Thursday, April 07, 2011

iBlog 7: Keepin' It Light And Breezy

.:A Message To New Filipino Bloggers After iBlog 7:.

Greetings from this Patriotic Filipino!

Hi, guys! I know you don’t know me, but I hope you don’t mind if I take the time out to tell you a couple of things, after iBlog 7 happened. If you weren’t there, that’s fine. If you were there, though, you might have encountered quite a slew of speakers meant to get you to thinking.

I’ll be honest: as I was with my fellow Nuffies for our annual company outing, I actually missed Day 1, albeit I’ve heard some stuff about that. On day 2, though, if in case you missed it, we had some very notable speakers, including Fitz Villafuerte and his semi-controversial discussion on growing your web following without using SEO; the ever-hilarious Roy dela Cruz, who covered how to deal with writing blocks; a sassy discussion on forming online communities through Mike Rubio; the need for a National Podcaster’s Association (A shame about the acronym, though.) through Jeric; and the very concise but insightful talk on Blogging 101 by Jonel.

All the speakers I mentioned were awesome (And there are no complaints about the ones I failed to mention as well, by the way.), and the lingering spectre of Mike Abundo’s absence was undoubtedly permeating the air, having been only one of two people (Yours truly, being the other one.) who has never missed a single iBlog. Nonetheless, he did show up at the end, despite the fact that I had to put on my own Bluetooth earpiece and be his (shudder) spiritual successor for a couple of hours.


But see, this isn’t just a recap of iBlog 7, because everyone would’ve done that already, and done it better, to be sure. I truly wanted to focus on one particular talk, because I really feel this talk in particular ended iBlog 7 on a very high note. Whereas many people did have doubts about iBlog’s relevance or even the expertise of some of its speakers (Albeit I was not around to see Day 1, so I can’t really judge...), I believe that Yapatoots really captured the imagination of anyone who took the time out to listen to her talk, Blogging, Social Networks, Online Relationships as a Support System.

Coming from a psychology background, there was no question that Ria knew her subject matter, and it showed with how she managed to share both researched information and personal experiences in a very light-hearted, refreshing talk that made people realize that as technology marches on, virtual relationships have fast approached the same level of importance as offline relationships. I loved how inclusive her language was. It never once felt condescending or holier-than-thou.

By now, most of mainstream media recognizes that bloggers are the exact same citizenry they used to deal with, only more public by virtue of the internet. While there are some attempts to make it seem like bloggers are so wildly different such as the infamous PGB feature in some news outfits, overall, bloggers have been successfully integrated in the mainstream scene now, and there’s no reason to look upon them as some kind of oddity. While it’s true that the medium is the message, there is now enough weight put into the content of bloggers now such that their content is no longer being put down solely by virtue of it being in a blog. That’s progress, and that’s certainly a good thing.

Having said that, and in an effort to remind people that the Philippine blogosphere, while important in some facets, shouldn’t be all srs bznz, I have a few things I’d like to say, coming from my nearly nine years of experience as a blogger without qualifiers.

I’m sure some of the new bloggers might have seen a few discussions in iBlog, or at least heard of them, and they’re left wondering “where do we fit in?” True, there are cliques within the community, but then, which community wouldn’t have that? We place so much emphasis on the differences between the virtual community and the offline one that we tend to forget that the similarities are just as important.

So to the new bloggers, I say:

1. Don’t fret over the possibility of becoming the next Big Bad Blogger or the next Patay-Gutom/Blogger Quolorum without knowing it. There are hardly any special rules in the blogosphere to worry about. If you’re a decent person offline, simply be a decent person online. You’d be surprised how awesome the golden rule is for living a quiet internet life. It’s actually not that hard, and you don’t need a Masters Degree or Wikipedia to tell you how to be a good person. If you can honestly say that your online behaviour, if taken offline, is just fine, then you won’t magically break some unwritten ethos in the community because really, human decency is more than enough to get you by. This should also guide how you write, of course. Do you hate people saying mean things about you? Try not saying mean things about other people, too. There will always be people who don’t respect these basic golden rules (and not just online), but you don’t need to be one of them. And hey, if you do make a mistake, it’s not the end of the world! Never underestimate the power of a sincere apology.

2. Bloggers are people, too. They don’t bite, unless you’re dating. I know it can be daunting to be surrounded by some people in a blogging summit whom you’ve only heard of online. How do you even begin to approach a superstar blogger like Ade? Or a gorgeous blogger like Sarah Cada? Or a veritable guru like Juned? The thing is, you can. They’re people, too. They may be insular at times, but like most people who meet strangers, people generally assume the best out of new people they meet. Don’t sweat it. You’re fine.

3. Being a pro or a hobbyist doesn’t make you a better or worse blogger. I don’t even know why this issue crops up, really. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn an honest living from something you like doing. Really, there isn’t. There’s also nothing wrong with choosing not to earn from blogging. It’s all a matter of choice, and respecting the choices people make, and not shoving our own beliefs down other people’s throats. It isn’t hard, and I’m sure you guys already know this, but you might have gotten bogged down with all the intrigue going around lately. Your opinion is every bit as valid and subject to assent or disagreement whether you have ads in your blog or you do not. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

4. The community does not shun new blood. Don’t let the reminiscing fool you. There were bad eggs among the elder members of the community. There will be bad eggs in the new ones. People always look to the past with rose-colored glasses, but if you’re not someone who’s contributing to the things that give other bloggers a headache, why should you feel bad you’re among the so-called “newbies?” Everyone was a newbie once, and this community can only grow with the influx of newbies who blossom into amazing people (or already are) over time. Please don’t fear us. It’s all good. Really.

5. Ultimately, it’s a free world. You don’t need the community to validate you. This is not to say the past four bits of advice to fitting in are irrelevant. It’s just to say that there’s no need to make a goal out of fitting in. Just let it happen, but, if for some weird reason, it doesn’t, that doesn’t make you any less of a person or even a blogger. Your existence as a blogger does not have to be given meaning by being an active part of the blogger community. A lot of standout bloggers have never taken part in a single community event, online or offline. Nobody would have the right to tell them they’re not true bloggers just because. Neither would anyone have the right to tell you that.

iBlog 7 made me feel that finally, some imaginary walls are being taken down in favour of a more inclusive community that respects each other mutually, and works towards mutual betterment. This isn’t Sparta anymore. And that could only be a good thing.

Looking forward to iBlog 8!

In the meantime, sugod, mga bloggers!


Fitz said...

Well said!

skysenshi said...

Amen, Kel. Amen.

Being a private blogger for 10 years and only public last year, getting into the blogosphere can be quite overwhelming. You've always been the social butterfly in OB, so I knew you'd do well. I became social by virtue of association. (All my long-time friends, including you, had become popular and that sort of threw me into some of the spotlight as well.) LOL. But I'm learning.

Great post. It has that really nice, positive vibe to it. :D

Janette Toral said...

Great to see you Marcelle. Very insightful post here.

Kel Fabie said...

@Fitz: I felt that the biggest take-away from iBlog 7 was the positive feeling from the talks I saw on day 2. I believe that focusing on that would be more helpful to the community than to focus on the missteps.

@Skysenshi: People always feel awkward when trying to fit in. What I'm trying to make people see is it's not as hard as it seems.

@Janette: It was a really good Day 2. Wish I caught Day 1 as well, as I heard some good things about some speakers, too.

Laya said...

Great post, tol :-)

Jane said...

Great post, Kel!

Karess said...

Aylavet, Koya!

Been around for nine years myself. Pero ngayon lang ako nakasalamuha sa blogging community. And I'm honestly glad to be part of it :D

Cher Cabula said...

As always Kel, good points and great post!

Sarah said...

*applause* This is great, Kel! (And this has nothing to do with my name being on it.)

I think it's very encouraging for new bloggers and for old ones who don't connect with the community too much. And for someone who's in the community, I say it's a good reminder, too! :)

Kel Fabie said...

@Laya: Thank you! I'm sure this wasn't the post people expected from me, but hey, that's me - a bag of surprises.

@Yogajane: I'm glad you liked it. It may seem like I'm just dropping obvious anvils here, but sometimes, these anvils do need to be dropped.

@Karess: I'm glad you like the community so far! It was great meeting, you!

@Sarah: Not as great as you. ;)

Kel Fabie said...

@Cher: Missed your comment, so I'm thanking you here. Too bad you missed iBlog. It was fun, and the Mang Jimmy's dinner afterwards was awesome.

ria said...

thank you kel for such heartwarming words and wise advice :)

Kel Fabie said...

@Ria: No, thank YOU for a great talk that made me rethink how I should look at the blogosphere!

I'll be honest here: I've been fairly jaded the past couple of years with the blogosphere thanks to all the internet fights I've been privy to/been part of. It's gotten so tiring, and the very concept of iBlog was being questioned for its relevance as the years went by.

Your talk is one of those reasons I would proudly cite as to why I still believe iBlog matters. Your talk encapsulates precisely why through the ups and downs, I'm still here in the community, and doing what I can to make sure nobody feels left out in my company.

So Ria, no need to thank me. Thank YOU.

Roy said...

I love no. 5! You don't need anybody's validation as long as you don't step on anybody's toes ;)

Nice write-up ;)

but I do shudder in front of BIG bloggers though, especially the gorgeous ones (that's only between you and I, by the way)

Kel Fabie said...

@Sir Roy: You? Starstruck in front of gorgeous bloggers (Like Sarah and Cher?)? Oh, come now. Surely, *they* will be starstruck next time they see you. :)

Having said that, my open invite to you to join us in open mic still stands if you're ever in the area. :)

Mike Abundo said...

The Bluetooth headset suits you. Great seeing you at iBlog 7, Kel. :)