I have been around in the Desi Blogsphere for about 4 months now, since my new year’s resolution to pick up a leisure activity that can keep me from getting crazy when research is not going so well (Ok, I started doing this in November, but what is a couple of months in a life time?). Much to my surprise, it has been exactly like the “real world” in many ways. And the surprise is largely because I did not know what to expect, but found out that it was something very familiar in the end.
Just like when you step into a new community (say, people doing theoretical physics research) in the real world, you don’t know anybody. First you acquire the knowledge of who the famous people are, for example Ed Witten if you are talking about theoretical particle physics or Amit Varma if you are talking about the blogsphere. Then, you try to make acquaintances with the people that are already in the community, in the case at hand by reading what they have to say and commenting on their thoughts. Some acquaintances stick, either because you keep going back for more and/or they reciprocate by evincing an interest in what you have to say. And others don’t. And as in the real world, the probability that an acquaintance sticks is directly proportional to how much of your life experience is the same as theirs and how much you respect the person’s thoughts and how well the respect is reciprocated.
I am finding many similarities between my experiences in the Blogsphere to my experiences when I was starting out as a grad student in theoretical physics. I am a novice here just like I was a novice in physics. I don’t know what tags are and am unable to figure out the Technorati thing. I don’t know about RSS and Atom feeds and still read blogs the old fashioned way, by actually going to people’s pages. Most of Web 2.0 befuddles me. For heaven’s sake, I am not even able to embed a video in my blog that I uploaded into youtube several weeks ago! I like to write and read and that is the only thing that brought me here, just like I like thinking about, formulating mathematically and solving physics problems and that is the only thing that brought me to physics. But in physics I had an advisor who helped me a little with some of the other technical things and the rest kind of worked out on its own. And this blogsphere thing being a hobby and me being the extremely lazy bum that I am, I am just hoping that things work out here on their own as well.
I could go on and on about similarities, the Indibloggies being the Oliver Buckley prize in physics (that makes Falstaff and Greatbong this year’s Steve Girvin and Allan MacDonald) and the Bloggies being the Nobel (and that makes PostSecret the guys behind COBE) and so on and so forth. But, let me get back to what I was saying earlier and to the choice of title for this post. As in my real world, I have not made that many acquaintances. And all of them are in the “I know them but I don’t think they know me” stage. And 4 months is too short a time for me to able to see if any of them are going to stick. But the reason I started writing this little note is that I felt a new (for me, the novice) “emotion” in the blogsphere yesterday. The real world analogue of this is called “Love at first sight”. The object of this “emotion” was PrimalSoup. But this is rather inevitable in this case. How could I not fall in love with someone whose domain name is that of Rhett Butler’s darling daughter, whose screen name is PrimalSoup (I wonder if she was thinking about the carbon-sulfur dominated pre life era of the earth that Carl Sagan tried to reproduce in his lab in Cornell or the quarks-leptons mixture that was our early Universe? In either case, I loved it), who is a Madrasi living in the