It Was Six Years Ago Today I Started Blogging

Here’s the first post — rather short.

Since that time I’ve built other blogs, sold other blogs, been divorced, fallen in and out of love, lived with some different people, remarried, been interviewed on the radio, worked at a few different placed, gained weight, lost weight, travelled, regained faith, been cranky, been happy, had long hair, cut it short. Hopefully I’ve learned something along the way — it feels like I have, I know that I know more than I once did. It’s hard to ask for more than that.

I think it’s an accomplishment to have been blogging for six years. I have seen many many blogs start and stop. It’s been a good tool for my own mental health, to connect with people, to make my complaints, to announce my projects, to make my greetings. I’ve been doing it since before blogging was a word that appeared in the news or on tv commercials. I’ve been blogging since before it was making presidential news. I joined the blogging “craze” at an interesting part of the adoption curve — 2001 — before it was ever a “craze.” Ever self-critical, I consider myself late to the party — I was late to identify the importance of the technologies we now call blogging. I had been knocking about mailing lists — discussion lists where people discuss everything from web development, to the music of talking heads, to politics, and everything else. Here’s some postings from 1999 for example. It’s pretty cool that it was Matt Haughey who encouraged me, by email, that what I had to say would make a good blog. Considering how large he looms in the world of blogging now, it’s quite a compliment. I think of it as though one of the Wright brothers had encouraged me to get into aviation. Eventually I listened. But I resisted it for a long time. I had many questions: what’s wrong with usenet? What’s wrong with individual web pages? What’s wrong with mailing lists? I relented because the ease of publishing via blog was too tempting. Today, to post to my website — to start writing this post — the one you’re reading right now — I don’t have to start a new html file , write it up, and upload it by FTP. All I have to do is  click my browser’s “blog this” bookmarklet, start writing, and click “publish.” That ease of use was critical. It was a huge step towards what we now call the “Read/Write Web” — which is closer to Tim Berners-Lee’s original conception of browsers – that they would be a mechanism not just to read the web, but also to write to the web.

Privacy and anonymity were concerns for me, then, as now. When I started blogging, I was also acutely aware that I wanted to write as myself. I might have been “ArtLung” — but I’m also “Joe Crawford.” No anonymity meant that this was writing that would eventually be read by friends, family, enemies, government, employers past and present. I made myself  ready for that. The blog was not discovered by those folks for several years — and still has not been paid much attention by any of employers. Buy my operating philosophy was to think of it as public. It was a diary, but a diary that I would write and then walk down and post to the laundromat bulletin board. It was not necessarily a safe and quiet space.  I had strong, strong opinions about blogging. For example, I knew that I in no way wanted comments. And it stayed like that for several years, while the site was run through The idea I had about comments was that I didn’t want it to be a venue for anyone else. And I didn’t necessarily want to know what people had to say about the stuff I had to say. This was my own space, and not anyone else’s. If people want to write on the web, they should get their own site.

Now, I welcome comments. Yes, I have deleted a few over the years, for various reasons; but in the main I am more open to other points of view than I once was. I’m more apt to give your crazy idea a listen. I’ve found it’s been a great help to me to get those other perspectives. By ceding to the point that “other people might know something” I’ve learned so much more.

In 2007 the most popular site on the web, at least for the time being, is MySpace. It allows people to do exactly what I was doing in 2001 – share myself with the web. And it makes it as easy as possible. It’s no surprise to me, though I still wish the tools worked better than they do. This future, where it’s as easy as pie for people to publish to the web, is a pretty good one. It could be better, but that’s a normal kind of aspiration. Onward to the future y’all. Have a great day and I’ll see you soon, right here. Onward.

four comments so far...

Congrats on the anniversary and for understanding early on just how public the blog is. I failed to realize the public aspect and had to scuttle almost 5 years of posts once employers and family members came online.

Thanks MAS. I definitely sympathize with that situation. Tool like LiveJournal make it more explicit that public/private thing, and had I started with LiveJournal instead, I wonder what kind of private friends-only posts I would have here at the six year mark.

HAH! you think you were late to the party! I only started 3 years ago. Fully aware it is a public venue. I do not ever post anything I wouldn’t want my employer/family/friends to read.

I’ve even edited a few posts….

rawk onward Joe! LOVE the redesign.

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