Blogging is as old as the Internet. Online diaries, and journals took to one form or another in the digital communities of old. When the web was born, and websites rose to prominence, naturally the medium evolved. It was the same, yet different.
Sites like blogger, and wordpress made it very easy to create a website, and so made it easy for people to start experimenting with the medium. The world over, blogs have risen to the height of Media giants of old. The weblog Huffington Post, and TechCrunch for example have become so influential that they are now legitimate sources of news.
In the Philippines, the experiment is no different. We have all sorts of blogs. Some do it for fun. Others have a more entrepreneurial bent. There are foodies, and fashionistas. There are diarists, and opinion blogs. There are tech blogs, and music blogs. There are Facebook notes, and private plurks. There are photoblogs, and travelogues. There are even adult blogs.
The rich diversity of our citizenry speaks volumes of the blogs that have been created and will still be created. There are journalists, and lawyers, there are homemakers, and students. There are marketers, and salesmen. There are bishops, and teachers. There are scientists, and medical doctors.
In that rich diversity, we each have cliques. There are plurkfiestas and tweetups. We laugh with tears of joy at our meme. We have arguments, and wars. And from time to time, we come together, telling stories, having jokes away from our keyboards and in real life. We have made friendships because we are online.
And here we are.
There are two interests at play here. First there is the business aspect: the marketing, the advertising; people who use the medium as a business. Then there is the push to be political. To have a more formalized organization to push an agenda, which ever is the agenda of the day.
The opposition to a national bloggers association range from gadfly, to naturally satirical genius. Opposition is deep because the words, “national bloggers association,” could mean in the ears and eyes of non-bloggers to represent all of us who blog, which is hardly the case, as Atheista points out.
Juned described the reaction as stirring a digital hornet’s nest. He seems to want a blogger’s association, with reservations. He agrees with the concept, and so long as it is non-partisan, and does not serve any business interest.
Jayvee Fernandez makes an excellent point: make the national bloggers association more RockEd-like.
Manuel Viloria sees it as a marketing question.
The issue is so polarizing.
The thread Aileen Apolo is at, she sees, “Blogging is a niche market.” Aileen described what many bloggers’ relationship with their blog is. It is a hobby. It is a page where she doesn’t wish to be subjected to rules, other than rules she deemed. It is her blog, and she owns the pixels on it.
The proposed National Bloggers Association wants to be everything our online world is. It seeks to present political action, perhaps in such cases like Broadband caps. It seeks to take on the question of setting “standards,” for advertising. In short, it seeks to be all encompassing. And it cannot be, largely because of the nature of the medium. Entirely because we are already a loose federation that self-organizes depending on the circumstance.
Regnard Raquedan strikes a good point. A national blogger’s association can never represent every blogger. It can never represent a majority of bloggers. What he says it should represent are the professional bloggers.
The question of a national bloggers association, make us revisit timeless questions. “What is blogging?” “What is new media?” “What is social media?” What does it mean for me?
“I think it is a mistake to attribute to the medium and the inhabitants of the medium traditional, old-school ways of organising. The strength of social media is its fluidity, its permeability, its non-excludability. Action is based primarily on voluntarism. With regard to matters of interest to all of us, consensus is reached instantaneously as we share information on Twitter, Plurk, Facebook etc. Nobody is constrained to do anything. We do not assign for ourselves permanent obligations and duties vis-à-vis the ‘blogging community.’ What is held constant are our common interests as bloggers. We want reliable internet connection, we want freedom of information and we will fight tooth and nail to defend freedom of expression.”
—Liberty Chee, “The Trouble with a National Blogger’s Association.”
Liberty Chee phrases it so well, at least for those of us with political blogs, “Blogging is what happens before political action takes place——- for whatever end that may be. It would be a mistake to conflate the practice with the intent.”
Another well-respected political blogger, Angela Stuart-Santiago left a comment in response to what Liberty wrote, adding, “Should political action take place, we participate not us bloggers, but as citizens.”
Marck is correct. We have been united when the need called us. We are divided in times of debate, like on this issue. We have rocked, and rolled, and I would say we have in every meme, and satire. Through it all, we, as Marck eloquently put it, “Have established that blogging is a personal enterprise, an informal setting, a mirror to society.”
But the times are changing, right? It is no longer, just “a blog.” The essence of our online activities echo what blogs are, and what blog is to us, and it has morphed and exploded in social media in general.
Do our Foursquare checkins to food places, make us foodistas?
Do our instagrams make us travel bloggers?
Do our tweets with our retweets and our hashtags tell the world our opinion, whether it is about the new iPad, or some social issue in Egypt or the Philippine House of Representatives make us opinion writers?
Do our Nation States and our Coalitions make us political bloggers?
Facebook has become a microcosm of the Web; YouTube as well. And our plurks at times show the telenovelas of our lives.
To speak of a blogging community today, is to speak of a Philippine online community, and it already is a loose federation, united depending on situation, divided during debates. Whether we blog, we tweet, we Facebook, we youtube, we plurk; we checkin at Foursquare; we instagram; whether we do one activity, or master them all, speaks volumes of where this social medium has brought us. In these changed times, the essence of what blogging is; what blogging is to different people remains and has grown to mean, what Social media is; what social media is to different people.
And the objection to a formalized National Bloggers Association? It comes from the nature of the medium, and the community it has created. David Clark, Chief Protocol Architect in the development of the Internet immortalized it in these timeless words, and I think explains the whole thing best, “We reject: kings, presidents, and voting. We believe in: rough consensus and running code.”
Manolo Quezon was right. We are tribes. And what we do on cyberspace, is not removed from real life. “Because each of us,” Manolo Quezon concluded in his 2010 Philippine Blog Awards keynote address, “in our heart of hearts wants to leave something tangible out there, to show we once were, and that as we were, so did we care: mightily, even daringly, to the best of our ability and for posterity.”
“I blog, therefore, I am.” That, makes all the difference.
Disclosure: I too received a copy of the blogger’s manifesto from Tonyo. He asked for comment. The Board of Trustees of the ProPinoy Project debated the issue, and in the spirit by which the correspondence was sent to me, we have replied in private. As such, this entry is my personal opinion, and does not reflect The ProPinoy Project, nor does it represent the site’s writers.