The blog that refused to be written

Yes, I finally did it. I've joined the ranks of millions who have started blogging since the phenomenon hit the Internet as far back as 1999.
Written by Edwin Yapp, Contributor

Yes, I finally did it. I've joined the ranks of millions who have started blogging since the phenomenon hit the Internet as far back as 1999. Friends have always assumed that since my chosen profession involved writing, I would naturally, well, blog. But that wasn't the case.

For many years since becoming a journalist in 2001, I've shied away from blogging. There are a couple of reasons why I've now relented and started blogging.

First, I've always believed that in order for a blog to be successful, you've got to spend time not only writing whenever you can, but to sieve through all the feedback and comments posted on your blog. A blog, I believe is about engagement and dialog, and it would be of no good to anyone if I didn't engage my readers. Unfortunately, time is something of a luxury for me as the past few years have been spent setting up my business and bringing up a young family.

Second, I've always believed that not all journalists have to be bloggers and certainly not all bloggers are journalists. As a responsible journalist, any story or commentary I pen must be subjected to the basic rules of journalism--accurate reporting, rigorous fact-checking, correct attribution of quotations, balanced viewpoints, and the right of reply, among other principles.

Over the years, I've seen quite a few blogs that don't quite adhere to these same standards but claim to give us the story in the guise of "citizen journalism", and frankly, this has been a major turn-off for me. Granted, there are some good blogs out there that are fair in their commentary but in the early days, these blogs were few and far between. The point is that I didn't want to join a fraternity of people and associate myself with something that I wasn't convicted about.

That said, of late, I've begun to realize that times have changed and the Internet along with it. Blogs today have improved quite a fair bit and there are more good blogs out there now than there are bad ones. So I guess that's one reason less not to blog.

But, perhaps the bigger issue that made me reconsider and finally caused me to blog is that the nature of the Internet has also changed since I first reported about it. Today, we are driven not only by the interactive nature of the Internet but also by the power that people have through it. With the Internet, people have the power to shape public opinion, to voice our most intimate thoughts, to air our grouses, to share our likes and dislikes, and even to change the course of history.

This brings me to a man called John Patrick whom I interviewed in 2003. Formerly vice president of Internet technologies at IBM, Patrick aptly predicted the phenomenon we're experiencing now and in fact, spoke of how the best of the Web is yet to come, and how the world has not even begun to see one-fifth of the power of the Web. He also gave us a glimpse then of what he saw as the future, noting that there existed a gap between what people expected from the Internet and what they actually got from it.

This gap, he said, was the fueled by the lack of the participatory nature of the Web. He noted that the Internet was changing and the next-generation Internet would embrace other complementary technologies such as Wi-Fi, converged devices such as smartphones, and the "writable" Web, a medium by which people will be able to contribute content to the Internet and not just get information out of it. This may all sound familiar to you as what is essentially known today as Web 2.0, but back then, it was kind of futuristic--well, at least, to me.

Patrick may not have predicted specifically the advent of the likes of YouTube, iPhones, Facebook, and technologies such as cloud computing, software-as-a-service and mobile broadband, but he sure was spot on when he noted that the best of the Web is yet to come.

Which comes to my point on why I have begun blogging. As much as I may find it a chore having to spend time writing after a hard day's work of writing, and going through comments of my (hopefully) would-be readers of this blog, I've come to realize that this participatory element of the Internet is not going to be extinct but will only grow.

So, as a journalist who reports on the ever-changing face of technology, it would be imperative that I, too, embrace this trend or risk being left out of this participatory economy and become extinct in the process.

So with these thoughts, I begin my foray into blogsphere. I hope to be able to engage my readers, with thoughtful insights about the world of technology within the context of the country where I come from, and report on Malaysia. My hope is that my time spent blogging would return to me what I believe would be rewards I should gain as a member of the participatory economy called Web 2.0.

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