Self taught lessons in publishing for the web

Of the many first-impression reactions I received from friends, acquaintances and even total strangers, many commented on the presentation aspects of this blog. The writing, I understand is not everybody’s cup of tea. I was pleased to receive positive feedback on the presentation because over many years I have been drawn towards the many intriguing aspects of publishing. Perusing typefaces endlessly, studying character spacing, word spacing, line spacing and paragraph spacing. I also had a weak spot for publications that lay out it’s text and images on sublime background colours and images, creating just the perfect contrast that makes it both eye catching as well as readable. Some of the better one’s like Wired had a spread that could match even the best buffet layout in getting the drool going. So, when I decided to publish my blog it was only natural that the layout be satisfying to the senses.

Publishing for the web has it’s own challenges. It’s ironic that the very same technology that enabled mass adoption of many unique publishing techniques for the print are unavailable for web publishing. The reasoning is easy to follow if you know the history of web; but that history is monstrously complex for me to attempt and simplify at the moment. The availability of fonts are limited; the best options among the serif types are Times New Roman and Georgia. Among sans-serif it’s Arial and Helvetica. Without the proper sizing and background some fonts come out looking disturbingly anorexic. And if you would like to layout the text so that it flows around the outline of an image of Coke bottle the challenges are just too much to even make it worthwhile. That is why the creative talent at most magazines find their product’s online avatar embarrassing, and rightly so.

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Saina, media and their first tiff

Saina Nehwal, the undisputed darling of Indian media since last year has been rudely jolted out of her innocence. The flight of fame which the media was piloting her on has experienced it’s first turbulence. Her ability to stay away from the journalists, focus on her sport and keep her targets in sight have all been disturbed.

Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal.

In an innocuous interview on the sidelines of an event at her mentor’s badminton academy she stated the following:

\"Looking at the stadiums and looking at the progress, I don’t really think we are capable of holding such big tournaments because you know, I have seen many Games like the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne (in 2006) and Olympic Games in Beijing (in 2008). Compared to that it’s not upto the mark.

But I am sure that before 3rd or 2nd of October it will be ready and people will like it. But with the comparison of these Games seems not upto the mark."

The second part of her statement where she expresses hope about the Games being a success was considered not newsworthy. Reading at the screaming headlines one would be lead to believe that Saina was being disloyal to the organization who chose her as their ambassador. Pitting Saina against the CWG team in a cat fight and cheering from the sidelines for subsequent newsworthy nuggets to fall out seems to be the only motive behind this edition of the media’s circus act.

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उघड दार देवा (ughad daar deva)

It’s impossible to have imagined someone growing up in India without having heard a devotional song as a child. For most infants this is the first sound of music they would have ever heard in their fresh and constantly fascinating world. Most devotional music of India are composed either entirely in Indian classical – with it’s many flavours – or at the very least with a heavy foundation of classical. Qawallis and a few other types of devotional songs are the exceptions where their appeal lies more in their lyrics and rendition than it’s musical composition.

The singular devotional song that caught my attention at an early age and continues to permeate tranquillity all around whenever played is a particular one in Marathi, ‘Ughad daar deva’, quite literally meaning, open the door dear God.

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ഒരേ കടല്‍ (Ore kadal) – Seamless ocean.

Shyamaprasad’s vision, and execution, of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s original novel (name not credited in movie) is a triumph in story telling on celluloid. A very complex yet simultaneously basic notion of personal choices that one consciously makes in the quest for one’s place and purpose in the universal consciousness is told in the most beautiful manner.

Ore Kadal Poster
Ore Kadal – publicity shot.

The narrative opens by revealing three characters who have already chosen their ways of life and are comfortable in their choices. Nathan, a successful economic philosopher with a trade in academia good enough to support his two other indulgences – fine liquor and female companionship. Deepti is an urban middle class housewife with a devoted and conscientious husband, committed to providing a secure domestic household for his family. Deepti is pretty and alluring in her innocence. Bela is Nathan’s female companion of choice. She owns and manages a pub which Nathan frequents.

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