderately high and relatively higher than the peer group. Else the investors or the corporates might not be interested, unless they aim only branding. Similarweb ranking matters. Winning multiple blogging awards do not matter.
e. There needs to be awareness during any mass gathering, something to take back home, some learning, some education. This is a sustainable model for the longer run.
Thought #8: “Tales to Tell” launch.
This is something big and extremely closer to my heart. From Kolkata Bloggers behalf we conducted a short story writing competition. The best 20 are compiled by BEE Books and then we started hunting for illustrators. The first edition of the book “Tales to tell” would be launched on September 6, 2015. Oxford Bookstore, Park Street. 5:00 PM.
20 new authors. 20 new illustrators. 1 book.
The panellists include Barun Chanda who is a very revered veteran actor, author Nirbed Roy, Oxford Bookstore director Maina Bhagat, Aninda Das who is the communications chief of Infinity Group and Arijit Bhattacharya who owns Virtual infocom.
Every time before, after and during any event I generally tone down my enthusiasm and not create a hype about events, especially if they are organised by Kolkata Bloggers. But this time I might. This is exciting and I would want everyone who is reading this, if at all, to come and be a part of it.
Thought #9: Arjyak, me and IIT Kharagpur.
My first two supposed workshops where I helped younger people around with photography, I did not know how exactly to put across the points. I ended up bull dozing them with everything I could have told them. From the talk at Pratt Memorial, I started understanding the pulse. During my workshop in The Frank Anthony Public School, I gained enough confidence. There I took Arghyadeep Roy, a class 9 student from Calcutta Boys’ School and set him as an example, showcased his works. A lot of young kids were motivated.
I wanted Arjyak to speak in IIT Kharagpur. There are many reasons. The first is – he loves speaking and I love him speaking. He is a brilliant speaker and an able debater. He makes sure he makes sense when he speaks. Else he keeps shut. The second reason is – I want him to conduct the workshop in the American Centre on the 17th of this month. The third is – if students in IIT Kgp sees someone of their age bracket speaking to them showing them, his own blog, they might be motivated.
Arjyak spoke effortlessly. But he did the same thing that I did. And that is perfectly natural. He bulldozed everyone around. He had to say what he had to say and he said it in proper British English – the debater’s way. I was smiling very proudly at the last row. Arjyak is a champ. As the first ever talk of this kind, to open an innings in IIT Kgp is no easy task. He did it effortlessly. At times, we do not know what exactly we should say. Or we have something in mind and we figure out ways to present it.
Like I developed a proper photography basics module for over one year, we need to do something for the bloggers module. Would require many such sittings. We need to make mistakes and need to be forgiven as well. Over a period of time the complete module could be created.
Thought #10: About Photoblogging & PhotoAdda.
To end this blog post on a negative note is not desirable. Let’s see if I can dig something good out from this topic.
We completed one year of “Social Media in Photography” event. 198 people bought tickets and were a part of the event where we tried to promote the use of social media to learn, communicate and promote photography. I had also started “photoadda”, as an initiative. Sometime later, I wanted to close down the Meetup Group (MUG). With Surya moving to Vellore and the rest not ready to tan their skin photowalking, I wasn’t motivated enough. I invested my time to build Kolkata Bloggers.
Photoadda might have fell flat. But groups like cam2ophotowalkers, CSFK have started blogging. Soumya Shankar Ghosal da too started blogging and taking link backs to his blog. Swaroop, Agniprava Nath, Mainak Das, Agnij and a few other enthusiasts who were a part of the event took up photoblogging. Today Swaroop and Agniprava are supported by Tamron lens. I am happy about the entire development. Because the youth is more captivated by cam2ophotowalkers and they do a good job. The slightly elderly lot are enthused about CSFK. CSFK also has 2 members without whom I would not have learnt anything in photography – Arnab Adak and Arka Dutta. Soumya Shankar Ghosal is anyway a magnet. He pulls people towards himself. While one idea could not take off, the impact the event is slowly creating ripples.
So you know, I am happy. Leave for me an honest comment.