19 April 2008

Everything I learned about blogging...

Recently a dear friend pull the plug or better off "signed off" on her blog. I have since started to write this post that I hope to publish soon. It is an idea I have had from the get-go when I decided to create elToronteco. It is a huge tribute to the blogs that showed me the power of this new media. Then I realized, What do I know about blogging? Not much, I guess. But what I do know is that these blogs and their authors have influenced more than my "extra-curricular" activity of blogging but the way I see and live life. The very first blog I consistently read was:

Bitácora de Mauricio Romero http://romerogt.delaermita.com/ [Español]
Nepotism-shmepotism... I believe that the melange of personal notes, rants about open source technology, the occasional political diatribe, reiki and other spiritual and material matters really describes the person with whom I share most of my genetic configuration. RomeroGT is my older brother but more than that is a great friend and a real traveling companion. Space separates us, but distance is not measured in Kms. I've been reading this blog since 2004 and I believe I started by commenting via e-mail and then I figured out how to post my comments. This blog changes its css every now and then, always looking for different layouts. On one of those layouts had a widget with recent posts from other "Blogs chapines" (chapín is slang for a person from Guatemala) and through those links I was able to discover other blogs, particularly, in October of 2006 I stumble upon this blog:

Hello from Here http://hellofromhere.blogspot.com
LD is a Canadian journalist who was living at the time in Quetzaltenango or Xela as it is also known, the second largest city in Guatemala after The Capital. The personal touch of her postings and the struggle she was having with integration of her experience in Guatemala, which was in many different levels quite deep, with her Canadian identity caught my attention. Then there was a personal link because a friend here in Toronto actually have met her a couple of Summers before while visiting Xela. One important think I learn from HFH was to always keep it personal. Not just report the news (which in LD's case is her actual job), but find something that you cannot deliver in any other way. HFH could be seen as an Ex-Pat blog, one of those transition from the "dreaded mass e-mail" to the public posting of the author's adventures in the foreign land. On the posts of HFH you can find a human side of Guatemala and the transition from being an outsider to becoming part of that reality... because Guatemala, as Francisco Goldman describes in The Long Night of the White Chickens, is a country you don't live in but you live with. And LD also showed this on a post called "Ni de aquí ni de allá" just before returning to Canada.

LD decided to pull the plug on HFH recently. She's been back on Canadian soil for more than a year and the "novelty" of living in Toronto is not really inspiring. Believe me, I know, and you can see my own sparseness in posting as such. One last lesson from HFH is that sometimes you need to live in order to blog. It has to mean something to you. It took me a year to come across a situation that merited starting a blog. In the meantime, through the Web of relationships the Internet is I was able to find two of my best friends' blogs: From Ronald Flores, well www.ronaldflores.com [Es], and from Ale her two blogs Congo Days [En] and Desde Kinshasa [Es].

From Ronald's blog I have learned that I don't have to fear to elevate the level of the conversation. From both of Ale's blogs I have rediscovered that kindred spirit I met back in Guatemala and also to dare to write in both languages. I took the single blog two languages approach whereas she keeps two separate yet equally important blogs. These two friends of mine make me proud of being a Guatemalan blogger.

The last blog I would like to mention as part of my formative time as a budding blogger is La Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo (http://antiguadailyphoto.com) whose author, Rudy is one of the first great friends I have never met (although I will try again to correct this later in the year). LAGDP has given me the opportunity to craft my commenting skills (as HFH and RomeroGT did as well). It is also "concerned" with design as RomeroGT. However, one of the key lessons is the beauty of using pictures to tell a story.

I must mention two good friends (and their blogs) that I made since I started elToronteco. Carmencita, a Guatemalan woman living in California, where she grew up, is another two languages/two blogs kinda person with the recently renamed "Un viaje a las raices" (http://carmendebizet.blogspot.com/) and with her personal Xanga blog http://www.xanga.com/CarmenDeBizet/ , which heading reads "Given enough coffee I could rule the world". Carmencita is a wonderful story-teller with a good sense of humour and also with a complex identity (which is a common denominator on the whole bunch described here, me included). The other amiga is Cancun Canuck (http://www.cancuncanuck.com/) or Canucka as I call her in the blogosphere. A former Toronto resident now transplanted into that Caribbean tourist hot-spot of Cancún where she is living a life among the nativ.. I mean locals. Her insights are great, her stories are funny and human, and (I must mention it) her 3-year-old son is just the cutest MexiCanadian ever (there is something to be said about mixing the races ;-) ).

So, I might not know much about blogging. But my journey started by lurking and commenting, particularly on the blogs mentioned here. To all you guys, a YouTube dedication:


AntiguaDailyPhoto.Com said...

Manolo, thanks for including me in this very special and selected list of top Guatemalan bloggers.

I believe you have done a terrific job summarizing the essence on the bloggers above. Furthermore, I believe I can say ditto for everything you wrote, with the slight difference that I began blogging much earlier that some of the afore mentioned blogs. Yet, I am indebted to all of them.

p.s. I do hope you correct the meeting part with some mixtas this coming July.

CarmenDeBizet said...

Thank you for mentioning me Manolo. This post gave me those nice, warm, fuzzy feelings my Kinder kids called Care Bear moments. :)
Personally, I was captivated by the fact that our common denominator is that we all hold complex identities. I have been thinking about my identity (always have actually and at varying degrees) and I have seen that topic pop up in our blogs. One can say that this feature makes us that more conscientious of our journey in this life and that, I believe, leads to posts that can become something to sink your teeth into.
One of the finest lessons I received in college was to write what you know. I am thinking this is a common denominator between us all as well. I am glad we crossed paths in LAGDP.
P.S. I think you misspelled the word humor man. ;)

Manolo said...

I'll make an actual reply later in the week... however, just wanted to say something about my favourite colours... actually, about my trying to follow Canadian (i.e. British) spelling whenever I can: Like in humour etc. Wink back Carmencita.

CancunCanuck said...

Thanks Manolo, I agree with Carmen, a whole warm fuzzy feeling from reading your post. I consider you mi amigo tambien. I felt your absence at the blogger meeting, I just know you would have been an excellent addition.

Some of the things you talked about came up. The "duality" of being an ex-pat and writing about it. As Carmen said (she got here first, lol), there is the common factor of being complex people who just happen to like to write about it.

Abrazos y besos amigo!

RomeroGT said...

Since we were teenagers I admire your writing skills, so I just want to say how happy I am of being able to read your blog now.

Rudy, Anecdotario and arte-sano were some of the established blogs when I started on 2004 are on my personal feeds, perhaps work isn't allowing to much comments I can tell you I still reading them.

I have to agree with Carmen, more than on ego to share, we have complex personalities, perhaps even multiple personality problems...since I'll decided to open "El Blog Indiscreto", title inspired on your post about a "personal math/stats dilema" :)

Manolo said...

Bueno saying thanks would be redundant with the post, however, mil gracias. Complex identity or multiple personality disorder... there is a grey line there, eh? I am thinking lately of myself as a professional snail... I carry my home with me, but I am not jumping from here to there... just taking my time and leaving everything slimy in the meantime (this last thing just came up out of the blue).

Stay tuned for more adventures and be prepared because I'll be watching you and checking your blogs (thanks to Google Reader).

RomeroGT said...

Manolo, learning from you I started El blog indiscreto, wich uses blogger as you do, will have more personal stuff/writting as you do, and even its name got inspired from one of your posts. At the moment there are 2 post, hope to keep on writing.