The Internet That Time Forgot

I remember back when blogging was “a thing”. It’s worse than that though – I’m one of the reasons blogging happened. No. Really.

Many, many years ago – before blogging became “a thing” – I built one of the first simple publishing platforms on the web. I built it for myself initially, and then a co-worker saw it, and said “that’s a blog!”. I had to look up what the word meant. A few days later I had polished it up, more to gain kudos among my peers than anything else, and got talked into releasing it as open source. I think it got downloaded about quarter of a million times over the next few years.

Of course we all know what happened in the end – Pyra Labs wrote Blogger, Matt Mullenweg wrote WordPress, and the world was changed forever. My little script got bundled with various web server distributions for a while, but eventually vanished because I both lost interest in it, and didn’t have time to devote to it any more.

Anyway. I’m rambling. The short version of this story goes something like “I’ve been writing a blog since before blogging was a thing”.

Remembering how the blogging landscape once was is bittersweet at the best of times. There used to be a lot of us. The vast majority would record the minutiae of each day, and fill endless pages with books we had read, movies we had seen, jokes we had heard, conspiracy theories we believed in, and all manner of other garbage. Nobody really had a filter, and nobody really needed one.

I’m not really sure when it happened, but everything changed. It might have been when SixApart sold LiveJournal, and launched Vox. Suddenly blogs became commercial propositions – vehicles to deliver marketing drivel by the bucketload. The SEO morons also appeared, and blighted everything with their attempts to game the system.

Just for the record, “blog” is a contraction of “web log”. It was coined by Jorn Barger in 1997, and referred to personal journals posted to the internet – not to marketing or journalism.

Little by little many of the people who wrote blogs disappeared from the internet. They quietly drifted away – writing tweets, and sharing square filtered photos on Instagram rather than emptying their thoughts into the keyboard as they once had done.

Some of us stayed though. Writing a personal journal on the internet for public consumption became a niche activity – most people couldn’t see the point. And perhaps that’s why I keep going. There is a part of me that hates “fitting in” – I guess it’s the same part of me that sits on the fence during arguments in the pub, playing devils advocate. As blogging has become less fashionable, it has become more appealing to me. I guess that’s means I’m a paradox, but I don’t really care.

So anyway. If you read this, and like it, and think “this guy is SUCH a nerd”, or “OMG I can’t even”, do leave a few words. Let me know you were here. If you have a blog, I’ll invariably look it up, and may well end up stalking subscribing to it. I’m kind of insane like that.

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