Interview with Blogger: Shaun Chng

Article & questions by Creslyn, freelance writer for the Tanjong Pagar GRC magazine publication, VOICES. The interview focuses on the blogging life in Singapore, with a few snippets on my blog & how it started, including my views on the current Singapore blogging scene.

Meet Shaun Chng – the unsuspected hero in web designing who started dabbling with web design while he was in secondary school in 1997 and since then, he never stops coding. In fact, he is into freelancing now. The boyish 20-year-old, who is also serving NS, bares his pixel-related bits to VOICES.

Why did you become a blogger?
It all began when I wrote gaming reviews for my online gaming website. Everything was self-taught. It gradually turns to an online diary when I couldn’t get free hosting anymore. I decided to have my own domain name and then I started writing about my own hobbies, collating what I have learnt and put them as tutorials on my website. It is a showcase of my interests and also acts as a platform to connect with like-minded people who appreciates my work.

The sense of satisfaction is indescribable.

Do you make any changes along the way?
Yes. Currently, Shaunchng.com is the 10th version (alright! Perfect 10!), and I won’t be making any changes on the layout for the time being as I am busy with National Service and I would like to concentrate more on tutorial articles and freelance projects.

You have a tag line which goes: Shaun Chng >> World of Lines. Does that describe your style of blogging?
(ponders) Sort of. While art works, photos, kit modeling consist of lines in different lengths and sizes, {“World of Lines” is also a pun on my online diaries where my blog is cast with several lines of text onsite, describing my thoughts.}

I understand you won a web design award in 2002 and that gives you the motivation to venture into website freelancing. How did you get those cool ideas?
It’s not the award, but the recognition that counts. I felt that my efforts are paid off. I get ideas at anytime, and anywhere I go – in the trains, walking down the streets, chatting with my pals. Sometimes, I even get ideas in my dreams! I just scribble those ideas on my notepad before I doze off again!

Do you have any role model or favourite blog that inspires you?
No, not anyone in particular. However, I found good art works fascinating and I am glad that I can search for them online. That is also one of the driving forces for me to perform better.

What trends do you see in the blogging culture in Singapore? Do you think peer pressure is affecting how teenagers blog today?
I believe peer pressure has got some influence in teenagers as it gets more popular. The fact that one-stop publishing companies such as Pyra Labs (now bought over by Google) who introduce {blogger.com or blogspot.com} has made blogging so easy that it takes less than 15 minutes for a simple blog to appear online.

When you know of someone who owns something online, it’s natural for one to follow suit as you wanted to be part of the trend. Suddenly, you can see blogs sprouting everywhere, and people communicating through blogs. Some blogs die off after the author lost interest or that the content loses its novelty which is a pity. But some will probably make a come back when they feel the heads ticking, who knows?

Do you receive any love-mail, hate-mail or even weird requests such as students asking you for “homework help”?
I do get words of encouragement like, “your art works look great!” But as for “I really admire you, can I be your friend?” emails from females, no …… I wish. (laughs) No “homework help”—that’s very flattering indeed, but I think I can consider charging from now on (wicked grin)………….

Then again, I get requests for joining web designing competitions from some organizers sometimes, so it feels great to be invited!

New York Times (27 May 2004) has recently reported that there may be three categories of people who blog – those who are compelled to blog, addicted to blog and dedicated to blog. How would you rate yourself?
None. I don’t see myself as being compelled or dedicated. Neither am I addicted to it. I am just a simple guy who loves to explore and put my ideas online whenever I can (nodding his head in approval).

Aren’t you afraid that someone might steal your ideas?
Nah. (shrug) Not at all, {though it tends to bug me a little. In fact, that shows that my works are worth stealing! (laughs) Generally I showcase my work with trust, assumptions and good intentions of responsible people respecting my work and obeying my copyrights.} Moreover my intention is to share my knowledge with others.

Given your interests and talents, do you see yourself becoming a full-time web designer after NS?
Oh yes. It’s definitely one of my few dreams. (Getting serious) I am working towards that now.

I realize you put up some words of “twisdom”. Any tips for fellow blogger wannabes?

  • Design Layout

    It does not need to be filled with complicated designs. Keep them simple and easy to read as it irks readers when they can’t find information that they want or that the information is too cluttered for easy reading.

    Map out your content and navigation buttons on a plain sheet of paper so that you know how much information there is to avoid overloading. Proper categorization of information is the key and the overall design must look pleasant. Good colour combination is very important as that brings out the flavour of your blog.

  • Do sufficient research

    There are number of questions that you have to start asking:
    i. What kind of software should I use? Am I comfortable with it?
    ii. Can I afford to pay for my own domain name and server to host it? If not, who are the providers that offer free hostings?
    For example, blogger.com, blogspot.com, and lycos.com offer free hostings but of course they come with advertisement banners.
    iii. Quick tips and coding resources can also be easily found online.

  • Photos/Images/Illustrations

    It is good to have some nice pictures, but that’s not compulsory — if you have it, it’s a plus. You can search for royalty-free photos ( so that you don’t get copy-right issues) online, or snap/draw your own, if you like, as nothing beats your self-creation.

Ok, I realize you have not thought of any poll question for your website and I understand it is still in process. Do you mind spilling the beans for our readers?
Erm …… (ponders with a sheepish grin), I think I would probably ask if they prefer to place their toilet rolls over or under on the toilet holder.

(laughter)

Well, on a serious note, this is what I hope to achieve – a mini portal that is stimulating and entertaining for the surfers at the same time.

Yes, Thanks, Shaun, I got it and I would love to see some humorous poll questions one day. I am sure our readers would be glad too. If you need any tips on web designing, just check him out. Meanwhile, he is busy doodling, writing, typing, ………………….

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