Article vs Online Diary

Blogging is dead and online diaries are deader. Let's do a post-mortem and let's write online diaries and blogs.

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I recently resurrected my "Otaku Nikki" online diary so this article hopefully will serve me to deliniate what type of content I should put in my online diary as opposed to my regular articles.

A quick glance at the Online Diaries wikipedia page will reveal that online diaries have been a thing at least since the mid 90s and that they then mutated into personal blogs. Of course I wasn't around to see any of this.

Fast-forward to the mid-2000s and blogging was all the rage, and the advice given by experienced bloggers was to avoid starting another personal blog. Or in other words, personal blogs were sort of looked down upon - relegated to places like LiveJournal which have also since then morphed into social media sites.

Can social media sites be considered "Online Diaries"? No, there's something about the instant instant feedback and lack of anomymity - and yet some of these early online diaries had communities and were not anonymous. Maybe it's just an aesthetic that differentiates them than anything technical.

At any rate I was surprised to find out that many online diaries were still ongoing here on neocities where this site is hosted. Many of the online diaries here may not call themselves as such and might follow a very micro-blog/twitter-like structure as well.

I don't know why but I find that it is almost impossible to treat social media as a "personal" experience of any kind. It feels more like being out in public, I guess these "Online Diaries" without a comment section or social media features like "likes" or "re-tweets" give more of an illusion that you are writing in private "for your eyes only," so you can more easily let out your deeper thoughts rather than put up a shallow show for others.

Places like imageboards are no better than social media in this respect because it feels like everyone is performing and exaggerating to get a reaction. Anonymity is not enough to guarantee genuineness. In time those exaggerated reactions come to replace any personality or individuality there was.

It is true that almost nobody reads "personal blogs," I mean it is a very vain thing to put out details about your personal relationships and expect people to care. And yet somehow this formula aiming at people's vanity worked for social media sites.

I don't want to turn my online diary into complaining about my personal relationships, at least not about specific identifiable people. An online diary is more like an excuse to ramble on about more than one hobby or interest and pepper in some occasional personal experiences like a dream you had or something that you saw happen at a convenience store or some other autobiographical detail. I know it's very vague.

Blogs nowadays exist more to cover a single topic or subject, for example if you have an anime blog and you suddenly decide to make a french live action movie review then less people are going to be interested in it. The more topics you cover, the less people are interested because there is nothing to glue these topics together. I guess ideally that glue in a personal blog would be yourself, that is people would come to read your site because they are interested in you rather than the topic, but ideals are not reality, I don't think I am interesting enough for people to come just for me.

What purpose then is my online diary to serve? First of all I like doing it. I know it's not good for Search Engine Optimisation to talk about multiple topics in one huge html page, so at best I am hoping that my online diary will complement the articles that I write.

An advantage that online diaries have is that they can be incomplete or not really make a point, in short they can be very rambly. For example if I have a random thought like: "The purpose of life isn't to make a living and look good to your neighbours." I can just say that apropos of nothing.

Or in other words my online diary will be nothing more than a notebook of random ideas. Will that prove to be useful for writing my "proper" articles? Yes and no. In the immediate term, yes, for example I will be doing a livestream and maybe writing an article about Natsume Soseki's Kokoro, so writing diary entries about my impressions on that novel as I read it will help me sort my thoughts out, but in the long term, it doesn't take much time for me to forget what I wrote in my notes, and given that an online diary is a jumbled mess of thoughts - once I have forgotten that I have written something it's unlikely I will come across it again, even if it was a good idea.

I almost never re-read what I have written, so this site is a mass of contraditions, it is only more apparent with the diaries becase they are a series rather than one-off articles. But maybe it's not about making a coherent point as much as it is about creating a mood. When writing articles that mood is broken because every article must end conclusively leaving a blank slate for the next. It is true that experienced bloggers can create hyperlinks between different articles they wrote and connect them in a non-linear fashion and maybe I should do that too.

I think a mistake I fell into while writing my previous Online Diaries is that I would discuss my plans for tomorrow and turn the whole thing into a to-do list rather than talking about "what happened" that day because nothing had happened. Thankfully I am less idle these days. I do have my "to-do" lists because my memory is short but I don't post them here cause nobody, not even I is interested in seen any of that. It's the same reason why I don't maintain an "anime list" of anime I have watched here, as some others I have seen do.

As usual, I don't have a strong conclusion to end the article, sorry to leave you hanging like that, it's a bit like not knowing what to say when ending a phone-call. That feeling, sorry to leave you with that.

By Otaking, or [The Good Student]

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