16 July 2006

Expanding Visions

owl_eyes

So let me tell you a few things about myself. I am a very systematic, methodical person. I am patient. I don't like surprises. I like balance. I like positive change. Not in huge, sudden steps, but in small, steady doses. Take my life, for instance. In my personal journals (offline), I divide it into seven main areas:
    Family / Career / Spiritual / Finances
    Health / Hobbies / Social Contribution
and within each category, I have goals, philosophies, little mission statements, sub-goals, action plans, progress logs and so on. Even the occasional poem, picture or quotable quote, to amuse or inspire myself. And I am doing something (even if it's only a little something) towards all of my goals, every week.

Why am I telling you this today? Well, I wanted to tell you where this blog (Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma) is located in the overall picture of my life. No, it does not fall under Hobbies. It falls under Social Contribution. I see this blog - the expression of my thoughts & views on issues in Singapore - as my contribution to society.

Some will say: "Bah, Mr Wang, you grossly overestimate the significance of blogging. It's mostly hot air and it changes nothing. Why don't you volunteer your time or donate money to charity instead?"

To which I could smugly reply: "I do, you duffer. That's my Action Plan 2(A) and Goal 3.2 under Social Contribution of my Life Planning Journal." Which is true. But it is also an overly- convenient reply which skirts around the question of what this blog, and other serious blogs, can contribute to society.

Fortunately, Cobalt Paladin has blogged his thoughts on that more-difficult question, thus saving me the trouble. (By the way, I found his post via The Intelligent Singaporean, a site which you must surely add to your blogroll). Anyway, excerpts from Cobalt Paladin's post:
We need to continue to engage the growing population who are going online. We need to encourage them to have independent thinking. Let the people think for themselves. Let the Internet present an alternative source of information to the mainstream media. The people has become more sophisticated. We want to be engaged. Nobody wants to be opinion leaders. We just want our views to be heard, argued, debated etc. We want to be part of a REAL inclusive society, not in theory but in REALITY. Yes, it may take a lot of effort for the government to engage the citizens but that is the changing face brought by globalisation, ignore that, the world will pass you by.

.......

Forget about "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.". Nobody should be afraid of anyone. We want a genuine inclusive and consultative society, so no one should be afraid of anyone.

If we force our views and opinions onto anyone, we are no different and we become them. So we should just present our views in a peaceful manner, engage the people to think for themselves. We are not looking for revolt; we are not looking for matyrs. We are looking for the betterment of our country and society.

But change takes time. Be patient. I'm a Singaporean. I'll stay and do my part.

See? I'm not the only weirdo around who thinks that blogging can effect positive change. And so, finally, I come to the purpose of my present post. I am assuming that you personally hold at least some version of the vision of Cobalt Paladin and my own - that individual bloggers on the Internet can make a difference and effect positive changes in our society. And I am further assuming that you want to be a part of that vision. So I will share with you some ideas on how to do that.

1. Blog. Do it regularly. Expand beyond personal trivia (that is, not just about what you ate for lunch). Write especially on your areas of expertise, the topics on which you particularly have experience, knowledge or insight. Be sharply aware that you DO have such areas of expertise.

2. Build a readership. Get noticed. Your blog is useless if no one reads it. Ping yourself to a wider audience. If you've written something intelligent, email The Intelligent Singaporean and let the editor know. Get yourself Tomorrow'd. Also, go to more-popular blogs, leave comments & links and get yourself noticed.

3. When you come across other worthy blogs or posts, tell others about it. How? Blogroll the worthy blogs. Hyperlink to worthy posts. A lot of the potential power of the blogosphere lies in the power of hyperlinking. Bloggers grow when they help each other to grow. Remember the vision. It's not just about you.

4. In the blogosphere, be a discussion. Don't be a monologue. If you want to write about Event X, don't just write about Event X. Do a bit of research first. Find out what other bloggers are already writing about Event X - what their views and opinions are. Then add your own personal views; say why you agree or why you disagree; expand on their points; offer relevant data or information; ask questions. Blogging is a community.

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43 comments:

firefly said...

Oh, just in the nick of time. Tomorrow my class is having a debate in regards to "The ever growing influence of blogs in Singapore." Can I quote the post right from the Horse's mouth?

Anonymous said...

bravo

Anonymous said...

all yr crap juz shows up de anal retentive side of yr egomaniac nature, adrian, ass kisser of davinder singh, lol!

Anonymous said...

Lol, I think you have the wrong guy, if Mr Wang was a Drew & Napier partner, he wouldn't have time to blog. Much less pursue a balanced life across seven categories. :)

And I love this latest post of yours, Mr Wang, very timely coming after Brown's saga.

Cobalt Paladin said...

Hi Mr. Wang,

Thanks for the mention. :)

hugewhaleshark said...

Haha, I hear myself being addressed to, Mr Wang. I believe that blogging for a social cause is a calling. I admire the drive of our leading bloggers, people like yourself (in all your incarnations), Alex, mrbrown, Xenoboy and Chubbyhubby. To sustain that pace and quality is truly a commitment, even in one's area of expertise.

Personally, I have not found that calling or drive. But I hear you, and things could be different, who knows. Though I must say that commenting on my area of expertise requires an MAS licence most of the time...

Anonymous said...

I've a couple of questions about work life balance and social contribution.

I'm not sure blogging actually contributes so much to society that it's worth the time. The truth of the matter is that we read what we agree with. For example, I read the UK Guardian and Independent, but not the Times and Daily Telegraph, because the latter is too conservative for my personal values. For the same reason, I don't read (much) the local news in the ST. Applying this to Mr Wang's blog, I suspect the people who read it are those who are already 'converted', and only serves to reinforce their existing values and beliefs.

On a personal level, could the 'anonymous' who is of the view that a partner in Drew & Napier cannot live a balanced life care to suggest which firms enable their partners to do so. I'm asking because I'm a legal academic looking for a career switch.

PC said...

Mr Wang

Actually, your latest post came at a point in time when I'm actually looking at my blog and thinking about the path going forward.

If you've noticed, my recent posts have changed in tone, commenting on issues rather than on my personal life and goals, which was the original intention for which the blog was created.

I guess the change has been gradual; as I read more and participated in other blogs, I began to feel the need to voice my concerns and my thoughts about public issues.

I had not started blogging to become popular or to make a living... so I didn't bother too much with getting a wide readership. Still, interestingly, I have made a few friends and reestablished contact with an old friend.... :o)

Going forward, I reckon my entries will combine both my personal entries and those of social commentary.... thanks for the post... very methodical and well thought out.

arahat said...

Yes, the thing about a social responsibility. I believe that the coming of the age of wide-spread avaliabilities of blogs gives a platform for voices, moderate or not.

This empowers people in the belief that they can make a difference. It does not really matter if they really can. But rather the very act of belief creates the existence of that possibility of making a difference.

Blog on and stand ready to justify your views I say!

Anonymous said...

good on you. I don't always agree with what you say as you choose to see some events narrowly. But i think you are a good person and believe it or not,a good Singaporean too! Keep blogging!

D U said...

Mr Wang,

Your hyperlink to Intelligent Singaporean is broken.

John Riemann Soong said...

"For the same reason, I don't read (much) the local news in the ST. Applying this to Mr Wang's blog, I suspect the people who read it are those who are already 'converted', and only serves to reinforce their existing values and beliefs."

Mmm, but I will read the material of the other side *if* I can comment on it, or make a response. That's really the key issue.

People should also comment more often.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Mr. Wang,
I am repeating some of the comments I made in cobalt paladin's blog as they are just as relevant here.
"The govt has for their own convenience made a clear distinction between online & offline media (& discussion).
Their high-handed dismissive attitude is typical of someone who has too much power. Just as the lady MP from Tampines GRC ( Irene Chua -I think) who claimed that opposition MP's appeals and arguments are not taken seriously, in the same way, the govt put us all in a box labelled "lunatic fringe" and thrown enough mud onto us hoping that in the public's eyes, some of the mud will stick and henceforth, there will be no need to rebut us anymore as by then we are no longer credible.

Another fact ( which is just dawning on me) is that in Singapore's blogsphere, there is only a limited number of people who are really interested in high-level discussion about politics and culture. Perhaps, our S'pore blogsphere is indeed representative ( at this point in time) of the level of discourse ( or lack of) in the general population (ie offline ).
Having said that, I am personally interested to explore how far we can go to raise the bar and set higher standards in public discussion and debate.
However, I am prepared to accept the fact, that we may just be flogging a dying ( or dead) horse.
Cheers,
Dr. Huang Shoou Chyuan
http://nofearsingapore.blogspot.comI will be at the Ngiam Tong Dow talk organised by the Inst.of Int Affairs.(18th July morning Anyone else coming?

John Riemann Soong said...

I have found that often many blogs have quite enlightened material, whether of youth, peer or what have you. The problem is getting them connected.

porcorosso said...

hey Mr W, someone we both know commented some weeks ago that she found bloggers to be similar in that she thought we were all a little wry, a little cynical and a little pessimistic. Going back to one of the anonymous comments on this post - I'd agree that we choose what we read which in turn reflects our world view rather than the zeitgeist necessarily (unlike the anonymous guy, I read the online editions of the Daily Telegraph and the Times every day). So the fact we are here in this part of the Web (as opposed to say, eBay)does say something about us, I think. By the same token, how much we choose to reveal our thoughts online is a reflection, not of our real selves as Popper would say and which may be more or less gregarious, but of our online personality. We blog, therefore we are. The only question is whether we choose our avatar or does our avatar find us?

Ja.NICE said...

The theme of a blogsite attracts only certain group of readers and the number can be limited. So I am not sure about how much social changes a blogsite can contribute.

I find blogging more likely a personal contribution to oneself. For example, I blog to improve my writing skills and organize my thoughts; I find great materials to read online (a form of self-entertainment) and I learn new vocab everyday. The greatest reward is having interactions with like-minded individuals online.

Anonymous said...

I think many of your so-called 'intelligent' bloggers are just as tyrannical as the govt. Maybe worse, becos they resort to vulgarities and name calling. If you don't believe me; just try putting some comments in your own blog supporting the govt's criticism of Mr Brown and see the response for yourself.

So in the end, I am more afraid to praise the govt than to criticize it on my own blog.

So you can understand, I better post this anonymously.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Heheh. When the numbers warrant pessimism, I shall be pessimistic. Mr Wang's blog traffic is still growing sharply at a rate far superior to GIC's returns.

In May 2006, readership sharply peaked (due to General Elections), then fell significantly in % terms. But June 2006 was still a lot higher than all previous months except May 2006; and July 2006 looks set to beat June 2006 hands down.

How do I interpret this? In May, many Singaporeans ventured onto the Internet for news and analysis on the General Elections. Some stumbled onto Mr Wang's blog for the first time ever and they liked what they discovered - it made sense to them. So even after the election fever had died, many of them kept coming back to Mr Wang's blog.

I would be very surprised if this pattern is not also happening for many other Singapore blogs. So it appears that there is plenty of reader appetite out there for alternative opinions and analysis. Right now the limiting factor is not the number of potential interested readers; the limiting factors are (a) how to get to them, and (b) the amount of readworthy blog content.

I shall not worry about the converted & the converted-on-the-other-side, when there is still plenty of blue ocean and uncontested market space (or "converted-on-neither-side" readers) out there. In a sense, we are not competing with MSM; since people who read MSM can also read blogs; people who do not read MSM can also read blogs; furthermore people who do not read MSM may not read blogs either.

There is the question of absolute numbers. What can Mr Wang, and Yawning Bread, and just about a dozen other blogs really achieve?
Waitaminit. Who said "a dozen blogs"? How about 24? Or 48, or 96, or 192 or 384 good Singapore blogs? Sharing resources, cross-referencing, mutually hyperlinking, exchanging ideas, referring readers, and organised by aggregators and hub points ....... ?

"Wah ... sure or not, Mr Wang, every number times 2 times 2 times 2 times 2, how can the growth in blogs be so exponential?"

But of course .... The growth of blogs IS exponential. Since most bloggers are also blog readers (I think), this means that it is not only your potential content providers that are growing, but also your potential readers ....

And you know Singapore is highly wired. We're such a small country, yet do you remember the times when words like "NKF", "Tammy" and "bak chor mee" were among the top search terms in the Technorati search engine?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Additional note:

As mentioned, my readership numbers for July 2006 look set to beat June 2006 flat. One possible interpretation is that June 2006's numbers were depressed due to Singaporeans paying more attention to the World Cup.

Anonymous said...

For the anonymous who is afraid to praise the government, don't despair.

You can do so at ST, CNA, Zaobao and Today.

Our country is nicely divided into online and offline aka the great divide.

At least your praises for the government will not be censured. Being hamtam-ed is better than being suspended lah.

For us, we are not allowed to hamtam the government in the papers, whether serious or in satire form.

Great injustice, I think.

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

I can share Mr Wang's view on the growth of blogospheric participants which, one hopes with ferverency, will lead to a more enlightened and thinking population. The journey of a thousand miles start with a single step!

I for one started having my own webpage when Cyberway became the third ISP back in 1996. Since the 10 years that I went "online", I was also one of the masses that discovered blogs just before the General Elections started and was enthralled by the content and quality of "dangerous" discourse it held.

I for one, am using blogs as a means to share that small bit of my life to others and to also get involved in issues that affect all of us.

Anonymous said...

Well said about social contribution but I think blogging is more suitable for singles unless the married leaves the other half to sweep the floor, clean the house, change the babies' diapers, feed them, rock them to sleep, take them for walks... etc.

So one wonders, who is the real sacrifice of this social contribution, is it Mr Wang or Mrs Wang?

... and who claims all the credit for it?

haha ...

Anonymous said...

Not true lah ...

I'm the Mrs who happily lets the husband blogs.

In fact, I am thinking of blogging myself.

Singaporean couples are a busy lot, I agree. So busy that we forget about ourselves and our thoughts. We become a money making digit like the State wants us to.

Having a blog helps one to keep in touch with ourselves, in the most basic of objectives. Of course, the sharing amongst the community is a bonus. For some, like Mr Wang's, kindled my interest to know more about legal issues.

And yes, we still have the diapers to contend with, the CAI,SA2 and the 3 meals I have to cook. I don't have a maid.

How did we do it? Forget about watching news on TV and reading the ST!

My world has expanded tenfold from the blogs.

Anonymous said...

ah ha and so your other half (husband or wife)and babies suffer at your expense and interest ... social contribution should start from the family unit and out of selfishness begets selfishness.

There are but 24 hours in a day and you can't lie about how you wish to spend it.

Blogging is good but it should be balanced against other more important basic needs, needs of your family to begin with.

I am sure Mr Wang who wishes to bake good karma will agree with me.

If one cannot even put to practise what he or she preaches over its own blog, what is the meaning of social contribution?

Or is this all too profound for the simple fervent bloggers?

It is sad that Singaporeans today in the pursuit of intellectual stimulation and recognition has slowly lost sight of living a quality family life, as well as their traditional family values which are so important for building a strong foundation for the healthy growth and unity of each family unit in Singapore.

And please do not forget, the foundation of Singapore is made up of each such family unit.

Anonymous said...

Oooohh. Drumming up the so called basic foundation of society...What a lark. BE gone you fool.

Mr Wang Says So said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr Wang Says So said...

Actually, come to think of it, I stopped watching TV around 1992 (when I started NS), not 1994.

Mr Wang Says So said...

My earlier comments (with edits)

I have to admit that I do not usually watch TV. I stopped around 1994. I effectively lived without a TV for 4 straight years when I was staying in a university hostel.

Also, I usually get up around 6:00 am every day. It is a leftover habit from the days when my kids were younger and I had to get up to change their diapers.

These days they sleep through the whole night but I still get up at 6:00 am each day and so I probably have about 1.5 hours more of useful time per day than the average person who gets up at 7:30 am.

1.5 hours per day = 10.5 hours a week = 42 extra hours per month. That's quite a lot.

I usually use this time to do one of the following:

creative writing; meditation; jogging; reading - occasionally yoga and occasionally work.

Sometimes I just can't sleep even if I want to. It's a common problem for Enneagram Type 5's:

"You tend to be extremely intense and so high-strung that you find it difficult to relax and unwind."

Even my pursuit of so many different things is a common Type 5 problem:

"Notice when you are getting intensely involved in projects that do not necessarily support your self-esteem, confidence, or life situation. It is possible to follow many different fascinating subjects, games, and pastimes, but they can become huge distractions from what you know really need to do."

I started monitoring my life systematically partly to deal with this problem (in university, I was the kind of person who always had waaay more ECAs than most other people). By dividing my life into seven main areas, and making sure I paid attention to all seven areas, I thought that I would be able to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.

As time goes on, I find however that it's balanced alright ... it's equally packed to bursting in almost all seven areas.

Oh dear .... I may need a shrink.

Mr Wang Says So said...

oh the link on Type 5's:

http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/5growth.asp

porcorosso said...

no, mr W, you need a drink not a shrink ...

Mr Wang Says So said...

... and a karaoke mike, heheh.

I used to take my singing quite seriously too. Did I ever tell you, Porco, that I used to be involved in musicals during Uni days?

Anonymous said...

O dear we do not need blogger who has limited vacabulary on Mr Wang's profound blog!

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang are you using your blog to tell your life story?

I thought it is meant to be for "social contribution" purposes?

Mr Wang is definitely not from a Drew & Napier coz he has time to blog during office hours! Mr Wang, are you working or your job is to be a blog keeper?

Mr Wang Says So said...

What about you - are you working or is it your job to be a blog reader? Haahhaaha!

Anonymous said...

My, my ... Singaporeans are really quite an unhappy lot and they are unhappy about almost anything on earth!

Someone is unhappy about the way I manage my 24 hours.

Blogging is a wonderful way to bond with your 10-year-old kid as well. He takes a keen interest to read his father's blogs and even suggests pictures to be uploaded. Along the way, we explain the issues he reads in a simpler form, more for his level of consumption, to him. We also get to hear his views, albeit from an innocent perspective.

We both think it is better time spent than letting him indulge in online games, the fervour of most Singaporean kids.

We are looking forward to him creating a blog for himself one day.

Anonymous said...

aiyah Mr Wang go back to work lah, your boss is staring at you and you will be fired soon.

Remember - social contribution to your company?

by the way your comments link needs to be updated.

no need to defend yr blog ... we dun mind it lah, afterall u quite cute, always posting as Anonymous on your own comments column to amuse all of us, u think we dun know meh?!

O no, do you have split personality?

porcorosso said...

it's ok, Mr W has a new boss ... and we have not heard of your forays into musicals, do tell ...

Anonymous said...

Mr W, I commend you. Yours is a positive and practical approach. I first came across your blog during the elections, and have since returned frequently, exactly as you conjectured.

John Riemann Soong said...

Those are some amazing pupils.

You're only thirty? I'm more than half your age already. This is scary in a good way I guess.

The Soul said...

Blogging is a convenient forum for one to share its views with everyone else and perhaps get bitchy so as to get even with some of the unhappy experience in their lives or to vent their frustrations.

Just like the battered husband, he could have come blogging and gotten bitchy through blogging to vent
his frustrations after being beaten up like an egg by his humongous sow and perhaps this sow would have survived till today at least.

But BEWARE - don't get hooked, don't get addicted!

Don't let blogging get the better of you and destroy your relationship with your loved ones.

I am sure all of you are clear of the consequences of the addiction to Blogging.

Your other half ends up waiting for you at the MRT while you continue building your last blog against your conscience.

and Mr Wang, do you realise that you have actually succeeded in forming a Blogging Cult!!??

Anonymous said...

Is Porcorosso your colleague? He knows you have a new boss!!

wert said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wert said...

This post had inspired me to start or rather restart my blog.

http://wert-sg.blogspot.com

Sorry for the blalant self advertising!