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Intellectual Democracy = Affordance of Blogs
It can be a little embarrassing to appear in the news time and time again, especially when there are other bloggers covering really important issues. I’m referring to bloggers who update us on the protest situation in Burma as well as those who engage in the multi-faceted discourse on Section 377A (Singapore Penal Code). In either cases, bloggers are free to take sides and argue their case. This is what I’d deem as a significant affordance of blogs, that is the ability to participate in intellectual democracy.
In any case, with sites like Repeal377a.com and Keep377a.com, the decent number of signatures received clearly illustrates how Singaporeans aren’t as apolitical as they seems. Perhaps all that’s required is an easy way to participate. While I deliberate on this, you can get your fill on current affairs in the Singapore blogosphere via Singapore Daily, and more political-related news via The Online Citizen.
Is that to say that the rest of us bloggers aren’t as important?
I’m pretty swamped just reading everything (and yes, I do have work!), that’s why I haven’t written much about both cases. Thinking beyond the currency of news, one interesting aspect about blogs is how it tends to be about anything and everything. We should really enjoy blogging by writing about whatever afflicts our attention. While I like exploring what lies beyond blogs (e.g. lifecasting, always-on presence), you could be blogging about what you ate last evening, people you hate at work (careful now!), what not… it doesn’t matter.
While I could simply explain this as beauty being in the eye of the beholder, my pragmatic self tells me that we as bloggers are filling all the gaps on the web, from the mundane to the exciting, popular to the esoteric, making every search in Google return a result. Perhaps something I’ve picked up from Tan Pin Pin’s “Invisible City” is how in reference to archaeologists digging up SIngapore’s past, the trash of today could be a valuable artifact of tomorrow. In essence, we’re performing a service for mankind, especially if you believe that a “1” (something) is better than a “0” (nothing).
While I can’t translate what the entire Chinese article says right now, here’s the email interview with the reporter (in English) which took place last week…
1. When did you start blogging?
As my blog archives will show, I officially started blogging back in 2004. I say “official” because before that, I was using blogger.com as a way to store my thoughts, less so to socialize. It was only after learning about celebrity bloggers in Singapore that I realized how blogging was more than simply updating web pages, but more of a literary spectacle.
2a. What is your purpose in blogging?
I’ve previously created a comic strip on my blog to explain this, but here’s an abstract:
First: To help make the web more useful.
(i.e. bloggers help make things more findable)
Second: To be recognized as an expert in my field.
(i.e. sharing what I know makes me the “go-to” guy)
Third: To get to know people like you.
(i.e. by making my life open, I gain trustworthiness)
2b. What content do you blog on?
One way to become a popular blogger is to have a focus. I’m the opposite, simply because I feel that life has too much to offer. I started out blogging academically, but realized I could do so much more. Since I enjoy the cultural aspect of technology, I’ve blogged about the different ways in which we could use existing tools. This included anything from using online video, del.icio.us and twitter as ways of streaming one’s life autonomously (i.e. life as a social cyborg), to participating and understanding particular online phenomena. When the Copybot tool was unleashed upon Second Life, it allowed less ethical residents to replicate intellectual property and to copy identities. I wrote about the Copybot incident, compared it with Star Trek’s replicator technology and highlighted the subsequent communist way of life in the Federation. This caught on with CNN Money as well as renown game theorist, Ralph Koster. So what do I tend to blog about? In Singapore, it’s rojak, with a dash of cyberculture.
2c. How often do you update it?
I used to update my blog several times a day. To be well-connected in the blogosphere, I used to spend a lot of time commenting and responding to other blog posts of interest as well. Nowadays as the many have become bloggers themselves, I feel less of a need for me to engage in matters accessible elsewhere. Naturally, I’ve scaled back, writing only when I’ve something unique or important to share.
3. Why do you decide to join the contest, how did you chance upon it?
My academic mentor Alex Halavais first reminded me of the college blogger scholarship this year. Since application was easy, I decided to give it a shot. I didn’t expect a response, but this week I received an email from the scholarship organization notifying me that I was selected to be one of the top 20 college bloggers, out of hundreds of other contenders.
4. Whose blog do you surf most? Any star blogger you admire or learn from?
My favorite blogger changes over time. I love to discover new talent and one I’ve been watching since the start of this year is Justine Ezarik. She’s the next generation of bloggers whom embodies social technology into the extreme. As an attractive 23 year old, she videoblogs, lifecasts, twitters and blogs all at once. More importantly though, she has showmanship, a digital virtuoso fluent with the ebb and flow of the blogosphere.
5. Tell us a bit more about yourself, your age/ how many years are you in US/ schooling or working background.
I’m now the ripe old age of 30 years, where I’m currently pursuing my doctoral in Communication in the University at Buffalo (State University of New York). I’ve been here since my undergraduate program and decided to carry on through my Masters after being awarded a graduate assistantship at the Teaching & Learning Center (TLC) on campus. At the TLC, I give workshops to faculty and staff on engaging students as well as the research community through the use of social media, such as blogs, wikis, podcasting, streaming video and social networks. Besides teaching, I am presently studying how citizens negotiate Internet regulations enforced in their particular country.
6. How do you intend to use the $10k scholarship if you win?
It’s a financial challenge just being a student, but I manage to get by with the support of my parents and an assistantship at the ETC. If I win this US$10k scholarship, I’m proposing to let the collective public decide on the wisest way to use it, by taking suggestions on my blog and picking the best ones to execute.