Note: This blog was was originally posted on MariaAguilar.ca under the title “My History With Blogging” on October 21, 2010. I’ve since revisited and re-edited it. I’ve also added “Introduction: The Computer”.

Introduction: The Computer

The first computer I ever used was in 1996 and I was ten years old. My family and I still lived in the Philippines. Being typical Asian parents, mine knew that computers were the future so they entered me into a Beginner’s class. There were 2 sections in the school: one for kids where all we did was draw on a blank canvas (think Paint) and learn how to type. But since I’ve been regularly using a typewriter for years, I didn’t need the typing lessons. (Sidebar: I got the typewriter when I was 7 and used it to write many short stories. Glad to say I still have some of them!) The second section was for adults; they were learning how to use MS-DOS. (Remember, back then, browsers weren’t a thing yet.) After the first hour or so, it became clear to my instructor that I was too advanced for the kids section, so they asked me if I wanted to join the adults.

And thus began my life long relationship with The Internet.

My History With Blogging

I’ve been blogging since I was 12 years old; before the word “blogging” was even invented. 

Fast forward to a year after my computer lessons. My family and I have just migrated to Canada and we were adjusting to the new culture. I couldn’t bring my typewriter with me to Canada, so in the beginning, I had no hobbies at all whatsoever. We migrated to Canada in the Fall, so I enjoyed just being outside and smelling the air (what a strange kid, right?).

Eventually, I convinced my parents that I absolutely needed a computer “for school”. And back then computers cost upwards of $2,000. For a family that was pretty new to the Northern American culture, that was extremely pricey. But my parents wanted what was best for me and they really, truly believed that computers were the next thing in education. But I didn’t stop at the computer; we got a colour printer, a scanner for my photos, and a web cam. Man, I got hooked up!

My computer lessons came in handy; exploring the innards of our IBM computer was second nature. My very first Internet connection was a dial-up through AOL (because a trial came with the computer) and I was instantly obsessed. My first screen name ever was TALK_MASTER_GIRL_8 (because I always got in trouble for talking during class and got a reputation for being extremely talkative and social, so I just went with it.) I started with the AOL forums and chat rooms, and wondered how strangers were so comfortable with speaking to other strangers about such private things. But over time, I slowly got comfortable with the idea of posting on these
chat rooms and forums instead of just “lurking”. Keyword: slowly. I actually remember leaving chat rooms halfway through a conversation because I felt so guilty. I mean, I was talking to strangers! You’re not supposed to talk to strangers.

It wasn’t long until the kids at school started talking about the Internet. (Yay, I wasn’t alone anymore!) Through my peers, I found out about Napster (What?! I don’t have to BUY music?), Hotmail (way cooler than an AOL email), Yahoo!, and several free video gaming sites. But I hit the motherload when I found out about Geocities, Angelfire, Lycos, and my most influential site of all: AsianAvenue. The idea of having a “page” that represented who you were was incredibly fascinating to me. Maybe it was because I was in my early teens and was having identity issues. But having a page and stating things like “I’m a happy girl”, made me a happy girl; putting down “Jesus is Love”, made me proud that I was out there sharing my beliefs.

I became addicted (yes, addicted) to AsianAvenue during the summer before high school started. I started to learn about codes, html and a little bit of javascript along with Photoshop and designing. I began to take a high interest in photography and fell in love with what is now referred to as “social networking”. I had a persona online. I could choose what people knew about me. I had “met” people from all over the world. It was addicting. I was 14 years old.

(Sidenote: my Mom used to take my dial-up modem and hide it to prevent me from staying up too late on the Internet.)

Time passed and I started to do “regular updates” on my pages. Added with a time stamp, it was like a digital diary. Then, people commented or messaged me. Friendships developed, ICQ numbers exchanged, I met some people in person (maybe this is a topic for another post.)

It wasn’t long before I was introduced to Livejournal. LJ really sparked my love for blogging and social community. As years went by and my skills became more developed, I decided to invest in my own webspace at 18. My first domain was my name, MariaAguilar.com (FYI, this domain now belongs to someone else.). It was my baby. It was a mash of my photography and every day life. I designed the website myself & wrote the coding from scratch. It took me a long time to do, because I didn’t have WordPress or Blogger back then. I soon lost interest in blogging and saw it as a nuisance instead of a creative outlet. Contrary to what many may think, I’m a pretty private person when it comes to my personal life. I found it hard to write about my life without compromising my privacy. There was something about Livejournal that was so therapeutic. I wrote some of my deepest ponderings there and wasn’t able to re-create the feeling again, so I gave up. I closed the domain after one year.

So here is the list of my self-hosted blogs over the years:

2004: MariaAguilar.com (photography + random)
2007: appleinacastle.com (photoblog + random)
2010: MariaAguilar.ca (photoblog turned lifestyle)
2013: BEAUTYANDABITE.COM (Lifestyle)
2013: MariaAguilar.ca (photography portfolio, coming soon)

Almost 10 years after my first self-hosted blog, I am happy to say that I finally feel like I have a home on the Web. {More on that if you click here to read about how B+AB got started}.

What I’ve learned, the skills I’ve developed and the relationships I’ve fostered through blogging have been invaluable. The Internet changed my life and made my dreams come true. People always laugh at me when I tell them that the Internet is one of my first loves, but it’s true. I took a class on the Broadband Internet this semester at York University, ran by Professor David Ellis, and it was like learning about my boyfriend’s childhood and projected future. (Boyfriend meaning the Internet.) The more I know, the more I love.

(How the heck did this turn into a love letter.)

**

I had a great time writing this blog post (see, blogging is super therapeutic) and I would encourage you to do the same! Or you can just tell me! What is your first memory of the computer? What was your first screen name? How do you think the evolution of technology has changed your life? I know it was a longer read but I appreciate if you read through the whole thing. I’d like to have a place on B+AB for posts like this, since it makes up so much of my life – Web/Internet – and would love to know if you enjoyed this one. Thanks!

Short URL for sharing: http://bit.ly/RWwtXt

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  • Great blog Maria! I’m jealous of your coding skills. I haven’t bothered to learn it, but I totally should. One thing I think you’re missing is a blogroll! That being said I’ll add you to mine.

    Good luck with this one and hope you stick around longer.

    • Haha, I am working on the Blogroll… but I want quality over quantity, so I am scouting out which blogs would be the best fit :) Yours will be there when it comes out, don’t worry. Thanks bud! I have a feeling this one will stick.

  • OMG it’s like we’re the same person! :) Seriously, kind of creeped me out reading this but mostly it made me love you more.

    All the best darling!

    • Reggie! Thanks hun. Appreciate your feedback! :)

  • Hi Maria, thanks for sharing how your blogging journey began. I smiled when you mentioned AsianAvenue because it was through that addiction that I began learning HTML back in high school.

    Good luck with everything and I look forward to your updates!

    • Wow, thanks so much for reading (and commenting), Lily!

      Isn’t it funny how influencial AA turned out to be? I wish I still had my old layouts and images I made! Would be really cool to show them now. Thanks again!

  • I really started getting into the Internet in 1998, got my LiveJournal in 2002 and started with my first self-hosted site, doomsdayblaze.com, in 2003. It’s taken a while to get to the point where I found my voice and knew what I was all about, but I’m really at the point where I’m happy with where my journey’s taken me!

    Thanks for sharing your story, Maria :)

    • Thanks for reading, Casey!! What’s the story behind the doomsdayblaze.com? Interesting name! lol

      • Heh. I used to draw comics all through high school, and one of the villains I’d come up with was The Doomsday Blaze who posed a threat in one of my books. Eventually that changed to Doomsdayblaze and became a screen name for me all over the place. That would soon simplify to Doomz and since Doomz was taken on Twitter, doomzTO was born :)

        15 years in the making!

        • Ohhh the LJ and AsianAvenue days! Man, we are Internet veterans.

          I also got into HTML + Photoshop back when I was 13… and I still follow a lot of people from AA and LJ that are quite successful bloggers now! Crazy Internet world.

          • I know, right?! Who would’ve known that our little hobbies back when we were teenagers would change our lives as much as they did? I only wish we had some way of finding our old AA page layouts!

          • I was on AsianAvenue before my Korean best friend who was on BlackPlanet before I was — for this is how we rolled.

        • Oohhhh I get it now! Thanks for sharing :) I always love hearing how people come up with their screen names!

  • Hahaha amazing. This sounds just like my history of blogging :P I miss the good ol’ AA and LJ days!

    • Me too! The scrolling “shout outs” and the guest book (err, g-bookie)! lol

  • Definitely enjoyed this. I wish I had discovered blogging in my youth…could have saved some paper!

    I definitely feel like an Internet noob now! Thanks for sharing this Maria :)

    • Thanks Jennee!! It’s never too late to get into blogging :)

  • Michelle N

    Thank you for sharing your story!
    I’ve been on the fence about blogging. I still have a lot to learn but it’s nice hearing the stories of others.

    • I appreciate that, Michelle! The blogging world is always changing, so we’re ALL learning as we go :) Hope you take the plunge one day! If you do, make sure you send me a link :P