In April, Dave will have been blogging for ten years. He can be considered the proto-blogger and developer of the proto-blogging software. Today, about 70 million blogs have been created—“tens of thousands per day sprout up. Most of them don’t get much sunlight or simply lie fallow over time, but that doesn’t diminish what Dave and other pioneers of the blogosphere have wrought.
Scripting.com was among the blogs I would read regularly back in the day. I could have sworn his blog started earlier than that. Apparently the term “Weblog” (where the shorter “blog” was derived) was coined by Jorn Barger the same year. The problem is, while we can point to Tim Berners-Lee and say “the web started here”, there is no definitive starting point for blogs. Ever heard a definition EVERYONE can agree on? I actually believe it wasn’t long after people started pouring onto the web that blogs began … they just weren’t called blogs.
In 1994 many of us had personal homepages. It was a popular feature to list “news” or even have an online diary or journal. How are personal homepages and personal blogs different? In 1997 while still working in the education sector I wrote a science fiction website where I would post regular news called “Silicon Heaven” (an obscure reference from an even more obscure sci-fi series). It would be a couple of years later that I would create what I would now strictly define as a blog. Perhaps in actual fact my little sci-fi site was a blog, it was a reverse-chronological, regularly updated, article-based site. Is that enough to be called a blog? That said there are still people today who believe a blog has to be a personal diary.
Perhaps it’s about RSS syndication? While I posted to and religiously read blogs for years after it took a while before I settled into using RSS readers. Instead I would visit my favourites in my web browser. I’m sure there are many people who do this today. I still happen across even popular blogs where you have to hunt for the RSS button. For all the success of syndication it is remarkable even after all this time how little wider adoption has taken place. Maybe it’s not about RSS. In my mind it can’t be technology at all. How many “typical” blog
technologies, such as trackbacks, pings, permalinks, etc are often not
It’s not about the tools, blogs were around before the popular content management systems we use today such as Blogger, Movable Type and WordPress. LiveJournal is probably the oldest people will still have heard of and that launched 1999.
My theory is “blogging” is just a catch-all phrase to describe a variety of activities, many of which are optional. Bloggers are a mixture of writer, webmaster, forum administrator, newsletter publisher, columnist, journalist, diarist and all sorts of other “ists” that I can’t think of.
Perhaps a blog is whatever you say it is. It still fascinates me that so many people are involved with this thing we call blogging while being a little fuzzy what a blog actually is.
The lesson from all this? Forge your own path, do what you think is right. Create the best resource you can and leave getting stuck with labels to others. Lead by example. By the time everyone agrees, the leaders will have moved on.