My journey with Blogging and building Blogsites is quiet quaint. To create a webpage that is based on HTML tags, experimenting it on my browser, and the constant tweaking, I loved the process a lot. Maybe the simple joy of creating webpages was in its own way a pleasurable end.
My first webpage was a plain text “Welcome World!” The excitement of doing something new is truly an exceptional feel. But then, it was a twin-edged sword of frustration when the page does not work, as expected. Because one cannot withstand Murphy’s Law for things to go bad!
Stop Not, For, There Is Still Miles to Go!
Once I conquered the basic website, then there was a need to make the content better. So, I explored various blogging options and eventually even got a Content Writing job. There was much to explore and to discover.
As Javed Akthar’s explanation of a couplet by Urdu poet speaks of how the poet is charmed by the fact of human aspiration. If the first footstep of human being in the current space fills the poet with wonder at its advancement, then just imagine where would be the next footstep of mankind.
I also wonder if this is the level of webpages, then where else will it go. Where is the next level of the websites? From static pages to dynamic layouts, from there to e-commerce, then, to video streaming, later to replicating the real world in Virtual spheres… and what not.
My Journey with Creating Website to Blogging
It was in the summer of 1999 or ’98, I had just finished my DCNT Course. My cousin Prakash gave me an Ethernet card and a HTML code book. All the ports of my father’s desktop CPU were occupied, and my father was skeptical about my attempting to open the CPU using my partial knowledge. Well, all I knew was to plug and to play with the card! With a vague idea of a slot in CPU. (Lol!)
Papaji took an instant decision and got a BSNL net connection. Of course, there ended the matter of my trying my hand on getting Ethernet card installed. All of Papaji’s accounts was protected, but then we were to face the challenges of virus attacks. The cleaning of the virus was much more fun and comical, back in those days.
So, now that left me with the HTML code book, that was easier and safe choice as per my parents’ understanding. I made a list of HTML Code and tags for a basic website. I set to work on the webpage. Almost working day and night while understanding individual tags and what they meant.
By about three months, I self-tutored HTML Code using the book, which helped me to create the plain Vanilla website. The website was text heavy and the only image was the Lord Ganesa gif image which was hyperlinked to the actual second homepage below it. Lord Ganesha’s graphic image became an absolute signature presence on all my future website.
Ahoy! Netscape Website Sail Hoisted and Was Cast Away on the Deep Seas to Webistan!
Downside, Web Content was Bland and Dry Textual Matter
I searched for a place to put this website framework for free. The website was created with extensive use of Hyperlink texts. Netscape offered space on the sever to upload websites. My website was now globally available for all to see and to interact in what little possible way.
The hypertext links had to be tweaked to point at the appropriate pages based on the web URL. I tweaked around and figured what needed to be done. It was a slow process, but it was fun. So, I got a free account and uploaded the text heavy website on to the portal and shuffled on the pages. Voilà! A basic version of the website for KVT was created, which is a far cry from what my blogsite is today!
The content of the website was based on the Trust deed, dustjacket information, add-on research on the details of spiritual books published, related spiritual topics, and other trivia information. This got me, my first official job outside of my father’s company and family trust.
Eyeing the Computer from Cloud of Y2K Fears, as the Year 2000 Began Nervously!
Around a few years before 2000 set in, there was such madness abounding all over the IT Industry. The fear of the Y2K problem loomed scaring all. Just before the year of 1999 was to end, the world was watchful of how the Y2K problem is going to pan out. Meanwhile, I had quit my day job to be a full-time poet.
After the dust of Y2K panic settled down, in June 2000, I had just discovered Sulekha. I believe the portal had just opened shop. A Selection Committee decided the fate of the submitted article for their portal. They selected two of my articles to be posted as a blog and there truly began my blogging.
After a couple of months later, the portal allowed visitors to open an account and to showcase their blogs for free under individual profile. Post this plan of Sulekha, there was no competition or approval process for blog articles. Somehow that took the fun out of the whole thing.
Change in Game Plan for Blogging Style
Back in 2001, after making the decision to try my hand on essays and articles. This allowed me to give a lot of berth space for my emotional poems. I studied Journalism as a part-time course at BVB, Mylapore, while holding a shift-based day job.
Following the near end of the course, I approached Chandamama for an internship and was accepted. During this time, I had taken a break from Sulekha since it created a pressure to write which was not healthy for me. Moreover, I was trying to be factual and research became more interesting to follow.
I started to enjoy the experience of writing for the magazine’s syndication. Life became a rollercoaster ride for me. I had much to learn from all the publishing house experience. Among the various journalistic activities, I loved interviewing the most! It is a great way to meet new personalities and talk about their work and life.
The Paper Lantern, My First Flagship E-Newsletter
Post my marriage, I had begun writing a newsletter to my family members titled “The Paper Lantern.” I experimented with CNF and Journalistic Style. Unconsciously, I was making my journal entries into readable material. Life in Singapore, stories behind each festival, Singapore’s National Day, and its display, or plain make up my own stories on Boddhisatva.
It was in the cold of October, when Singapore was celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival and sending out Paper Lanterns into the sky. I created the newsletter getting inspired by the skyward floating lanterns. This became a monthly issue and I brought out 12 issues, just missing one month. It was a 12-month wonder!
Since I was not sure if it was interesting or not, I assumed that maybe the oomph factor was missing. During this period, I was also experimenting with writing short stories which were spin off from fairy tales. It was magical to create from thin whimsical thought a pure state fairy tale. Much of my inspiration came from the Yishun Library’s volunteering activity of Storytelling.
How I Managed Comments on the Web and My Quick Fixes
I always stayed true to the creation of content and its design management. So, even if I did not get any comment for any of my works, I was fine. Sulekha portal was the first time where I encountered comments that were a little off beat.
If the comment is vile then, I stayed clear of those comments and looked the other way. We, Netzines live in an unusual kind of democratic setup. So, people with variant opinions are part of the society and understanding where they are coming from becomes important.
This gave me a chance to view feedback that are negative with positive spin. If I could change something in me, based on the person’s comment, then I would change myself. If not, I would continue with my life’s path, while feeling a tiny bit sad. I would then comfort myself with some warm milk.
Experimenting with Sulekha, Google’s Blogger, WordPress
Pre-MFA, CCA needed the MFA Portfolio to be in the form of Website. So, I used Blogger to create my Portfolio and after that never updated it till date. It was just one page scroll down posts view. I did nothing fancy theme for it. Kept it plain Vanilla style white backdrop with black text.
During my MFA I would occasionally post a poem in Sulekha, which I would drop in unconsciously here and there. It was also around 2013 that I got to work with Blogger portal and created Granny Story Pouch. All my folktales got displayed in that webspace.
By then, a few years had gone by and I was more experienced with blogging. For a long time, I had been slyly eyeing WordPress since it felt intimidating. So, I timidly opened a WordPress free blogsite. Then it was a matter of tweaking here and there until the WordPress became familiar.
The WordPress space, look, and feel settled for me. Initially my focus was on blogging and the textual content. Later on, when I explored with each theme and tweaked them, I understood that I need to learn more.
After 2015 I started a vidyasjournal.wordpress.com which went on till 2017 under the WordPress’ Personal plan. Now, I officially had my own website. Then, I flipped over and created a streamlined topic based on a colleagues’ feedback, that change took place in mid-2016 or 2017, not sure. But my Creative Non-Fiction was getting to be too personal. Even I, could notice! I wanted to have factual blogging experience.
2018, I officially learnt WordPress using WordPress.org platform. Now I was able to tweak and to customize the theme to my liking. I aimed for a website feel for which I needed to look at how to manipulate WordPress.com customize option. The WordPress.com is limited compared to WordPress.org.
Much of the Viki’s website design, I had already experimented in 2018 on my laptop’s localhost. Using Carousel making it more picturesque. But then, I am sure that the loading time for the website would have taken a great beat-up.
Since image heavy webpages take longer to upload. So, I had not really figured how to make the images load quickly onto the webpage. The solution was in the future and it was not yet here in technological advancement. The more recent innovations have helped in reducing viewership wait time. There are many ways to handle image heavy websites and programming them to open without buffering.
WordPress CSS and Template Experimentation in 2017
I wanted to create template for common posts and a style sheet for a familiar feeling throughout the website. The structured book review made the whole blogging experience different and more practical. Since 2017 my blogsite in WordPress.com continues to exist, while I explore books, theatre, drama, poetry, and life stories.
But then my natural tendency to switch to CNF made me explore Journal Entries which is now Personal Essays. All was honky dory until a few bad apple comments, then I shut down all comments to the site. I know it is not the right way to handle things. But now my full focus was on the design and easy to upload themes.
Exploring WordPress Themes
Edda was my first theme; it had a typewriter in it, and I was hook-line-sinker taken. Then, I worked around Chateau theme and was not that happy. But I loved the white spaces a lot. It soon became my signature feel for the website.
White space allowed you to read which was not clear in Edda theme. I did not like the border on both the sides and no amount of tweaking was removing it. Then found out that choosing and paying for the plan would make it go away. But it was less intrusive with the content text, so, I tweaked the white space in the center, and all was fine for a few months.
Chateau’s Short Stint Replaced with Colinear Longer Goals
I was not happy with the replacements of theme, so I finally settled down to Chateau but still unhappy even though I loved the huge white spaces in the theme. Eventually in 2019, I found Colinear in the Personal Plan and customized it.
I was still learning the nuances of the theme and while creating tags, categories, and menus along with widgets. Slowly, my blogsite looked more the way I wanted it to appear. It was a blogsite which looked like a website.
Early Springs of 2021 Content Undergoes Slight Change
In Covid-19 Lockdown, I became interested in reading books and in watching dramas since there was nothing else to do. Before Coronavirus pandemic could settle down to relative smooth hum in the background, I began to write about the dramas that I saw. Asian dramas including Indian drama/theatre became a way to explore stories. One thread that connects all the blog attempts so far was the fact that I loved to explore stories in various formats.
January 2021 | A Need for Grand Change
During December 2020, I started to tire of the Colinear theme but could not find anything exciting in the themes with white midsection. Since I always wanted the central content to be close to white paper and black ink printout. Then, I decided to streamline the content even further.
So, I tweaked the WordPress Pages using the block look. After having discussed with the Happiness Agent of WordPress over chat, the Agent provided me insight into creating a different look using Content Blocks. The block was initially hard to figure but then over a couple of hours things were under control.
Now the craze was to imitate New York Times’ Book Review webpage. But my blogsite is still a far cry from the main inspiration. But I was able to make the random sized images look go away and a more sedate look had been achieved.
I feel there is still more to create and to explore with WordPress. But seriously more than the theme, I should be working on my content more. I am looking forward to much more fun ahead while I continue to experiment.
The main aim should be to increase traffic to my website, sans Social Media broadcasting. I do not know if it can be achieved. Yet experimenting as I walk along with the blog-o-sphere!
Looking Forward to Exploring!!