My Online Diary Gives Me Freedom To Be Me

This is a reproduction of an article about me that appeared in Computers@Home in November 2002. The original article can be found here but, as you can see, it is now only for paid-users. If you are interested in my general views about the online world, then maybe you’d like to check out this article that appeared on in August 2002.

Atul Chitnis started a journal because it helped him answer the question “so what have you been up to these days?” that he gets asked every time he meets someone he hasn’t met in a while. But there were other reasons as well: Being a member of so many mailing lists, he found it incredibly difficult to be able to say something without everyone discussing every word he said to death. He felt he needed the luxury to be able to say something without the editorial comments. AtulChitnis.Net is his place on the Net, where he can put his thoughts down about anything he feels like – whether it is about something tech, social, the weather, his pets, his music – and no one is allowed to mess up with comments. While he also maintains a private diary, his online diary is to allow him to share parts of his life with friends and family.

Surprisingly, a lot of strangers also visit his site, which he thinks is fine, as long as they know the rules – that this is his site, and if they don’t like it, they’re free to set up their own space on the Net and write what they feel.

For wannabe bloggers he has a few tips to share:

  1. Be clear what you plan to write about. Draw up rules, and follow them. Understand that while you are free to say what you want, you have to draw a line in places.
  2. Be clear who you’re writing for. If you say “for myself” you are a liar. You are writing and publishing on the Web because you want others to read what you have written. Adopt a style that goes with the target audience.
  3. Be honest. You can make up stories and cook up situations, but this is a journal, not a fiction contest.
  4. Be clear. Use language that is readable, otherwise no one is going to bother reading it. Keep in mind that while you will probably be writing in English, the language is different things to different people.
  5. Be regular. No one expects you to force yourself to update your journal every day, but try doing it once or twice a week.
  6. Be controlled. Don’t use your journal to take it out on someone else. Don’t sit down and write when you are hopping mad. Cool off, tomorrow it will look only half as serious.
  7. Pay attention to your site design. No one expects you to be a genius in design, but try and be consistent – it makes it easier for your visitors.

Atul insists that what he writes is a diary, not a blog. This is how he explains the difference: “A blog is a place where you say something and encourage people to comment on what you have written. Many people actually compete with each other to see who can raise the most comments. This is cool – sites like SlashDot.Org work great that way. A blog is about things that you think invite comment. But it isn’t a diary. A diary is a place where you put down your thoughts about something that happened in your life. A diary is about you.”

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