Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review : Interactive Communication through News-Sites

Title : Interactive Communication through News-sites
Author : Sheetal Thapar
Publisher : Unistar Books
ISBN : 978-93-5113-185-4

Sheetal Thapar, an Associate Professor of Journalism in Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana writes about the term 'mediamorphosis' which has been greatly influential in bringing about metamorphosis in economy, society, governance and technology at a much larger scale.
The book talks extensively on interactivity in online journalism and how various news-sites are managing to tap the potential that interactivity brings in this field.

Riding on the advancements in the field of Information and Technology, the communication in all forms has witnessed a big shift and so has journalism. Journalism of current times is quite different from its ancestors of yesteryears when the only option possible was one way information dissemination. Times changed and technology advanced at a much accelerated pace over these years. Interactivity in journalism began to assume more and more prominence. A single term interactivity can take many connotations ranging from gathering opinions, inviting feedback to understanding preferences of news readers. Hence, the news media which once epitomized the concept of 'massification' is working towards becoming more 'individuation' to suit various requirements. The individuation brings in the customization and personalization of news-sites. Sheetal talks about the two terms - customization and personalization which are often interchangeably used. 'With customization, the user is active, choosing the content, features and functionality he or she wants from a website ( With personalization, the user is passive. The provider infers or asks broadly what each user wants and chooses each user's content, features and functionality accordingly. '

Multiple feedback channels are now on offer so that the news providers are better equipped to guage the response and evaluation by the news-consumers. This is a significant step to ensure healthy interactivity. Email, live chat, internet forums, online polls, surveys, blogs, news ticker, guestbook, hyperlinks, search tools, video facility, audio facility, RSS feed, E-paper, Wireless paper are some of the umpteen options of interactivity that are put forth by the news sites for the users to choose from.

The comparison between traditional media to digital media is talked about by highlighting the effectiveness of hypertextuality vs earlier linear narration of news. The new age mediamorphosis has made online journalism a very effective form of interactive journalism thereby empowering the news-consumers to contribute as creators of content as well. Online journalism has made participatory journalism a practical reality and Sheetal rightly points out - 'With respect to the mounting need for democratizarion, the internet promises a great potential especially for the developing world. Interactive online journalism can provide citizens with opportunities to have a voice in the fortification of a democracy.'

A comparative study on US and Indian news sites is the topic of one of the chapters. Supported by detailed research and data, this chapter brings home the point that Indian news-sites are still in their evolutionary state in allowing aurdience participation in comparison to the level of participatory communication that US news sites support. A good number of sample news-sites are enlisted and are commented upon, including some Indian and some non-Indian news sites. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review : Dare to Run

Title : Dare to Run
Author : Amit Sheth
Publisher : Sanjay Publisher
ISBN : 9789380392127

Amit and Neepa Sheth, the husband-wife duo took up running in their later 30s. In 'Dare to Run', Amit takes us through his journey from being a typical couch-potato to the one who made it to the finish line of the Ultimate Human Race - the 89 km Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa. It is a story of dreaming big and making those dreams a reality by sheer determination and perseverance. With that kind of focus and hard work, nothing seems impossible and Amit's life is a live example of the same.

In his own words, 'I loved all sports as long as I was watching them on television with a glass of beer in my hand!' While watching 2005 Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon sitting cozily on his favourite couch, the festivities of the occasion enticed him to make a resolution that he would be a part of this festive atmosphere the following year. But the resolution slipped out of his mind almost the same day, to be revived after over six months and that was the time when he openly confessed his desire to his family. 

The first 200 m jog on the beach in Mumbai gave him a fair idea of the arduous task that he had committed himself to. But he followed the path that he had chosen and did it relentlessly. Dare to Run chronicles five years of the incredible journey that Amit undertook passionately and which eventually turned out to be a sojourn of tenacity, courage, discipline, self-belief and self realization. As one reads through the book, one realises how a strong drive to achieve something makes everything else fall in place and brings perspective in life. Once having made a beginning Amit kept on running to cover many milestones and conquer many finishing lines, however, this turns out to be a journey within himself. He had the privilege of having a great partner as Neepa Sheth in life and in running and throughout the narrative he talks about her strong, positive and encouraging presence by his side always. Amit brings in his poetic and philosophical flare of writing as he talks about time management, training regimen, injuries, failures and successes.

Dare to Run is much more than a book dedicated to running. Whether one is a beginner or a seasoned player in any discipline or field, Dare to Run is a great inspirational book to read. It motivates you to push the limits and watch the bigger and wider vistas opening in front of you.


I have been a completely non-runner and a non-sports person all my life and in fact, I had reached a point where I used to revel in the glory of being a non-physical person. I remember getting a stray mail in my inbox sometime in Feb last year(2012)  about a marathon that is going to happen in the city two months (14th April) from then. I don't know what, but something clicked inside me that day which motivated me to register for that marathon though the shortest version(5k) of the same. I started my training from 14th Feb. Initially I could barely walk 2 km which I gradually increased but I had to test myself on running. I started with 200m run but my legs, especially the knees did not take it too well. The excruciating pain kept getting worse every time I ran or even walked. But I had committed already and I was not ready to give up. I kept working on physical as well as mental training for two months and sure enough I was there at the starting line on 14th April and I completed the 5k distance in 36 min with 70% running and 30% walking.

I must extend my thanks to a co-blogger Abhinav Bachcha who is a player, a runner, a reader, a reviewer, and a great motivator. He helped me chalk out a training regimen for those two months. I read many books by great runners during that time including - Dare to Run and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I strongly believe that these books do help in giving a fillip to one's efforts especially when not everything is going great guns. 
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