Woof! Woof!

April 22, 2006

Now, there's even blogs for dogs called dlogs (go figure), where doting owners create online journals for their pets, complete with indulgent photographs and narratives from their puppy’s perspective. This new trend originated from my home country of Singapore. I have to admit that it’s refreshing and entertaining to a certain degree, and that you got to be creative to make this work. On the other hand, some parts may be a tad too candy-mushy-cutesy-pie for my personal taste. But that’s just me…

Here’s an example of a dlog:

Who: Joey the Jack Russell Terrier
Dlog: joeyjrt.blogspot.com
Woofspeak: *scratch* scratch* scratch*. Oh no… I am having rashes again. This time, it is a bit more serious than before. I am always allergic to grass. Especially if it is a bit damp. As you guys know, I love to play fetch or to roll over my ball in the grass. HC tried to protect my skin as much as possible by letting me wear a tee. But there are certain parts that the tee can’t cover such as lower belly, head and legs.

Some of these dogs can talk (or think) in Singlish (Singapore Colloquial English) too! For example, Rafv goes "See! So nice yah!" Now that's sibei interesting man! ("sibei" means "very" in Singlish). I wonder if they have a signature Singlish bark, say… "Woof-lah! Woof-lah!"

Ironically, this silly trend has rather practical origins. The pioneer of the dlog community, Sharon Tan, 29, created a blog for her six-year-old golden retriever, Herbie. She started the dlog to prove to overseas dog breeders that, contrary to popular belief, Asian owners do take meticulous care of their pets. She said private breeders overseas tend to avoid exporting puppies to Asia for fear of them being mistreated or used for haphazard breeding. At the time, she was keen on buying a golden retriever puppy from abroad, but her e-mail inquiries were ignored by breeders. But after creating Herbie’sdlog and sending the breeders a link to it, they finally replied. She is now on the waiting list for a puppy from a breeder in Australia.

It is reported that there are at least 10 dloggers in Singapore, and others have also emerged from Hong Kong and the United States. Well, dlogging isn't exactly paw-pular yet, but it certainly has potentials given the number of dog lovers out there. What Sharon, I mean Herbie, has done will be remembered in history – that's one small step for dogs (woof) but one giant leap for dlogosphere (WOOF! WOOF!). I am almost afraid to ask, what next? Clogs? (for cats) Hlogs? (for hamsters) Slogs (use your imagination…)

On a more serious note, dlogging is another example of online participatory cultural appropriations such as machinima. It also adds weight to the counter-argument of technological determinism. Technological determinism is a reductionist doctrine that a society's technology determines its cultural values, social structure, or history; the idea that technological development determines social change. Dlogging can be considered a mutation or reinvention from the existing blogging culture, and not from the emergence of a new technologic form. Besides technology, social influences also play an important role in shaping cultures and norms.

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