Last week, I was building the framework for this blog. I wanted to build a platform to display and promote some of the writing projects that I’ve been involved with. In particular, I wanted to create online versions of two books that I wrote, Nineteen and Invisible People. They are both collections of stories by ordinary Indonesians. Nineteen was a collection of stories about street traders in Jakarta, Invisible People contained stories of people from marginal, stigmatized groups in society.

But I didn’t want just to create a static website that contains the same materials as do the printed books themselves. I wanted to use a blog to tell people about the stories behind the stories. In the books themselves, I kept a very low profile: I wanted the stories of the people I was interviewing to stand out, and staying out of the way myself helped make that work. But I often found myself thinking that it would be fun to tell some of the stories behind the stories that we published. I could use a blog to explain how I met the people I interviewed, how I contacted them, who introduced them to me.

I’d also like to use as a platform to discuss other projects that I am involved in now and hope to become involved with in the future. And for writings and reflections on life in Indonesia as seen by a foreigner who has lived here for almost twenty years. Even after that time, I often feel like an alien outsider, looking in from outside and trying to makes sense of it all.

Maybe that’s a good reason for having a blog: as a tool to try to understand the strange place that I live in.

Since I’ve just spent some time creating the online version of Invisible People, I’m going to spend some time over the next few weeks writing up the stories behind the stories in that book.