Friday, October 08, 2004

Another Dull Post About Blogs

I'm obsessive-compulsive. You might note that I cannot leave a thing well alone. I know, I say to myself, ‘this is the last post I'll make about blogs for a while’ but alas, that's never the case.

So what is the simplest definition of a “blog”?

Defining A Blog

Here's one I skived off Wikipedia:

A weblog, or simply a blog, is a web application which contains periodic, reverse chronologically ordered posts on a common webpage. Such a web site would typically be accessible to any Internet user.
It's a pretty good definition. I like it, mainly because it avoids the whole ‘content’ mess. It's a rather interesting phenomenon. When someone here in the boondocks talks about blogs in a public forum, we always seem to gravitate towards the journalistic and opinion-oriented side of blogging.

Which is, in a sense, feels as natural as having our conversations drift towards the superheroic and pseudo-mythic whenever we talk about comic books. It's something, we find, that the medium is suited to. But to do so is to ignore the rich possibilities of what that particular medium can do. In a sense, it's like concentrating on the X-Men and the JLA, and ignoring works like Maus, Persepolis, and Eisner's post-Spirit work.

But what else can blogs do? When the above-average user thinks about blogs other than journoblogs and opinioblogs, their thoughts drift towards the somewhat murky world of quasi-private diaries, as well as works made by the fen.

Ugh, There Goes The Neighbourhood.

And frankly, I don't blame them if they think the world of fandom, as it is called, is full of chaff and muck, and that only sad obsessives with a fixation towards something incredibly silly like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Raymond E. Feist, Harry Potter and the many incarnations of Star Trek find any real value in it. It certainly seems that way, especially if you delve into the world of fandom, with its strange terminologies, customs and traditions.

I don't understand it completely, but I have a small circle of friends that do. It's both egalitarian and insular at the same time, both obsessive and open-minded, and often creepy as often as it is fascinating. As a matter of fact, the longer I look at it, the more I'm convinced that both factions, that is, fen-bloggers and “Real Bloggers”, have something to learn about each other.

What Legolas And Jalan Riong Have In Common

It's not immediately obvious, since there are so many differences between Jeff Ooi's last tangle with the law and, say, how hot Steve Jackson's Legolas is. One is seen as a watershed moment in the history of Malaysian press, the other seen as a rather disturbing obsession over a character that doesn't really exist. One found its way into the RSF's main page; the other is expressed hundreds of thousand times over the Internet, mainly in fan pages and forum posts. One is seen as serious: the other is not.

But both focus on the main defining characteristic of many bloggers, and that seems to be obsession. It is hard to deny the fact that Jeff is a driven man, some might call him obsessed. It's also very hard to not say that Legolas fans are driven as well; hell, it's probably easier to call them obsessed, if only to feel superior over them.

Now, not all bloggers are obssessed; it seems to be a common characteristic, not a defining one. Aizuddin seemed to imply that bloggers require some kind of discipline to continue blogging for long periods of time; I say otherwise: a long-term blogger needs only to be obssessed. There are exceptions, of course, but I'm pretty sure that a significant number of bloggers are obsessed over something.

Another commonality that bloggers from both sides share is the obssession over something that is, at least according to a strict view of reality, illusory. Jeff Ooi's tangle with the Law is not something new; Malaysian history is littered with the ruined lives of people who dared to speak up and were harshly suppressed by the government that is supposed to protect them.

The Jeff Ooi Brouhaha: So What's It All About, Really?

That Jeff Ooi did not finally get arrested under the ISA is an interesting development, but merely a novel one: not many people narrowly escape the ISA the way Jeff did. And even then, his escape may actually be merely a tactical retreat on the part of the Malaysian Authorities. Speculation abounds about all of this; again, this is normal for our Malaysian society, a society that has its fair amounts of secrets, shadows and prevarications.

And yet, this novel encounter between the Big Guy and the Little Guy sparked a remarkable frenzy in blogging circles around and in Malaysia — everything from frenzied media coverage to blantant, overwhelming support of Jeff Ooi from people who may not even look at him twice if he crossed their way. To say that Jeff Ooi's rights were abrogated by an irresponsible press is a fairly accurate statement. But again, this is hardly an unusual thing, especially for Malaysians, if the falling NST readership is of any indication.

The Two Faces of The Same Head

I found it bemusing that so much interest was being held over this event, such that I began covering it in a lazy, slapdash manner so typical of me. The amount of emotional dudgeon over one man's threatened freedom was amazing, but what made him so different from other men? What made his near-plight such a rallying call for Bloggers Everywhere?

I couldn't see it. I still don't see it.

I am glad, however, that Jeff's gotten out of it somewhat intact: hell, he got out it even better than you'd expect, considering the fact that they wanted him in Kamunting. But I don't know if people will remember this all in ten years' time — not the way people might remember, say, Anwar Ibrahim.

And I still think blogging as a far more egalitarian and more inclusive activity than what many others wish it would be.

Blogger Jordan F. MacVay said...

Another post about Jeff ooi? I think someone's obsessed. Hehe.

11:56 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...


Quick, someone make comments about, oh I don't know…

d20! GOD, YES. If I make another Jeff Ooi blog post I am going to kill myself

2:51 AM  
Blogger totoro said...

*cough* *cough*

t-boy, i think you did...

8:54 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

totoro: …

This was months ago!

8:57 PM  

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