Saturday, March 23 2019


Bringing out the best in VN's bloggers

Update: July, 13/2008 - 00:00

Bringing out the best in VN’s bloggers

Words from the heart: Bloggers gather at an event to discuss ways to ensure that the blogging community remains healthy and responsible. — File Photo


by Khanh Linh

The Thao Van Hoa (Sports and Culture) Newspaper has launched a writing competition entitled "Your Entry – The Life Around Us" to create a playground for Vietnamese bloggers to test their writing skills and share their thoughts and feelings about social issues and everyday life. This is seen as an acknowledgement of the role of blogging as a means of expression despite the many controversies surrounding its validity, accuracy, legal status and inability to be controlled.

While this undeniably powerful medium continues to increase in popularity around the world, including here in Viet Nam, organisers hope contests like this will help persuade bloggers to write healthier and more quality content.

According to Le Khac Hiep, the head of Viet Nam Communication Joint Stock Company and a contest juryman, his busy schedule gobbles up most of his time but he nevertheless joyfully spends hours surfing and reading the entries of his partners and relatives.

"Apart from expressing the blogger’s daily life in diary form, many entries show remarkably deep insight into current issues. Others deal with the nature of humanity and relationships in our society," says Hiep.

A way to connect

24 year old Tran Thanh Van, a resident of Ton Duc Thang, said she would definitely enter the competition because publishing her own stories, poems and experiences has become the daily habit in the last two years.

"Many amateur writers spend great efforts to craft their blogs into real works of art, changing colour schemes and decorating the pages with lovely images and icons," says Van, adding that "some bloggers are very talented writers, so holding the competition is ideal for people like me."

Van is not alone in expressing her innermost thoughts and feelings to the whole world. Nguyen Viet Linh, an overseas student in England, also shares her weekly diary with the cyberworld.

"Whenever I feel lonely and homesick, I write a new entry and receive warm feedback from both friends and strangers. It motivates me to keep studying, and I know that there’s real love between people in cyberspace," says Linh.

Apart from being a private website, blogging has developed into a new kind of journalism that could be called the ‘everyman’s newspaper’, especially in certain parts of the world where traditional media is controlled by the government or multinational corporations.

Joseph Ruelle (Joe), a Canadian immigrant familiar to many as the MC of VTV6 and a writer for Lao Dong (Labour) Newspaper, writes a blog which is very popular due to his precise observations and humorous use of Vietnamese expressions.

"The free style and impartiality of bloggers make blogging more attractive than more official forms of press and literature," says Joe.

Blogging has become so rampant, it’s even been adopted by the Presidential House. Duong Trung Quoc, the general director of the Association of Vietnamese Historians and editor-in-chief of Xua Va Nay (Now and Then) magazine, was the first Vietnamese politician to set up a blog. He is well-known at home and abroad for his research on national history and culture and believes that blogging can be a useful tool linking him with those interested in the activities of National Assembly deputies.

Between virtual and real

Blogging evolved in the mid 90’s from internet bulletin boards, internet forum threads, and email lists. Ever since the term ‘blog’ was coined in 1999 by Peter Merholz as an abbreviation of ‘web log’, the blogosphere has grown into one of the most popular alternative to the mainstream media as a means of communication.

Acording to the Ministry of Information and Communication, there were an estimated three million bloggers in Viet Nam in 2007, and tens of thousands of new blogs are set up each day. As one person can write multiple blogs with multiple purposes, network managers get headaches trying to keep track.

Considered to be private property, a blog can be used to make statements about other people and ‘flame wars’ often erupt between bloggers, sometimes over the most esoteric of details. Worse, blogs are a very effective tool to run smear campaigns against others.

Mi Van, the young model often found in the pages of numerous youth magazines, was forced to shut down her online diary for a month due to disturbing comments on a fake blog. The famous dancer Linh Nga was equally upset over a false blog which was set up using her identity. And recently, pop singer Phuong Thanh sued a blogger nicknamed Co Gai Do Lon g for slander; she lost the case but has lodged an appeal.

Recently, Yahoo managers stopped service to the well-known blogger OnlyU (who received 2 million page views a day) after sending a warning letter to the owner due to numerous complaints of offensive material, sexual content, and the spreading of false information about famous people negatively affecting their careers and lives.

"I never spoke ill of others. All the entries included images and witnesses, and unconfirmed rumours were always questioned", claims OnlyU, adding bitterly, "I don’t think that Yahoo’s terms of services were violated; the service suppliers shouldn’t have deleted all of my entries."

Tac Ke, another famous blog with the same numbers of page views, disseminates the same content on multiple sites, both to attract more readers and to avoid OnlyU’s fate.

But not everyone is obsessed with blogs.

"They must have nothing better to do so they stick their noses in other people’s affairs. I don’t bother with all that," says Van.

"I often bypass bad blogs and move to more interesting sites," adds Linh.

Blogs have moved beyond their origins; no longer strictly personal web logs, many believe it’s time to control their contents. The truth is however, it’s virtually impossible to control bloggers because they can remain anonymous, change their identities, or simply create new ones.

As Mai Liem Truc, Ph.D, said in an interview with The Thao Van Hoa Newspaper, "One should build their own firewall to the dark side of the blog". — VNS

Send Us Your Comments:

See also: