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Here's to blogs, bloggers, and blogging!

Have any of you sat back and wondered about blogs, and how their use seems to have exploded within the past year or so? Wait - even before that: how many of you even know what "blog" stands for?

Blog is short for a "weB LOG", and can be defined as an online public personal journal or diary. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger". From a few dozen blogs in existence in 1999, there are now millions. Click here for a brief history/commentary on blogs.
What on earth would move so many people to share their personal thoughts with total strangers on the 'net, though?

For me, there are many reasons.

1. Channel & update
My first blog was set up in mid-June 2004: the first entry was an outpouring of disappointment and frustration at not having been able to submit a 3-month notice of resignation on my target date of 15th June 2004 (in the end I submitted a 1-month notice at the end of August). The blog quickly became a place for me to channel the frustration of those three months. It also didn't take me long to realise that by posting updates of sorts on in the blog, I was spared typing the same news three or four times for three or four different people! Yes, I prefer making a generic blog posting because I'm the type of person who feels like I'm "cheating" people if I send them all the identical letter! If I have to do that, I still make sure I customise it so that the recipient doesn't feel gypped.

2. Re-establishment of an old habit
I used to keep a diary: I think mom introduced me to the idea of keeping a diary when I was, hmmm, in Form 2. And I think I pretty much kept writing until my first year in the U.S. (so that's what... 5 years straight?). I fell out of the habit in the U.S. maybe because I didn't have much "anguish" to pour out... after all, I really came into my own when I was alone & independent. I didn't miss diary-keeping at all,,, until I had some turmoils in my life in late 2000. I started to write again, but somehow I just could not get going. Over the following 4 years, I had a few start-n-stops, the most consistent/concentrated effort taking place in Aug-Oct 2003. It was difficult for me to actually physically write. I'm not just talking about holding a pen to paper, though I must say that my handwriting has degenerated since starting work :p I think the method of TYPING as opposed to WRITING was more in tune with the current Lynne. I also realised that a lot of what I would previously had poured out into the diary was now the content of e-mails to a few select friends. So perhaps blogging is not so much a re-establishment of an old habit as perhaps a shift/repackaging of the activity. Whatever it is, I do feel much better about capturing my thoughts, however trivial or heavy they may be, into a "modern" diary.

3. Critique & practice
My original blog site (see reason #1 above) had a spin-off, where I made my attempt at doing book reviews. Didn't get very far: just 4 reviews in Aug 2004. Don't think I did a good job at it either :p But "good" wasn't the point: I just wanted to record my thoughts on the series / authors I was reading at that time. I also wanted to practice what I call "critique-al writing": after all, it's one thing to just write about anything - it's another thing to intelligently critique someone else's work! At the same time, among my many duties at the time, work-wise, was that of content provider for an intranet site (I have fond memories of my take on the "Secret Diaries" *grin!*) . With momentum from all that writing, it was not a big leap to have that creativity continue to percolate, and what other place to channel it than thru blogs?

4. Keeping in touch
And as you know, another reason for blogging - and for setting up this particular blog site - is to keep in pseudo-touch with my family, friends and ex-colleagues as I vegetate halfway across the world from my birthplace in Malaysia. You could look at it as part of reason # 1 - not writing identical letters to people. But there's a difference - it's a conscious decision on my part to make this blog site as the main communication device. It's an acknowledgement of everyone being caught up in the rat race, where even catching up on e-mails can sometimes feel like a pipe dream... so those who think of me but are too busy to write, are still able to know some of what goes on in my life (or in my head, at least!). And for those who do e-mail - well, they get a little extra lah :-)

5. Mystique and vanity?
There is this fascination that I have about having total strangers read about my thoughts, my life... In fact, this particular site is quite "constrained" as I do feel the need to "censor" much of what I would like to say to the world. Re-activating my old site, or starting yet another site, seems quite appealing.. tho maintaining so many would be quite the challenge... sigh... we'll see how that goes... but I digress... this "pull" to share my thoughts with net surfers everywhere is compounded with a hankering to know what people think of what I wrote. I look forward to seeing comments posted by friends and strangers, and wonder what topics I can write about that would generate more comments. My mind then wanders, wondering if I'd ever reach audiences beyond those who have some sort of link to me. Imagine having as many readers as Jeff Ooi, maybe... aahhhhh, maybe, one day....

For those who slogged through this entire rambling - congratulations on your endurance! I doubt that the above reasons are MECE (*wink!!* that's Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive - uh-oh.. that's not copyrighted by "Daddy" or McK is it????), but they served to organise my thoughts a little as they poured themselves out for ya.

And with that: did you know that there is an individual who runs the Bloggies, which are awards for blogs, in various categories. The Bloggies have been running since 2001. Check out the "2005" final nominees (for best in 2004) here. If you have the time, do check them out, and vote too!

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