In the late 90s, I took an HTML programming class at Evergreen Valley College in San Jose. Back in those days if you wanted to create a website, you had to know some programming. Ok, there was MS Frontpage, but it would have been a sin to mention it in a job interview, so it was best to learn HTML. I was very fascinated with the 1970s TV series Space 1999 on the one hand, and with Italo Disco music on the other. Creating my tribute websites for themwas what pushed me to learn. Back in those days there was a great Space 1999 website and it definitely was an inspiration to me. Seeing those "still" images from that series after 20 years was like a religious experience. Eventually the guy closed his site, as ungrateful people would hack his site and the server load was costing him too much money. As part of my class lab exercises I started to contribute to the world wide web with my web page tributes to Italo Disco and Space 1999. As webmasters we also had to worry about things like FTP, finding affordable or free Servers, figuring out how to pay for it, etc. Paying with money or time and receiving little to nothing back is what I've done for my websites, mainly irannostalgia.com which was launched November 2002.
A few years into the new century a new phenomenon got started called blogging. Blogging was promoted as enabling people who do not know anything about programming to have their own web pages. They wouldn't have to worry about servers and ftp's either. Despite all the noise it was making in the press in the Western Hemisphere, it was not affecting me. For someone like me with a serious site, those bloggers were the equivalent of FrontPage users; not serious enough to be able to program and therefore customize their own sites. Because of all the work needed for irannostalgia.com I had no time to focus on any other topic that wasn't iranian music. And during those years I didn't even notice the bloggers of the iranian community. There wasn't that much going on, at least in my field.
In 2006, however, things changed dramatically and I had to take notice. My site used to show up on top of the search engine lists for such topics like Iranian singers Pooran or Homeyra. But by 2006 lots of small blogs started to pollute the search engine results. For any given Iranian topic, search engine would return results from tons of these small blogs. As an internet user searching for content, you might think that it is not such a bad thing. The first thought is that more results means more content. However, my experience has showed that it is not really true. Well at least not quality content. I would click on these blog results to find mini pages containing almost no original content. Most of the posts consisted of content pinched from proper websites like mine or iranian.com. The blogs also all look the same. Many of them are abandoned after a few posts because the blogger started the web page without even having a topic in mind for the web page!! Many of the other ones are missing all their images because they hosted the images on temporary hosts that keep files for only a month!. Then you have those that are not updated depending on the mood of the blogger. Since they have no regular readers, the blogger feels no pressure to regularly update the blog. Most of these blogs have no proper content selection menus. To browse for something you have to guess what date it might have been posted as they are archived by date and not topic. To the novice internet user and those who don't know programming these blogs look very tidy. That is because the template they have to use gives them no other choice. But try browsing for content and you will see how limited and unpractical these templates can be. When I look at such blogs, in order to decide if its of interest to me I have to decide whether I should browse their September 2006 archive or their January 2007 archive without being sure what sort of content they have!! With this situation, internet users are having increasingly difficult time finding real sites with original content. My site provides original content, some of it coming from its readers. I've noticed a decrease in readers contributing content to the site. They prefer to start a blog instead and place that content there. However, since they are not dedicated to the task and have little occasional content being only one individual, they end up abandoning their blogging project in less than 2 months. The content is then lost since the blog is eventually abandoned and because people dont visit sites that have little amount of content.
Blogging from Iran has its own peculiarities. It has been refreshing to see an increase in web pages writing in farsi with persian arabic script. The increase in number of such sites has made it useful to search the web in persian script. This is helpful because you can search a keyword in its exact format where as if you have to search for it in latin letters you wonder how the writer might have adapted the persian term into latin letters. I am amazed how "Homayra" can be spelled "Hmira" and "Raamesh" is often spelled "Ramish" and "Googoosh" spelled "Gogosh"! The fact that the Ayatollahs have converted Iran into a country with disregard for international laws is also reflected in the iranian blogs. People in western countries think twice before posting copyrighted material in their integrity. Bloggers from inside Iran could care less. They post anything with total disrespect for the copyright owner. This not only bothers people who create original content but also has a terrible secondary effect. The iranian reader becomes accustomed to free content and what I call "moft khori". Everyday when I open my email account I have to put-up with 20 emails of insults because I refuse to provide full length, free-for-grabs content on my site to free loaders. Eventually I am sure the situation with the iranian blogs polluting the net will sort itself out. But unfortunately it will take a long time and proper websites will be those most hurt while we wait.
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