Etchings on the Digital Cave Walls: The Evolving Nature of Blogs

Well hello there. It’s been over 4 months since the last update, and I only posted 9 times in 2013.

these handsIf anyone who happens to read this follows my other creative outlets, you can see that I’ve been anything but dormant – posting regularly to 500px, Flickr, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Despite the silence, I actually traveled quite a lot in 2013: China, around a large swath of the U.S. for 7 weeks, Indonesia, Singapore and destinations throughout the Philippines, most recently the island of Siquijor.

So why the lack of blog posts? Honestly it comes down to sake of ease. When you’re busy, it’s far easier to post a Twitter update or Facebook post than to log into WordPress, deal with formatting or embedding images, etc. I certainly am not the only feeling the effects of this paradigm shift. Check out Kottke’s recent post, “R.I.P. The Blog, 1997-2013” where he said:

Sometime in the past few years, the blog died. In 2014, people will finally notice. Sure, blogs still exist, many of them are excellent, and they will go on existing and being excellent for many years to come. But the function of the blog, the nebulous informational task we all agreed the blog was fulfilling for the past decade, is increasingly being handled by a growing number of disparate media forms that are blog-like but also decidedly not blogs.

Instead of blogging, people are posting to Tumblr, tweeting, pinning things to their board, posting to Reddit, Snapchatting, updating Facebook statuses, Instagramming, and publishing on Medium. In 1997, wired teens created online diaries, and in 2004 the blog was king. Today, teens are about as likely to start a blog (over Instagramming or Snapchatting) as they are to buy a music CD. Blogs are for 40-somethings with kids.

As he clearly states, this was a deliberately provocative statement, and yet rings true on many levels. When I started blogging in 2002, there was essentially no other medium available for posting regular content to the web.

This site began as a method for reaching family and friends who wished to keep up with my (often ridiculous) stories of travel and adventure as a bright-eyed naïve 24 year old new to expatriate life in Indonesia. I suppose it then evolved into a small, interesting community of regular commenters – many of whom I had never met (but many I’ve since met) and yet enjoyed hearing from.

From there it morphed into a place to post my love of photography, but with much less of an introspective spin (probably for the best). And finally, since moving to the Philippines, I’ve had less and less time to maintain my interests outside of work. In just 4  1/2 intensely busy years in Manila, I completed an international teacher’s certification, finished a master’s degree in 2 years, have been teaching master’s courses online and most recently started a new company (all outside of working full time).

So where does this leave this blog? Will I abandon it completely? Would that be preferable to these random, infrequent posts spaced months apart allowing the blog to slowly fade into insignificance and decay?


There may no one left to even read these words beyond the robots that troll for cataloguing every word I type into a permanent archive to shape my future self’s online shopping preferences. And yet, I’m driven to forge on, documenting whatever comes to mind, posting photos from my various travels, (I’m up to about 85,000 untouched photos at the moment).

If nothing else, once I’m at the end of my time on this earth, it’ll be interesting to look back upon these various stages of life with fondness and an appreciation for the years that rolled past, glancing over thoughts authored throughout decades, etched on the digital cave walls reflecting this tiny blip on the radar of existence.

Heavy duty construction on this site

I’m in the middle of upgrading both the WordPress software and the design (K2) that is used on this blog. Please hang in there, it could get rough.

*update* – the WP upgrade went smooth as butter. However, the K2 didn’t. My site was all messed up, so I’ve reverted to the older version again. I simply don’t have the time right now to mess with it. Hopefully I’ll get a moment in the next week or so to get the new version of K2 up and running; time to dust off my coding skills (non-existent I should add).

The bad news? With the WP upgrade, my links (or blogroll) has disappeared. I’m sure once I activate K2’s newest version, they’ll be back. In the meantime – my apologies to those of you who are listed there.

Major Blog Problem

I’m having a major problem with this blog. For whatever reason, my comments are no longer showing up or have been deleted somehow. Additionally, I can no longer properly back up the blog via WordPress. Does anyone have any advice or can offer assistance?

I’m going to be very bummed if all these comments were deleted. I do have a backup of much of this site, but (cringing) not since February. Obviously if comments aren’t working, then you’ll have to email me with any advice: thejavajive (at) gmail (dot) com

Why do you blog?

A very nice communications student from Sweden wrote me, asking permission to ‘interview’ me with questions relating to blogging for her Masters thesis. I thought I’d share some of my answers.

Please excuse the pretentious sounding answers.

What factors determine whether something is worth blogging about for you?

It completely depends upon my mood and the events surrounding me. Living in Indonesia, nothing is static for long. The culture, people, and environment are in a constant state of change. Blogging about these events can become overwhelming or infinitely interesting depending on the perspective you choose to view them from. When I first started blogging in 2002, everything was so fresh and different. My home in the U.S. is quite possibly physically the farthest place on the globe from Jakarta, so every moment was like an awakening of the senses. I found it easy to be inspired.

As time went on, it was quite easy to rant and complain about the struggles of being a foreigner in a foreign land; further offering blogging material. I think after a period, many expats settle into a routine or become more accustomed to living overseas – it was in that period that I found it difficult to come up with a reason to write. Now I’ve eased into a natural state of blogging only when I want; instead of feeling as though I have to post on a daily basis, I think it’s easier to keep going if you’re only posting when something is worth sharing.

Do you blog about what happens to you only, or about what happens to others and in other places?

Without trying to sound pretentious, I’d say the majority of my writing is a very subjective and at times introspective. There are certainly other bloggers in Indonesia who cover the political happenings and the news. They do a fantastic job with that; so I see no reason to try to match what they produce. There are many times when I’d love to share more about my personal life; it seems so odd to keep things separate when some visitors have been dropping by for over four years. However, Jakarta has its share of oddballs and those who may take advantage of that information. So whereas I may blog from a subjective point of view, I don’t share as much about my personal life as I wish I could.

In your opinion, do you think more about the things you blog about, than people who do not blog?

Definitely not. A blog is simply a podium from which to share opinions. Those who blog about a subject are, in my opinion, not necessarily any more aware, thoughtful, or informed than those who choose not to blog. Many may disagree, but blogging about a subject is not an accurate measurement of a person’s wisdom or intellect; it’s simply an avenue from which people may express their thoughts on a particular subject.

On another note, often those who choose to blog about a narrow field of interest (vs a general blog) are more informed about that particular topic; perhaps they have a passion for it and are simply sharing that passion with others. In this case, perhaps they have given that particular area much more thought than the average person and in that case it holds true.

Does it matter who reads your blog?

It has never mattered how many people read my blog. I’ve never taken the steps to dramatically increase my traffic. I have some wonderful readers who visit regularly, some of whom have been doing so for many years. I receive a continual stream of supportive comments and emails; those are the people who make this blogging thing worthwhile. I would much rather have a solid base of interested readers than a huge influx of people who are just skimming the surface.

If you have a hope or a motivation that your blog should do something, what is it that you would like it to do?

Someday I’ll leave this country; I hope my blog becomes a reflection from which I may gaze upon my time spent here in fond remembrance. Indonesia is in the news so often for negative events and problems, that I truly hope that my words and photographs may offer a different perspective. My hope is to share Indonesia’s vitality, beauty, and the simple allure of this breathtaking country with the rest of the world.

Is this site too slow to load?

Indcoup was kind enough to let me know that is very slow to load via his connection. I realize many of you are on absurdly quick connections in other countries, but here in Indonesia we’re ecstatic with 128kbps for $60/month (since there are no other options in our area other than dial-up).

I have a feeling the youtube videos I posted from the floods are slowing this site down for many of you. I can also limit the number of posts on the front page to a smaller number (although most first time visitors are notorious for never venturing off the front page).

I know this site probably needs a revamping of it’s design, but if it ain’t broke…

Any thoughts?

javajive Blog's Four Year Anniversary

Well, it’s been quite a ride. Four years ago, I first started laying down my thoughts, photos, and ramblings with digital ink on this blog.

October 2002 was a completely different time for me. I had only been in Indonesia a few months, and everything still held that glistening sheen of wonderment and interest. The Bali bombing (first one) had just happened, the mess in Iraq had not yet begun, bird flu was basically unheard of, and the hearts of those taken during the Asian Tsunami were still beating.

All of my belongings could fit into a couple of suitcases.

These last four years have brought about more change in my life than any in the History of Me. Changes which never reach the light of day in this blog, at least not at first glance.

In 2002 I had no idea what a ‘blog’ was or how to even begin one. I had basically no web designing skills, didn’t have any web space of my own, and had very little interest in photography as an artform. (and used a 4mp Canon s40).

All I knew was that I needed some way to document my time spent in this crazy, beautiful, exotic land called Java. Emails were the method of choice in the beginning, but soon I felt as though I were force-feeding my detailed accounts of dealing with the food, traffic, and language barriers to my friends and family. I craved something with more control, more documentation, and possibly even the ability to offer some perspectives to other expats contemplating life in Indonesia.

I started out using Blogger on a .blogspot account. I knew very little of what I was doing, and if something broke, I had a hell of a time fixing it. I look back on my earlier writing and realized that it didn’t really sink in to that 25 year old that whatever is posted becomes permanent in the Blogosphere. I sounded so, well, naive I guess. Sometimes I’d have a bad day with traffic or situations where the locals were driving me crazy, and just rant about it without any caution thrown to the Google wind. Even though I had cooled off about the situation, two years later someone visiting the blog may have gotten the impression I was a prick.

Two years ago, armed with a bit more self-taught knowledge of web design and some basic CSS skills, I started using WordPress on my own hosted web space. Although the layout and design has changed a few times, things are basically the way they were in 2004.

For quite some time, I’ve struggled with the dilemma of sharing more of my personal life or maintaining a more streamlined photoblog. People have given advice for both sides of the coin, and thus far I’ve kept many aspects of my life away from this site. I still am unresolved on this topic.

I plan to continue blogging and maintaining this site well into the future, but time will tell what other changes may come about and whether I’ll be inclined to share them with the world or not. I’ve lost a bit of that naivety, and in some ways have become a completely different person. Then again, who doesn’t look back on their past self knowing their shadow seems a bit different?

University may have been my formal education, but these past four years have been my life’s education.

How has life changed for you in the past four years?

Asia Blog Awards

The Asia Blog Awards 2006-2007 are now happening. This blog has been nominated for “Best Asian Photoblog”. If you’d like to know more about these awards, there’s more information available here.

If you’re interested in voting, I’ve created a garish button on the right column that will remain up until either A) I win. B) I lose. C) I get off my arse and make a conscious effort to take it down.

I appreciate the nomination.

New Photoblog or Just Playin?

I’ve been messing around with the idea of creating a straight-up photoblog with minimal writing for those visitors who seek only the imagery. I also would rather be able to display the photos in a larger size than the blog allows for.

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I have a gallery that hasn’t been updated in forever, a flickr account that is consistently updated but lacks my own personalization, a smugmug account from which I sell prints (and never upload to), and of course this blog. Somehow that seems like one too many already.
I’ve toyed with the idea of a separate blog for my writing and a photoblog for photos for quite some time, but haven’t actively pursued it for a few reasons:

  • the blog definitely receives decent traffic and many long time visitors whom most likely don’t wish to try to keep up with multiple sites
  • often the photos have a story behind them, and reiterating on two separate sites seems like overkill (and a lot of work)
  • flickr, although not the prettiest, does provide a huge audience. I’ve received a few ‘jobs’ via flickr already.
  • who wants to try updating 5 different sites?

So despite these points I spent a lot of time yesterday setting up this: The Java Jive Photoblog. It’s definitely unfinished, unpolished, and lacking content; consider this an experiment only. What are your thoughts on handling this ‘problem’? Should I just stick with the blog/flickr/smugmug (and maybe utilize the gallery I already have)? Should I pursue the photoblog idea?