Photo: My car, after a fashion. Photography and Photoshopping by Chette Soriano.
“The long and winding road, that leads to your door.” – The Beatles
“It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.” – AC/DC
“It’s long!” – Linda Lovelace
Calling this blog “The Ayson Chronicles” brings me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear. More precisely, the timeline covering the years 1989 to 1991, when I wrote a monthly column for a fledgling computer magazine called PC Digest.
On a whim, I christened the column “The Ayson Chronicles,” named obviously after the Ray Bradbury book, “The Martian Chronicles.” The magazine editors Po Wong and Chin Wong gave me a free hand, and I wrote about the PC technology of the day, in a casual conversational style – something novel in an age where IT writing meant the dull, often necrological style of Manuel Alcuaz, who regularly thrilled readers with a droll discourse on systems analysis.
My writing idols (who I tried to emulate) were more irreverent, always interesting, and always kept up with what was new. There was Jerry Pournelle, who wrote the “Chaos Manor” columns in Byte Magazine. And the still nasty John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine.
The “tech” in my columns wasn’t really much by today’s standards. A typical sampler of topics of the day would include pieces on dot matrix printers, 9600 baud modems, and 386 processors. I’d hazard to guess that only 20% of today’s readers would even know what these artifacts from an archaeological dig are.
Actually, this wasn’t my first tech column. That honor (or horror) belongs to the oddly named “Over A Stack of Diskettes” which ran in a trade newspaper called Metropolitan Computer Times. The first column was published in 1987, and I wrote about “Fidonet Bulletin Board Systems”, which I’m sure everyone remembers, right?
Since then, my flirtation with writing has brought me to the weekly column “Dot.Comment” for Computerworld Philippines (2001-2003), “Gadget Nation” for Business Day Magazine, and columns I can’t even remember the titles of for Enterprise, Entrepreneur Magazine, Mobile Philippines, and The Reviewer.
The “tech writer” handle was a stereotype I tried to shake off for a bit. I learned to write about music when I started a music website called PhilMusic.com in 1997 – which over ten years later is still online, racking up Google pageviews by the millions each month. That led to music pieces published in print in the Philippine Star, Mabuhay Magazine, Business Day, and Fudge Magazine.
Moving back and forth between the print and online worlds, I’ve become accustomed to the differences in style and the temperament between the two. And the whole “print journalists” versus “bloggers” debate being flogged around on local tech blogs is something I find amusing, and ultimately, rather stupid.
After all, throughout my “tech writing career” (as it were), I was writing online the whole time, participating in BBS forums, Usenet, Mailing Lists, and joining whatever was the online community du jour at the time.
But back to this blog. Of all the columns I’ve ever written, oddly enough, the one that people still remember is “The Ayson Chronicles.” Over 15 years after the fact, I still bump into people who remember that strange little column.
Whatever the reason, it must have been special – or dare I say it, magical – to make such a lasting impression. If you ask me today, I have no idea what it was, but since I’ve decided to get up and writing about tech again, I’m going to see if I can recapture it – even just a smidgen of it.
Where I am today: Right here, right now. I never had the gumption to call myself a professional writer. Indeed, I never really was. Writing was always something I could pull out of a hat as a colorful sideline, but I’ve made my living elsewhere.
If I need to be forthright about what I what I do for a living these days, I guess it’s okay to say that I do product development for a telecommunications company that starts with the letter “S” and ends with the letter “T” – and has an “M” and “A” and “R” in the middle. That should give you a clue on those days that I decide to thrash the company that starts with the letter “G”.
In addition, much of my area of interest nowadays has to do with small devices – well okay, let’s call them gadgets – and I no longer care about computers the size and heft of a case of canned beer.
The other area of my interest is almost socio-anthropological. I’m interested in the way that people behave in online networks, what makes them tick, and what are the trends swirling about in this user-generated, social networkified, blogosphere-ish, Twitteresque, Web 2.0-ish, brave new world of ours.
If you share my interests, all well and good – it means I have an audience of at least one! Happy reading, and enjoy the ride.
Jim Ayson, March 2008