The Hermit: Surviving the Pinoy Blogosphere Part 1

I left the Philippine Arts category a few days ago.

Two reasons:
1. There is a crab in my category. Either that or mainstream people are not aware that in the Philippines, there are 7  categories for the arts: music, dance, theater, visual arts, literature, cinema, and architecture. Many are of the misconception that art is only visual. Outside the Philippines, there are more than 7 art categories.

2. I realized that I was neglecting the other side of my craft: I am an artist of the code. Which means that I was first known as a geek before I became a designer.

The crab is relentless, constantly waiting for me to take a break from my museum and art gallery visits so that it could sabotage me. “Wait, she’s posting about an art fair, let’s hope she posts about a movie tomorrow so I can have my opening.” And I was unfortunate enough to be in a category where feelingero artists think that cinema is not art. I remained defenseless even if the biggest tags in this blog are about five of its forms: music, literature, visual, cinema and digital interactive.

The moment I deleted my website from that category, I instantly felt relieved. See, I actively began blogging again this year because my brain had been dying from work and school. Blogging, which I nearly stopped doing two years ago, became my outlet. I did not want this to become as toxic as the activities I was escaping from.

I also realized that in the Philippines, there hasn’t been a system designed to move out of the Web 1.0 method of categorizations even though we’re using Web 2.0 platforms. While I am NOT fond of the tags/labels system for Web 2.0 (my research findings lead me to believe that people are still more accustomed to indexes), I think there has to be a balance somewhere.

All these considered, skysenshi.com will remain a lifestyle blog that focuses on: arts, geekery, education, women’s interest and social issues. Until a decent category can cover that, I may have to settle for something that encompasses one or two of the five.


From the 90s to the 10s.
The Otaku Fridge is still my most popular website to date. It has been up since May 18, 1997. My visitors are also predominantly from the USA, Canada and Japan. In fact, mighty Alexa and Technorati couldn’t identify where the author’s location is, until I claimed the site three days ago. I have never been based in the USA. I had always been in the Philippines, so I had to correct Alexa.

The conditions during The Otaku Fridge’s time were a lot simpler. We webmasters built the content and the community, then people came in droves. We called the shots, the trends, and if we were interested in EBs, we chose the time, place and who to invite. When I went into hibernation to concentrate on my geekery, my visitors stopped coming. Oh, they stayed for a while, then eventually went away. The Otaku Fridge’s readers are now very passive. According to my Google Analytics, they come whenever I have an update (which is sporadic), but I no longer hear from them.

I tinkered with content-management systems and blogging software but I remained in my own little world, simply doling out blogging advice to those who were interested but keeping away from actual participation. When I decided to come out of my “hermitage”, I saw that the world had changed. My lenses witnessed the cultural shift brought about by push-button publishing. Communities are now built by users — we know them as bloggers — and they are the ones defining the culture, which used to be the conscious job of the webmaster. There is no single master now because everyone has an input, everyone has a contribution to the organicity of information. In other words, the blogosphere — as we know it now — is an organic environment that evolves at a rapid pace.

This is the tricky part. Unlike in the 90s, when webmasters would draft written rules that their community members must comply with, many of the 2010 blogosphere’s rules are unwritten. For a hermit like me, who’s more adept at the technical (rather than the cultural) side of this sphere, I have no awareness of who’s popular, who’s not, and when I am actually treading dangerous ground. I only know two members of the community very well, Rowena Lei and my sister Alex — both of whom had been 90s webmasters like me.

From international to local.
Being a member of the international blogosphere isn’t as difficult as its local counterpart. One entity made the transition extra slippery: THE CRAB. The Philippine blogosphere is littered with crabs. In fact, I had been so paranoid of crabs that I veered my content towards whatever category I had been forced to limit myself to.

When I was listed under education, everything I posted was about education. When I was listed under the arts, I had to justify my addiction to food photography as art. Well, it is art because I don’t really discuss food much. I just loved shooting them. Notice how I talk about what camera settings I used rather than going into detail about how creamy the sauces are? These restrictions had proven to be frustrating and I had to remind myself that hey, you combined all your other domains (other hobbies) into skysenshi.com only to limit yourself again?

Being a member of the Philippine blogosphere also meant that you may have to make yourself visible once in a while. Popular anonymity seems to be a 90s thing, when you were known for your username rather than your real name. Now, if I want to promote my students’ or colleagues’ exhibits, I have to prove that I was there and that I did not invent my content out of thin air.

Which brings me to my next observation: the existence of cut-and-paste bloggers. I do not understand why some people blog if they cannot provide ORIGINAL CONTENT. I know some artists aren’t writers, so they do photoblogging, which I love. But I’ve seen blogs with personal stories that are actually stolen from other people. If you aren’t an artist, you aren’t a writer, you aren’t someone who can offer something useful to the world or you can’t even rant about your REAL personal life, why they heck are you blogging?  In my day, we called this plagiarism. Or have I been a hermit for too long that plagiarism has become an acceptable trend without me knowing it?

Comic strips from http://www.xkcd.com

6 Comments

  1. Andy Uyboco

    August 8, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Hmmm…I was actually in a quandary whether what I was doing was plagiarism…that's why I took the effort to rewrite the source stories that I draw from (and to mention that fact in my about page).

    Thanks for the link love 🙂

  2. skysenshi

    August 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    For a while I actually thought about it myself and decided that I don't think you'd intentionally plagiarize, since you belong to the academe.

    Lately, I've become conscious of that as well. Especially when I got back to UP and took my PhD. My professors are citation nazis. So now, whenever I need to paraphrase something, I state it as a derivative work of the original. I also check for CC licensing details.

  3. Anonymous

    August 8, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    You can make money with your blog and monetize it. It's good to monopolize your wit and blogging talents, Skysenshi.

    Entrecard and Blog Catalog much?

  4. skysenshi

    August 8, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    LOL? Entrecard? Didn't add that. Don't plan to. I have too many communities on the right hand bar already.

    I also suspect monetizing is what cut-and-paste bloggers are after.

    Incidentally, Blogcatalog has the perfect categorization that I wish were applied in the Philippines. So that's not going to disappear anytime. In Blogcatalog, my site is in its proper niche. The community is also pretty helpful in terms of online support. Newbies have gotten loads of advice from the old-timers. Then again, Blogcatalog is international. Crabs are very few.

  5. skysenshi

    August 9, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Ah! I checked out one of my friends' entrecard link and it seems you have to pay for placement? Meep.

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