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Twentieth anniversary of ‘blogs’

The year 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary when the word ‘blog’ was officially accepted in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Even if you consider the history of the internet, it is not so long ago. Then again, it’s only in the past five to ten years that they have really taken off and have become an important part of the online landscape.

That got me intrigued, so I went digging. A Brief History of Blogging post has lots of interesting information:

“It’s generally recognized that the first blog was, created by Justin Hall, while he was a Swarthmore College student in 1994. Of course, at that time they weren’t called blogs, and he just referred to it as his personal homepage.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the term “weblog” was coined. The word’s creation has been attributed to Jorn Barger, of the influential early blog Robot Wisdom. The term was created to reflect the process of “logging the web” as he browsed.

1998 marks the first known instance of a blog on a traditional news site when Jonathan Dube blogged Hurricane Bonnie for The Charlotte Observer.

“Weblog” was shortened to “blog” in 1999 by programmer Peter Merholz. It’s not until five years later that Merriam-Webster declares the word their word of the year.

The original blogs were updated manually, often linked from a central home page or archive. This wasn’t very efficient, but unless you were a programmer who could create your own custom blogging platform, there weren’t any other options, to begin with.

During these early years, a few different “blogging” platforms cropped up. LiveJournal is probably the most recognizable of the early sites.

And then in 1999, the platform that would later become Blogger was started by Evan Williams and Meg Hourihan at Pyra Labs. Blogger is largely responsible for bringing blogging to the mainstream.”

It’s 20 years since the birth of the word blog, if not of the act. During these twenty years technologies, kept coming and going. It was all about the web first, then AOL, then “push,” then Web 2.0, then the email was “dead.” Then came social media, newsletters, Slacks, and podcasts.

Throughout, blogs just stayed quietly in the background. Self-publishing is at the heart of the healthy internet. It’s truly self-publishing when the URL and the means of production are your own,” wrote Marc Weidenbaum in his blog Disquiet.

Marc Weidenbaum urges, “If you garden, blog it (please). If you have a pet monkey, blog it. If you are the repository of some dwindling or otherwise threatened culture, blog it. If you harbor considered thoughts about your profession, blog it.”

Blogs are gardens for ideas. Like a gardener, you plant ideas in a blog and then watch which one grows to become a healthy plant and which one never germinate. You learn how to prepare the ground, which makes them grow, and how to protect them from predators.

Blogging is a must for aspiring writers. You will grow and refine as a writer much quicker than you would write in your journals and diaries. You can still be writing for yourself but only better. The act of hitting the publish button at the end of the day’s writing improves your writing many times. Get a small blog growing in a corner somewhere in the vast land of the Internet and write. Don’t worry about page views, don’t bother with SEOs, or social media promotions, just write.

Blogs are thinking place for artists, somewhere to try out their half-baked thoughts and work on them till they are fully formed. Austin Kleon writes in his book Keep Going:

A blog is the ideal machine for turning flow into stock: One little blog post is nothing on its own, but publish a thousand blog posts over a decade, and it turns into your life’s work. My blog has been my sketchbook, my studio, my gallery, my storefront and my salon. Absolutely everything good that has happened in my career can be traced back to my blog. My books, my art shows, my speaking gigs, some of my best friendships – they all exists because I have my own little piece of turf on the Internet.

Don’t think of your website as a self-promotion machine, think of it as a self-invention machine. Online, you can become the person you really want to be. Fill your website with your work, your ideas and the stuff you care about. Stick with it, maintain it and let it change with you over time.

The beauty of owning your own turf is that you can do whatever you want with it.

Have you been blogging? What are your thoughts about blogging? I would like to know about your blogging journey. Share it with me through the comments section below.

Photo by Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash

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