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2008 and Down

In my continuing archival work on this site, I hit a big milestone last night, in that I finished April 2008, which is pretty much the last time I regularly hit a month with 80+ posts — it only happens again a couple of times in November/December of 2009 for some reason.

I think the reason for the reduction in posts was that it was around the time I started contributing regularly to Wired‘s Game|Life blog, for which I was doing around 5 posts daily.

This means I should hopefully be speeding up as I go through the rest of the archives, getting it all finished in the weeks to come. That won’t be the end of it all though, as there are a few other things I’d like to do, like going through the first few years again to improve tags on posts, and also incorporating my early moblog posts, which used to be done as a separate blog.

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Reaching 2007

The momentous landmark I reached last weekend was that I finally finished 2006, when it comes to fixing old posts — and I managed to do a big dent in 2007 this weekend, getting through January-May.

The reason it takes so long is that I’m pretty much going in every single post, either to fix the image (or images), to fix the blockquote tag (I used to quote things a lot in posts), or to add a little update note.

For the images, through Wayback Machine I manage to find the last 20 posts or so for each month (WM would save two page for each month’s archives). It’s a bit weird because for other years, there were quite a few times a month that WM would save the site, so I could find a lot more posts, but for some reason during 2006-2007, which is possibly the site’s most active period, it stopped doing that. And then after that, it’s a mix of still finding images because they were hosted on Flickr, or through a folder I have with images that were not taken from other sites. What a fucking process.

Hoping to give a big push to get through the rest of 2007 and then 2008, and after that it should take less time as the frequency of posts reduces (in 2006-2008 I’m looking at an average of 100 posts a month).

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7500

With this post that I put up on Friday, the site reached the rather handsome sum of 7500 posts (this very post is #7505).

I’ve never really paid attention to the number of overall posts on the site, but I just happened to notice this number in the WordPress admin dashboard, and thought it was worth sharing.

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Meta Personal

Back to the 70s

Well, it’s now October, and as you can tell, I’m still blogging quite regularly here. What started off as a throwback to what this site was like before has now awakened a muscle I hadn’t used in ages — that’s the blogging muscle — and it’s getting pumped and enjoying being in use again.

In terms of volume, following the 53 posts I wrote in August (which was done over 2 weeks), I ended up writing 72 in September. Although it doesn’t seem to reach the heights this site has seen — during its heydays of the mid to late 2000s, it would hover at around 80-100 posts per month, with an absolute peak of 138 — but considering that in those days a lot of the posts were made up of my TB.Grafico photolog and then my TB.Movel moblog (if you click on these links, you’ll find that the latest posts haven’t yet been fixed), it’s quite possible that this last month saw more actual written content than back in those days. At this point in my life, I’m probably more at ease with writing a post quickly.

I’m curious to see what October will bring.

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Meta Music Personal

The New 52

No, I’m not referring to the “New 52” revamp that DC Comics launched in 2011, but rather to the fact that as we close off the month of August (it’s just past 23:00 as I write this), I’ve written 52 posts on the blog this month (this will be post 53).

The last time the site had over 50 posts in a month was in December 2009 (89), and that was truly when my activity started reducing drastically, as it then hovered around 10-20 until the summer of 2012, and then down to barely 1-2 per month in the years that followed until now. You can easily see this by looking at the monthly archive list in the sidebar of the site, which I have active right now.

The desire to start blogging again was sparked when I started work on rescuing the archives of the site earlier this month. After the initial repopulation of posts (the text at least), it’s been a long process of going through each post, trying to find the original images, either through the Wayback Machine, or through some image archives I found on my laptop. I’m up to March 2005, and counting.

Seeing what I was doing and how much fun I was having (and how I gradually went from amateur blogger to published writer) has been a blast, and it put me in the mood to try and do it again for a bit. I’m especially surprised that I got to 50, considering I started doing it in the middle of the month, with this post. As I wrote at the time, I’m still considering it nostalgia blogging, and I’m still having a lot of fun doing it.

So for the first time in about 6-7 years, the blog is active again, and that makes me happy.

FROM_TOKYO_TO_NEW_YORKI noticed that back in the day I used to finish long update posts with a note on what I was listening while I wrote it. I’ve been in a retro groove of late, and am currently listening to a compilation produced by Fantastic Plastic Machine for Uniqlo in 2005 called Synchro: From Tokyo to New York.

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Image Hunter

Yet another weekend spent repopulating old posts with images, and the bad news is that it’s getting harder. I’m starting to have a hard time finding old posts as the site started moving towards pagination within monthly archives (which I think is when I moved from Movable Type to WordPress for my blog engine), and a lot of the pages weren’t saved by the Wayback Machine. And as I peek forward, it looks like there are years where WM barely grabbed anything, so I’m not quite sure how much I’ll be able to save, but we’ll see.

The good news is that at least all of the photos that I took are saved — the ones that are part of my TB.Grafico photolog — as I found a folder on my computer that had them all.

But I do really like seeing all of the images that accompanied regular posts, and so I do hope I can still manage to find a lot of them, even if it does continue to suck up a lot of time — it takes me about an hour per month I think, and I’ve just reached September 2004.

Why am I spending so much time doing this? I think it’s the archivist/historian (I majored in History) in me that’s finally coming out and taking over.

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The Trouble with Comments

I haven’t had comments on this site for quite a few years — I can’t remember when I made the switch, probably around the early 2010s, but it was a reaction to the constant battle against spam, as well as noticing that comments on the site were getting lower, and I figured that feedback could be better given on Twitter or Facebook, or via email.

When I brought back the old archives to the site this past weekend, along with them came all the comments, and I thought not only would it be fun to keep all those comments there, I also decided to just leave comments open on all posts, and see what would happen.

Spam. Lots of it.

It didn’t take long before my email inbox got filled with notifications of the comment spam that was overloading the site.

Result? Bye bye comments.

I think that in the past 5-6 years, the trend for sites to remove comments on posts/articles has continued. I made the right choice then, and there’s no reason to go back on it, even if I did find a better spam fighter.

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A Day’s Work

I just spent the entire day — over 12 hours — working on my site/blog. That may sound crazy, but it’s been a rather enjoyable experience.

The first half of the day was spent recreating posts that were missing from my archives (as I described in this post). Since then, I’ve been making my way through all of my posts, starting with the very first one in 2002, and re-inserting images/photos that I get from the Wayback Machine. I’ve just reached the end of 2003.

Yes, it’s long work, but the reason I’m still at it is because it’s turned out to be an amazing look back at what I was up to in those days, and how the site evolved and turned into the “design guide” that a lot of people remember, and which led to me eventually starting a career in writing.

The other fascinating thing is that I’m rediscovering things that I’ve done that I had completely forgotten about. Hey, a huge part of my site was a photolog called TB.Grafico — how do you forget that? And I’ve also realized that my Tokyo Boy moblog (oh yeah, short for “mobile blog,” that was a thing back in those days) actually ran on its own blog installation, and so has been basically unavailable online for years, even before I had my server issues (and I do plan on rescuing it once I’m done going through my regular posts). Oh, and I produced an ezine called Geisha, and right now I have no idea how to find any of the issues (at least 9 I think), or if there’s any chance that I’ll be able to dig up any of them.

This entire process is certainly going to take weeks, and I’m happily looking forward to it.

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Special Edition

As I work at reconstructing my blog — I’m currently in the process of manually re-posting the 3 years of lost posts (2011-2014) thanks to the Wayback Machine — it has me thinking on what I want to do when I go back to older posts and start cleaning them up. I’m referring here to the fact that images didn’t really make the transition from the database I used, and so instead of having “image not found” type messages appear on those posts, on top of removing the code for the image, I’m wondering if it would be interesting to sometimes go and try to find a new image that I could add to that post. My fear though is that it could come off as a bit too “George Lucas’ Special Editions,” as I don’t want to alter what those posts represent.

But as I dig back, and re-read posts here and there, I do find that a lot of them highlight an interesting point in time in Japan’s art & design coverage (from a foreign perspective), and I am finding it a shame that these posts are missing images now — and I think the strength of my blog was always that it was a visually interesting place to visit, more than for what I was writing (which was quite basic).

On a related note, I’m now also thinking that it would be interesting to spend some time revisiting some of the things that I covered in the past, in a “where are they now” kind of way, to see how some of these things have evolved, or wether they (person, thing, or spot) still exist.

Over the years I’d really lost my excitement and interest in blogging (outside of my media consumption Tumblr), and it’s funny to me that revisiting this site’s past is what has re-energized me on that front.

Update (16/08/13): Well, managed to find and re-post pretty much all of the missing posts (the period between my last database backup in 2011 and when I started writing on Tumblr in 2014), except for the period between May 8, 2012 and June 16, 2012, which unfortunately didn’t get covered by the Wayback Machine (in part because of the changes I made to the site at the time I think, getting rid of prominent archive links). It also seems like the Wayback Machine has done a terrific job of keeping images, so although it’s gonna be a hell of a long job, I should be able to rescue most of the images for old posts.

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Art Debaser Design Meta Uncategorized Web

Digging Through the Archives

At long last, my archives are back. Most of them at least.

Some of you may recall that back in early 2014, I had the great misfortune of the web host I was using pulling the rug from under me, which meant that my entire website — which dated back to 2002 — suddenly disappeared.

And I didn’t have proper backups.

Eventually I did find some SQL database backups from 2011, which meant that I could probably eventually try to reconstruct the site, and then do some digging through the Wayback Machine for the missing 3 years. But I was so disgusted with what had happened that I wasn’t looking to self-host something right away, and decided to just use Tumblr, which is what I had set up quickly to keep on writing.

Jump to now.

A friendly poke the other day from my old friend Craig Mod came my way. He mentioned that it was a shame that all those archives of me covering the art & design scene in Tokyo/Japan during the 2000s weren’t available online anymore, and I couldn’t agree more. It was the kick in the ass I needed to just go ahead and finally spend the time required to getting all of this back up and available for everyone. After a post on Facebook to enlist some aid on what to do with that old database, it was another old friend from my Tokyo days (Michael, an ex-AQ staffer who was a pro at wrangling WordPress) who helped me out — I ended up creating a locally-hosted WordPress blog on my laptop, managed to connect to that old database (after a few modifications), and now I’ve taken the step of self-hosting a blog again (using the quick-and-easy WordPress hosting by name.com, which is the company I use for my domain hosting).

So a first step has been done, and it’s what you now see here. As you can see in the sidebar to the right (at least for now, as I imagine I’ll eventually settle on another theme to use), you’ll find full archives of the site, from the very first post on September 4, 2002, going to August 2011, and then the posts from the new Tumblr-hosted site I had from March 2014.

(I actually started writing regularly on the web in 1998, in the form of weekly columns about my life in Tokyo, all coded in HTML, but that content may truly be gone for good.)

Unfortunately, none of the images from those posts made it over — although I may still have some I can manage to add, as I found an old folder with a good amount of them — and I still need to try and find those 3 years of missing posts (as I mentioned, fingers crossed that I’ll be able to find them through the Wayback Machine).

But at least for now, it sure feels good to have a lot of this stuff online again, and I’ve been having a blast going back and randomly reading old posts. It reveals a younger me who is so excited by what he’s experiencing, deliciously naive (in a fun way).

Digital diaries from the Japanese front.