Blogging ten years ago

Finally

Ten years ago today, on December 13, 2002, I wrote and published my first blog post.

Nothing especially inspiring, earth-moving or even awesome in what I said, just a brief note to announce my entry into the embryonic blogosphere:

Dec 13, 2002 — Finally joing [sic] the thousands who already publish blogs. This blog will include random and occasional musings and comment on anything that grabs my attention.

The post even has a spelling mistake. How’s that for posterity?

I now can’t remember exactly how I’d heard about blogs – or ‘weblogs,’ as I recall the formal name – although I suspect it was in a magazine or newspaper feature talking about “the technorati” and a service called Technorati which was founded by Dave Sifry in November 2002 (a month before my first blog post), essentially a search engine and ranking system for blogs; plus the rise of a company called Pyra Labs, its free personal web publishing platform called Blogger and its business-focused pay-for service, Blogspot.

(The screenshot, btw, shows that first post published on a TypePad blog, the service I migrated to in mid 2004 from Blogspot. That blog is still online as my 2002-2006 content archive.)

It was also a time when I started questioning many things in my own world after I read The Cluetrain Manifesto, the core concept of which that ‘markets are conversations‘ just blew me away even if I was skeptical about some of the other ideas. But I kept thinking about the book’s strapline, “The end of business as usual.” All of it opened my eyes, no question about that.

Ten years ago, blogs essentially were social media. There was little else, perhaps apart from LiveJournal, an online social network and diary platform, now based in Russia;  Friendster, originally a social networking site that lives on today in Southeast Asia as a popular social gaming site; and Napster, the now defunct peer-to-peer file sharing service for MP3 music files. Not even MySpace or Skype were around – they didn’t start until the second half of 2003 – nor the photo-sharing site Flickr that didn’t start until early 2004.

And don’t even think of LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook … it was some years before their time came.

Ten years ago was a time for discovery and experimentation on small, less connected scales where the focus was on the liberated simplicity of writing and self-publishing content to the web that was a personal expression – a mega-shift away from the complexity, control and hierarchies of traditional web publishing with tools like FrontPage – far more than connecting that expression to many other voices, services and connected places the way it has evolved today, partly because the broad infrastructure and ecosystems didn’t exist yet.

Ten years ago, there were probably around one million blogs worldwide, of which 90 percent or more were surely in the US. Compare that to a reported 172 million today – which doesn’t include other forms of personal expression and publishing like microblogs (Twitter, for example) or Facebook posts. It was the time of the iPod and the iPAQ – long before the iPhone – and ISDN lines.

Heck, the internet itself was relatively tiny in 2002 compared to today as this chart from Pingdom showing growth in the decade 2000-2010 suggests.

top10internet

Pingdom says:

[…] There were only 361 million Internet users in 2000, in the entire world. For perspective, that’s barely two-thirds of the size of Facebook [in 2010]. […] There are more than five times as many Internet users now as there were in 2000.

So the landscape today paints a hugely different picture than the one of ten years ago. Not only the tools and channels but also the sheer connectivity of everything plus a seismic shift in people’s attitudes, understanding, willingness and ability to get online and talk.

Ten years ago, though, I discovered something that has had a massive influence on my own behaviour, thinking, openness and willingness to say what I think and engage in conversation with others, whether they’re like minds or not.

Technorati played a big role for me in finding other voices. (Here’s what Technorati looked like in December 2002 thanks to The Wayback Machine.)

Ten years ago, I made a foray into a new world. Like many, I wasn’t sure at all that this was something I really wanted to do. Who cares what I mused about? Who’d read this stuff? I didn’t see what it was worth from a business perspective (who did then, really?). So I was an infrequent blogger and didn’t properly get into gear with things until mid 2004 when I suddenly realized that thinking about blogging primarily as kind of online-diary-writing missed the point entirely.

That’s when everything got really interesting. But, that’s a tale for another day.

Ten years ago, blogging opened doors to experimentation, discoveries and the start of making valuable connections with other connected people. In that specific regard, not much has changed in that time.

Isn’t it great?

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