Sunday, May 1, 2011

Perils of Participatory Journalism

Some years back, I was having a discussion about self- help books with one of my close friends. (AK, your moment of glory..:-) ) Both of us used to read self- help books a lot and the discussion was about the effect that they had on us. Finally we came to a conclusion that although we read and forget them, or unsuccessfully try to copy the ideas given in them in life, after some time, some of these principles, stays with us. We uses them in life, without recognizing where we learned them, and that ultimately is the use of self help books.

I could not forget this conclusion that we came to, while reading A J Jacob's book "My Experimental Life". A J Jacob calls himself a participatory journalist. The kind that participates or takes the lead role in the stories done by them. A J does experiments with his life, subjecting himself to a different way of living, or an amusing experience, to write about it later. For his first book, he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica from A to Z and for his second one he lived exactly as per Bible for a year. And this one, is a collection of nine weird things that he did with his life.

The experiments are taken up for various causes, some came as a challenge, like pausing nude like a porn star, while some came as suggestions form readers, like a month of total obedience to his wife. Some of them like living according to the philosophy of Washington, deciding to take rational decisions (he checked about 30 tooth pastes to find out the one that is really good, because he felt that the choice he took was not due to a rational decision), or being radically honest were taken up when he read about them and wanted to absorb these principles in life. Some were spontaneous decisions, like duping a popular star in the Academy awards venue, to know the life of a celebrity and outsourcing his life, private and professional, to a firm in India (even arguing with wife and worrying about deadlines). Living the double life of a beautiful lady was started to get a good match for his nanny. 

What is interesting is the lessons learnt from all these being a human Guinea pig experiments, taking what is useful and ignoring others.. a very interesting, humorous and comic read... Check out for the video interview with the author here.


  1. Submit your blog into

    Hamarivani is an Indian Blogs Aggregator.

  2. interesting post. i usually find self help books of no use so stopped reading them long back. :P