Category Archives: Internet

The Kathmandu Post interview: When blogs were Twitter and Facebook

Dinesh Wagle interview with the Kathmandu Post

The Kathmandu Post celebrates its (and Kantipur’s) 21st anniversary today by publishing a 16-page pullout on Nepal’s social media scene. The supplement, titled “Platforms of Change“, explores how Nepalis are using the Internet and its various platforms mainly to express themselves and to connect and share and debate. In the lead article ‘Teleprinter to Twitter’, Editor-in-Chief Akhilesh Upadhyay talks about the impact of technological changes (and a constitutional provision that guaranteed press freedom) in impressive expansion of Nepal’s media.

I was interviewed by the Post’s Weena Pun on my political blogging and journalism days.

Here’s the page as it appeared in the Post (PDF) and the following is the text:

When the then-king Gyanendra imposed his authoritarian rule in February 2005 and later clamped down on all private media outlets in Nepal, United We Blog became the go-to site for delivering uncensored political news. One of the two co-founders behind the blog, Dinesh Wagle, a former journalist with Kantipur daily, quit blogging for the site in 2012, after seven years of running it, but still blogs on his personal site. Wagle talked to the Post’s Weena Pun about his days as a journalist/blogger.

What is United We Blog?

It is a political blog—Nepal’s first—founded on my personal web domain in 2004. Initially it started as a forum to express private feelings and the daily grind lived by journalists and included stories by my friends Ujjwal Acharya and Deepak Adhikari and myself. Later, the site was hosted on blog.com.np and soon became the only uncensored source of political information in Nepal for a while in 2005.

Click on the photo to go to the article

Click on the photo to go to the article for background

Why did you decide to blog?

I was excited by the new medium of expression. In 2004, I had been a journalist with the mainstream media for seven years, and at that time, the new media was still very new in Nepal. Blogs were the ‘social media’ of that time. They provided additional and unlimited space for expressing ourselves, as opposed to limited print and air space of the old media. This ‘limitless’ space was the second reason for me to start a blog.

What has been the difference in your posts before and after the thenking Gyanendra clamped down on freedom of speech?

Before the royal coup in February 2005, our posts were mainly about what we did in our daily lives, whom we met and how we felt about the developments in our not-so-public lives. After Gyanendra imposed restrictions on freedom of expression, our blog posts became more political in nature and were aimed at challenging that stifling atmosphere and advocating for the restoration of democracy in Nepal. For us, freedom of expression and independent journalism became a mission. Soldiers patrolling newsrooms to impose censorship was a strange sight for us, and we expressed our dissent on our blog.

What is the difference between your work as a blogger and as a journalist? Continue reading

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Nepal Telecom’s Improved 3G Service

Nepal Telecom's upgraded network now offers Evolved High Speed Packed Access data service.

Nepal Telecom’s upgraded network now offers Evolved High Speed Packed Access data service.

A week ago I posted an entry expressing my dissatisfaction with the Nokia Lumia 820 phone that I have been using since March. I wrote:

Everything’s fine [with the phone] except the 3G connectivity. Not sure if it’s the Nepal Telecom network (I would like to think so and not blame the phone itself as yet) but I have been unable to use 3G internet service on it.

Now I give clean chit to the phone. It was the faulty network of Nepal Telecom, the operator. Of late, NT has been replacing its old towers (called base transceiver stations) with new, improved ones. The result? My phone now picks up the super fast 3G signal in some areas of Kathmandu where the network upgrade has been effective. The news is that the NT will upgrade its network all over Kathmandu valley within a month: Continue reading

मेरो इन्टरनेटसँगको भेट

my internet experience, by Dinesh Wagle

ठूलो पार्न क्लिके हुन्छ

दिनेश वाग्ले

त्यति प्रस्टसँग होइन तर इन्टरनेटसँगको त्यो पहिलो जम्काभेट म अझै सम्झिन्छु । सन् १९९७ तिर कान्तिपथमा एउटा साइबर क्याफे थियो जहाँ म अन्य दुई साथीसँग पुगेको थिएँ । ब्राउजरमा खोलेको पहिलो साइट याहु.कम थियो र सर्च बाकसमा त्यतिबेला एउटा सिरियल खेलेर चर्चित हलिउड अभिनेत्रीको नाम टाइप गरेका थियौं ।

सामाजिक सञ्जाल अहिले फेसन बने पनि खासमा इन्टरनेट र वल्र्ड वाइड वेब (डब्लूडब्लूडब्लू) को सुरुवातै त्यही अवधारणाबाट भएको थियो- सूचनाको साझेदारी गर्ने र मानिसहरूलाई नजिक्याउने । अमेरिकी वैज्ञानिकहरूले तत्कालीन सोभियत संघसँगको प्रतिस्पर्धामा सन् १९५८ देखि थालेको प्रयासबाट इन्टरनेट मिल्यो जसलाई १९८५ मा बेलायती वैज्ञानिक टिम बर्नर्स लीले आविष्कार गरेको डब्लूडब्लूडब्लूले आम मानिसहरूमा पुर्‍याउन भूमिका खेल्यो । Continue reading

एउटा लामो ट्वीट [a very long tweet]

मेरा एक सय ४० अक्षर- an article about twitter in kantipur

यो लेख आजको कान्तिपुर 'हेल्लो शुक्रबार'मा प्रकाशित भएको हो ।

ठूलो पार्न यहा क्लिके हुन्छ । त्यस्तै आजै प्रकाशित ‘साताका ट्वीट्स

Connected in Kathmandu: Complaints and Compliments

By Dinesh Wagle

Soon after Tihar celebrations were over in Kathmandu last week I was in Thamel with a colleague who was leaving the newspaper for good. As he took his bike to a nearby parking lot I stood a few metres away from the entrance of the Roadhouse Café. I started fiddling with my phone. As soon as I tapped on the email application of the iPhone it caught six WiFi signals in the area.  I was astonished.

Not in Khan Market or Connaught Place in New Delhi (where I have been living for the past two years) have I received so many signals at once. Not in Paharganj, Delhi’s Thamel, the backpacker’s ghetto. Not in Park Street, Kolkata or Colaba, Mumbai. I am aware that it will be a gross injustice to Kathmandu if I compare it with some of the biggest cities in India. Kathmandu has suffered tremendously at the hands of incompetent, quarrelling and power hungry politicians. The overall politics of Nepal has become so disgusting that Kathmandu, the capital, has no option but to cover its face in shame. Kathmandu is a humiliated city. Humiliated by its politicians and lazy bureaucrats who are unwilling to think out of box. On the other hand, Indian cities have prospered under the stability that the relatively functional democracy provides.

Kathmandu connection kathmandu post 14 Nov 2010

Kathmandu Post. 14/11/010

A few days later I was pillion riding on the bike of a colleague in Tinkune. He showed me a few signboards that advertised WiFi connections. One signboard read: “You have entered Subisu WiFi zone.” (Subisu is a cable Internet service provider.) One couldn’t have expected availability of such services in places like Tinkune until recently. Dozens of ISPs have come up in the past several months in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. Despite the bad politics the country has witnessed a silent revolution in telecommunication. We have installed a third generation mobile phone tower on a hill that is not very far from the Everest. Thank you, Ncell. Continue reading

The Twitter World Cup #Football

the twitter world cup kathmandu post

click to enlarge

It feels like everybody in the world is in one room watching the match together.

By Dinesh Wagle

Every World Cup tournament is a watershed in the history of football. With the stunning display of human emotions and talents, the game rejuvenates millions of people around the world. Those who watch the games will talk about that magical goal by that particular superstar for months and years. Those goals or missed chances, in many ways, define that particular World Cup. I am not sure, as of now, what will define the 2010 edition: vuvuzela or Twitter. These are the two things whose association with the game evokes contrasting feelings in me. I dislike the “stadium horn” as much as I like the express-in-140-characters social networking site.

Vuvuzela-blowing spectators are like angry bees and wasps that make the World Cup stadium a giant hive. Some people have liked the trumpet that is apparently an integral part of South African football tradition. Many others have complained that the continuous buzz has ruined their viewing experience. On the third day of the tournament, unable to hold my frustration, I posted my displeasure on Twitter in all caps (the Internet equivalent of screaming): “#FIFA, WILL YOU PLEASE BAN THIS ANNOYING #VUVUZELAINSIDE THE STADIUM RIGHT NOW?”

My friend Mahesh Poudyal (@mpoudyal) who, according to his Twitter bio, is a “good listener, avid reader, lazy writer, enthusiastic photographer, technology/gadget freak, who is also trying to finish a phd in environment and politics” quickly tweeted back from York, UK: “oh, i love #vuvuzelas, great background buzz while i watch the match :)”

This and many other electronic conversations that I have had with many of my friends and strangers on Twitter have greatly enriched my World Cup experience like never before. This is the first World Cup that I am watching all alone in my quiet apartment in New Delhi. This is also the first World Cup to have happened in the age of web 2.0 which turns the whole world into a huge room. Viewers’ reactions on breathtaking dribbling and their excitement created by a stunning goal are shared not just among a handful of persons in a closed room. They are instantly shared with the world, thanks to the wild popularity of sites like Twitter and Facebook.

I started watching the World Cup since 1990. I was in the hostel of a school in Kathmandu, grounded by viral fever yet rejuvenated by football fever, and the world seemed impossibly too big to be connected by a network of computers. I was in another hostel of a different school in the Valley during the 1994 tournament. Two of my classmates and I used to sneak out of the hostel to enjoy the midnight matches at home. The Internet was still far away. By the 1998 tournament, the expensive graphical browsing had arrived at a handful cyber cafés and offices in Kathmandu, but not in individual rooms of the general population. I shared my 2002 World Cup excitement by email, downloaded many photos of my favourite players and match schedules from web sites, and posted comments on some online discussion boards. Four years later, I posted my first World Cup entry (blog) on my interactive web site.

Still, viewing was largely done in a group of friends with occasional collective screams of “gooooooal” or the one that ends in disappointment like “gooooooal… bhayena!” While watching the match, we would talk endlessly about the players’ performance on the field, bet over the result and take sides vehemently to the extent that a certain level of tension and anxiety was created. On most of those occasions, the gatherings of friends were more entertaining than the game itself. Watching the game alone was unimaginable.

And here I am, in the solitude of my apartment, 1,000 km from home, doing that “unimaginable” this year. It would have been impossible for me to watch the games alone had there not been the Internet. With Twitter right in my hand (iPhone) or on my lap (Dell Vostro), the urge to share my excitement is never compromised. In fact, I feel, the sharing over Twitter (or the web in general) is much more informative and effective thanks to the lethal combination of Google, YouTube and news and specialist web sites. Sharing on Twitter isn’t limited to collective screaming (all caps) and expressing your mundane views. It also involves data, expert opinions, video clips of Maradona’s “hand of god” goal and magazine articles.

“I am a traditional #bra Brazil supporter :D. sympathies 4 #prk :D” I tweeted just before the world number one team faced North Korea, the last in the ranking. Along with that thought, I also retweeted a link to a Time magazine article (http://bit.ly/aWcxXE) which was tweeted by @nahsrad with these words: “Go, North Korea!”

Reading our tweets that expressed our support for Brazil, @yowlanku from Kathmandu tweeted to me and @jwalanta: “you on #bra Brazil side too!! :)” Bra, by the way, is the FIFA abbreviation for team Brazil. Twitter, where everything needs to be said in short, has popularised the abbreviation by assigning a cute flag of the country alongside when a hash tag is prefixed.

On the other hand, sensing that I was not rooting for Asian teams like #prk Korea DPR, #kor Korea Republic or #jpn Japan (meaning the two Koreas and Japan), @tajim tweeted to me: “there might be a reason for South not supporting North but we as Asian need to support all Asian Team…”

“I am more for underdogs and poor economies than for regionalism,” I tweeted back.

Then there is this @nepaleeidiot who tweets from somewhere in India about his impressions of the game that are enjoyable to read. Browsing the tweets that are posted as the game is being played in South Africa is quite an experience. One can see how the world is talking while the players are playing.

All these “twitteractions” with friends and strangers about the games during the matches have made me feel that I am no more alone in the room. It feels like the people of the whole world, from York to Delhi to Kathmandu, are in a single room and watching the match together. Everyone sees the same ball, feels the pain experienced by the same injured player and hears the same noise (argh, vuvuzela).

This article first appeared on the op-ed page of today’s Kathmandu Post

A Nepali Death in the age of Twitter and Facebook (RIP #GPK)

Nepal’s top leader dies. Nepalis all over the world react hysterically on the Web.

This blog entry is a supplement to a news report that I wrote in today’s Kantipur titled: निधनको खबरले भरियो फेसबुक [Facebook filled with the news of death (of GPK)]

a nepal death on facebook Girija prasad Koirala dies

click to enlarge ठुलो पार्नेभए क्लिके हुन्छ

When Girija Prasad Koirala was born in 1925 Nepal was a closed society under autocratic oligarchy and secluded from rest of the world. There were no Twitterers and Facebookers in Nepal.

After 86 years, Nepal is now a Federal Democratic Republic with a vibrant and open society that is so much connected to the world that the news of deteriorating health and death of Koirala spread all over the world in an instant via the Internet on Saturday (20 March).

Messages like “Rest in Peace, Girija Prasad Koirala” or its shorter form “RIP GPK” and similar messages in Nepali spread like wildfire all over the web via numerous tweets and Facebook statuses. Some of those messages might have appeared slightly before the iconic leader’s death and certainly a couple of hours ahead of the official announcement by the Nepali Congress party in Kathmandu. That, in a way, reflected the aam janata (common man’s) concern and interest in Koirala’s health and life in general. Koirala died at 12:11 Nepal Standard Time yesterday. Here’s a sample of conversations that took place on Facebook walls (Sanjivan Gautam is a Nepali scholar who is now in Germany): Continue reading

Interesting Nepal related Facebook groups

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

You might want to go through this article titled “Facebook आन्दोलन” in today’s Kantipur for reference. And please, enter your email in the box on the right so that I can send you my future posts in your inbox.

twitter intro of article(source, kind of!)

Facebook is becoming one of the most popular web sites in Nepal. Many Nepalis are using it. This entry, a supplement to an article that I have written on today’s Kantipur, is about interesting groups that are created by Nepali people or are related Nepal.

facebook movement kantipur HF 05Mar10

Click to enlarge (ठुलो पार्न तस्बिरमा क्लिके हुन्छ )

The global popularity of Facebook is suitably reflected in Nepali people’s usage of the social networking site. As it is with users around the world, majority of Nepali Facebookers are youngsters, young professionals and a lot of journalists based primarily based in Kathmandu (and other cities AND at least one in Jumla!). Over the past couple of years I have done a couple of stories about Facebook (and many more mentioning it). Every time a story is published, I receive comments from people who either didn’t know about the site but came to know about it from the story or just joined after reading the story. Actually same thing happens with any other story. Once I was very much into doing stories about Gmail when the service was recently launched or was getting popular in Nepal. Some of my colleagues in the newsroom still think my devotion to Gmail played some role in popularizing it. Continue reading

Of Plastics and Facebook

The Post‘s Delhi correspondent is bemused by the controversy over plastics and discovers Facebook is ideal for keeping in touch with friends back home

Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal
[This article originally appeared on the Op-Ed page of the Kathmandu Post today. See it here as it appeared on the paper. Here is the Nepali version [PDF] of the same article that appeared in today’s Kantipur.]

Plastic bags have become pariahs in Delhi. They are also dominating headlines for all the bad reasons. The government of Delhi completely banned them in January following a court order in August last year. “We shopkeepers are unable to provide plastic bags/carry bags to our customers,” says a Feb. 2 notice pasted on the wall of Sheti Store in my neighbourhood where I buy rice and other goods. “Customers are requested to bring bags themselves.” Plastic bags are blamed for having caused enormous harm to the environment as they are not disposable and, when thrown out on the streets, they usually choke sewage and end up as food for stray animals. Continue reading

Early in the Morning: A Radio Interview and Blogs

Blogmandu: The story of Ratnapark and the debate of men on the street. Read in Nepali.
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Thanks to the CA election I have started waking up early in the morning these days. (Be warned, waking up early is NOT my cup of tea. I rarely see morning tea actually.) It was 6:35 and I hurriedly plugged earphones into my, where else, ears to get the latest on the polls. The KFM 96.1 was reading out news from Kantipur so I quickly pressed 9 on my cell which means I am tuned into the BBC World Service. A BBC reporter was screaming from Philadelphia, he was live commenting on the Democratic presidential debate. As soon as I heard the word Obama, I threw my siraks off (yes, I still use two but one of them always goes out of the bed sometime in the midnight!) and went to the TV. I was disappointed. Since the debate was on ABC, CNN wasn’t broadcasting it. There were two options: go back to bed or open the computer (because there was electricity which has become rare again after the polls). I decided to go for the second one. Thankfully, as I was briefly updating UWB, Anderson Cooper started showing snippets of the debate on CNN. I was little bit sad to know from one of those commentators (including the BBC reporter) that Obama didn’t do very well in the debate. Still I wished him luck. (After all he is the candidate I have proudly endorsed for this election season in the US.)

My original plan was to write an article about the current state of Nepal for an Indian web site. They had requested me and I had emailed them that I would write in two days. So many things are happening so quickly that it’s difficult to focus in one particular topic.

It’s about 3:34 PM and I haven’t started writing the article. Instead, in all these past hours, I was surfing the web and going through many Nepali blogs- many of whom I had never seen before. I was basically looking at Blogspot and WordPress blogs. As I surfed and found new blogs, I became more interested in them. Many of them were Hello-I-Started-Blogging-But-I-Don’t-Think-I-Will-Update kind of blogs that with a couple of posts and then the silence on blogger’s part. Some were very interesting and I read couple of posts on them. But I know how difficult it is to maintain the blog and keep on blogging. It’s been four long years, baby, that I have been blogging (on at least two sites) and it’s freaking challenging to continue writing. Sometime you are excited, sometime you are not; sometime you are fcking tired, sometime you are away from computer. So many factors to take care of!

There is a context for my blogosphere dive. Yesterday morning I was interviewed by Radio Sagarmatha for a program called “Prabidhi” (Technology) and I talked with the host Deepak Aryal for about 10 minutes over the phone about blogging and the trend in Nepal. Though the program was live at 8:30, I had to wake up at 8 to recieve Deepak’s call so that he could be sure that I was alive and ready to talk to him.

I thought no one would listen to the program (in this election season, I thought, who would first tune in to Radio Sagarmatha or listen to a program about technology.) So I hadn’t told anyone about the program in advance. Actually there was no time even if I had wanted to tell- Deepak had called me at around 9:30 PM previous evening.

To my surprise there were listeners, at least two! A member of the interim parliament called me two hours after and started talking about how passionate he was about the technology in general and blogging in particular. He also recalled his blogging foray during the king’s rule as after he was inspired by an article about blogging in Nepal Magazine. Deepak Adhikari had written about him last year (I am not linking!) and that article on UWB, he said, had made him “famous”. Sensing his strong desire to re-start blogging, I suggested him to start with WordPress and post his experience of being a member of the parliament. It would be a nice read, I told him, a parliamentarian’s blogs. We really need some inside stories coming out, uncensored, from the parliament. Unfortunately he didn’t have much time in the parliament. He told me that he lost the election. “I couldn’t give slogans of ethnicity,” he said.

When I came to Kantipur canteen, there was another journalist with KTV who said he heard me in the radio.

There are about two dozen radio stations in Kathmandu valley and I don’t know name of all of them. You can see many radio reporters in many of the press conferences in Kathmandu. I think it’s good to have many radio stations. It’s good for a listener. But is it good for the radio themselves? What’s the population of Kathmandu? How many people listen to radio? Which radio? My guess is that one radio station gets at least around 1000 listeners at any point in time (barring from, lets say, 11 PM to 6 AM).

Immediately after the polling, many FM stations were providing us live updates on the vote counts and that was really cool. I did one story for Kantipur about that phenomenon which also included, for the first time in elections, TVs as well. Many of the reporters, anchors and RJs were inexperienced but they tried their best to provide the information as soon as possible.

Arrreee, where am I going? I started with the morning, went on taking about blogs and jumped to the radios. I just realized that I am damn hungry.

Distantly related blog Meeting Barack Obama: Nepal is a Beautiful Country!