About a month ago I was out riding in western Changhua 彰化 when I noticed this ruin along Yánhǎi Road 沿海路 at the south end of Lukang 鹿港. Technically this parcel of land is still part of Fúxīng 福興, a peculiar situation in a country where few other township lines gerrymander through a major settlement. Evidently this isn’t a new thing, for the characters above the entrance read Changhua County Fuxing Township Fishermen’s Association Welfare Society 彰化縣福興區漁會漁民福利社 (with apologies for the approximate translation and thanks to Kamiya for some transcription help).
By now you may be wondering why I post about so many completely obscure and—at times—admittedly uninteresting places. The truth is that this blog is part of a personal practice of reclaiming my digital footprint from the major social media services, many of which have made it altogether too easy and convenient to share whatever crosses our minds. I blog to maintain my freedom in an age where so many of us have become digital serfs completely invested in adding value to these corporate content silos. It’s fine to invest in these services knowing that you are the product—but to do so without having any place that is truly yours is antithetical to the principles of an open and free internet.
Part of the freedom that I speak of when I talk about self-hosted blogging has to do with freedom of thought. People (mostly semi-pro bloggers and marketing types) seem really confused at the fact that I don’t particularly care if anything I share is optimized to drive traffic or engagement. I have a business where this sort of thing matters—but this is my personal blog. I don’t need to make a number on a counter go up. Well, I’m only human, so I would like for what I do to stimulate some interest, but I try hard not to let this motivate me to do anything inauthentic. Ultimately I am most interested in authentic expression in whatever medium I work in. I don’t like fakes and I don’t want to fall into the trap of blogging only to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
The truth is that I’m interested in documenting abandoned, obscure places partly as a protest against popular culture’s invasion of the digital frontier. I also feel like the world has gone mad with constant information overload and manufactured outrage. To share something of my experiences of the quiescence and emptiness of the ruins I explore is almost therapeutic in a way—hopefully for you and me both. It is also a study of impermanence, of a time before vast data centers archived our every keystroke and misstep for all eternity. We are passing out of a time when anything can be forgotten—and I am, somewhat absurdly, dragging some of these places with us.