Five Years Of Blogging

December 30, 2006

I still remember it vividly. I was IM-ing with .sara and complaining about my web site. I was telling her that I wanted a template-driven site that was easy to update. She wrote “it sounds like you want a blog.” What’s a blog? That’s how it started. That was five years ago.

It wouldn’t at all be accurate to say that I was a blog pioneer. After all, they’d been around in one form or another for a few years prior to the above conversation. But I think it’s safe to say that I got into it at the beginning of the explosion in blog popularity. How many blogs were there in January of 2001? It’s hard to say. Genuine blogging pioneer Rebecca Blood wrote in her essay Weblogs: A History And Perspective that there were “thousands of weblogs” in September of 2000, just four months prior to my start. It’s hard to get an exact count, but I figure today there are well over 60 million blogs. My friend and flickr buddy Eszter Hargittai (who happens to be a researcher in the area of internet communication) offers this helpful graph, which shows the number of newspaper articles using the word “blog” or “weblog” over time: in the year I started blogging, these words were used fewer than 200 times; by 2004 that number had skyrocketed to 2,790 times.

So what? What’s the big deal? Everyone has their own idea about Why Blogs Matter (or even if they do). I won’t bore you with my take on what the rise of global self-publishing means to everyone on the planet; I won’t wax philosophic about what it means for commerce, journalism, politics, culture, art and language. The world is full of really smart people who can tell you those things better than I can. What I can tell you is what the ride has been like for me, personally.

I count my blog among a short list of things that I did in my early-to-mid thirties that together constituted a huge positive change in my life: I quit smoking; I finished my masters degree; I started doing martial arts and getting regular exercise; I lost weight; I started pursuing photography as a hobby; and I started blogging. What specifically did blogging do for me? Rebecca Blood again:

As he enunciates his opinions daily, this new awareness of his inner life may develop into a trust in his own perspective. His own reactions–to a poem, to other people, and, yes, to the media–will carry more weight with him. Accustomed to expressing his thoughts on his website, he will be able to more fully articulate his opinions to himself and others. He will become impatient with waiting to see what others think before he decides, and will begin to act in accordance with his inner voice instead. Ideally, he will become less reflexive and more reflective, and find his own opinions and ideas worthy of serious consideration.

There’s not much more to say other than thank you. Thanks to .sara for steering me toward the brand new Blogger service, thanks to Pyra Labs for making Blogger, thanks to Six Apart for making MovableType, thanks to the open source community for making WordPress.

And of course my biggest thanks go to the readers and writers of blogs whose words have intersected with my own over the last five years.


No comments yet

  1. I think it was 1997 when Sara, Melissa, and myself started writing regularly on our websites. (I remember Mel yelling at me for using a template idea that she liked).

    It was your blog that allowed me to find you again after we lost touch years ago. I’m thankful for that if nothing else. πŸ™‚

  2. Indeed! I had my own site around the winter of 96. Remind me again – what was your IRC name was way back then?

  3. Askani

    (ya senile old fart) πŸ™‚

  4. That’s what I thought! What was mine?

  5. I hope I’ll still be blogging in 5 years time. I’ll definitely be going back to read some of your old posts to see how you’ve grown!

  6. Congratulations, Scott, quite a milestone. And this is a nice little trip down memory lane.

    I had my first Web site in the summer of ’95 so over a decade now. My path to blogging (since May ’02) started with a mailing list that I started in December ’01. It’s somewhat surprising that all that was so long ago.

  7. To be honest… I don’t remember. πŸ™‚

    I was tempted to go bug sara, to remind me. When I first found your website last year, I only remembered your nick, and had a hard time remembering your real name. Now I’ve done a complete flip.

    I’m sure if I dug around in my archives, enough… I know I have at least 1 picture of you, back then. πŸ™‚

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