Diaries go high tech

Up-to-date diarists have chucked the avocado leatherette versions with the gold tone locks for online journals. Kristen McQuillin reads and tells.

Online diaries, known as weblogs or ’blogs, consist of brief, frequently updated snippets of writing. They fall into three general categories: personal diaries; musings for a broader audience; and lists of interesting links.

Personal online diaries sometimes read like a soap opera monologue. Encounter one of these and you’ll find yourself swept into a mini-drama. “Lauren, how could I have ignored you at the party? I hope you will forgive me someday.” With a typical readership of one (the writer), this sort of diary might be best left under lock and key. On the other hand, weblogs are entertaining when the writer addresses an anonymous audience and conveys personality while divulging personal errata and wry comments on life.

Chris Jennings, an information architecture consultant living in Tokyo, publishes Tokyo Tales, a ’blog with a daily readership between 50 and 100.

“June 25, 2001. 8:35 pm. Yesterday was my first two-shower day of the season; plenty more will follow. It’s getting to the stage where walking seven minutes to the station in the morning wearing an open-necked office shirt is enough to get you sweating lightly, and by the time you have to brave the subway on the way home, you’re practically swimming in your own salt solution.”

Chris explains why he keeps a journal online. “Originally (January 1998) it was a way to stay in touch with friends back home. [Lately it] has been more to do with a desire to express myself. I want it to be the kind of ‘blog that I would enjoy reading myself-amusing, well written, frequently updated, pointing to things I would find interesting-so in a way I write it for myself.”

weblog, gmtPlus9
Andrew Abb in Osaka uses a different approach for his weblog, gmtPlus9. He surfs the Net to find links that appeal to his interests-Japan, photography and art-then posts the links with a few words of description:

Saturday, 2001/07/07

Yoshio Itagaki... Tourists on the Moon. Sharp computer-manipulated color photography. "...examines the compulsions of a document-oriented society."

I really like Mineko and Riku. From Fantastic Voyage-illustration, character design, and comics by Mai Shibasaki. (jp)

Kenji Ueda... Paper Game Machine Project. "...This projekt [sic] is providing images like this, and we expect you print it and cut up it and make it up like a papercraft."  

Andrew began publishing gmtPlus9 in March 1999 and applied for an ISSN (an internationally recognized serial number for publications) this year. “I got an ISSN number assigned to gmtPlus9 to lend a little credibility to the endeavor,” Andrew says.

Committing your thoughts and ideas to an online diary allows readers to contact you. Most emails to Tokyo-based diarists are questions about living in Japan, requests for translations, or suggestions for sightseeing. Sometimes the communication is more memorable.

Chris says, “The first other Japan-based ’blogger to contact me via my ’blog [Rumi of rumi.nation] turns out to live ten minutes’ walk from me, which is quite a coincidence."

"The most pleasant surprise I’ve had was being asked to join the Design Culture Network. It’s an international group of site creators that stages design collaborations and experiments. I was really blown over that they thought highly about what I was doing at gmtPlus9 and wanted me to join up,” Andrew says.

Not every encounter is positive. One evening, a Tokyo ’blogger heard someone call her name. It was a young man who had found her weblog and figured out that she lived next door. “Fortunately, he was a nice guy, but it was a little bit unsettling to be greeted with familiarity by a total stranger,” she says.

Doing the ‘blog
Creating a weblog is simple. To get started, you need Internet access, a web browser and about 30 minutes. Here are some popular weblog tools:

Xanga offers extremely easy launching with its setup wizard. After making decisions about your weblog’s style and filling in some vital information, you add your first entry and voila! You have a weblog. Xanga includes many fashionable tools: comments (from your readers), news headlines, affiliate links to Amazon and premium services include spell checking and image hosting.

Blogger boasts 200,000 users. Setting up your journal with Blogger can be a bit daunting if HTML and FTP are not in your purview. Blogger has unbeatable features including Team updates for those who want a collaborative effort for their weblog, automatic archiving and the ability to upload your weblog to any web server.

394: Wire tap
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392: You've got mail
390: School's in session
From earning an MBA to making a webpage, online classes are a convenient ...
388: Diaries go hi-tech
Up-to-date diarists have chucked the avocado leatherette versions..
386: Why Upgrade?
Kristen McQuillin explains when to upgrade
384: Gadgets to go
Get the goods on the latest mobile devices
382: Hot software
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380: Peripheral vision
How to purchase computer toys in Japan
378: In safe hands
How to avoid repetitive strain injury (RSI)
376: Kill spam
How to minimize your junk email
372: In for repair
Computer repair options in Tokyo
370: Game for a laugh
Semi-annual Tokyo Game Show
368: Knowledge is power
Empowering women in technology
366: Generation next
Cutting-edge keitai
364: MacWorld
Exploring MacWorld Tokyo 2001
362: Online translation
Simultaneous E-to-J and J-to-E translation... online
360: DIY Star Wars
Recreate your own sci-fi epic at home
358: Network gaming
Play games with friends on your keitai
357: Bad it online
Japan's burgeoning e-commerce market
355: Robotic revelations
Japanese robots leading the way
352/3: Get the point - a new kind of points system
350: Talk is cheap
Internet telephone technology
348: Tsukumo
346: Digital Stadium
Innovative computer-generated art on NHK
344: Tokyo Game Show
The latest releases at this fall's show
342: WonderBorg
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340: Fun and games
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337: Dream on
Tokyo Dream Technology Fair 2000