Monday, February 05, 2007

Star logs and blogs

One nostalgic thing about each episode of Star Trek (it doesn’t matter which crew) is when the captain of the ship USS Enterprise (again, it makes no difference whether it’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard or it’s Captain James Tiberius Kirk, though I think Captain Picard says it a little better) declares his star log entry’s reference number and starting lines. It has always inspired me to make some record of events and thoughts in this life, and give such transient phenomena some form of independent existence outside of my very limited consciousness. When my father came back from Saudi Arabia with all those cassette tapes that we used to send him in lieu of letters, I erased all the tapes’ contents and recorded things that came to mind. It was a weird experience at the beginning listening to my own voice telling me that I was supposed to be taking my afternoon nap (but still a lot better than my mother doing it for me). Nonetheless, I longed for my own command center and captain’s seat at that point.

Then of course, Doogie Howser came along and added to young boys’ imagination the idea of recording everything in a personal computer. It was a complete paradigm shift. Star Trek, space travel, and command centers were all in the realm of fantasy. Having a PC then was something in the here and now. If only we could afford to own one. There would be no need to come out with secret codes like those used by the katipuneros (pinoy revolutionaries circa 1896) and conceal your journal entries from prying parents. Parents wouldn’t know how to use PCs. You could work on your journal entries in the middle of the night, when everybody else would be fast asleep. And you don’t need to think about stashing away all your cassette tapes in a chest buried somewhere in the backyard. Bits and pieces from your inner world will be safely copied and stored in the PCs hard drive, protected by passwords and a single click on the mouse.

As it turned out, it would take a few more years before PCs became common household gadgets among pinoy urbanites. Back in college, we still had to write on hardbound logbooks, paste typewritten poems and compositions, and burn the edges of pages (to produce some angst-filled effects). Imagining myself to be a good writer, I would soon buy my own logbook to bring home and fill with my own musings and doodles. I never did discover what eventually happened to that logbook-cum-journal. But I’m certain that my brothers managed to take more than a peek at its contents. Scrounging among their old notes and papers one day, I would chance upon a familiar love poem that one of them had submitted as a homework in a college course on creative writing in Filipino. There’s still a clear picture in my head now of the musty chaotic room where that poem was written in under ten minutes. Based on the comments in my brother’s notes, his professor seemed to have been quite amused.

Fastforward to the internet age. Web logs or blogs have completely revolutionized the whole journal- and diary-writing world. Gone are the neurotic concerns for secrecy and privacy in writing about one’s life. Bloggers can share their own nooks and crannies of human existence, and still remain safely anonymous or unknown except to a small number of friends who are themselves fellow bloggers. And the fun part is that you can access your blog almost anywhere, as long as you can secure an internet connection. So it’s like publishing you own autobiography, thesis, novel, or whatever, and having the option of defining who your readers are going to be. I was wondering what our psychologists, sociologists, and communication experts would say about the art of blogging and bloggers’ personalities. As a good friend often muses nowadays, it’s technology making this sphere of human activity – writing, sharing information – accessible to everybody. Here’s to another year of authentic, meaningful, and fearless blogging! Bloggers of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our neuroses!

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