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Anne Ku at Ilp in May 2001
Anne Ku writes about her travels, conversations, thoughts, events, music, and anything else that is interesting enough to fill a web page. She has written and produced two chamber operas, premiered in Utrecht, Netherlands. See her publication list for more.
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Bon Journal

Reflections of an early blogger

When I started writing "The Diary of Anne Ku" on the 1st of May 2000, I didn't know it was called blogging. I simply challenged myself to write something every day for the discipline of writing and getting read. Knowing that somebody may read it made writing a different kind of ritual. It became a public performance. It was very different from the private journals I kept in a hardback notebook that I hid under the pillow, or the small combination-locked notebook I exchanged with my friend Lydia as a teenager in which I'd write one day and she'd write the next. By "publishing" my diary to my first web site, I allowed the world to peak into my private thoughts.

In my job as energy magazine editor, I knew very well the readers of my work. There were two things that determined any article I wrote or commissioned besides the deadline: topic and length. Without knowing the readership, I can't possibly determine what topics would interest them. The length of my early blogs were largely a result of my own ability to write, often it was like the distance I could run without panting for breath. Sometimes, for the sake of adhering to my own targets of "a blog a day" I would write anything, however incomprehensible or irrelevant, such as a lunch time conversation.

Once I established a routine, I got used to writing an x number of words. Occasionally, I'd feel a topic deserved more verbiage, such as efficiency in cyberspace. Technically speaking, a web page is as long as I want to make it to be. There is no constraint of space or file size, other than the speed of download (which may be affected by too many large photos or audio files). The optimal length, however, became the average length, long enough to fit a normal computer screen.

A few months after I started blogging, I got my dream job of getting paid to do what I've always wanted to do --- travel. There was less time to write but more things to write about. Between packing and unpacking, queuing for the train, waiting for the plane, and settling down in my new accommodations, I had to force myself to stick to my vow of completing 365 days of continuous blogging. Ironically, the traveling gave me inspiration to compose music, so I included those bouts of madness in my diary.

Not long after I began blogging, e-mails came streaming in. My biggest fan was my father, whose opinion I valued greatly, for he went through my writing with a fine tooth comb. He had earlier written and published 24 books on English grammar, composition, literature, and translation in his first career as an English teacher in Brunei and Taiwan. I decided to publish his comments to share with others. Soon I created a new section on my web site for visitors to leave their remarks. I befriended many strangers this way.

The automated guest book that I installed soon became a pain to manage as spammers got hold of this auto-publishing system. The databases for the guest book, suggest a link, and submit a travel story also required extra work whenever I changed web hosts. I reverted back to the manual copying and pasting of worthwhile emails, which grew from one web page for 1999 and 2000, two web pages for 2001, to five in 2002. I didn't manage to save everything on the automated guest book, hence only one web page for each month of January to April 2003. The next time I started recording visitors' comments was in March 2004. By then an entire year had elapsed, and all comments lost!

On 30 April 2001, the 365th entry of my online diary, having reached my goal of uninterrupted daily blogging, I decided to continue writing. It was no longer necessary to stick to any golden rule. Thus Bon Journal was born. By then, my first web site analyticalQ had served its trio purpose of 1) platform for self-expression; 2) pursuit of flexibility; and 3) passion for world travel. These were now transformed into separate web sites, respectively: 1) Bon Journal; 2) Anne Ku; and 3) Piano Guitar Duo.

Did I blog in vain? Or did I blog out of vanity?

I developed a discipline for writing. I opened myself for criticism and praise. I sorted out what was important and what was not. I was able to vent and complain. It's nice to read that blogging is now ubiquitous and mainstream. It's an organic way for search engines to find you, especially during the recession (I still have to understand this). The immortality of what I published on my sites and the "foundability" (that anyone could potentially find it anytime and anywhere) did not cross my mind until recently. Now that's another story.

23 February 2009

Related links:
My first blog entry: Web site
The Diary of Anne Ku,
1 May 2000,
The Diary of Anne Ku
19 May 2000,
What is self-expression?
analyticalQ fan club
Writing to heal the emotions
Blogging the net