Linkastic

The Khan Academy

This Salman Khan deserves to be called a hero. Terrific educational videos. (Via Prashant.)

By Amit Varma in Science and technology

Sow No Panic

Elisabeth Rosenthal has some good Swine-Flu advice. (Via Griff.)

By Amit Varma in Miscellaneous

The Postman Joins Gatsby

Check out Norman Mailer’s ten favourite American novels.

By Amit Varma in Arts and entertainment

Chop Chop Square

Adam St. Patrick goes to a routine beheading. (Via Arun.)

By Amit Varma in Miscellaneous

Attach bacon to your hard-drive

And other ways to use BACON to make your life incredible and amazing

By Sanjeev Naik in The good life

About India Uncut

By Amit Varma

The original India Uncut began in December 2004, the first part of a sabbatical I had been planning for a while. I was managing editor of Cricinfo in India until then, but decided to shift to being a consultant for them so that I’d have more time to do my own writing. India Uncut was just one of the many things I planned, but as it took off, it consumed all my time—the novel and the children’s book remain on the horizon. I had begun it to experiment with a new medium, but to my surprise and delight, it took off and gained more readers than I’d anticipated. From then on, it became a virtuous cycle—feeling the guilt of having so many readers, I worked harder and harder to make their visits worthwhile, and my readership grew as I did that, thus further increasing my motivation.

The blog enriched my life in various ways. I made many friends who I’d never heard of, and who’d never heard of me until they read my blog. I would imagine my writing improved, as I learnt to respect my readers’ time, and to keep it short and sweet, trying to say in 100 words what I'd earlier have used up 1000 for. I also sharpened my thinking on a number of issues, and much of my freelance writing, such as my Op-Eds for WSJ Asia, were elaborations on ideas I’d explored on the blog. The fact that I was blogging whenever I travelled—such as during the tsunami, and in Pakistan for India’s tour there last year—compelled me to observe more, to think through my experiences. The medium held distinct advantages over others, some of which I mentioned here.

But soon I began to stagnate. The personal travel-like posts many readers like were only possible when I travelled, which I couldn’t afford to do much. India Uncut was, most of the time, a filter-and-comment blog: filter blogs link to stuff and comment blogs comment on them. Some of my readers said they often chose coming to India Uncut over reading a morning newspaper, and wanted lots of links. Others hated my one-line link posts, and wanted me to write more. In trying to create a balance between the two, I think I ended up somewhere in between (even though the occasional award and nomination did come my way). I was trapped by that balancing act, and I also had a sense that the blog wasn’t evolving.

Enter the new India Uncut

The new India Uncut aims to solve that problem, and to expand the ways in which it can bring pleasure to readers. Let me take you on a quick tour of what it contains:

1] The India Uncut Blog: This will be, for all practical purposes, a continuation of the original India Uncut, with fewer links posts, and more comment and personal blogging. I continue to be its sole author.

2] Linkastic: This is a filter blog, whose purpose is to save you time by bringing you some of the most interesting stuff to read on the internet, across a range of categories. The idea: if you come here three times every day, you will find many new things to read every time. If even one of them interests you, your visit is worthwhile.

This will be a group blog, and besides myself, its contributors are Gautam, MadMan, Prabhu and Sanjeev Naik. I intend to expand the list to around eight to ten people.

3] Rave Out: In this blog, the contributors write short, succinct pieces on books or films or albums, focussing only on what they love. Life is too short to write negative things about stuff we don’t like, and there’ll be none of that here. Only the most joyous, uplifting, enlightening, thought-provoking, sexy works of art will be written about here, purely for the pleasure of being able to share something one feels passionate about.

The contributors, besides me, are Arun Simha, Chandrahas Choudhury, Falstaff, Jai Arjun Singh, KM, Nilanjana S Roy, PrufrockTwo and Sonia Faleiro. This list will also expand a bit.

4] Workoutable
: Quizzing is one of my passions, though I’m not particularly good at it. I believe, as do many many fellow quizzers on at least the Mumbai and Pune circuits, that a good quiz question isn’t just about knowledge, but about problem-solving. Even if you don’t know the answer to a particular question, you should have a chance of working it out from clues given in the question. Every day we shall feature a question of that sort in this section. Its contributors include many stalwarts from the Mumbai and Pune quizzing circuits, and once a group of regulars firms up, I shall post the names here.

5] Extrowords: I enjoy making crosswords, and will be doing daily crosswords—barring Sundays—in this section. They will be themed crosswords, with themed words highlighted in each puzzle, and will be generally easy to solve. You need Java for this section, and if you don’t already have it on your computer, you can download it here. Do try out Extrowords, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

This site has been designed and programmed by MadMan using the Expression Engine CMS. I have driven him insane with constant demands and changing specs, but he has patiently, and creatively, followed out my vision for the site and added tons of value to it. Having dined at Shiok, his fine restaurant in Bangalore a few times, I can assure you that his cooking is quite as good as his programming, so if you ever happen to be in Bangalore, drop in and ask him for ‘Blogger’s Beef.’ That’s the national dish of India Uncut, and it will change your life.

Finally, thanks for reading so far. Life is futile, death is inevitable and the world is depressing: in that context, we try to bring you a few moments of pleasure every day. If we succeed, immense joy explodes. If not, pah!

For feedback on India Uncut, please write in to amitblogs@gmail.com. Thank you!