It’s December 22, 1996. My 10 year old Lauren sick with asthma comforted herself by writing her first journal entry at personal website at the worldkids.net project. Inspired by an online friend, Hayley , she started “Lauren’s Journal”. It continues to be shown at the worldkids.net because the domain owners believe it is a lifetime project. I mention “journal”. In the Web 1.0 era, blogging was unheard of. Instead, we saw personal home pages, the personal diary and daily opinion column. One of the most highly touted features of the Web 2.0 era is the rise of blogging. At its most basic, a blog is just a personal home page in diary format. For clarity sake, I now refer to it as a “blog” . They say Lauren is the First Pinoy Blogger.
I can’t help reading her archives and smiling at her childlike qualities. In all her 10 year old innocence, she still believed in Santa Claus…
Finally….the moment I’ve been waiting for. It’s already 8:00 and my mom and dad will soon pick my grandparents up. Then we will go to Midnight Mass and eat our Christmas dinner. And we get to open one present. Oh yeah, might as well sleep in the couch tonight so I can catch that Santa guy!
In those days, there were less than 20,000 internet users in the Philippines. Basically, it was new and alien. I think people do get especially worked up for some reason over the Internet. Internt transformed a fear driven society close to absolute paranoia where it was unhealthy to expose oneself online. “Loser”, “Loner”, “Geek” are words often used to describe the internet users. Lauren and I received so much criticism due to our internet presence. Here is one painful encounter from her English teacher culled from one of her entries…
I also got introduced to the Internet when I was in grade 4. I formed a club, and I have many friends from around the world.
The bad part about the Internet was that everyone in my fifth grade class thought that I was some weirdo that just stepped out of a UFO and said, ““Welcome to technology.” And to make matters worse, my homeroom teacher made everything twice as complicated as it was.
One time, I was just looking down and she said, ““You’re sleeping again.” I couldn’t say I was only looking down on the floor because she might go on and on and make a speech there on talking back to teachers. So I said, ““I slept late last night.” Then she said, ““Thinking of your computer again?”
Hel-lo?! Just because I had a computer doesn’t mean that I think about it every spare moment of my time!! People like her made me so mad. And some of my classmates always asked me, ““How’s your computer?” Blah, blah, blah.
I want to wring this teacher’s neck. Perhaps, she felt threatened that her pupil knew more about computers . A few relatives grew alarmed. “Don’t you think it’s dangerous”. Instead of smarting over their criticisms, I did something about it by drafting Internet safety guidelines for children around the world. (The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act was implemented only in 1998). It’s the role of parents to remind our kids that the internet is a public space and certain safety rules apply.
Look at the internet 10 years later. 55% of Pinoy Bloggers are under 19 years old. A similar survey shows that the percentage figures in the Pinoy blogosphere is not far from the global usage. Of the world’s approximately 38 million “blogs,” or self-published Web pages, 52.8 percent belong to those age 19 or younger, according to survey data from the Perseus Co., a maker of Web-surveying software. Who has the last laugh? The so-called losers now have an award. Time Magazine Person of 2006 is You, me and everyone else. The new media age of Web 2.0 is here to stay and transforming the information age. I guess when something new comes out at first, it is viewed with suspicion.
Today, ten years later, Lauren is a 20 year old graduating student. She’d rather be known as a writer than as a blogger. After writing more than 3,000 blog entries, she honed her writing skills. It’s but natural that she got to be part of her school paper during her freshman year and moved on as Associate Editor of “Katipunan”, an independent student magazine eagerly awaited by the school deans and professors every month. Updating her public blog is not that frequent though she maintains a “private blog” somewhere where her mom can’t read censored stuff. Entries to her public blog diminished perhaps there is not much need to rant and rave.
Blogging will continue to be a creative expression for teens. Blogging can help them connect with friends, exercise their creativity and share their views. Kids need a place to vent some of their frustrations, and a blog offer their voices to be heard by friends.
Today (December 22) is the Pinoy Bloggers Christmas Meetup. Hope you can all join in the fun. Lauren wants to go this time. Here are the details:
Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf
Mall of Asia, South Wing (back part facing Manila Bay)
Dinner will be along that alley as well
7:00PM to 2:00AM