People have been calling and texting me all day yesterday. The common question — is there a blog wars going on? I believe the Philippine blogging community is going through growth pains. I think it’s a sign that we’re maturing as a microcosm of the society we actually live in. And yes, this society is so full of characters, with differing opinions. All these will come to pass but for the meantime, let’s all feel the pain.
So I had dinner with father and son Allan and Carl Ocab last night. And here’s my take on this issue…
We originally arranged the meeting for Thursday afternoon as I am swamped with so many meetings and deadlines. However, Carl’s mother felt it might be too late to wait that long so I cleared up my evening to talk to them.
We chatted the whole night for about 3 hours between 7 to 10PM and I asked a ton of questions. Mostly, the questions are about Carl’s personal relationship with his family (especially his father), his other hobbies and interests or how well he does in school. But why did I ask those questions when I can just give the boy a writing assignment while I look from behind him and see if he can come up with such well thought out discussions on monetization, traffic-generation or arbitrage? Well, I look at it differently.
I saw the need to answer the more critical questions:
1) How’s the relationship between the father and the son?
2) Is the son being forced to enter into this arena or he did this on his own volition?
3) Is there indeed any form of child exploitation going on, as alleged by several parties?
Before I try to answer the questions above, let me be clear to everyone and state that there was coaching involved. The father played a significant role in the kid’s direction toward problogging. In fact, Allan Ocab admitted that he was the one who thought of the title “Make Money Online with a 13-year old” after a week of discussing about it with Carl.
Yes, Carl had help. He was taught a bit of grammar, spelling and even tone of writing. As to how far the coaching went, I could not determine. This, both parent and child do not deny. “But what’s so wrong with that?“, the father asked. John Chow and Darren Rowse helped him too thru their blogs.
Yes, Carl isn’t a very eloquent speaker. He talks like a 14-year old — a 14-year old who knows how to reverse-engineer some WP templates, or prowl the DigitalPoint forums and bid out some simple projects to Indians. That does not mean he can’t write better than a regular 14-year old. He’s a bit shy, yes, but if you treat him like a mature person and not look at him as a kid, he’s very open and candid. I actually learned a thing or two from the stories he shared.
I wasn’t there to size him up. He doesn’t deserve it. I was there to size up the father. A person can mull over a well–written paragraph and not be obvious about it but they can’t pause for 5 minutes at a time before answering a question face-to-face. That’d be a dead giveaway, and I’ve talked to each one separately albeit for a brief moment during CR breaks.
So here are my answers to the questions above. I believe the father and the son has a good relationship. I couldn’t remember talking with my dad about serious stuff around Carl’s age. I don’t think Carl is being forced to go into internet marketing/problogging by his father (well, he has access to his dad’s credit card, that’s for sure). The kid had other previous interests in sports, music and even girls. That being said, I don’t believe there was any issue of exploitation, whatsoever.
Still, don’t just take my word for it. These are just my observations. My interpretations could be skewed or prejudiced by my own sets of belief or how I interpret ethics which is what this issue is all about. What might be fine by me could by unethical to someone else. We might not agree on some things, yet, it’s nice to know that we can agree to disagree.
I told Carl that he shouldn’t be disconcerted with this and should continue blogging if he’s really passionate about it. In fact, I encouraged both of them to join more of the upcoming events, mingle with other bloggers and try to get to know people more. I’m hoping Carl won’t be as quiet and seemingly evasive as the first time. Next time you see him on August 23 at the SM Hypermart event, do greet him and say hi. Get to know him first on a personal level before shooting hard-hitting questions. Despite what we read on his blog, he’s still a very young kid.