My blog came up at my work meeting today (hi guys!). It made me think about the purpose of ShuFlies. Like a lot of other expatriates, I originally started a blog to keep in touch with my family and friends and to record my experiences as I adjusted to life abroad.

Over the past year, however, I’ve noticed from Sitemeter and Google Analytics that a lot of people find ShuFlies when they are searching for information about life in Taipei. (A minority also find it when they are looking for shu flies, which is sort of tassel used in horse riding that I am not too familiar with.)

It made me think about how disoriented I was when I first moved to Taiwan, even though I am lucky enough to have caring relatives here and a fiance who has lived in the country for eight years. Before I arrived in Taiwan in August 2007, reading some of the English language blogs listed below ‘Blogs Within Formosa’ in my Bloglines (as well as entries from knitting blog Leave Your Sanity With the Nearest Custom Agent that were written when Erin was living in Taipei) helped prepare me mentally for my move abroad. I am grateful for that and decided that I would make an effort to occasionally post entries that are useful for newcomers as a way of paying it forward. To make things more convenient, I’ve made a sidebar list of the entries that I think people will find the most useful based on the search terms I’ve seen pop up in my Sitemeter.

While I’m on this topic, I should also bring up something that I’ve been thinking about for a little while but haven’t gotten around to posting about yet.

Like many other journalists, particularly those who are interested in new media, I’ve thought about how having a personal blog can potentially help or hinder my work. When I started ShuFlies, I had to make a decision about how anonymous it would be. I decided not to make it anonymous because everything you put on the Internet stays on the Internet and is traceable, so online anonymity is ultimately a futile goal. Because my career is a big part of my life, I also want to be able to talk about it from time to time, which would be a lot harder to do if I was invested in keeping my real name under wraps.

It goes without saying that I exercise a certain amount of discretion with my postings on ShuFlies. For example, I don’t write things like “I interviewed So-And-So today. Christ, what an asshole! And with breath like a bedpan, too!” (not that that actually describes any of my sources so far). But even though I post articles that I am particularly proud of from time to time, I did not start this blog to represent my career. Obviously, it is not a work of journalism and I also do not want to lead people into thinking ShuFlies represents the newspaper that I write for (or any of the other publications that I have worked at), so I make a conscious effort to keep search terms off of it that might make it pop up early in certain Google results.

Having written all that, I am glad that my blog is helpful to some people, especially those of you who are thinking of visiting or living in Taiwan. I’m glad my family (hi Mom!) and friends read it because thinking about what I will tell them via ShuFlies helps me feel connected to them (it also helps keep my swearing down to a minimum) even though most of them live halfway around the world. I hope it helps show that, hard as it may be to believe, journalists are human beings, too, with feelings and stuff (point that Raid can away from me!). If you have a question about Taiwan you think I can answer, feel free to let me know by leaving a comment (if you don’t want the comment published because it has you e-mail address or something, just let me know). And if any of you could tell me what shu flies are actually for, I’d be most grateful.