I am honored to be linked by Ourman in Hanoi as one of his favorite blogs in his latest post. He makes the point that links in blog posting make the blog world worth paying attention to, beyond social media. I had an enjoyable holiday afternoon following the other links in his posting, leading to some very good writing as well as topical information. For example, Ourman pointed to the Travelfish Hanoi blog, which indeed featured the well-written articles he likes. But I disagree with him that the articles are targeted to tourists -- I think they offered information that expats would do well to consider.
That led me to think that Travelfish's Saigon blog might be interesting too, so I pointed at that and found several recent articles by Angela Schonberg that offered significant advice to expats, such as her article on dealing with the traffic police if pulled over on your motorbike. This illustrates the point that the links in blogs are valuable in exposing us to sites and writing that we might not have otherwise found. Normally I wouldn't go looking for travel sites, but this site offers the kind of good advice about life in Ho Chi Minh City that I do look for, with good writing quality in addition. But these kind of information-oriented blogs are difficult to find behind all of the commercial results found in Google searches, especially about travel. Twitter and Facebook do provide a good service for me in acting as a portal to similar blog postings for newspaper articles.
I use Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with my friends -- Twitter for expat friends, and Facebook for U.S. friends and relatives. But it is through my blog that I can provide some information they might enjoy that doesn't fit either of those two formats. In the end, the tweets and the status updates are very ephemeral -- they are not easily found once the day goes by. I know they can be found through search, but why bother? Their information is too tied to the day they were published.
Blogs present information that is more timeless and much more easily found again through search buttons on the blog or category reads. I know when I want information on street food I can find it easily on Sticky Rice by Mark Lowerson for Hanoi and Down the Street and Back Again for HCMC by John Russack. Both are some of the best expat writers in Viet Nam.
And speaking of good writers, I am amazed at the quality of thinking and writing in English in the postings on the blog Quynh Nguyen (Alcoholic Butter) by a young Vietnamese woman, Nguyen Bao Nhu Quynh.
Our Man also wrote that "Links continue to power Google so we can find all this stuff." When Steve Jackson of Our Man started his blog in 2004, and I started my blog in 2006, blogs were fairly new, and so was the scope of the internet. My postings regularly came up on top of topical Google searches such as "Saigon houses". Today, my blog comes up seven pages behind a slew of real estate websites. But that is the internet today, and I am thankful for its growth.
It hasn't helped my Google page rank by not posting for months on end. My task must be to get back into the groove and start pumping out good information on Vietnamese modernist architecture regularly.