Bangalore Meetup Report

Did a ribbonfarm meetup in Bangalore last night, the first ever in India. Thanks to Abhishek Agarwal for organizing. I think this is the first meetup I’ve done since the last Refactor Camp in 2019. It was kinda last minute, which is why I only posted on Substack rather than here (some sort of signal there 🤔).

We had a nice mix of people show up: local startup people, corporate tech people (including a transplant from the US and another visiting), and a couple of older people. And rather refreshingly, we spent the entire evening talking about everything except the election. It was the sort of cosmopolitan conversation that might have happened anywhere else in the world, which kinda surprised me, since the India I left in 1997 was a sort of insular world unto itself.

While I’ve been visiting regularly over the last 28 years, it’s been almost exclusively to see family, and I hadn’t really been plugged in to anything else in India, or traveled much beyond the provincial town of Coimbatore where my parents have retired. In a way, this is the first time I’ve done something other than just hang out and travel with family since around 2003, when my parents moved from Bombay to the rather provincial town of Coimbatore to retire. To the extent I have friends left in India, they tend to be in places, like Bombay, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Delhi. I suspect, to the extent I have readers in India, they’re in the same places. One of the reasons I haven’t connected much with readers outside of the US is that I typically only do meetups and things if they happen to line up with business travel or conferences/events. For whatever reasons, I haven’t been able to manufacture these opportunities in India (possibly Indians see through all my bullshit 🤔?).

In another first, I think this is the first time in 17 years of blogging that my Dad finally has a glimmer of understanding of what this disreputable business of “blogging” is all about. He was genuinely surprised that ~20 people I’d never met before were willing to come out randomly to meet me in Bangalore, a city I haven’t been in since 1996. Previously, he only thought this was real to the extent I was able to manufacture Proof of Real in the form of printed books.

Speaking of Proof of Real, apparently I have more books in print than I realized. Abhishek put together his own bootleg personal bootleg editions of two of my ebooks that don’t exist in print and had me autograph them.

This sort of thing has come to my notice a couple of times, and it cracks me up every time that some readers sometimes have more energy to put together print volumes than I do. For large swathes of my writing, they often have better memory of what I have written than I do. Several people mentioned (and asked difficult questions about) essays and twitter threads I’d entirely forgotten I’ve written. Honestly, this is The Way. Blogging is really a way to make other people do your curation and memorialization work for you. Your job is to just produce…raw, poorly edited feedstock.

If you want to throw together personal print versions of any ebook-only volume or any random collection of essays that interests you, and distribute a few to your friends, go right ahead. Modern print-on-demand services make it extremely easy to do, even if you don’t know much about putting books together. Realistically, properly edited and formally published print editions of 99% of my stuff, available to buy on Amazon, ain’t gonna happen. So if you like printed material, consider all my stuff (both here and on the Substack) licensed for non-commercial print use. Do share pictures with me if you do things like this.

This is the sort of thing that makes me think the blogosphere, even in its currently embattled form, is a strictly superior and richer thing to the traditional publishing industry. There is something to be said for keeping the spirit of the open blogosphere going, despite the many temptations and efficiencies of Substackification.

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter

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