SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- You don't know Michael Zhang, but do a little pointing and clicking and you'll find out he's a student at Davis Senior High School in Sacramento, plays tennis and bought an ostrich burger and chips for $6 two months ago.
It's all there for the world to see on this
17-year-old's photoblog, where he chronicles everything, including
the first time he ate a Quiznos sandwich.
awesome. Very awesome. Awesome and good," he wrote.
part of the future of Web logging, going beyond simply sharing
thoughts in cyberspace to allow strangers a very visual look into
his private life.
He sometimes takes 100 photos in a day,
ranging from shots of his friends to pictures of food. He picks up
to 20 and uploads them daily to his blog, an online diary of sorts
Most blogs today include some
photography, said Caterina Fake, co-founder of Flickr, an online
photo-sharing community launched last year and growing by 30 percent
Online with ease
Since the end of 2003, it
has become easier to put photos online because Internet connections
are faster, digital cameras cheaper and camera phones are readily
"It's taking photography to a whole new level,"
said Larry Pryor, an associate professor of journalism at the
University of Southern California's Annenberg School for
Communication. "Every person can be a
Although Zhang won't take pictures of the
exterior of his home and rarely posts photographs of his parents, no
one else is spared from his shutter. There are photos of store
clerks, teachers, classmates and paramedics. There are scenes from
church services, concerts, movies and restaurants.
ask permission to take anyone's photo and, surprisingly, most people
don't ask why he's taking their picture. "Some people give me looks
and they think I'm weird," he said.
Andrew DeVigal, who teaches online journalism at San
Francisco State University, sees Zhang's Web site as a product of
the human desire to leave a mark on the world.
"In some ways,
it's an opportunity to say, `Hey, here I am and I'm relevant,'
regardless if anybody's listening," DeVigal said.
taking photos about three years ago. He realized that while he
documented trips to China or amusement parks, routine days seemed to
blur together. He decided to ingrain those into his memory by
regularly shooting candid shots, organizing them by date and posting
them on the Web site.
Days "kind of disappeared and faded
from my memory," recalled Zhang, who will be attending the
University of California at Davis this fall. "But now I can remember
them clearly because all of them have a title and
Since Dec. 16, when he put his first post on the
blog, Zhang has been chronicling what he eats, whom he sees and
pretty much everything else he does.
He's never far from his
digital camera, which weighs 7.1 ounces.
Every once in a
while, Zhang will get home and realize he has forgotten to take
pictures. So he'll run around the house, looking for something
interesting to shoot or make his younger brother practice slam
"It's really interesting to look back on any day and
remember what you did that day, to have memories in the future to
share," Zhang said.
Although Zhang doesn't keep track of how many people visit his site, comments are mainly posted by friends and every once in a while by a stranger.
A daily visitor to the photoblog is Zhang's mother, Joy Tian, who doesn't have to ask her son how his day went. For the most part, the blog reaffirms what she already knows about her son: He's a good kid surrounded by good friends.
"He really enjoys life," said Tian, who works as research associate at the University of California at Davis. "That's what I'm really proud of."