In the early '90s, there was this first Nepali electronic newsletter called The Nepal Digest (TND). It was started by Rajpal Singh in Illinois, and, for a time, was a widely circulated ONLY one electronic newsletter among Nepalis about Nepal.
Every week, TND came to your inbox as an email, filled with news about Nepal with occasional views/debates/discussions of fellow Nepalis from around the world (though for some reason, US-based Nepalis tended to be more vocal than Nepalis elsewhere).
TND started to lose its charm when The Kathmandu Post and other Nepali newspapers started putting up their Web sites. People started getting their news directly from
This led to a greater demand for news analyses as opposed to mere news reportage from electronic sources.
Soc.Culture.Nepal (SCN), a Usenet group, fulfilled that demand up to a point in the late 1990s. Unlike TND, which was an editor-collated product with its own weekly cycle,
SCN allowed users to post their comments and analyses and get almost-instant feedbacks from anyone wanting to respond to postings. This led to lively, if
occasionally acrimonious, exchanges of views.
One major practical downside of SCN was its totally unmoderated nature. Often Indians and Pakistanis would cross-post their various unrelated-to-Nepal jhagada on SCN.
And wading through their dross to get to Nepal-related stuff eventually became a boring and tiring chore for most SCN users.
Then came Sajha.com at the start of this century. It combined the best of SCN features
with loose moderation. This kept the Indian and Pakistani cross-posters out, and allowed pretty much Nepali-only to post their views.
Sajha's flagship section -- the kurakani section -- took off after the Royal Massacre of 2001. Later, easy-to-use chatrooms and word-of-mouth publicity helped bring in many other Nepalis to the site. A diversity of visitor's postings helped make the site interesting and 'sticky' (some say: addictive) for most visitors.
Now, in 2005, the electronic communication/info sharing process appears to have entered a new phase with the rise of Nepal-related blogs.
In the past few months, many excellent Nepal-related blogs have come up. Some of the blogs are group-blogs; some are sustained individually. Some have great fresh news contents. Others are well-written and well-presented. A few are merely entertaining. But altogether, they ARE siphoning attention -- the most precious commodity -- away from Sajha.
As a well-wisher of Sajha, I think the time has come for Sajha to redefine its mission and and differentiate itself from its 'competitors'.
What is Sajha for in these changing times?
For announcing community events?
For sharing the photos of community events?
For social activism?
Other well-wishers of Sajha and San himself must start thinking ahead so that Sajha -- in these times of rapidly changing technologies -- does not suffer the fate of its predecessors.
Something to think about.