Tag Archives: Online Diary

What Blogging Has Taught Me About Myself

The first writing prompt for August on the SITS Girls website is to write about what blogging has taught you about yourself. I have been blogging for years. I started an online diayr in 2002 and kept one on about every diary site that was around. In 2007, I transferred my DiaryLand diary, which had become partly a blog, to WordPress and started a real blog. My old blog died from inactivity in like 2011 and I had some blogs on and off for a few months until I started this one in August of 2013.

Blogging has taught me many things. It’s helped me improve my English and writing skills in general, and it’s helped me develop online connections and even a few friendships. Maybe it’s even helped me meet my husband, because he was reading my blog when he decided I was an interesting girl to meet. When I think, however, of something it has taught me about myself, I have to be really honest and say I have learned that, deep down, I crave attention.

In a way, this truth should’ve been crystal clear to me by early secondary school, when I allowed new “friends” to read parts of my journals. These friendships usually didn’t last long, in part probably because I was way too clingy. But I yearned for real friendships at the time.

This continued in the age of the Internet, when I exchanged E-mails with some people I’d met on Yahoo! groups and we exchanged URLs of our online diaries. DiaryLand didn’t have a comment system for free users and I had no clue about stats, so there was no way of knowing whether anyone actually read my diary unless they told me so. At that time, I really wanted people to read my diary, but not so I was a successful writer. I wanted to communicate things I couldn’t communicate face-to-face. I didn’t care how many people read my diary, if those people I cared about did.

That changed when I got a real blog in 2007. Now on WordPress I had a comment system and stats, so I could actually view how many people were reading my writings. I was, at the time, quite a successful blogger in my niche of disability rights bloggers. I didn’t read the big lifestyle and Mommy bloggers, so I didn’t care or even know that I was only a tiny blogger in the bigger scheme of things.

When I started my current blog in 2013, however, I knew about the bigger blogging world. I don’t even know how I found out, but I learned about blog support groups on Facebook, writing prompts and link parties. I decided I wanted to spread my wings and reach out to the bigger blogging world. At first, I only wanted to teach them about disability issues and autism in particular, but of course other people’s stats stared at me.

In absolute numbers, I’m more successful a blogger now than I was with my old blog. However, now I know that you can be even more successful. I also know that there are essentials of blogging I will never master, such as including images. And the sad truth is, this makes me feel inadequate.

After all, I crave attention. There is some research my husband mentioned that asks people whether they want a car when everyone else gets a car or they want a scooter when everyone else gets a bike. Most people choose the scooter and I’m no exception. In this sense, it’s sad that I got to venture out into the larger blogging world of people with bigger cars than mine, so to speak, even though I now have a car too. If I’d stayed in my little disability rights niche, I’d have had the proverbial scooter but at least could’ve measured up to everyone else.

In this sense, there are two things blogging has taught me about myself. Firstly, indeed, I crave attention. I smile when I get a new comment even when it’s from a blog support group. But the second thing I learned about myself is, and I only realize this now that i write this post, I’m more competitive than I thought I was.

My Ideal Social Networking Site

A few days ago, I came across a writing prompt for NaBloPoMo asking bloggers to describe their ideal social networking site. Suppose you got unlimited funds and a handful of tech guys to design it for you, what would it look like? Now I’ve actually been looking for a social networking site that is, well, ideal for me, so I have a pretty clear image of what I would want it to be like. Don’t worry: I don’t have money and I don’t have tech skills, so it’s unlikely to ever get off the ground.

My ideal social network would have a journaling/blogging feature as the centerpiece. The design of the journaling feature would be similar to the old LiveJournal or the current DreamWidth. I know that those who don’t use a screen reader probably don’t know what I mean, so here goes. I mean that all features of the journal, like recent entries, archive, profile page with interests and such, are easily accessible. No annoying mouseover stuff like the current LiveJournal seems to use. I mean, when you go to your or someone else’s profile page on LJ, you only see their bio, the people they have added as friends and the communities they’re members of. In order to see their interests, for example, you need to slide your mouse over the bio thingy, or something. In any case I haven’t figured out how to access interests, friends of, etc. On DreamWidth and the old LJ, these are/were easily viewable directly from a person’s profile page.

The journaling feature would, of course, incorporate full HTML editing. You’d be surprised most current online diary sites don’t have this feature. The entries would also be organizable by categories and tags as on WordPress.

Then, people would get a profile page. It would look similar to the LiveJournal or DreamWidth profile pages, with the person’s bio, external services such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and a clickable list of interests which would connect users to other users. Searching by name, bio, interests, etc. would all be standard – on LJ, you need a paid account to search the directory.

People would also be able to create photo albums, from which they can link to their journal or which stand on their own. Again, this is similar to LiveJournal, only on LJ you need to pay for a “scrapbook”.

I’d also like to include groups similar to Facebook groups. In addition, I’d like users to be able to create writing circles. These are similar to what the Open Diary used to have: you post something to your own journal, but link it up with others writing on the same topic. These circles would, however, be moderated by users in a way much like link-ups are on blogs. The circle moderators would be able to create writing prompts for their circles.

Then, there’d be status updates and a personal messaging system as on Facebook. Lastly, I’d include a social bookmarking feature which is similar to Delicious. No images required like on Pinterest – one of the reasons I hate Pinterest is that I can’t pin my own blog posts as they don’t include images.

The entire social network would meet web accessibility standards. I was going to say “of course”, but then I realized my blog doesn’t meet these standards, so yeah. Privacy would also be important. Given that I would be allocated unlimited funds according to the prompt, there’d be no need for ads. If there are to be ads, they’re going to be non-personalized. People would register with a user name and the site would only display their full name (or a display name) on their profile if they choose so. On each item they post (journal entry, photo, etc) they’d be allowed to select the privacy options of “public (including search engines)”, “registered users”, “friends” or “private”. They’d also be able to set minimum privacy settings on their journal, photo collection or individual photo albums.

Unfortunately, the prompt didn’t say I’d be allocated a number of admins to watch that no illegal or otherwise inappropriate content is displayed on my platform. I’d hire these folks with my unlimited funds though. if I were to design this social networking site, after all, I’d want to sit on my butt after the platform had launched and just play with it. No moderation duties for me please.