Twenty Years

A funny thing happened on this day twenty years ago. After seeing a few people write dated updates on their web sites, I thought it might be interesting to try it myself. So on September 9, 1999 I wrote my first blog post.

Of course, most people didn’t call it a “blog” in those days. It was just a web page. To my knowledge there were no blogging tools. I was still writing HTML by hand and uploading pages via FTP.

Today I’m writing in Ulysses on my iPad. When I’m done I’ll tap the screen a few times to publish. 20-years-ago me would think this was straight out of Star Trek.

I never really got in the habit of posting every day, or even every month. But when I had something interesting to say, I would sometimes update the site. Things continued this way for about 10 years.

Then, around 2010, the updates stopped. An easier way to update the world appeared. Instead of sharing on individual sites, almost everyone jumped on to social media.

If you look back at many of the old blogs, you can see this happening. Once everyone got a smart phone things really exploded. Even people who had never heard of HTML could instantly share text and photos with the world.

For me, times have changed again. These days I try my best to avoid social media. I can’t believe the time I wasted scrolling through updates that an algorithm thought I might find interesting.

These algorithms are designed to keep users scrolling. Clever (or wealthy) individuals can manipulate what appears in order to sway opinions and sell products. I have personal experience with how this is done.

Whew, this has turned into quite a rant. Maybe I’m getting old and feeling nostalgic. Jason Kottke recently pointed out a thread on Ask MetaFilter called Any old-school bloggers still posting? if you’re feeling nostalgic, too.

There’s a Facebook gap in this site that I thought I might fill in someday. I’ve downloaded all of my data, I just need to find the time to write a program to do the work. Maybe that’ll be done in time for the site’s 30th birthday.