Wednesday, July 06, 2005

More Slagging Off Mister Sia!

…alah, not really lah. Kesian the poor bugger.

Actually, the whole brouhaha started from this one snippet:

We talked about the Singaporean blog culture, the upcoming Blogger's convention, the commercial aspect of blogging, among other things. One thing I realised from our conversation is how much more mature and serious the blog culture is in Singapore compared to the rest of Asia. Its evident from the facts. Mr brown, Miyagi are writing for Today; Wendy is writing for The New Paper, Maxim, endorsing LocalBrand; and most interestingly, commercial entities are APPROACHING the Bloggercon organizers for sponsorship, instead of the other way round.

All these are happening while Malaysian bloggers are still gloating over how they got their first cheques from Google Adsense.

Aduh, zing! And then suddenly all these people hentam him for being traitor to Malaysian bloggokind. Oh noes! What to do?

Actually, Kenny has a point.

He's got a point when he says that Singaporean bloggers and Malaysian bloggers are different. Of course they are — there's a slew of differences between Malaysian and Singaporean culture that are remarkably evident, especially if you cross the Straits. There's nothing mysterious about that.

What Kenny flubs in his explanation is in his use of the word “mature”. You know, for a Big Name Blogger he sure made a poor choice in using that word.

Malaysian blogging aren't less mature than Singapore blogging — what Singapore blogging is that Malaysian blogging isn't is mainstream.

A medium's maturity isn't defined by how easily mainstream culture absorbs it. Examples that come to mind, at least for me, include comics (when don't they, when it comes to me talking about media?).

Comics enjoyed this remarkable spike in popularity in the popular conscience, way back in the early 20th century, with the works of Winsor McCay actually gracing the pages of newspapers, not in the strangled comic-strip syndication deals we get nowadays, but as full-blown works of art, as a feature.

Look at McCay's works, and compare it to Singapore bloggers writing appearing in print publications, and the wooing of bloggers by Singapore mainstream media. There are a few differences (McCay engaged with the news media as as himself, and not in their own terms), but the similarities are there, and can be made into pretty good comparisons.

But were comics in the early 20th century considered “mature” media? Hardly. That period showed an incredible proliferation of two kinds of work — experimental works ala Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland, and imitatory works, ala Batman, Superman, and other early superhero works.

Seriously. Early Batman comics, for example, were straight (somewhat) translations of traditional detective fiction — the only difference being that the detective in this case wore spandex. Superman was modeled after mythical heroes, and its tales were straightforward morality plays that appealed to pulp fiction fans, who more often than made up the new audience for comic readers.

It's the same kind of tale for other kinds of media as well — early stories were more often than not transcribings of oral tales, early prose fiction were essentially epic poems forced into sequential text, early computer game efforts resembled board games and serious literature.

And ‘early blogs’ resemble… what? Diaries, made online? Editorials, made online? Journalistic pieces, made online? Academic dissertations, simplified and made online? Ranting, made online?

Dude, blogs and blog culture are nowhere near mature. I suspect, at any rate, that blogs and blog culture anywhere won't start becoming mature until years from now, when people finally know what to do with blogs and what blogs are best at, the way people know what to do with comics and what comics are good at.

Until then, wait with bated breath.

Addendum: Hmm. Pinging both Kenny's and Paul's blog nets me with a big fat zero. Pages won't update.

…hmm. Oh well. Their loss. I've got better things to do with my life. And besides, Hani wants my attention now.

Blogger Najah said...

As we see with the (failed) attempt to use blogs as a marketing tool by a certain phone company, there are many reasons why the Singapore situation cannot be immediately replicated in our country.

1) Lack of adequate infrastructure makes internet readership via blogs an inadequately-attractive option for marketers. What is the reach of a few thousand people as opposed to getting a 30 second slot during AF?

2) Media houses tend to be extremely conservative when it comes to the media that they bet their clients brands on.

There were experiments by the Sun to introduce blogs as part of their public interaction toolkit and we also saw how that went. It takes stamina and journalists-who-try-to-blog as opposed to blogging-journalists haven't gotten the hang of it. After all, it's not that easy to replicate the efforts of the Washington Post in this respect.

Nonetheless, it doesn't mean we Malaysians can't do it. It's just we haven't.

10:21 PM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

I don't even think trying to ape the Washington Post is the right way to go.

I've always had this problem with blogging being the bastard second-cousin of journalism, when it really shouldn't be.

You want a really mature medium? Explore what it can do. Do stuff with it no one's done before. Scandalize people, open their minds, fuck with their emotions the way you know blogs can.

And as far as I'm concerned, a mature blogging culture can only begin once you've matured the medium, and defined what it can do best.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Paul Tan said...

ah? well, we've already concluded the topic to me misunderstanding what kenny meant. my fault.

12:57 AM  
Blogger Lionel said...

As much as you'd be miffed about the underappreciation of comics history, I'd feel the same way in the case of blog history. :)

The early blogs (from as far back as 1998 I think) were NOT online diaries. They were pure weblogs, barely just a chronological list of links discovered on the web. Some were manually maintained plain websites, some of the smarter pioneers invented blog publishing scripts.

The first mass-user blog publishing software I remember was Greymatter; MovableType came later by the turn of the millennium, and Wordpress relatively recently. Meanwhile free blog services began with Pitas, and then its well-known successor Blogger, and then the proliferation of imitators.

Through all this, the OTHER faces of blogging developed: the diaries, the commentaries, the parodies, etc. The blogosphere has evolved to become as it is today, and who knows what's in store for the future.

There, got it off my chest.

- resident blog history buff
lionel.blogs.com.my

1:49 AM  
Blogger T-Boy said...

Lionel: I'm not disputing what you say (though I'd probably shout at you, “History? History? What effing history?”), but just because I appreciate comics history doesn't mean I want it to go back to the days when comics artists were essentially seen as ‘whimsical’, ‘not serious’, and performed in vaudeville. I mean, for crying out loud… Vaudeville.

Well at least it wasn't burlesque. Actually burlesque would have been better. At least there would have been some boobs around.

8:10 AM  
Blogger thquah said...

I think a few readers misunderstood kennysia message. I feel it's was written with honesty.(like you say the choice of word 'mature')Sometimes certain words can be so misleading.

9:57 AM  

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