By Candice Montenegro, Contributor INQUIRER.net WHAT if you were given a chance to reveal a secret without anyone ever knowing itâs yours? Would you? PostSecret is a blog that allows you share your deepest, darkest secrets anonymously. The blog is a collection of secrets from people across the US and around the world conta ining revelations ranging from childhood humiliation and betrayal, to funny exp eriences and fantasies. You can reveal practically anything, and you only have to follow two rules: it must be true and it should never have been previously shared with anyone else. Frank Warren, the artist behind the project, put up the blog in January 2005 an d has since received and displayed up to 200,000 secrets. The site is updated e very Sunday with 20 new secrets, all 4-by-6-inch postcards in which the secrets are written, drawn or otherwise creatively put together. The site is simple and straightforward. The artwork is posted one after the oth er, sometimes with a short explanation or story. Past secrets arenât archived a nd cannot be accessed after an update. And you can't post comments on the blog, in keeping with its non-judgmental feel. The blog also features a PostSecret Community where readers can participate in a forum and check schedules for PostSecret events. It also features Video Secrets that are much like the traditional postcards, except the secrets are revealed throu gh a montage of sorts. PostSecret won the Best Blog category in the 2007 Weblog Awards. It also gave birth to inter national counterparts PostSecret France and PostSecret auf Deutsch. The idea is also starting to catch on locally, in young blogs such as Code Blued. Warren stresses in the site that he cannot vouch for the truthfulness of all th e secrets he receives. Each postcard, however, is a work of art that has differ ent layers of truth that can mean different things to different people. He also says that a secret we keep to ourselves sometimes becomes true only aft er we read it on a strangerâs postcard. Some people probably find consolation in knowing that somewhere out there, some one is hiding the same dirty little secret. To most, it's simply entertaining t o read another person's embarrassing, disgusting or stupid secret. Is it any wonder then that the postcards keep coming?
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By Abigail Kwok INQUIRER.net IT was not until two years ago that I got hooked into blogging. Before that, I found it absurd that people would post their thoughts and their daily activities for all the world to see. I found it even more absurd that peo ple would post on their blogs yet change the preferences to private so other pe ople will not read the entries. I thought, "Why create an online diary if you a re not going to make it public anyway?" So I shunned the idea of creating my own blog, even as my friends maintained ei ther a personal website or an account with a blog site. But everything changed two years ago. My friend sent me a link to her blog, and I decided to check it out. Within minutes, I found myself absorbed in reading her blog and was amused at how many people gave their inputs to her entries. It was more like an onlin e community where you can share your thoughts with your friends and they get to share their points of view as well. It was then that I realized that blogs are more than just personal diaries wher e you write your daily activities. Rather, blogs are powerful tools for communi cating with others. Nowadays, people use their blogs to share their most intima te thoughts, such as political views, entertainment rants and raves, and cultur al views. Blogs like that of Newsbreak and PCIJ are just some of the popular online journals that people regularly visit to read ab out political insights and editorials. That was when I decided to start my own blog. I created an account with LiveJournal, one of the popu lar blog sites today. What got me hooked into LiveJournal, or LJ, is that it al lows you to create and participate in an online community where you can connect with hundreds of people. Itâs also a plus that most of my friends have LJ acco unts, making it easier for me to connect with them. Having an LJ account also l ets me get in touch with my friends because I can read their entries and share my comments. It also gives me the venue to create new relationships, like parti cipating in online communities and groups. Below are some of the features available in LiveJournal:
- LJ communities -- these function like online discussion boards where people group together to discuss common interests, like tea or Harr y Potter. I, for one, am a member of several The Beatles LJ communities. T he perks? I get updated about anything Beatles-related, like reunion conce rts, Beatles merchandise, and even Beatles gossip. This is a great way to get connected from people all over the world who share the same interests as you.
- The LJ Scrapbook -- if you own your personal scrapbook, then m anaging the LJ Scrapbook will be a breeze for you. The LJ Scrapbook allows you to post pictures of memorable events or people and personalize them a ccording to your preference and style. LJ provides 1GB of free storage spa ce for you to post all the photos and media you want.
- Memories -- if you have a memorable event or occasion you want to remember forever, then place it in your LJ Memories.
- Customization -- LJ allows you to customize your blog site dep ending on your style and preference. Your blog site includes an avatar or a picture of you that acts as your ID or nametag, so to speak. When you wr ite your entries, you can also indicate your mood, and location, as well a s the kind of music you are listening to right at the moment. This gives y our reader a background or context of you as the writer as you were writin g that particular entry.
- Protect your entries -- another perk offered by LJ is protection. You can customize your entries with its protection feature. So if you want just a handful of close friends to read your entry, you can create your own list of people that you want access to your entry/entries.
- User-friendly -- LJ is also user-friendly. If you arenât knowl edgeable with HTML, you donât have to worry, because LJ has a step-by-step guide on how to manage and customize your site. It is also very easy to n avigate, so it is also great for beginners. I have to admit though, that L J is not as easy as Blogger or Wordpress. Neverthe less, its features are easy to learn.
By Erwin Oliva INQUIRER.net WHAT if you get a famous British writer, say, Neil Gaiman, to help you propose to your girlfriend during a book-signing event. Wouldn't that be cool? A Filipino blogger tried and succeeded. The story begins with Jason Drilon, a Filipino writer for a local advertising a gency who had been blogging for close to five years. Egged on by his friends to make his proposal "creative," he decided to drop Gaiman an e-mail through his popular blog. It was, as he recalled it, suntok sa buwan, a Filipino p hrase which roughly means he had his fingers crossed when he sent a long e-mail to the famous British author. Narrating his whole experience on a Multiply blog for the world to see, Drilon (and fiancÃ©e Maui Reyes) has somehow touched Gaiman himself who in turn blog ged about it. In the blog post "So you know," Gaiman wrote, "You want to know what my favorit e bit of the trip to the Philippines was. It was this," referring to the indivi dual blog entries of Maui. "I wanted this proposal to be something a bit out-of-the-ordinary (understateme nt) and particularly relevant to Maui's and my life. We're both Neil geeks (hav ing lined up for hours at the Fully Booked event(s) last 2005) and are big, big fans of his work. That and I was under pressure from friends to make it a 'cre ative' proposal. But this wouldn't have been possible without Neil's blog and 'Ask Neil' section," Drilon said, when asked how blogging and the Internet played a part in his own love s tory. "I mean, I would have exhausted all resources to contact him if there wasn't an y Internet, and even with the Internet, I was pretty sure that Neil wouldn't ha ve answered me anyway. We have a term, "suntok sa buwan" -- ayun, that was it. I just sent the e-mail and hoped somebody on the other side would pick it up. And when his assistant replied with Neil's ans wer, well -- you can say that it put a huge smile on my face. It really showed that Neil, while a superstar, still takes time out to answer and establish good relations with his fans. Neil rocks. I can't say that enough," Drilon added. After Gaiman blogged about his extraordinary proposal, Drilon said his blog tra ffic increased (so did Maui's, which accumulated a lot of comments). "It was like a comment bomb," he added, as he didn't expect his entry to genera te overwhelming "web publicity." Asked how blogging played a role in their love story, Reyes said it helped shar e their story with other people. "It doesn't really affect much of our relation ship as a couple. My boyfriend just proposed marriage like every other husband did -- only ours was made more 'public' because of the Web," she said. A blogger since 2002, Reyes said she was overwhelmed when Gaiman wrote on her b ook, "Will you marry Jason?" "The first thing that popped into my head was, 'How do you know my boyfriend's name?' The second was just 'Omygawd Neil Gaiman is in front of me, omygawd.' Ne il had to force me to open the book in order to read and process it. "I was only looking forward to saying hi to Neil Gaiman and giving him a peck o n the cheek. The proposal was totally unexpected. I call it, 'How Jason ruined my Neil Gaiman moment.' [Only] after we left the venue did I remember that my favorite author was right in front of me, and that he only signed one book when we brought two!" she added. Reyes blogs about anything, but when asked about her thoughts about it, she rep lied: "It's a wonderful double-edged sword. Blogging was started by individuals who were not afraid to express their views and opinions, which made people turn to them for information that they believed the media pos sibly sugar-coated. Oh, and bloggers should keep in mind that whatever they pub lish online is fair game. I've had my fair share of embarrassing moments online ," she said. Drilon, for his part, blogs about his hobbies like diving and adventure racing. He also posts photos of his dives in his Multiply account. "DiveAbout was a repository for my underwater pictures, travel snaps and restau rant reviews," he said. "I use blogging as another way to exercise my writing skills. As Maui and I are both advertising writers, we're more or less confined to keeping our writing s hort and sweet. For TV commercials, we [have] to write stories that rarely go p ast 30 seconds, and for print ads, it almost always is capped off at five sente nces. So you could say blogging is our catharsis, a venue to rant, rave and sha re stuff. Anything we experience, discover and pick up," he said. Asked if they intend to blog about their wedding, and perhaps invite Gaiman to witness it, Drilon replied, "Though we're far from planning our wedding, yes, w e (at least I) plan to blog (though selectively) about it. I think it would be a good thing as well since not all our friends will be able to attend. At least they can live vicariously through our blogs. Hah! More so if Neil actually attends. But that's another s tory altogether, right?" Reyes, on the other hand, said Gaiman is definitely invited. "Although I think I'll have more luck stopping global warming than have him sho w up! Maybe if I win the lottery, I can afford his talent fee," she said.
FILIPINO blogger Ding Fuellos thought nobody would notice his simple act of ext ending his sympathies for the families who have lost a loved one during last we ek's mall blast that killed 11 people. "Everyone seems to be blogging about what happened, to the point of pointing fi ngers to every possible suspect in the country. Everyone is busy trying to know what the cause of the blast was. Every blogger is interested on the political angle, and its repercussions, too mechanical, too cognitive. But no one is payi ng attention to the mourners themselves. I would have written my own blog abou t this incident but what counted more was the fact that there seems to be no on e expressing their sympathy to the families of the victims," he said in an e-ma il interview. Fuellos, author of the Inkblots: Life Unraveled blog, has urged bloggers to offer their prayers and post a photo of a flower in their blogs. Initially, the response was not very encouraging. He decided to make a similar call on Flickr, an online photo sh aring service. He wrote in his blog, "Waiting for a few hours, and when no one heeded my call to show sympathy to the bereaved, I asked 3 of my Flickr groups (Semana Santa F ilipinas, Pinoycentric, and Pinoy Kodakero) to post their flower photos as a si gn of sympathy to the bereaved. I was surprised with the response. I believe th ese people are very busy, yet they found the time to post something for the Glo rietta victims' families. Many have already responded, and I hope there would b e more in the coming hours/days. I never thought it is possible. We usually/ no rmally send real flowers. But this time, we realize e-flowers will make it poss ible!" To date, he said that more than 30 people have posted photos of flowers to supp ort his cause. "As of now, there are 32 photographers who have posted their photos. At least t wo have posted more than 1 photo. We still have small number but I am praying t here would be more," he said. Fuellos said he wanted the families of the victims of the Glorietta 2 mall blas t to see the outpouring of sympathy from different people. "They can access the Internet and see for themselves the number of people from different parts of the world who pay their last respects for the dead and show sympathy to the bereaved. If I have my way, I would go to at least one of thos e who are mourning to give a real flower. I have always believed that blogging will always play a vital role in our lives and I thought of running this and se e if we can achieve something by blogging and gather kind-hearted people who wi ll show their sympathy," he added.
By Myrna Rodriguez-Co Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--In this digital age, people donât just exchange mobile pho ne numbers and e-mail addresses. Theyâve also begun swapping web and blog addre sses. Having a blog is a badge of honor among serious Internet users. Itâs like sayin g: "I have an online home, you have yours. You visit me and Iâll visit you.â As they read and comment on each otherâs posts, bloggers form friendships and b uild an online society like no other. This is known as the blogosphere, where m embers converse, share ideas, join forces for some common cause, arrange to mee t face-to-face, and, yes, differ and bicker. Bloggers are arguably the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me of Internet users. Their demograp hy reveals that they are young (15-35), highly literate, and upwardly mobile. T hey are perceived as an influential group that can persuade people, mold public opinion and even sell products. An indication of how influential bloggers have become is the fact that big busi ness has started paying attention to them. Globe Telecom began the trend of gat hering bloggers in product launches and other events. SM Hypermarket elevated i t a notch higher with blogger parties, a blogging contest, and blogsites of its own. Product development and the marketing staff of food companies are known t o monitor food blogs to feel the consumersâ pulse. Restaurants like Portico and Maxâs Fried Chicken invite bloggers to sample their menu and ambiance. Meanwhi le, the number of businesses placing advertising spots on high-traffic blogs is growing as well. Blogging power was palpably demonstrated recently when a newspaper columnist wh o earned the public ire with her elitist remarks against OFWs, buckled down, ap ologized and offered to resign after bloggers started an online campaign agains t her. Already questions are being asked of blogs as a new medium of âcitizen journali sm.â Will they threaten paper-and-ink newspapers and magazines? Will they edge out the more traditional websites? How much more impact can they make on doing business? Blogging wasnât too respectable in the late 1990s, when the first blogs appeare d. Back then, a blog was little more than an online diary or journal of events. It was at first dismissed as an easy, sleazy way of publicly revealing or prom oting oneself. Today, there are an estimated 200,000 Pinoy bloggers -- from about 40,000 a yea r ago -- and hundreds of different kinds of blogs. Many are still very personal and journal-like. Some are philosophical, political, family-oriented. There ar e blogs for every hobby or interest imaginable: sports, music, entertainment, f ood, home, arts and crafts, fashion and style, health and fitness. There are in dividual and group blogs or networks as well as business, professional, technol ogy and advocacy blogs. Many bloggers are frustrated writers who find instant gratification in blogging . âI am oh-so-familiar with rejection slips,â admits one newbie blogger. âNow I have become an author, editor and publisher.â There are, of course, blogs and blogsâand those that have made it. âMaking itâ means different things to different bloggers, of course. It could mean making b ig bucks out of blogging, winning a prestigious award, or simply being read by thousands of loyal followers. Any âA Listâ of local blogsites will include yugatech.com by Abe âYugaâ Olandres, widely regarded as a pione er and master among Pinoy bloggers. Blogging since 2000, he owns many other sit es and portals that earn income for him. Bloggers and readers log on to his pin oytopblogs.com for an objective ranking of the best blogsites by popularity and category. Another blogging pioneer is J. Angelo Racoma, who talks about making money from blogging at The J Spot. He knows whereof he speaks: he left a comfortable 8 to 5 job to blog fulltime. He now works from home as editor-in-chief of an international blogging network, wh ich enables him to hire his kababayans as bloggers, researchers, and web design ers. The Racomas are a blogging family â from the matriarch, Dine, 49, down to the baby, Alan, Jr., 11. Connie Veneracion, who quit lawyering for mothering, founded pinoymomsnetwork.com this February and parlayed it months later into a widely-read electronic magazine run by about a hundred members who exchange mommy stories. Connie, who began blogging in 2003, is also the author of two food blogs, pinoycook.com and pinoyfoodtalk.net. Noemi Lardizabal-Dado, may be a come-lately, but her months-old aboutmyrecovery.com won last year in the first-ever blogging category of the Philippine Web Awards, which used to re cognize only websites. She writes about bouncing back from the loss of her youn g son and translating grief into positive energy through various advocacies, in cluding support for the bereaved. Olandres, Racoma and Dado are all professional bloggers who have succeeded in m onetizing their blogs on the basis of readership volume. Olandres, however, war ns that âblogging is no get-rich-quick schemeâ and that âblogging is for everyo ne but earning from blogs is for a few.â The launching of the Philippine Blog Awards (PBA) this year was an unmistakable signal that blogging has finally come into its own. According to Jayvee Fernan dez, award co-organizer and another master blogger (abuggedlife.com), blogs are judged by a panel, repres enting both mainstream and the new blogging media, on the basis of the followin g criteria: quality of content, consistency in sticking to niche topics, freque ncy of blogging, popularity, and design. The PBAâs plum âbloggersâ choice awardâ was won by Market Man of marketmanila.com authored by a semi-ret ired management consultant who writes about âoverspending in markets and food s hops,â âchopping vegetables for therapy,â and cooking up a storm in his kitchen with a six-burner Viking stove, three refrigerators, and 200 cookbooks.