My Early Adventures on the Web

webfriar

Back in 1999, About.Com featured “The Friar’s Journal” in its personal websites section. Below is a writeup about me and my then fledgling attempts at creating a website. In 1999, most people in the Philippines still considered an internet connection to be a luxury. There was nothing like today’s Facebook or Tweeter. If one wanted to communicate through the web, it was with email. A personal website was more of a feature of American web culture.

How old are you?

38
When did you start your site?

September, 1999
Marital Status?

celibate
Occupation – What kind of work do you do?

religious — school administrator
Hobbies – What do you like to do, besides keep this site?

Reading, Music, Drawing Cartoons, learning HTML, javascript and DHTML.
Location – Where are you from? Where are you now?

I am from the Philippines, and right now, in the island of Negros.
Why did you start writing your Web site?

I wanted a place where I can record what I have been doing in the Internet. I have been experimenting on ways to make the web a complementary source of information for our teachers and students, and I was doing this in one website. A Friar’s Journal was intended to be a kind of log book of what I have been doing in my capacity as voluntary “Web educator.”
What is your site about?

A Friar’s Journal is basically about what a friar like me is doing on the Web. It carries information about what a friar is (and specifically, what is an Augustinian friar), what things I have discovered on the Web and what have been my experiences.
Why do you write a site about being a friar?

People like myself are looked upon by society in terms of the function we are expected to perform. No one, expect very close friends, would be interested to know about what we do during our spare time (and it is not always praying the rosary or reading the Bible). I write about my hobby in order to fill in this knowledge gap about our group. Besides, I like my hobby so much that I would like to promote it.
Do you communicate with readers of your site?

I haven’t had a chance to communicate with them.
How much email feedback to you receive from your site? Is it mainly positive or negative?

I don’t receive any.
Have you met any new friends because of the site?

The people who know me offline have somehow changed their perceptions of me.
Has your motivation changed over time?

Yes, a bit. Now I also would like to encourage more people to take an active part in the building up of the Web. The “FREE” sectors of the Internet show a different way of dealing with issues like interaction, exchange, communication… I’d like more people to know about it.
How has it changed your life?

Making my site more presentable, learning extra HTML and javascript has somehow “forced” me to keep in touch with people belonging to different cultures and age groups. There was a time when I discovered to my surprise that my HTML tutor was a fifteen year old! As a result, my way of looking at things have been enriched by the insights I have gained just by coming into contact with people that I know I would not have met if not for the site that I was trying to present.
If you had to do it over again from the beginning, what would you change?

The coding. I’d like to have a site that is W3c compliant.
What are your favorite things on your site?

Your Simple WebPageMaker; The Story Of My Vocation (some of our students enjoyed it); My First Adventure on the Net (featured in this site).
When looking at other people’s Web sites what do you look for as a viewer?

Information, and lots of it. I also like to see great combinations of texture backgrounds, text colors and fonts (I am bad at this).
What is “one word” that would describe your site?

Different.
Because of your site do you consider yourself a Web celebrity, an exhibitionist, a public figure, a writer, an innovator, or something different?

A pioneer. I am the first in my Filipino religious group to make one.
How do you tackle the mechanics of Web design and how do you deal with your frustrations when you can’t do what you envision.

I still do things by trial and error. If I get it wrong, I consult somebody. If I get it right, I experiment with something else, and so on. Frustrations, I have had a lot. But as in my life offline, I’d just sit back, drink a bottle of beer, and sleep it off in the hope that I get the solution in my dreams.
Why do you think people are interested in your interest or hobby and what you have to say about it?

In the first place because my hobby is about Web building — HTML, Website development, interactive pages, web graphics… Here in our place, a non professional and self-taught web builder is quite a rarity. When people see my web pages improve from bad to not so bad and to good and better, they get curious.
What compels you to design beautiful pages and to write from the heart (beyond just the usual question of “why write a Web site”)?

I want to reach out to as many people as I can.
Do your friends and family know you keep this site/read it?

In our part of the world, personal web sites are still a rarity. When people connect to the Web, they go to portal sites, commercial sites, or entertainment sites and socializing sites. The fact that only a few of my friends have seen my site does not sadden me — most of them either do not have an Internet connection or cannot afford the rates in an Internet cafe.
How has your Web site benefited you? Your friends? Or total strangers?

My website has benefited me in this: that I have learned one more way of communicating, that some have even found my stories interesting (specifically: “The Friar’s Adventure in Cyberspace”), that as a consequence of my knowledge in the ways of the Net, a lot more people are asking for my service in this area, and the satisfaction of knowing that I have overcome the difficulties I had when I first started this activity.

From About.Com

See also: The Friar’s Great Internet Adventure

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