2014 reflections:My blog in retrospective

Hola! We are in the first week of January 2015. The day seems appropriate to reflect on not just the year that passed by, but also this blog and thereby my life. My agenda for this post follows my perspective. I like to gaze the skies before grazing the valleys.

Gazing the skies
When I started my blog in 2007, under the title, "Ruminations of an enchanted soul", it was just another quiet lane where I gathered few pebbles of thoughts for display. Armed with nothing but an amateur's passion for writing and my naive sense of aesthetics, I wrote my darnedest in the earnest hope that few friends would find the alley inviting enough to play or at least stroll around in their private moments of leisure.

My blog re-birthed itself in 2010, under the new, seemingly narcissistic title Venkinesis, after I understood (or thought I understood) the power of the Web. I was determined to build my home in the world of bits, rallying to the passionate cri de coeur of the Internet evangelists to destroy life-sucking hierarchical institutions of the past. 

Enchanted by how the blogging medium mirrored the fluid nature of human perceptions, my blog served two functions, firstly as a chronicle of my perceptions and thoughts as they found expression and secondly as a witness to the kinesis, the movement that unfolds the shift in perceptions over time.     

Little did I know then that I was fooling around under the pretense of personal branding, conniving others (and myself) that I was building my home, while I was busy creating a ravenous self-identity, gobbling down the cake made from the virtual crumbs of my own digital footprint. 

It took my immune system the threat of virtual self-annihilation to purge out this gluttonous self reeking with the stench of the stale breadcrumbs and out-dated perspectives. This painful process for its due worth helped me rediscover the meaning of blogging: An intensely personal activity of mental hygiene necessary to clear the cob-webs off one's thinking head.

Today, with a clearer purpose of blogging, I have the luxury of trying out different masks without any fear of them eating my face. Despite living in the age of "publish or perish", I can afford to play around with all seriousness, rest assured that I am not the content I publish.

Grazing the valleys 
2014 turned out to be very special as it helped me define a simple yet concise description of my work in the networked world. If what I do today can be summarized in five words, without sounding reductive, it has to be this - build context and craft narratives.

This description will mean nothing to you if you haven't invested before on the meaning of the words- context and narratives.  These words can mean different things to different people and, perhaps, it is to these words' credit for carrying a panorama of meaning - right from the mundane to the profound -so lightly on their sleeves.

Of the two, I spent more time on narratives this year. I presented a whitepaper on "The Return of Narratives" at a Big Data conference, arguing that in a world awash with data, narratives would play a critical role in providing the dynamic contexts by which we would make sense of the data we would breathe in the near future. (I presented its implications for analytics professionals here.)

In a nutshell, I attempted to draw out the cyclical process in which context not only finds expression through narratives, but also feeds off its energies and discovers newer trajectories. Of course, I haven't completely sketched out the details and will continue to explore it further this year to seek more clarity.     

Using Bill Stor's meditation on life narratives as an anchor, I also tried to showcase how karma narratives play ponzi schemes inside our minds as we reason to ourselves the unfavorable events which unfold beyond human control. 

Apart from this, I also took time for some excursions of inquiry into the process of knowing in the networked world. As a consultant - somebody who sells his knowledge for a living- I felt it was necessary to examine whether we need to rewire or reclaim our knowing process in today's age of information abundance. Set in the form of a fable, it was one of my favorite posts of the year. 

Later during the year, with great trepidation, I went out of my comfort zone and wrote a provocative piece about what I felt about the MBA humbug business. What I learned in that exercise ( as I have articulated before) were two things.

1) To provoke the readers over an emotive issue and offer grounded perspectives as an antidote is not really such a bad idea

2) The tighter you tether a problem with an emotion, the stronger you allow the readers to respond with empathy and enthusiasm.

Despite the warm response I received to the article, I remain skeptical of using it again until thoughts find no other recourse other than using the tools of provocation. 

During the last month of 2014, I got an opportunity to revisit the relationship between context and narratives through a workshop session I did on Storytelling & Narratives for the Hyderabad's blogging community. In that session, I attempted to distill my seven years of blogging experience and also address few questions which intrigued me. Some of them were,

1) Why do facts come and go while stories stay forever?
2) Can blogging be used for self-exploration?

Although the slides have been put up( you can find them here) , I am looking at writing a detailed post delving into this soon. 

Here is a round-up of few miscellaneous posts which eluded what I've covered so far.

1) Communities Vs Social Networks -  After getting frustrated over reading a overly simplistic view on social networks, I tried to sketch out the differences between the two ancient social structures from the standpoint of the dynamics of the relationships. 

2) Into the Yagna of Modernity- Deeply moved by Svaha, a short movie I found on the web, I wrote a short commentary on this beautiful elegy to the eternal Brahmin traditions, pondering over my relationship with tradition. 

3) Hashtags as Social Networks Exploring hashtags as contextual frames. This was my first attempt to write one-shot blog posts in one sitting, after I came across the hashtag messaging start-up Kik

To sum up, although my writing output was very meager, I am happy with the momentum that has been built and the seeds that were sown. I suppose, It will be fun harvesting them and get busy planting new seeds. Wish you all a happy new year!