I think that I have been somewhat sheltered from the world these past few years. I used hungrily consume news and keep up with the world in high school, but I stopped doing that at HMC, partly because of time and also partly because the place oozed apathy. Also during these years, I had completely missed out on the rise of the blog, despite my usual desire* to keep myself atop the crest of technology. It wasn't that I didn't have a blog; since 1998, my website has always featured a blog-like section where I would post my latest ramblings on a somewhat regular basis (though it was somewhat different structurally from the canonical blog of today). No, it was because I simply did not believe in it. Over half a decade ago, people were rushing to get Blogger accounts, "blog" was starting to turn into the latest new buzzword/hype, and places like LiveJournal were brimming with people posting daily details of their personal life (it took me a while to finally disassociate blogging from LJ-esque diaries). All this left a me with a sour bias, which is why I never even referred to my now-defunct second-generation blog (which was an awkward mix of a heavily sanitized diary plus some dull commentary) on my old website as a "blog" and why I never paid much heed to the growth of the "blogosphere", both as a word and as the thing itself. Ultimately, I was oblivious to the blog...
...until now. And boy, is the blogosphere addictive or what? There are many precious nuggets that I read every day, such as this little excerpt (source) that I read today about what it means to be a moderate:
Perhaps the best definition of a moderate is someone who does not derive all of their political opinions from one or two first principles and stick to them no matter where that may lead them. Those first principles may be relatively crude ("the moral environment that prevailed in the 1950s should be held onto") or fairly sophisticated ("we must maximize the power of the weak over the strong"), but regardless of their origin, they tend to make people into extremely rigid voters. People who see themselves as trading off a whole bunch of values, will have political opinions that are in general less extreme. They will also be more tolerant of other peoples' viewpoints, because they tend to assume that other people are simply weighting different values differently--rather than concluding that the difference of opinion must be caused by some terrible moral failing on the part of others.
I now have about 20 feeds (and quickly growing) in my RSS aggregator. But perhaps most importantly for me, blogging has allowed me to reemerge from the sheltered bubble of HMC's apathy and reconnect with my old self. I enjoy reading a variety of perspectives and insights on the affairs of the world, and my blog has become a delightful outlet for a lot of my own thoughts. Instead of letting the thoughts that occupy my mind during mundane tasks like showering, brushing, and eating evaporate or get lost on the countless pieces of scrap paper that litter my archives (yes, I do think about free markets in the shower; call me a freak), I can now preserve and express them here. I know I don't have much of an audience here, but that doesn't matter because this is mostly for me, and if I get an audience, that would just be a nice bonus. :)
I thoroughly love this, and I only wish that I had started this blog years ago and that I had paid more attention to the rich blogosphere. Of course, that is not to say that the blogosphere is entirely good; most of the blogs are not that interesting or well-written (that probably includes mine), and most of them are not very thoughtful or carry too much bias of dogma (see the above excerpt on moderation or my own rant about lack of moderation), but there are enough gems out there that all this is much more satisfying than watching yet another movie or the other mundane things that I could do to fill my free time.
Anyway, that's enough of me gabbing on about this topic. I've been blogging and reading blogs for nearly a month now, and I've learned a lot. For one, I have learned that my features wish-list for the blogging system that I use has grown a
bit lot. Remember what I said** about kBlog 0.1.0 being nearly feature-complete? Never let a non-blogger decide what features would be nice. I'm currently in the middle of a major overhaul (most of it is stuff that visitors won't notice) of kBlog (version 0.3.0), so that will occupy my free time for a few days, and I'll probably end up doing a couple more versions to add new features after that before finally going for 1.0. I've considered moving to one of the mainstream blogging software packages, but the hassle of installing, configuring, and migrating to something like Wordpress is simply not worth it (and I hate reading manuals), especially since the hassle of hacking up Perl to add some pet features to kBlog would probably about the same, and, most importantly, I'm too comfortable with the control and flexibility of using an in-house system, and for a control freak like me, that means something. ;)
* I started browsing the WWW back in the days of Netscape 1. I used VoIP for the first time in the 90's when AIM added voice to one of its betas. I got a Hotmail account back when it was the Gmail of its era, before it was bought by Microsoft. I first encountered Google back when it was a little-known beta with a very, very crappy-looking logo. I've installed Mozilla-based browsers since Mozilla 0.6, and used Firefox long before it was named Firefox. So I would at least like to think that I keep up with technology. ;)
** That reminds me, I never did get around to posting the kBlog source code. Oh well. I'll post the source when 0.3.0 is finished.