“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”
A decade is a nontrivial amount of time, and in response to this classic question, my response is always the same: I see myself becoming sufficiently versed in the systems I work with such that I have the confidence and expertise to determine how to manage teams using the same systems and deliver a product of unparalleled quality. Outside of the occupation setting, ten years is enough time for someone to finish their undergraduate education, go for graduate studies and still have enough time left over to find satisfaction in their career, reach financial stability and be at peace with who they are. When this blog began its journey on a cold October evening ten years ago, I was an undergraduate student: I’d just survived the worst year of my university career and had been on track to getting things back in order. I originally intended this blog to be for short blurbs about various bits of anime related news, to supplement my old website, but over time, it became apparent that WordPress provided features and capabilities far surpassing my old web host. During this past decade, Infinite Mirai has a total of 1377 posts and 3.5 million words (excluding this one). There’s now some 1.7 million page views, and 1.1 million unique visitors. The blog has proven resilient beyond my initial expectations: for the past five years, I’d always noted that there might come a point where I’d stop writing for this blog. Each and every time, I’ve been proven wrong. The reason for this is two-fold: firstly, writing is a form of catharsis for me. I am afforded a place to gather my thoughts, to reflect on both what I am sharing and where my life is. However, the second is by far the larger contributor to this blog remaining active even now; this is a consequence of my becoming a part of a larger community, one that encourages discussion, creative thinking and contrary opinions. Whether it be friendly commenters, the subset of amicable and civilised Twitter users or the Jon Spencer Reviews community, having a chance to speak with others and learn of their perspectives has been most insightful: it is worth writing just to kick-start discussions with people and learn of how their experiences shape how they approach something. In this way, knowing there are interested readers with a plethora of unique thoughts of their own is a powerful incentive to write, and similarly, knowing that there is even a single reader curious about what I made of something makes it worthwhile to continue running this blog. Without you, the reader, none of this would’ve been possible, so before continuing, I would like to give my heartfelt thank you to all readers who’ve stopped by, whether you’ve been around since the days I was still finding my style, or if you’ve started reading more recently. Thank you for all of your support!
At this decade anniversary to Infinite Mirai, I’ll share ten of my favourite moments for this blog below (in no particular order). Before I get to that, it is worth taking a look at the sorts of things that I do to find the motivation, and inspiration, to write: a lot of bloggers start their party, but over time, whether it be a shift in circumstance or waning interest, the blog dies out. Others continue to thrive, on virtue of having new writers replacing old ones, or similarly to myself, their main author continues to keep the blog going. Over the years, I’ve found that there are two secrets to keeping a blog running for a long time if one is the only author. The first is simply to write at one’s own pace. Many bloggers adhere to a schedule and push themselves to publish consistently, and while this is especially important for content creators, casual bloggers like myself are not bound to a schedule. As such, rather than writing a certain amount every week, I tend to just stick to my own schedule. When the material is there, I write more often. When life is busy, or there is little inspiration, I simply write less. This approach is essential to preventing burn-out, which I’ve found to be a leading reason for why authors become inactive: when there’s nothing to write about, bloggers might become antsy about putting something out and write something not to their liking. Eventually, maintaining a blog becomes more of a chore than a hobby, and the positive feedback loop can sap one of their motivation. Conversely, by writing at one’s own pace and of one’s own volition, one has the choice to write when the best ideas or arguments come to mind. The resulting post ends up becoming something to be proud of, and one can even engage the community with their best. The second secret is to be fair to both the works one writes about, and one’s readers. This fairness entails listening to what feedback one is given, and making an honest effort to understand why other people might have a different opinion of things. The resulting discussions then become amicable, measured and rooted in understanding, rather than conflict. I’ve similarly seen blogs go under because they wrote in a confrontational, hostile tone, and when the comments or feedback elsewhere were correspondingly unfriendly, these individuals would feel blogging was too challenging to continue with. Raising controversy and picking fights might be good for traffic, but it also attracts individuals who are looking for a fight, and constantly fighting internet wars grows tiresome. As surprising as it sounds, these two things (“write when you want“, and “be nice to readers“) are the secret to maintaining any blog for long periods of time without burning out.
Infinite Mirai: Top Ten Moments Countdown
- Writing the post that put me on the map: I’d only used this blog as a place for blurbs and anime news for the first two years of its life, and consequently, traffic around these parts had been quite low. This changed one January afternoon: it’d been the start of a new term, and after spotting a 2chan post about the Ooarai School Ship’s dimensions compared to other vessels, I realised it would be fun to both render the comparison in English, as well as compare Ooarai’s School Ship to the most-talked about ship of the time: the UNSC Infinity. That particular post exploded, and the number of visitors allowed my blog to begin climbing in search engines. Over the years, the chart I’d hastily made became the de facto source for the carrier’s length, and the YouTube Channel, Metal Ball Studios, even linked to me as the source for their Watercrafts Comparison video.
- Writing my first-ever large post: Gundam Unicorn was a series of personal significance because it coincided with the length of my undergraduate career, and when the sixth episode became available, I was just getting ready to complete my Honours Thesis oral defense. A year later, the finale aired, and left me with a definitive, satisfying close to the Gundam series that had accompanied me throughout university. There was a lot to cover, and the resulting post marked the first time I’d written something of that length. Unlike my old web host, which had numerous constraints, WordPress had no such limitation, and even for a post of that length, I had no trouble keeping track of things. The post for the Gundam Unicorn finale demonstrated decisively that WordPress would be my tool of choice for writing, and the resulting discussions generated also began to encourage me to engage with the community more.
- Putting together the Sora no Woto charts: A few summers after I finished watching Sora no Woto, I embarked on a journey to remake the speculation charts with the intent of replacing the ones Tango-Victor-Tango linked to. This project allowed me to see a side of Sora no Woto that I hadn’t previously, and to my surprise, the charts were welcomed by the Sora no Woto community. It turns out that the new charts had made their way to the Sora no Woto Wikia, and their admin stated that there had been plans to replace the 4chan charts because of factual errors, but no one had the time to do so. The community ended up with cleaner and more informative charts as a result.
- Figuring out how to use photogrammetry, Google Maps and the Oculus Quest to drive location hunts: With the current global health crisis still affecting the world, travel is off the table, and this made location hunting a difficult endeavour. However, virtual travel remains viable, a consequence of reliable and stable technology, as well as the know-how to use them. I first used photogrammetry techniques to locate Taki’s apartment for Your Name, and since then, those learnings have allowed me to have a phenomenal time of sifting through Google Maps’ Street View imagery to find spots that have appeared in anime. These exercises show just how sophisticated technology has become: when I started this blog, things like the Oculus Quest-powered location hunts wouldn’t have been possible.
- Learning that a Japanese English studies guide used content from my GochiUsa location hunt post as an example exercise: I was browsing through the books at a local bookstore a few years ago, when my phone suddenly began lighting up with notifications. It turned out that some folks from Japan had noticed my location hunt talk on Colmar and utilised the text in that post for a Japanese English study guide. People were wondering if I’d consented to my text being used in this way, and my response was simple: I certainly had no objection and was happy that people of all kinds found my content helpful in some way. It is a little strange to see my blog’s words on a printed page, though.
- Reaching a thousand posts and a million views in the same year: By 2018, my blog had hit two milestones that, when I started writing, never crossed my mind. In April, I saw the millionth visitor open a page, and then later that year, I published my thousandth post. Neither milestones would be impressive for a professional blog, but for me, this is a side-project, something I work on in my spare time, and seeing these numbers were more of a reminder of how long I’d been in the game for. With this being said, I have previously stated that even if I only had one reader who found my content worthwhile, I would’ve done my job as a blogger: for me, the most fun I have in blogging isn’t watching the follower count or views increase, but rather, hearing from readers who may have different things to share.
- Reading comments from folks who found my writing useful, and learning from them when they share their own experiences and knowledge: Some of my favourite blogging moments come from reading the different comments that readers have left here over the years. I’ve had everyone from US Navy veterans to published authors, and even folks from Japan swing by, each adding their insights to the discussion. What I write is from the one perspective of the world I know (i.e. my own), so being able to see what others bring to the table is always invaluable. I always welcome a good dialogue, and that means people are free to completely disagree with what I write.
- Publishing my first-ever collaborative post with Dewbond on Yosuga no Sora: Until last year, Infinite Mirai was a one-man show, and while I’d entertained the idea of guest-blogging at other places or inviting people over to write guest posts, this never really materialised. However, this changed when I spoke with Dewbond of Shallow Dives in Anime about Yosuga no Sora. I first watched this anime some seven years ago, and while I really enjoyed it, the anime covered topics that were difficult to discuss with people. Dewbond has no reservations and shows how things like love and jealousy can be covered in a mature and analytical manner. This collaborative post ended up being very enjoyable, and I’ve rather enjoyed bringing new voices over here. Folks looking to collab (or if they wish to get in touch for me to write a guest post) are always welcome to do so.
- Becoming a part of the Jon Spencer Reviews community, participating in things like Jon’s Creator Showcase and AniTwit Watches: On the topic of collaboration and community, one of the biggest wins I’ve had with this blog was becoming a part of a community. In the last five years, user engagement has gone up, but it was only really a few years ago where I started participating in the community to a larger extent. Whether it’s hosting blog highlights to showcase the fact that the anime blogging community is thriving, or making wisecracks when I find the time to join the crew on their latest group watch, it’s fun to kick back and enjoy anime with others. This community also challenges me on the way I approach things, and encourage me to be a better blogger. For this, I am thankful.
- Looking back through the blog and seeing how many memories I’ve made over the years: Ten years is a lot of time, and this blog accompanied me through most of my undergrad, all of my graduate studies, right through to the present. Many summers ago, I lamented that I never did anything fun, but strictly speaking, this isn’t true: I’ve travelled, tried a plethora of fun foods and done the sorts of things that I’m happiest doing. Reading through my old posts makes me count my blessings, and provides me the encouragement to always strive for a better tomorrow.
Having now shared some of my favourite Infinite Mirai moments, I’ll wrap up by thanking readers again: your support means the world to me, and has been the key contributor to keeping the lights on here. This time around, I won’t be so bold as to suggest that I intend to close off my blog at any point in the future (which, I’m sure, frustrates the living daylights out of those who do have a quarrel with my blog). However, there are certain realities that I must also address: I’m no longer a student, and there are things in my life that require my attention. For instance, I am moving house in the next little while, and therefore, will need to tend to things associated with a move. As such, I will note that with respect to the future, I still plan on blogging where I can, and readers can reasonably expect me to still swing by and write. Similarly, I will also do my best to continue engaging with the community. All of this will simply be with a reduced frequency compared to how I’ve been writing and interacting over the past few years. Sitting here now on ten years of Infinite Mirai, it suddenly strikes me as to just how much has happened in the past decade. There’s been ten different iterations of iOS, and for better or worse, social media now controls almost all discourse on most everything. Precision medicine is becoming more powerful thanks to improvements in gene sequencing, and electric vehicles are now more viable. AI is now an everyday part of our lives, from managing voice-based digital assistants to helping us hunt down similar restaurants in our area. Internet connectivity and computer storage have seen explosive growth, and smart phones went from being novel gadgets to essentials. Consequently, it would be quite exciting to keep up with this journey and see what the next decade brings with readers. I may not be the most well-known blog out there, I certainly don’t get the most comments, like or follows, and I certainly am not the most controversial, but there is one thing I am singularly proud of: I’m part of the best community, with the best fellow writers and readers. Now you know how I feel: I will be more than happy to write for all of you wonderful readers about anything, any time and anywhere.