equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
13 Jan 09

Missing The Old

I’ve been read­ing Andrea’s blog lately. Normally, I don’t read blogs of peo­ple I’ve never met1, and even though I’ve met Andrea, I’ve never had a pen­e­trat­ing con­ver­sa­tion with her, let alone got­ten to know her. Andrea’s blog is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent though. To the unini­ti­ated, it’s a reg­u­lar jour­nal, but there are bits of insight and emo­tion scat­tered through­out that leave you feel­ing like you’re look­ing at some­one stoned, naked, and through their kitchen win­dow. The ordi­nary mixed with a dash of extra­or­di­nary is what truly gives one a sense of empa­thy, and it was this that drew me in.

It’s been mak­ing me feel so fuck­ing nostalgic.

I remem­ber being in that stage of life. Back in school. Getting drunk. Chasing girls. Unsure of any­thing but the way I was feel­ing in that exact moment.

It’s made me real­ize that I don’t write like I used to. My entries used to be so exper­i­men­tal. Aside from a sin­gle sen­tence as a last, con­clud­ing line2, and a pen­chant for being a lit­tle too per­sonal, I hadn’t devel­oped a par­tic­u­lar writ­ing style. Back when I posted some­thing almost three times a day because I had to. When my posts had no titles (the same way Andrea has noth­ing but an incre­ment­ing num­ber and loca­tion stamp) because they were about every­thing and noth­ing in particular.

Now, there’s too much pur­pose to my writ­ing. Carefully planned out posts, try­ing to express some­thing spe­cific, with­out the stream-of-consciousness I used to enjoy. Lost is the old whim­si­cal nature, the ordi­nary mixed with the extra­or­di­nary. I never used to care whether some­thing was sig­nif­i­cant enough to post, and would just write it and hit that pub­lish button.

I miss it.

But I can’t tell if it’s the way I used to write, or my life back then, that I miss.

  1. Blogs rarely inter­est me when I don’t have a bit of per­sonal insight from a first meet­ing. []
  2. Almost every sin­gle pots in this blog ends this way. []
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19 Dec 08

A Blogger Passes On

Many years ago, I received an e-mail from a reader named Winston Rand, look­ing for some blog­ging advice:

Jeff,

I have been to your equiv­o­cal­ity site numer­ous times over the last cou­ple of months and always come away impressed. Having vis­ited many other “blogs” — God how I’ve come to hate that term — I keep com­ing back to yours as my gold stan­dard. Been think­ing of start­ing my own, even have 2 domain names paid for, but being an engi­neer and an IT pro, I’m too hes­i­tant to start until most of the answers are quite clear. That is a strength as well as a failing…

In my quest, I’ve looked at many dif­fer­ent blog­ging tools, host­ing sites, etc., and am still not sure which route to take. My temp­ta­tion is to say to hell with all of them and just post my stuff using sta­tic html pages (Dreamweaver) since I’m not really inter­ested in feed­back or com­ments that much. But I do like the abil­ity to eas­ily inte­grate cal­en­dar, archives, and other fea­tures that most of the blog pack­ages seem to include by default. And who knows, one of these days I may care what other peo­ple think of my work.

Among the pop­u­lar pack­ages, I’ve got it nar­rowed down to WordPress, Moveable Type, and SquareSpace, but I’m wide open to sug­ges­tions and recommendations.

Could you share your thoughts on what you use and rec­om­mend? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Keep up your excel­lent work! I look for­ward to see­ing more of it.

I steered Winston towards WordPress, and soon after, he started his own blog at nobodyasked.com. Over time, he devel­oped a sig­nif­i­cant read­er­ship, as he would write quite lucidly about pol­i­tics, humour, and the occas­sional geek talk.

Although our blogs cov­ered dif­fer­ent things in a dif­fer­ent style (Winston called it “[spin­ning] in a slightly off­set par­al­lel uni­verse” when describ­ing my blog in his one-year anniver­sary post), we would check up on each other now and then.

During one of my last vis­its, I found out that Winston has died after a 38-hour ill­ness and 3 surg­eries. While I never really knew him in per­son, I still feel like some­one close is gone.

And I wish I could explain why.

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05 Jan 07

9rules

I gen­er­ally don’t like blog net­works. Too often they’re super­fi­cial, cheaply con­structed com­mu­ni­ties used by the cre­ators to give them­selves a sense of belong­ing and pur­pose in the blo­gos­phere. Some of the most promi­nent exam­ples of this are on Livejournal, where any­one will cre­ate a clique if they’re an emo kid, a self-proclaimed “hot mom”, or even hap­pen to hate Rachael Ray.

There was only one com­mu­nity that caught my eye in the four years I’ve been blog­ging. Several pro­lific sites I fre­quent, such as graph­ic­Push, Snook, 456 Berea Street, and even Lorelle fea­ture a small leaf on their site. I had to learn more about this lit­tle uni­ver­sal logo that was on many of the sites that inspired me, and the net­work called 9rules.

9rules logo

I dis­cov­ered that they’re the only com­mu­nity with a phi­los­o­phy and qual­ity with which I agreed. As on their web­site, “9rules is a com­mu­nity of the best weblogs in the world on a vari­ety of top­ics. We started 9rules to give pas­sion­ate writ­ers more expo­sure and to help read­ers find great blogs on their favorite sub­jects. It’s dif­fi­cult to find sites worth return­ing to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the inde­pen­dent web all under one roof.”

Their phi­los­o­phy is based on a set of nine rules to live by:

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Form works with function.
  4. Simple is beautiful.
  5. Work hard, play hard.
  6. You get what you pay for.
  7. When you talk, we listen.
  8. Must con­stantly improve.
  9. Respect your inspiration.

Although I can say that I agree and fol­low every sin­gle one of them, num­ber eight par­tic­u­larly res­onated with me. It’s one of my rea­sons for liv­ing, and par­tially why I started blog­ging in the first place.

For once, I felt com­pelled to join a community.

Becoming a mem­ber, how­ever, isn’t a sim­ple task. Every few months, they open a 24 hour win­dow for peo­ple to sub­mit their blogs. 9rules doesn’t have a spe­cific cri­te­ria for what to accept. Sites are judged on con­sis­tency and qual­ity of mate­r­ial, as well the pas­sion for the sub­jects being blogged.

The com­mu­nity lead­ers go through every site together, often sev­eral times, before decid­ing whether to let some­one join. They also main­tain an exclu­siv­ity clause; mem­bers aren’t allowed to be part of any other com­mu­nity. There was even a purge once, to clean the net­work of any sites whose qual­ity had dropped.

In the past, the accep­tance rates have been between 8–16%. The most recent round (the fifth) was last October, with 1190 blogs being sub­mit­ted. At the end of this round, the num­ber of accepted mem­bers stands at a ten­ta­tive 134.

Two weeks ago, I found out that I’m one of them.

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12 May 06

Thanks, And No Thanks

I’ve offi­cially switched from Movable Type to WordPress, the lat­ter of which I’ve decided is a far supe­rior plat­form. This involved man­u­ally copy­ing con­tent from the old data­base, includ­ing every entry, com­ment, time­stamp, and ip address logged. Even though it took me nearly a month, I was able to go through my old entries and make the thumb­nails, links, quotes, and for­mat­ting consistent.

Thanks to the expe­ri­ences of every day life, for the peo­ple I hate, the peo­ple I love, the ones I respect, and the ones who inspire me to do more. It’s these that make sure I never run out of things to say.

Thanks to Trolley, who reminds me with his com­ments that I always have at least one reader.

Thanks to Aaron and Pat, for show­ing me that they care when they tell me that they keep up-to-date with my life through this.

Thanks to Bronwen, with whom I’m the per­son I’ve always wanted to be.

Thanks to Number18, for giv­ing me hope with her daily life, and her über cool input jacks.

Thanks to Tina and Aurora, for their enig­matic entries that inspire me to write better.

Thanks to Winston and Barb, for let­ting me know that I, in turn, could inspire some­one to start writ­ing for themselves.

Thanks to Sikander for being the guy who shares music with me, even though we’ve never met in real life.

Thanks to Sophia, for intro­duc­ing me to music like CocoRosie, and quot­ing my own old archived entries back to me.

Thanks to Dru, a design artist I’ve admired for years, for unof­fi­cially steal­ing from me, an unspo­ken com­pli­ment I hold dear to my heart.

No thanks to the stalk­ers, who say they’ll never visit, yet con­tinue to read on a daily basis. The ones who hide behind ser­vices like Anonymouse, naively believ­ing that all their http requests are masked. The self pro­claimed hyp­ocrites, who have the FUCKING AUDACITY to tell me about the vices of blog­ging, yet blog them­selves. The exact rea­son why I never answer my phone anymore.

No thanks to the sequa­cious com­men­tors who say stuff but don’t say any­thing, or those who com­ment for the sake of per­sonal advertisement.

No thanks to the hotlink­ers, who con­tinue to steal my images, and in turn, my band­width and money.

When I was con­vert­ing my data­base and going through the old entries, I could recall each and every emo­tion that drove them. My writ­ing has become less ram­bling, less depress­ing, less cryp­tic since I started back in 2002. As time goes on and the entries become more recent, there seems to be a sub­tle, bur­geon­ing hope, a reflec­tion of the expe­ri­ences I’ve gone through and a chang­ing worldview.

And from the begin­ning of this blog to the entries I write now, the most impor­tant thing is that I always have more peo­ple to thank.

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