When I started tweeting a few months ago, my blogging mojo was resurrected. In May, I posted more than I have in years, consistently every few days. I've been sitting up later than I should to put the links and the tags in, to find the right words and to finally press the publish button before the clock strikes midnight. A certain adrenalin is pumping which ensures I roll out of bed early, do a full day at work, go for a run, cook dinner, get through some pages of a book and, as I said, post to the blog pretty regularly.
I'm on a roll.
Luckily, for me, stickyrice has always been a creative outlet, a fairly self-indulgent exercise not too tied to any specific function or audience. I don't feed on stats and often only become aware of 'spikes' and other link phenomena via people who read the blog or initiate the link. I've been pretty clueless otherwise. My connection to others via twitter, however, has drawn my attention to the importance of and interest in these stats for others who blog and tweet.
Our Man in Hanoi recently tweeted that I had more than 800 google followers. I didn't know what that meant. Some tweeters that I follow allude occasionally to stat milestones. Obviously, my adrenalin does not extend to my doing statistical analysis. Perhaps if my blog and other social networking was related to my income or business interests, I would find the time to data-mine.
Anyway, all this got me wondering about what drives people to continue blogging and what makes them stop. Do low hit numbers send some bloggers into a downward spiral of less frequent posting, of questions like 'why aren't people interested anymore' to depression and eventual death to their online profiles? Do they simply move on to the next online media, to facebook, to twitter, to whateverthefuckisnext.com?
I also started thinking about how my Vietnam links were surviving in cyber-space. Because I'm slack on link love and don't have the time to regularly check in on other blogs, the current list (just to the right in the side bar) is virtually unchanged since I started stickyrice in mid-05.
So where are they now?
Backwater Views (A South African in Saigon) last posted on Vietnam in October 09, signing off with "thanks for reading my Vietnam blog for all these years and I hope you enjoy my perspective of this Australian adventure just as much." Having taken up residence in Queensland, his new blog is an african down under, and the most recent post was in March. Stickyrice is still linked under the Vietnam blogs category. He tweets, though there has been a recent hiatus of 51 days. His second to last post found him in hippy hangout, Nimbin. Maybe he got stuck there?
Dreaming of Hanoi, by Preya, while not strictly a Vietnam link, was reflections on a childhood and adolescence lived in Hanoi and also aspirations about someday getting back here permanently. One of the first regular readers and commenters on stickyrice, Preya's original blog at blogger ceased to exist in July 07 when she transferred her writings to wordpress, resuming the same name. Stickyrice is still listed in her blogroll. Her last post was published in November 09. It details visits to weird restaurants in Taipei and birthday celebrations in Hanoi and Koh Samet. She tweets, too, though not since October 09. Her blog links to a facebook account. So Preya's hooked up to things but it seems there's nobody home.
Gastronomy, written by Cathy Danh with very occasional contributions from her husband, became the pre-eminent foodblog in Saigon for a year in 07/08, post-the legendary noodlepie. She finished her tour of duty in Vietnam with a whirlwind trip north to Hanoi and Sapa, before returning to the States where she resides in LA. Still prominent on the foodblog scene, Cathy has maintained the same blog address but writes much more broadly about the food scene stateside. Her last post was about eating french fries at the baseball. Categories on her blog include best streetfood, best world eats and mad for banh mi. Big twitter and facebook badges exist on her blog and she is instrumental in a food charity project called eatmyblog. Very much alive and well in the blogosphere.
Layered (Antidote to Burnout) blogger Mel, returned to Vietnam in 05 after being here in 71/72 as a member of the US Navy Civil Engineers Corps. An architect by profession, Mel focuses on the construction industry in Vietnam in his writings. His most recent post, dated 30th April 09, reflects on Vietnam's Reunification Day (which, interestingly, goes by the name of Liberation Day in the north) and on work he oversaw during his posting here in the early-70s. Mel's keeping up with the technology, tweeting semi-regularly at layered.
Noodlepie hardly needs an introduction, nor any assurance of his continuing online presence. Put simply, Graham Holliday, was the inspration behind and template for stickyrice. What he was doing in Saigon in the mid-noughties was what we (lonely old me since 06) wanted to do in Hanoi. His streetfood escapades through the wide expanse of Saigon's districts have resulted in what is still the go-to reference for the authentic food of that big southern city. Graham's since tried to find inspiration in the food of Toulouse (pretty difficult after Vietnam), continued his work as a journalist, become a media trainer, an expert on all things new media and is now located in Kigali, Rwanda. He is the brains behind kigaliwire, where he blogs about events as wide-ranging as gorilla naming ceremonies and suspect Chinese investment in Rwandan infrastructure, and draws together news and comment about all things Rwanda. He tweets both as noodlepie and kigaliwire and is a sharp, witty and inspiring online hotshot.
Our Man in Hanoi has been around the block and back. Steve Jackson has been Our Man in Granada, Our Man in Cameroon, Our Man in Newcastle and, in fact, Our Man on Planet Earth, though I think he may have let the rights go on the latter domain name, as it's now inhabited by some pharmaceutical mob. But he's been Our Man in Hanoi twice! His volunteer work started at KOTO in Hanoi before taking him to Central America and Africa. As his blog attests, Steve has Hanoi in his blood. He is a passionate defender of all things Hanoi/Vietnam and does know how to push his reader's buttons. His posts capture what Hanoi is all about whether it be through exceptional photo posts or insightful words; he has been known to weep and cause weeping online. Steve is a keen social networker (twitter and facebook), observer of online trends and, I must say, thorough documenter of his story so far.
royby.com is by Saigon based blogger, Roy Hornsby. Created in 02. Still going, though posting not so regularly. A dabble in facebook may have ended and in a recent post Roy says he's "sick and tired of the time wasting trivialty of facebook." After reading Ben Elton's Blind Faith, Roy is having a break from social networking.
The Final Word is another Saigon blog, written by UK teacher and businessman, Jon Hoff. He has posted twice in May and not yet in June. But life seems busy with kids and mother-in-law if most recent posts are anything to go by. Hoff runs a business with his wife called Connections, which provides unique travel experiences in and around Saigon. No doubt this also keeps him away from the computer. The business has a facebook group and Jon is a twice a month tweeter.
Vietnamese God, though I may be biased, is Vietnam's best English language blogger and a pioneer of sorts. His quirky and eclectic posts continue to be fun and informative even after five and a half years. Recently, he has reported on our travels in Phu Quoc and Siem Reap, as well as on such traditions as the travelling knife sharpener. Tu continues to have rushes of blood to the head where he posts a lot and then periods of inactivity. He tweets occasionally, too.
So there you have it, the revealing of the current online status of my Vietnam links. Some are doing better than others, leaving large digital footprints as opposed to one faint step in the sand constantly washed away. Not that it matters, right.
I am, however, looking to send some link love to other bloggers in Vietnam. That's if there are still people taking up such an antiquated form of social networking technology.