This evening we attended the first ever National Bloggers Conference, held at the Regent Plaza in Karachi. According to the sources, this was the very first of its kind gathering of bloggers, in such large capacity and with a recognition from any government, in the whole of South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East.
The event focused on firstly introducing the concept of blogging to aspiring bloggers, and somewhat tilting it toward social responsibility and justified blogging, instead of reckless and carefree blogging. Recognizing the blogging community of Pakistan, the government representatives highly appreciated the contribution of Pakistani bloggers, in portraying the true and patriotic image of Pakistan, which is what we need at this time.
The event was hosted by Ali K Chishti and Rabia Garib, with numerous participants at the events (probably the largest that I’ve seen when it comes to bloggers and blogging). The first speaker was Jehan Ara, who elaborated on how she started blogging about 2-3 years ago, and how it has changed shape and context – from being a personal diary to a host of information for those in the IT sector and those who seek answers from the IT sector too. In The Line of Wire, as the blog is called, also has a web cast edition, available in weekly episodes at the CIO Pakistan WebStudio.
Awab Alvi took the stage later, and he talked about his views on blogging as a medium of free and responsible speech. He’s considered as one of the most controversial blogger, and though has no affiliatons with politics, let’s his heart out and ensures that he points out what he believes is right and wrong, without bias.
Ammar Yasir, the founder of TeaBreak was then called to discuss about what are the trends and how his venture has brought together the aspect of collaboration and expansive communication within the blogging community. He also provided some statistics and facts on how the interests varied among bloggers, and most of them highly concentrated toward patriotism and holding our country in high esteem at all times. True, there are some bad things going on, but where can you find angelic people in any part of any country in the world? Hence, we are the same human beings.
Farhan Chawla also presented his case for blogging, and how he differs from the general trend and goes for reviewing Nokia, S60 and Symbian powered handsets, which has brought him and obviously our country a reason to rejoice. We do have a lot of hidden gems yet to be uncovered, and mind you, the vast majority of them think about the country first, before themselves. Farhan also mentioned how he started with reviews, and how he had been contacted on various occasions by globally reknowned agencies and organizations for his feedback and reviews, and have given him credit for valuable input on various occasions.
Some interesting pictures and photo blogging experiences were shared by Raja Islam, and I must say that he does have the skill and takes out his time to keep his passion and interest alive. Hats off to him, amazing work done. Ramla presented on the Authenticity in Social Media, which is something that we as bloggers and as general writers (including journalists) need to adhere to. The guiding principle is not to publish just about everything, but to see what is in the best interest and greater good of the public. I’m not saying that there should be a Code of Conduct, which honestly would not help much. Considering we are nation that loves to bend and break rules and promises without the slightest flinch, it will just create nothing more than a mess. It should be people themselves distinguishing right from wrong, determining their influence scale, and then air what they feel. Remember what we were taught since childhood: Think before you Speak? That applies straight off.
The hall was filled with participants, though we all wished it was at least a bit more interactive. Considering the idea of blogging, it is purely interaction based, where every one has an opinion to share, and that is the very essence that makes the community quite strong. Hence, a thorough Q&A session was expected, and would have been appreciated. Jehan Ara took the initiative of ensuring that matter of the Electronic Crimes Bill was brought out, since it has many loopholes and is not rightly focused. Dr Farooq Sattar, who is also the Federal Minister with the current government has been requested to champion this matter and have the IT industry’s voice be heard and considered strongly, which in my opinion too is an absolute must.
The event ended with a Hi Tea session, which I’ll be honest goes from bad to worse in most of my experiences. Lately, I haven’t been to a single Hi Tea which has left me with a good after taste in my mouth. So yes, I’m being very critical of the hotel management and catering services, because the food just isn’t good enough any more!