You want someone to represent the Philippine blogosphere? Get Sybil

Blogger Jayvee Fernandez caused quite a ruckus in several Philippine blogs recently when he accused Janette Toral of “misrepresenting the Philippine blogosphere” for her own merit.

Clueless that I was, the first person I asked, via IM, about Jayvee’s “Bloggers, MISrepresent” post was Janette. She then told me that she suspected that she was the subject of the post. The two, it seems, have now settled the issue. Disclaimer: Janette writes a weekly column for the newspaper I work for but I do not deal with her.

I will not deal with Jayvee’s criticisms of Janette’s presentation. But I don’t think his criticisms are enough to support his allegation that Janette misrepresented “the Philippine blogosphere.”

But a core issue in the whole exchange is something that I feel strongly against. Some people have this unfortunate tendency to box blogging–and the people who practice the craft–in.

Bloggers, including Filipinos, are a varied lot. We’re not a clone army.

Some make a living off their blogs, others don’t. Some are journalists who blog, others are bloggers who are now also journalists. Some blog to get laid, others get laid off because of blogging. Some are atheists, others are devoutly religious. Some use WordPress, others Blogger, Multiply, Serendipity, etc. Some are link whores, others are plain whores (and I love them for it). Some are good cooks, others are kitchen disasters waiting to happen.

To represent such a diverse group of people, you need to have an extreme case of schizophrenia.

Many blog in English, others in Bisaya, Ilonggo and the several other Filipino languages. To represent this group of people you have to be a polyglot.

Jayvee says that when he talks on blogging, “in effect I am representing bloggers of all demographics.” Excuse me, Jayvee, but you don’t.

Jayvee, don’t you find that a bit presumptuous? I don’t know if you’ve been to a conference where someone stands up to say “I think I speak for everyone in this room when I say…” When this happens, I have to restrain myself from going to the microphone to say “No, you don’t.”

I’ve heard several bloggers talk about blogging but I’ve never heard someone claim to speak for or represent the community of Filipino bloggers. And I’m using the word “community” here loosely—to refer to the most common denominator that binds us: that we are Filipinos and we use blogs to publish web sites.

Abe Olandres, when I listened to him talk once, did not say he represented the entire community of Filipino bloggers. And he is someone closest to being the person that can speak for the community, in the sense that he makes a living out of blogging, he is in touch with a lot of Filipino bloggers and most people look to him for advice.

And here’s one reason why Jayvee could not “represent” me, a blogger of a certain demographic, with a certain stand on a particular issue: he wrote “new media in the Philippines, which refers to the Philippine blogosphere.” I completely disagree. Bloggers are part of the new media landscape, not the whole of it. Blogging is merely one form of the new medium.

To mistake the part for the whole is not something I’m comfortable with to come from someone who “represents me,” a Filipino blogger of a certain demographic.

Jayvee also says: “If bloggers are invited to speak in front of a crowd of industry experts (yay!!!), bear in mind that you bring forward with you the hundreds of personalities of the local blogosphere.”

I think Filipino bloggers now number in the thousands. I just checked Pinoy Top Blogs and there are more than a thousand blogs listed there. What? The others don’t count any more? Do I count? Do Bisaya Bloggers count? What about Friendster bloggers, do they count? Or Multiply bloggers? Do Mindanao Bloggers count? Do we count as “personalities of the local blogosphere?”

It’s easy to mistake your circle for the entire community. It’s an easy mistake to make. After all, our ancestors had thought the universe revolved around them.

And the idea that when bloggers are invited to speak, they “bring forward” with them the hundreds of personalities of the local blogosphere– as defined by Jayvee Fernandez–is ludicrous. I had thought that bloggers were invited to speak to share their experiences on blogging, to give tips on the medium.

But the issue has settled. I have one request, though. The next time someone talks about blogging: can you please state before your talk whether you think you are “representing bloggers of all demographics?” I’d like time to walk out of the room, thank you.

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10 responses

  1. hi max. thanks for the insights. they are well taken and respected.

    my points: i never said i represented the philippine blogosphere. never. if you read my second post about the matter i merely wondered why other blogging projects were not talked about.

  2. btw, the issue i had with the presentation of janette is over and done with. we’ve moved on.

  3. Well said, Max. πŸ™‚

    I’d also take that type of “disclaimer” as cue to leave the room. :p

  4. Good points you raised there.

    It’s well enough that the issues are being settled already. All of us should learn from this.

    I do agree that the “blogosphere” doesn’t actually need representation by any entity. The blogging world pretty much values individualism over community sentiments.

  5. Hi Jayvee,

    my points: i never said i represented the philippine blogosphere. never. if you read my second post about the matter i merely wondered why other blogging projects were not talked about.

    But you did. In you first post, you said “I give presentations to the third party as if there were actual bloggers in the audience, because in effect I am representing bloggers of all demographics.

    I don’t see how any single person can represent bloggers of all demographics, hence this post. I think the easiest way to misrepresent Filipino bloggers is to attempt representing them.

    I also thought it unfair that you accuse Janette of “misrepresenting” bloggers based on what you say are shortcomings in her presentation.

    When you say misrepresent, one of its meanings is “to give a false or misleading representation of usually with an intent to deceive or be unfair.” You impute two things on Janette 1.) that she took it upon herself to represent Filipino bloggers, and 2. that she misled people or failed badly in her attempt to represent bloggers.

    During our chat, Janette told me she was asked to share her experiences on blogging. She wasn’t there to “represent” bloggers.

    At any rate, I am glad that you two have talked the issue over. Let me also congratulate you for publicly apologizing on the issue.

  6. Well said Sir Max! My word, this is a good follow-up to that clash between Connie and Noemi.

    Signs that the blogosphere is definitely moving forward.

  7. Max, excellent piece!

  8. This post and that of Mr. Gibbs Gadiz are by far the most insightful ones I’ve read to touch on the “Jayvee Accusing Toral of Misrepresentation” issue. Nice work sir!

    It’s good to know that the issue has been finally settled. I can’t wait to attend the next iBlog Summit and listen to Jayvee as one of the speakers hopefully. Hehe. I know Jayvee as a friend and he is truly the kind of humble person who would admit his mistakes.

    Hmm, I wonder who the hell would “blog to get laid”…

  9. Hi Benj, Prudence, Jhay
    Thanks for the feedback πŸ™‚

    Thanks and where’s your response to my tag? πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the feedback. As for the person who blogs to get laid…I swear I did not have you in mind when I wrote it ha ha ha πŸ™‚ Yours is a special case.

    I meant bloggers who want to meet lovers through their blogs. In your case, it’s a very wonderful bonus. But come on, only two posts this month?

    If it were me, I’d have daily postings (is this allowed in your agreement? I wasn’t able to go through all your comments) πŸ™‚

  10. Max,
    The ‘No Blog, No Sex’ rule has long been abolished. I blog as a free man now! Haha.

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