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TECH KNOW
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.


Tokyotales
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.” http://www.tokyotales.com/blog/

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."

http://www.bekkoame.ne.jp/~aabb/plus9.html  

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.



Surprise!
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
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
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.


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