There was a little buzz over the weekend about the new changes to Malaysia’s first blog aggregation site, Project Petaling Street. The new ownership and new direction of where the site looked to be heading didn’t settle well for more than just a handful of people, some of which spent the weekend exchanging intense displeasure as well as thoughts and ideas on what to do and how to do it.
The truth is, there is nothing any of us can do about it. If the exchange was legal then by all means, whoever owns is has the right to do whatever they please with it. The problem is that for a greater part of PPS’s existence, the site was built on for the Malaysian people with Malaysian bloggers in mind. Yet even though PPS was previously left to rot in a corner, devoid of any real changes, these new steps look to take away that ideal, hope and freedom, for good.
By banning a blogger and nonchalantly threatening to ban me from the aggregation site for reasons that stem from personal provocation, this move goes against everything a blogger stands for. While it would be easy for me to invoke the freedom to say the things we want, I wouldn’t do it just yet. The act of doing such a thing alone hints a behaviour you only hear in forums peppered by teens and tweens who are high on something other than their inferiority complexes, that itself doesn’t even compare to the more serious note of censorship on a whim.
For the younger Malaysian bloggers who don’t know why we’re so against the new changes (aside from the threat of censorship), here are some snippets from the past between the new owner and the rest of the Malaysian blogosphere which was also big enough that it hit the papers at one point. However, if like me, you’re an veteran Malaysian blogger who grew up on the the spirit of what PPS was, there are a few alternatives you can work on in spite of these new changes. I can’t guarantee that they will do any good, but it’s still an idea better than none.
- Other Malaysian Blog Aggregators – Most people I know are opting for the boycott of PPS, which I think is a little too extreme. Although there are plenty of other Malaysian blog aggregation sites out there, PPS remains popular by reason of “being there first”. It’s why a lot of clone sites in its wake has never surpassed the popularity of PPS. If there are any alternatives to date, they have to the “Facebook” to MySpace rather than the Pounce” or “Plurk” to “Twitter”.
- Block Ads – It’s the route I’ve decided to take at this time. Seeing that PPS now and the future of PPS had been machine gunned with ads, that does not run well on my sense of aesthetics, practicality and hatred for money and ad-centric sites. So what do I do? Use Firefox with the Adblock Plus Firefox addon. The result? A page devoid of ads as PPS was before. I can almost believe that big brother ain’t watching us. Almost.
- Feeds For Advanced Users – Another alternative that people have been suggesting have been using RSS feeds to update us on the latest blog posts. While that works for blogs that you know, there are two problems with this idea. One is that this assumes that a lot of bloggers use and are familiar with RSS feeds which is not true especially for a lot of casual bloggers. Two, is that feeds work on blogs you already know rather than the ones you don’t. The beauty of PPS was that local Malaysian blogs we don’t usually pay attention to or don’t even know can be read on a whim. That’s part of how a lot of us established our names in this local niche at one point. Even with feed recommendations, that also relies on the use of people using the particular feed reader and that doesn’t specifically cater to the local scene.
So really even if don’t like where this is headed, there aren’t much working alternatives at this point. So you can either close one eye, pretend it all never happened and let it be or you can do something about it and hope for the best. Personally I like to see a more positive change for it because despite how I might look, I do know more than a thing or two about community sites that work well and I can’t stand to see the equivalent of a historic monument twisted and defiled with a Starbucks and Mcdonalds around the corner.
I wish I had that chance or the resource, but I don’t. So I write this instead and hope for the best. Whether you want to listen or not, is a choice I leave entirely up to you.