It seems sort of amazing that today is the six year anniversary of this blog space. Amazing because that is such a short time … I always honestly feel like I’ve been here for a heck of a lot longer. I started publishing with “modern” blog software using Blogger back on 7/28/2004 and have been writing mostly in one place since. I’ve been through Blogger, WordPress, and am currently enjoying TypePad to manage my writing and posting. Funny thing is that 2004 wasn’t my first trip around the blogging track, but it marks the time I started to take the idea of managing my own content seriously.
Prior to 2004 I was publishing online in lots of ways and places, scattering my content into spaces that I had no real control over. I set up blogging-like tools as early as 1998 when I first got to Penn State using UserLand Frontier. At the time it wasn’t blogging per se, but I was using a toolset that I built on the Frontier framework that allowed me to do two things with relative ease for the time — automate creating updates for my projects and to create eLearning course materials with the push of a few buttons. I remember showing it to people and most folks looked at me like I was crazy … they were all using Claris HomePage (or something like that to create visual layouts) and pushing them via FTP to webspace. I had been through the rise of the early days of HTML first hand rolling everything (remember hand coding image maps?), then moving into WYSIWYG tools, and finally arriving at the notion that the content was so much more important than the layout. A lesson I still have trouble sharing with people.
This space has represented quite a bit to me over the last six years. It has given me an online time machine that I can get in to see what I was thinking about and working on in the recent past. It has given me an outboard brain to store thoughts, images, and conversation starters unlike any paper notebook ever has. Most importantly it has given me a place to practice my writing with an audience in mind. The notion that when I type here I have the power to publish, share, and engage the Internet is still an amazing feeling. I don’t write as much as I used to and I know I have a very small readership compared to many others, but the notion that what I say here has the power to reach any corner of the unfiltered web is astonishing to me.
The last six years have moved quickly and the web has grown into the ideas I first learned about by reading the Cluetrain Manifesto. I am proud of this space even though it could be viewed as a relatively insignificant contribution to the larger conversation happening all over the Internet at any given time. It is my space and that is all that matters.
The emergence of Twitter and Facebook has challenged and changed the way I write, what I write about, and where I do my sharing. But even in today’s one-button hyper connected web, I know there is a void that is filled with this space. I haven’t been as active here for lots of reasons, but I find myself constantly thinking about writing here and for the most part that is almost as important as actually doing the writing. This blog has taught me how to engage myself in an internal dialogue before I write, it has taught me how to think about engaging people in online conversations, and it has made me a much better communicator. I believe this blog has helped me grow in my career in some very serious ways and I certainly believe it has helped me grow as a person. This space has helped me take more risks — and those risks are calculated and reflected upon in deeper ways because of this space.
At the end of the day this space was started as a place for me to better understand the emergence of the read/write web and it just clicked with me. Many of the initiatives I have pressed forward the last several years are a projection of my own growth through the use of personal publishing platform for expression, reflection, and engagement. I hope the Internet keeps changing and I keep taking advantage of it as a platform to help track my own growth.