December 1999
s m u g
net worth
by Heidi Pollock

Dear Diary(land)

Once upon a time when the internet was young and the hippies were old we were told that a global community of electronic villagers sharing their innermost secrets on The World Wide Web was going to change our lives forever. At the time most of us were too busy chronicling all the daily travails of our being unemployed and wordy to really notice the hype but fuel it we did.

Oh yes, indeedie. Online diaries and vanity sites and just plain verbose crimes against Thesauri proliferated at the speed of 2400, 4800, and a trail blazing 9600. No need to list names because let's face it, you all know who I'm talking about. Those early sites are now either famous or long since eradicated in the name of job security. Most of us (and I speak for myself as well though I came late to the party and hung out only briefly in the kitchen before sneaking out early with a stolen bottle of Shiraz stuffed into my Targus bag) progressed somehow from our tell-all personal web sites to glamorous high profile jobs in the digital economy where today we compete for triple digit Google hits and IPO party swag. An era of soul-selling corruption set in and we were lost until came to set us free.


Had dinner with Leslie tonight at this cute place in Hell's Kitchen. I was feeling pretty sick actually with an annoying cold but it was nothing that two "hot toddies" couldn't cure. (What is up with the "toddy" thing anyway?)

I wore this totally cute green flowered camouflage-y skirt and a black top and a pink silk undershirt and the rockin' metal purse that Evany gave me for some reason when she started dating Paul. I was aiming for a kind of retro 80s preppy theme which I'm not sure came off too well but you know, I mean, the combat boots probably offset any potentially yuppy-vibes I might have accidentally been exuding. I hope.

So ANYWAY, Leslie and I were talking about Brad and Kim and I was saying how surprised I was that they weren't discussing their relationship online. Leslie told me that they are, that they both have diaryland diaries. There was a brief pause before we both burst into hysterical laughter.

Leslie said, "I'm so glad there's someone who understands."


Today I got my own diaryland diary and I am in heaven.

When I first threw together my site all those years ago, I vowed never to use the first person. At the time it seemed like a noble and possibly sound editorial decision because I was hoping to distinguish myself from all the other personal websites. Unfortunately as a result of that restriction it's just become too difficult to maintain.

Writing for a living basically takes all the fun out of writing. At the end of a long hard day staring at a computer, slogging through the web, and ripping words out of my brain pretty much the last thing I want to do is go home to the computer, slog onto the web and drag some more words into coherent, entertaining, illuminating sentences. A task which is particularly difficult in that I work at home so there's really no escape or respite to begin with.

However, what I do find completely enjoyable at the end of the day is bitching. Logging into diaryland at the end of the day to discuss my life, loves and further travails is going to be a blast. I'm sure I haven't had this much fun on the web since the early 90s.


I've been thinking a lot about why diaryland is so fabulous and the rest of the web is not. Aside from the fact that I think of the web as my office and that no office is ever fun no matter how many inflatable slides there are at your new media launch party, the web is just too serious now. Or rather, the people on the web are too serious. Even ignoring all the corporate, governmental and educational sites the remaining individual endeavors reek of commercialism. All those hit-counters, guestbooks, web rings and banner exchanges are just proof that even the family dog's web site aspires to a certain public recognition if not greatness.

You'd think that this growing desire to break into publishing via the web would boost the kind and quality of available reading material but of course the reverse is happening. There is a strange sameness to many of the new personal sites which I can only attribute to an awareness of audience. People today seem aware that they're on display. They hold back from revealing anything too embarrassing, ugly or just plain banal.

In the early web days, putting up a so-called vanity site was the electronic version of the message in a bottle. Diaryland diaries have recaptured the quality of public anonymity which so characterized the original web. It's nearly impossible to locate someone's diary unless the writer themselves sends you the url. And in what is perhaps most revealing about the diaryland phenomenon is that many of the now-professional writers I know who have diaries aren't sharing their urls. Personally I have no plans to let more than a dozen people know where my diary is. Whatever diaryland is to its writers, it is not about becoming famous or profiting from text.


Woke up today with a horrible headache for no apparent reason. Drank three cups of coffee and tried to learn what I could about ITV. For no apparent reason. I still can't quite figure out what the most popular broadcast protocol is. More importantly, I can't figure out why I even care. Even worse, while I was reading up on the technology it occurred to me that I could host a talk show on my site for the WebTV audience and now I cannot get the notion out of my thick skull. There's something sort of sick and appealing about having a talk show with just me talking. No guests. No callers. Well, I suppose I could field email questions on the air if it came down to that.

But what would be the point? It would be weird and cathartic, "cutting edge" and crazy. Hah! No point really. Just art I suppose. For whatever that's worth.



back to the junk drawer

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