I can’t remember when I first became aware of the internet, but I started actively using it in 1997. The internet was a very different place back then. There was no Google (imagine that!) and none of the rich audio-visual content that is now available.
Still, back then it was an excellent place to find up-to-date and useful information on many topics. One of those topics was teaching English and studying Chinese in Taiwan and China. Before I first came to Taiwan in 1999 I spent a lot of time searching for information about this.
Most of the websites I visited back then have long since disappeared. This was a time before blogs were popular and one of the most common means of personal expression and communication back then was the personal website.
There were a number of good websites by English teachers living in Taiwan in the late 1990s. I am not sure if Michael Turton’s website dates back that far although it is similar in style to some of the sites that existed at that time. His site is still the best source of information about teaching English and living in Taiwan. Michael has a rather good blog, too.
It is possible to rediscover a few of these websites via the Wayback Machine. Here is a link to Chris Murphy’s Horizon English Services as it looked in April 2000. Here is a link to another teaching in Taiwan website that I used to like and has now disappeared from the world wide web.
I first created my own personal website at Geocities in 2000. It contained a mixed bag of information and included a couple of pages about Taiwan. That website is still on the net. It now has a back to basics HTML design although it used to be more colorful.
When I was in Taiwan in 2002 I created a new website, David’s Guide to Taiwan. The website was initially fairly simple, but it expanded a lot over the next few years. It continues to get quite a few hits (more than this blog in fact).
I started blogging in June 2004. My first blog, David Reid on the Road, was created to chronicle my travels in Australia, India and Thailand. I started David on Formosa in February 2004. Although I wasn’t living in Taiwan at the time I still took an active interest in news from Taiwan. I also felt constrained by the design of David’s Guide to Taiwan and a blog allowed me to write on a wider range of topics and instantly publish.
Since I returned to Taiwan earlier this year I have been posting more regularly on my blog and traffic has increased from about ten hits up to forty hits per day. Although I have also made some updates to David’s Guide to Taiwan I feel that website is a little neglected. Some of the content needs still needs to be rewritten and updated and the design of the site is very 1990s (ancient in internet terms).
An e-mail from FiLi asking me a few questions about my blog prompted me to take the initiative to do something I had long been thinking about. I purchased a new hosting package and domain name and started working on moving the blog to WordPress. The move took place last weekend and went very smoothly. Thanks again to FiLi for his help and advice.
I felt a bit frustrated using Blogger. Although it is free and very easy to use, there is a lack of control and ownership. WordPress allows much more customisation and is a more powerful information management system.
Moving the blog is just the first step. I am now planning a new site to replace David’s Guide to Taiwan. I still haven’t decided on the exact format, but it will probably use a php-based open source CMS like Joomla or PHP-Nuke. Like the blog on WordPress, I hope the new website will be easier to update and manage and provide a richer experience for the reader.
The new website will adapt some content from the blog and David’s Guide to Taiwan as well as having some new information. Although it is still in the planning stages I hope it will be finished by the end of the year.