Sometime later this month "Diary and Other Rantings
" (i.e. my weblog) will turn 7 years old, and I'll start my eighth year doing this activity called 'blogging'. Perhaps I'll mark the day, perhaps not. We'll see. Maybe I'll just stop doing it altogether. Maybe not. We'll see.
This all started in early 2001. I was at AOL making lots and lots of money from my Netscape stock options. I had a Netscape employee home page that was visited hundreds of thousands of times a day, but this was slowing. AOL no longer linked to it. I had started running a new server in the spare bedroom in 1998-1999, and later moved it to the garage. It took almost two years to get a working DSL link so that I could actually run a public website off of it. High-speed internet to the home was still an experimental technology. DSL wasn't yet ready for prime time and ISDN had other issues
which plagued it. Leased-line required somebody to sell you an end-point on the public net and nobody was doing this, besides being limited to 56k which was now the speed of most modems. Web 'hosting' in those days was mostly for big business and costed big money. I could certainly afford it, but decided to spend my cash on more important things (like buying a music store a year later).
Running a Linux box with an internet link isn't very expensive in the overall scheme of things. So once the DSL was finally working I made a new home page and started improving it.
I think it was Cindy at 'Off the Beaten Path' (now at 'dustingmybrain.com
' ) who first introduced me to the concept of a rambling page. Instead of replacing your 'Current Interests' web page every week, you just keep adding to it. Drop in a date. Write what's happening. I started doing this. I was writing HTML in emacs. I called it an online diary. I didn't have titles, categories, RSS feeds, etc. These would come much later. I wasn't writing 'articles', I was just rambling. Why do you need a title for it? That makes it look so structured
. The only important thing is the date, so somebody knows when it was that you thought this way. This was important. After several years of living on Netscape time, I firmly believed that one didn't think the same way for very long, and technology was always changing - so information had to have a date.
The other thing that I did was to take a cue from some of the large online news sites, which were the best model available for presenting information that had timestamps. I started writing in reverse chronological order (recent first). This was born of necessity, since nobody wanted to load a large page and scroll to the end to find recent stuff; which was how we did things previously (logfile format).
In fact I maintained this format for a few years until it became unmanageable. Then I looked for ways of automating my monthly (or whenever) process of moving the current entries to an archive page and starting fresh. So after looking to see what programs were available and trying a few of them, I instead wrote a program to do it myself. Over time that evolved from a simple diary 'archiver' to the thing that you see today - a mega social portal that does everything but make coffee. (I miss this incidentally, I had my computer turn on the coffee pot from an online request in the early 1980s using my first homebrew social portal).
I still wonder whether anybody reads these pages. Does anybody care? I don't subscribe to the current notions of SEO and affiliate marketing and trackware and all the other ways to improve one's blog ranking. Most notable these days are the pages and pages of 'widgets' attached to every blog, selling everything from online communities to soap. Why bother? Your only visitors will be other bloggers that are all trying to get you to visit their own blog. They aren't really reading what you have to say, they're too busy 'selling' their own wares. Still even after the RSS fiasco a few months back, I manage to pull in a few thousand humans a week. They come and read a page and leave again. This is the state of the modern internet.
It may be of some interest that I've managed to serve up a few hundred million pages since this all started - mostly to crawlers and robots; however last year activity peaked with about 100,000 daily hits (30,000 human visitors) and we've had six or seven days with over a million hits. I've written close to 1500 articles and there have been about 6600 total articles at one time or another from various feeds - before I was forced to nuke them for legal reasons. Only about 250 comments total, which I attribute to my decision a couple years back to do away with the daily spam cleanup and only allow website members to post comments. [I've since revised this policy.]
The 'community portal' (which I started writing a couple of years ago) doesn't have much community and I don't know if that will ever change. Community folks like big parties and unless you have one, you're late to the party. Bloggers only like communities where they can sell their blog. I don't know how to convince them that a long-running website with several thousand non-blogging human visitors a week is actually a good place to drop a link. Yeah, I could put you on my blogroll, but I read thousands of blogs. It would quickly grow to be unmanageable and you'd be lost in the noise.
But you can add your own link and profile page and whatever - you don't need me to do it. Hint, hint.
Anyway - we'll see if this lasts or whether I just decide that there are better things to do. Write into space everyday and maybe a couple of people will read it. Maybe not.
That's what it's all about.
Don't ask yourself if it is actually relevant or important or whether anybody cares. You might not like to hear the true answer. It's one blog amongst hundreds of millions, all trying to be visited. All thinking they should be relevant to somebody. It's like asking if one star in the entire universe is relevant. Maybe one is relevant to somebody. But the big question looms, is it yours
? Unless it's the sun and brings life to this planet, it's likely just another star in the vastness of space.
In fact, nobody really cares whether you blog or not when all is said and done. Well maybe one or two folks. In my case those are the same one or two folks that cared back in 2001. Everybody else is just passing through on their way to somewhere else.
Still every day (sometimes two) I go to my website and ramble about what's on my mind. I tweak the software to make it better. Even knowing that it is all an exercise in futility. Strange.