LONDON Annie Mole's blog about the London Underground rail system began as a New Year's resolution to teach herself how to make an Internet Web site and has blossomed into a popular slice of commuter life.
The criticisms, witticisms and daily observations posted on her "London Underground's Blog" www.london-underground.blogspot.com since she first began writing it in 2003 have struck a chord with commuters and the people who operate the rail system beneath the capital that is affectionately known as the "Tube".
"I thought might be a subject that people would want to interact and talk about, because everyone's got their own little Tube story," Mole told Reuters in a coffee shop near her office.
Mole, who writes under a pseudonym and declined to reveal her real name, said the blog was a spin-off from her original Web site "Going Underground", which she first created in 1999.
"I wanted to be anonymous because I thought, I'm not sure the Tube are actually going to like this and they might try and find out who I am and get the site closed down," Mole said.
But her blog has received enormous attention instead, roping in other bloggers, commuters sharing experiences and even people who work on the Underground.
It has been nominated best British blog at the international weblog awards (aka: the bloggies) three times in the last four years and voted one of TimeOut magazine's 50 best London sites.
A number of the private companies which do maintenance work on the 12 Tube lines that criss-cross London's Underground, have recognised her blog's powerful influence on commuters and have met Mole to clarify rumours and answer complaints, she said.
"They think what I'm doing is positive...they say it's a way for the public to see what actually goes on behind these lines that they would have never done without bloggers."
LIFE ON THE TUBE
Mole said her blog speaks to busy Londoners, who she says spend on average 45 minutes a day commuting on public transport, with three million passengers travelling on the Tube.
"The amount of time you spend on it, it's definitely an extra life, well it is for me because I have quite a long commute," Mole said.
The blogger spends 80 minutes observing fellow passengers on the Tube on her way to and from work as a product manager in central London.
"There are people who are incredibly self-conscious on the Tube, who are very aware of people watching them so they won't look at anyone, they won't smile at anyone...like I'm in my own little world," Mole said.
"And then there are other people who are like: 'Brilliant, here's an extension of my office, here's an extension of my bedroom. I'm gonna be on my phone, I'm gonna be doing my makeup," she said.
But the blog has not changed Mole's opinion about delayed services and crowded conditions on the Tube.
"Even this morning I was delayed by 25 minutes coming into work...I hated it," Mole said. "Because I understand it more, it amazes me as to why it's so rubbish because it shouldn't be that bad."
(Editing by Paul Casciato)