Monday, October 1, 2007

A Positive Direction For Saipan Blogs

Several months ago when I interviewed Angelo and Walt about blogging, I caught the bug and realized this could be a very cool thing and a very positive thing for Saipan if done well. I already knew the direction I wanted to head, it was something I should have been doing for years. I've had quite a few interesting things happen to me over the course of my life, and when I tell people about them, the thing they invariably say is, "you really should write a book". And yes, I know that I should have been writing all these things down over the years and recording them, but sadly I haven't. And as my daughter Sarah is always fond of telling me, "Dad, you've got to start writing all of this down, because it's a story that your future grandkids, or anyone else for that matter, would never believe otherwise". If you've ever seen the movie Big Fish, I guess it's something like that. By the way, the fish in the picture at the top is a Dog-faced Pufferfish, something else that needs to be seen to be believed.

So I decided to start writing a blog for my son, who doesn't have the opportunity of living out here with us anymore, so he can check in and see what his old dad is up to whenever he wants to. I started writing it for my future grandchildren so they could see what a crazy, eccentric old dive bum their grandpa was, and they could go on virtual dives with me. I wrote it so that if any of my old friends from a previous life ever wanted to see what I'd been up to, they could (not a single one of them has up to this point to the best of my knowledge). And I started writing it to share my love of diving with those who may not ever have the opportunities I've been given, so they can experience the beauty and wonder of the ocean vicariously through my dives.

Then as I started writing my blog and posting my dive pictures, I discovered that it could also serve other purposes. The first thing I discovered was that I would have people read it who would be excited about some of my diving discoveries. As a result of posting my nudibranch pictures, I wound up getting my pictures published in 2 different books by 3 very famous underwater authors, Rudie Kuiter, Helmet Debelius and Neville Coleman. I discovered that my pictures and observations could actually be contributing to the worldwide scientific knowledge database and I could be making significant contributions just by talking about what I saw and posting pictures of it. That was very exciting for me. I think we all want to leave our mark somehow, to have people remember us after we're gone, or to have something with our name on it that people will see. Having my pictures published in those books did that for me, it let me know that my name would still be out there when I could no longer contribute anything. For some people it may be insignificant, and they might wonder what the big deal is, but for me it was monumental. It meant the thing that I was so passionate about was something that I was actually making some significant contribution in. It really doesn't get much better than that.

Then I discovered that I had people from all over the world reading my blog, and in many cases this was their first experience with anything whatsoever about Saipan. I was becoming the beginning of their discovery of Saipan. And I realized that bloggers have the ability to do a lot of good for the island of Saipan, we can broaden the knowledge base about Saipan on the worldwide scene by posting our pictures and telling our stories. And if we all started linking together and promoting one another, it would make this new movement that much stronger.

But then as with any good thing, a few cancers started infecting things. The internet can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be a horribly devestating thing. I find that people are willing to say things online that they would never have the guts to say to your face. They forget that people have feelings, and should be treated respectfully. And then there are those who are the worst of the lot, they are the gutless cowards who don't want to be linked to their nasty, slanderous and often just plain inaccurate statements so they post them anonymously. If you don't have the guts to put your name to what you say, you have absolutely no credibility in my eyes. You have no track record, no reputation, no accountability. Those who write their blogs behind a faceless and nameless charade really have no place among legitimate bloggers, they only seek to divide and destroy. More and more of the legitimate bloggers are discovering this and are no longer allowing anonymous comments and they have enabled comment moderation. I personally think this is a good idea. Your blog does not have to let anyone put whatever garbage on it they like, you have the right to determine what goes on your blog, as it should be. I think that blogs can be a very positive thing for Saipan at this very troubling time in our history, but not if we let them be infected by the cancers popping up among us.

Angelo posted today that he is heading a new direction with his blog. I think we should all reflect for a moment on what we want to accomplish with our blogs, and then proceed accordingly. If you want to have an anonymous, rumor mongering blog, that's your right, but you will certainly never be linked here or mentioned on this blog. I say that it's time to take back what is good and positive about blogs and see what a difference we can make collectively. If you're with me on this, let me know and let's see what we can do in a positive manner with our names attached to it.