Can We Make Newspaper Articles Shareable & Trackable

While reading an article in today’s ET Brand Equity, I felt like I had to share it with my friends, maybe put it up on LinkedIn with a comment of my own. The thing is, I was reading it on the paper, not the app or the website. And being the lazy person that I am, I would not usually go looking for this article on either of those two, just for sharing it.

But I did want to share this article with my friends, and I looked for ways to do so.
Can We Make Newspaper Articles Shareable & Trackable

Apart from the author’s email address, I could not find anything to go by.

This puts the physical paper and its reader at a disadvantage compared to the app/site & their reader.

The Obvious Way

One obvious way out is to take a picture of the said article, and WhatsApp it to the relevant people. Or tweet it, or share it on Facebook or LinkedIn.

I would have to overcome the hassles of getting a clear picture, each word being clearly captured, the lighting being right, the paper not flying away due to the fan yada yada. At the same time, there is an obvious opportunity that the newspaper company is missing here – in this method they would not know who all has read this piece of content, or even how many people it has reached.

In this day and age of tracking user attention and retargetting, don’t you think that’s a big piece all physical newspapers and magazines are missing out on?

Go Digital

So, I have a proposal for paper publications, who also have a website and/or an app where the same content is published.

Why not simply print the QR code to the link of the content at the beginning or end of the piece?

I got off my lazy behind, and found out what the online home for this particular article is:

A simple QR code leading to this article looks like this:
QR to ET article

But this would take some space to print, wouldn’t it?

This is where a URL shortener service like comes in handy. Not only can the URL be shortened to something like 20-25 characters, they provide tracking data as well. This is how a version of the same link looks:
QR to to ET article

And a crude representation of how it could look on the same article:
Can We Make Newspaper Articles Shareable & Trackable
It doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it is scannable – try it out!

I am sure the designers at these papers would find a way to make it look way more attractive than this.

With this small addition to every piece of content in a paper, I am sure sharing and adoption of the online versions would also take off. Meanwhile, knowing that I can share content I would definitely be more open to reading the physical paper, since reading something like Brand Equity is not only driven by updating my knowledge about the industry, but also about finding shareable content for this blog and my LinkedIn feed.

Long Due Update

I’m sorry I’ve not been writing for quite some time now. But I hope you enjoy the pictures and the wallpapers 🙂

In the past few months, life has changed. A bit.

I’m working for myself now. And I’m happier doing it.

You’d have seen the post about the Big Wheels Motoring website design. Apart from that I’ve worked with a design agency in Pune run by very dear friends of mine, on a website for a NGO. And the most exciting thing right now is another project with the same agency, this time for another friend. You shall see the result in a couple of weeks.

And, I am hell-bent on getting another personal web project out this time. Wish me luck!

Proof again?

Disclaimer: The picture in this post is not clicked by me. I found it on the National Geographic site with the article which this post talks about. Thanks.

“A routine trip to the water hole recently resulted in a life-or-death struggle for a pair of African elephants when they were ambushed by a hungry Nile crocodile…”, says the National Geographic Daily News page.

Elephant vs Alligator fight (Photograph courtesy National Geographic)Poor NatGeo. They don’t know that this is not the real story. Wait till India TV and Aajtak get their hands on this gem. They will value-add to it in a way that even NatGeo’s CEO would not have thought. Ofcourse this incident is a reenactment of the legendary Gaj-Grah (Elephant-Crocodile) fight from the Bhagvat Puran, where Vishnu comes running barefoot to save his devotee the elephant from the evil crocodile. Just that this time Vishnu was not needed – but that’s how things work in Kaliyug – God works in mysterious ways and thus He does not need to be physically present. The elephant must have been given the idea of running away by God himself and thus indirectly he has been blessed by His intervention.

And this again is irrevocable proof of the truth of the Bhagvat Puran – the incident just repeated itself dinnit?

Does all this sound looney to you o skeptic? Go see this proof story then.

Savita Bhabhi banned

The Indian government has banned Savita Bhabhi. When you read through the article, look at the following lines:

One of them, Bangalore-based N. Vijayashankar, who describes himself as a “techno-legal information security consultant”, waged a sustained campaign against Savitabhabhi, complaining to the government’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) as well as the Director General of Police in Karnataka in October last year.

And then

“Cartoons are a more participative medium. Videos don’t do as much damage. When a child is watching a cartoon, he imagines himself as the character. This has a deeply corrupting influence on our youngsters. This, apart from the fact that an Indian name was being used in such an obscene cartoon, is what led me to make the complaint,” Vijayashankar said. “A child will see a Savitabhabhi among his relatives.”

So apparently, videos don’t do as much damage as cartoons would do. Which is why kids watching pianos falling on cats in cartoon strips go around dropping pianos on cats, while kids jumping off tall buildings because their (non-cartoon) superhero does that on television is a problem that does not exist.

I don’t understand how anyone would imagine himself to be a character in a still cartoon frame, but will not in a live video containing real human beings.

But the best part is that Vijayashankar is upset because Savita Bhabhi has an Indian name. What if her name was Susan Bhabhi, or Cindy Bhabhi? I guess that would have been okay. I shudder to think what the reactions would be if her name was Shakeela Bhabhi.

And then the icing on the cake is the argument that the child will see a Savita Bhabhi amongst his relatives!

Funny part:

When asked if there was any scientific basis to his thesis that pornographic cartoons did more damage to young people than pornographic videos, he said that was his own psychological interpretation. (Vijayashankar has no training in psychology.)

Don’t you think Vijayashankar should also wage a sustained campaign against Kamasutra and getting it banned in India. How could they show lewd graphical sexual content and package it with an Indian sounding name? He should travel back in time and sue the creators of Kamasutra for corrupting the minds of Indian children.

Even more hilarious is the observation I read elsewhere, that the “concerned parents” who have complained against Savita Bhabhi, would rather go to all these government bodies and get the site banned, but are not aware or are too lazy to use cybernanny software on their computers so that their children are not able to access any kind of porn, not just Savita Bhabhi. Such faith on the system! And the administration, which otherwise is superslow in matters like providing us with roads, water and electricity, takes instant action on such complaints.

Any chance that these are the same kind of people who would advocate banning jeans in colleges to prevent rapes? See the double standards?

Dress control

UP colleges to ban jeans, set dress code. The people behind this think this will help ‘strengthen discipline’ and check display of ‘indecent clothes’ worn by some of the college students.

If some students are wearing indecent clothes, you can outlaw indecent clothing. Why target jeans – which covers legs? How does jeans become ‘indecent clothing’? Is it because men get dirty thoughts when they see a girl wearing jeans? Some people get more turned on by seeing a woman dressed in saree. So would they demand that women not be allowed to wear sarees?

The other argument is that this will prevent rapes from happening. So this puts the blame for rape on the women themselves – dress stylishly and we will rape you. Oh wait, we won’t rape you, but somebody else will, and I would not bother with controlling that other person. We would rather control the women and how they dress.

Not much different from the approach religious authorities take towards women – dress modestly, and you will be saved from being raped.

On the other hand, Nicholas Sarkozy’s stand of banning burkhas in France is also a similar decision, though in the other direction. When will the people in power give up the illusion that they can and need to dictate what choices people can make in their own personal space? Why can’t the principals of UP understand that the problems of eve-teasing and rapes etc is a product of a sick mentality arising out of too much control and why can’t Sarkozy treat the burkha as another piece of clothing, and respect the choice of women who want to wear it without coercion?

Religion vs Consumerism

Came across this news item today.


Christopher Jamison, the Abbot of Worth in West Sussex, has accused the corporation of “exploiting spirituality” to sell its products and of turning Disneyland into a modern day pilgrimage site.


While he acknowledges that Disney stories carry messages showing good triumphing over evil, he argues this is part of a ploy to persuade people that they should buy Disney products in order to be “a good and happy family”.

He cites films such as Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians that feature moral battles, but get into children’s imaginations and make them greedy for the merchandise that goes with them.

“The message behind every movie and book, behind every theme park and T-shirt is that our children’s world needs Disney,” he says.

“So they absolutely must go to see the next Disney movie, which we’ll also want to give them on DVD as a birthday present.

“They will be happier if they live the full Disney experience; and thousands of families around the world buy into this deeper message as they flock to Disneyland.”


“Celebrity news magazines do no apparent external harm, but are a complete waste of interior time and space.

“Envy tells us to stop facing the challenges of the present life and to live in some future fantasy. Such envy drives a large part of our consumer culture.”

So religion is not happy that consumerism is taking its place. It’s like an open PR exercise where you criticise your competition of doing exactly what you have been doing.

If you see the irony of the whole episode, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this strip.

Blah blah?

You’ve seen the Headlines Today ‘blah’ ad, right? The one where they imitate other news channel shows with the people saying “blah blah…” ad inifinitum, implying that other ‘typical’ news channels of the day are doing nothing but blabbering on about nothing in particular, and then that Headlines Today is the refreshing channel which does not give you blah but substance?

Now can you tell me the number one blah news item of the season? Ofcourse it’s the mighty WWE warrior Khali! World’s envy India’s pride, if I may borrow the line from Onida.

So what was the self-proclaimed blah-free channel doing, showing us a story about how Khali gave some Indian gifts to his opponent The Big Show, had dancers doing Bhangra in the ring and all that jazz to become friends with his opponent, and then how The Big Show hit him instead of being friendly, and then how Khali fell down senseless after just one blow?

Now what was the poor white man supposed to do in a wrestling ring? Hug his opponent and call off the fight, because they have become best buddies?

But I’m digressing. The real question is, if you want your target audience to believe your claim that you are a non-blah channel, then why is a blah item featuring on your waves?

Job Reservations for Locals? WTF?

Ok, so I am irreligious and apolitical. Which means that I have strong opinions against religions and their infights, and political ideologies and their mutual discrepancies. And though I am fairly vocal about the former online, I seldom write about the latter. Today I shall. This post is about political events, but please remember that my stand is not political at all.

While talking to friends during tea today, I heard about this news item (forgive me for not being a newspaper or news-in-general addict). Have you read what it says? Okay then.

When these leaders were saying that immigrants to Mumbai should not be allowed in any more because the infrastructure cannot bear the load of any more people, it was still making a little bit of sense. But reservations for localites? Are we really going back to Nazi ideals, the democratic-loophole way?

I remember a few weeks back Mr. Raj Thackeray had issued a statement that the other political leaders were not concerned with Biharis being killed in the North-East, because they are only concerned about money-pur (Mumbai) – the city of riches. The whole thing is wrong on so many levels – one is that just because people of a certain ethnicity are being harassed in some other part of the world gives anyone NO RIGHT to do the same to people of that ethnicity here. And then point to that other area and say “if you guys aren’t bothered with what’s happening there, why bother with what we’re doing to you?”. In what way are the MNS people better off than the terrorists of the North-East then?

The leaders of this ideology want to pressurize companies in to placing region-based reservation on jobs. Are you out of your mind sir? You’re asking private companies to place reservations based on region, when they have not agreed to reservation based on caste & religion?

The funny thing I noticed is that the Thackerays have issues only with the working class and some celebrities. They do not seem to have trouble with the Ambanis, who are not Marathis. They do not have trouble with the Mumbai offices of the MNCs, whose executives are not even Indians, let alone Marathis. Are they against IAS, IPS and IFS posted in Maharashtra belonging to Bihar & UP as well? They do not have problems with Infosys offices (the Bangalore giant; is Mr. Narayan Murthy a Marathi maanus?). Are they not selectively targetting the money-less populace? The powerless junta? And in case of the celebrities, the people whose fame is not directly giving riches or employment to the localites?

Is not the MNS and Thackeray crusade against non-Marathis also biased, coloured and influenced by matters of money?

If Mumbai is being overburdened by the people moving in, why single out the people from Bihar & UP alone? Why not also ask the Tamilians, the Kannadigas, the Bengalis, the Punjabis, the Gujaratis, the Marwaris to stay out as well? More importantly, why not ask the Maharashtrians whose village is not in Mumbai itself stay out and stay in their own villages? If Bihar should develop a city like Mumbai, then shouldn’t east Maharashtra develop another city like Mumbai also so that the natives of that area do not have to emigrate westward and burden the city? Is Mumbai being burdened selectively only because of people of a certain ethnicity, and not by the thousands of non-Mumbaikar Maharashtrians moving in every day? Oh, they ‘own’ the city, is it? Since when has a state’s borders become more important than our country’s? Does the Constitution not give every citizen the right to move, stay, work in any part of the country as he or she deems fit, and that no one has the right to prevent him or her from doing so?

And if you agree with me that in case of Mumbai being overburdened, even Maharashtrians from outside Mumbai should be prevented from coming in and those not belonging to Mumbai should be asked to leave, can anyone tell me which is the native village of the Thackerays? Is it Mumbai? 🙂 After all, if it’s ethnic cleansing you’re after, why demarcate at state-level? Why not take it to district or village level? 🙂

Whew! With that off my chest, I can go back to my non-politics related blogs. Thank you for reading. Would love to see your opinions.

Oh and in case you are curious. I am a born Calcuttan (yes, I love the names Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Poona, Bangalore, and am of the firm opinion that the name of a place carries history, and its dwellers’ memories along with it and should not be tampered for whims of politicians and regional fundamentalism, no matter what our politicians think), with family roots in Bihar. I do not go to my native place in Bihar anymore, because I do not find any reason to go there – almost all my family is in Calcutta & Bombay, and I do not find any reason to feel ashamed of either my connection with Bihar or the fact that the connection isn’t strong enough anymore. I love Calcutta.I love Bombay. I have loved Delhi and I’m loving Poona. I am loving my experience of learning the local language and the funny situations that I get into when trying to speak Marathi with the locals. And I find that the people of Bombay and Poona are lovely and quite welcoming towards us “non-Marathis”, just like the Bengalis are friendly and warm towards us “non-Bengalis”. I don’t see any reason the politicians should be allowed to take us, the people of India for a ride over such downright petty issues and cause turmoil amongst us.

Proof, courtesy Indian television

Read the headline on the next frame. Can you believe it? Yes, India TV has found that the legendary Sudarshan Chakra of Lord Vishnu is not a myth but is a reality.

6 crore saal pahle aaya dharti par: came on the earth 60 million years ago

How does the channel get to this conclusion? By getting a piece of news that paleontologists have found a head of a crocodile which lived around 60 million years ago, and was killed by a sharp object which severed the head from the body. Ofcourse this could not have happened other than the mighty Vishnu killing it himself, according to a fable (The one where the said crocodile catches hold of an elephant, who happens to be Vishnu’s devotee. The elephant, seeing inevitable death, cries out his Lord’s name, and Vishnu comes running barefoot to save his devotee, and to achieve this end, uses his Sudarshan Chakra to cut off the crocodile’s head).

The deeply religious folks at India TV saw this as proof that the fable actually happened.

sach hai sudarshan chakra! brazil me mile avsheshh: the Sudarshan Chakra is a reality! the fossils were found in Brazil Even though the head was found in Brazil, while Vishnu is an Indian deity.

pandit Ajay Gautam, vedon ke jaankar: expert on Vedas
Who is the expert they are consulting here? A certain Pandit Ajay Gautam, who is apparently an expert on the Vedas.

No, they don’t feel the need to consult, interview or publish words of the team who is supposed to have been involved in this excavation and is responsible for this discovery. Not their opinions, not their clarifications, not what they derive from this, not what impact this discovery could have on their field. And no, they did not flash or tell us the names, identities or even nationalities of the scientists involved in this.
ab mile saboot, Proof found now
The story carried no identifiers using which we could search for more information on this excavation. Only low quality video footage of some people holding a crocodile head’s bone structure. And repeat “flashing news” snippets that the mighty Sudarshan Chakra has been now proven to exist. All with ‘expert comments’ from Panditji who is an expert on Vedas, not paleontology, carbon dating or archeology.

sach hai sudarshan chakra!: the sudarshan chakra is a reality!
So dear friends, if you are an atheist, start repenting now, and if you are an agnostic, don’t be one – here’s proof. Courtesy Indian news television 🙂

Please provide a what???

A Calcuttan missing his hometown opens up the website belonging to the most read newspaper in that town. Pleased with what he saw, he clicked on one of the sections of the e-paper. The site tells him that he needs to be registered in order to go deeper into the contents. No problem. He is ready to register. So he clicks on register and fills up a form. Presses Submit. And see what he gets:

Email ID? The form does not mention email ID anywhere, let alone ask for it. Oh, the error page tells him that the “Username” field should have been populated with his email ID.

Who would have thought? 🙂

If you were that person, would you fill up that form again and continue to use the website? I didn’t. Who knows what other ‘mistake’ I would be chided for next? Is the phone number field actually supposed to contain my height?

Is it so difficult for web designers and companies that hire them to make websites that are free of inconsistencies and are helpful instead of carrying the old ’80-90s attitude of “I made this thing and it works at my end. You need to learn how to make it work for you if you want to use it.”?

It is all adding up to the user experience and thus the brand in the end.