10 years of weblogging

I’ve been trying to write a riff on Garret’s 10 year anniversary piece on blogging for a while now. But every time I start, it ends up way too long. So just read his piece and come back.

Okay, did that? Because as is old fashioned blogger custom I expect you to derive context for my following thoughts from my links (did you read Garret’s piece yet?) and from what I usually talk about here.

The march towards a plethora of walled-garden-social-networks has been a drag. And maybe it will be standards that will provide us a way out of the counter-personal-ownership of data mess we’re in right now. I’m hopeful. And I hope to do some hacking along the way to try and put together some duck tape of my own.

But the important thing is here we are.

Flashback to 1999. Conservatives were accusing Clinton of ‘wagging the dog’.

We were about to intervene in the Kosovo conflict. I felt our intervention in the Kosovo crisis was misguided for different reasons than those on the RIght. I felt that bombs couldn’t be the answer.

Yes, I was (and am counting who you talk to) a peace loving hippie.

I wanted to share my view, but I realized my voice held little weight, so I collected stories that supported my opinion and added them to a headline feed.

I ran that feed of headlines into My.Netscape and My.Userland so that people who might be interested could follow.

The feed reached people around the world even though I believe there were only a few hundred subscribers. People from Russia and Kosovo sent me emails to comment.

Let me repeat that again “People from Russia and Kosovo sent me emails to comment”.

I had made some kind of connection, with people from different countries, talking about war.


All it required was a text editor, searching for interesting stories that reflected my view, and manually writing out the RSS XML and storing it on a Web host. I registered the feed with My.Netscape and My.Userland and away it went.

Today, any of us can open an account at WordPress.com or TypePad and do that and so much more. Everything we post to Facebook, Twitter, our blogs, our forums generates RSS and Atom. These common communication formats helped lay down what is becoming the foundation of the real-time web. Where any of us have the potential to reach anyone else, anywhere.

This very post, when it goes live, will appear in Twitter, and Facebook, and even more amazingly, Google and Yahoo! in the order hours if not minutes.

What Tim O’Reilly had called the “Architecture of Participation” and Dave Winer called the “Read-Write Web”, way back when, continues to evolve and grow.

There is still much to do for it to reach its full promise. It has never lived up to its potential to enable those who need to be heard to be heard. Human nature is human nature after all and we tend to tune into voices that resemble our own. But the potential still is there to make a connection across our own biases and our own filters. The potential and capability.

For all the negatives that still abound, all the opportunities left to explore, the challenges left to solve, blogging has helped me connect with Garret, and many other terrific online travelers across the world and here in my home town. People who I consider teachers. Thought provokers. Inspiration. Friends.

You know who you are.

Thank you to all the folks who laid down this architecture for all of us to participate, twist, turn, innovate on, and completely take for granted. And thank you to all those who have made that connection with me and enlarged my heart, my mind and world.