Tag Archives: WordPress

Blogging: Still revolutionary after all these years

We can argue who invented blogging, or when, but I’m going to peg it at the late 1990s, which means we’re coming up on (or have just reached) the 15th anniversary of blogging as a medium of expression. The same Wikipedia page I link to above offers these milestones:

  • Open Diary began in October 1998
  • LiveJournal began in March 1999
  • Blogger.com began in August 1999. Google bought it in 2003.

Dipping further into Wikipedia for the history of blogging, Movable Type launched in October 2001, and WordPress created its first release in May 2003.

It was possible in the 1990s to create a web page with little technical knowledge, but the idea of reverse-chronological weblog entries, easily created and endlessly archived, with the whole idea of link exchanges via a blogroll was as revolutionary as technology can be. By the time services like Blogger and LiveJournal picked up steam, it was possible for just about anybody to start and maintain a blog.

The whole idea of exposing ones thoughts, feelings, or whatever you wanted to express, to the entire world at once, with no middlemen and no filter — how can that be anything short of transformational.

Since the mid-2000s, the shine has pretty much rubbed off of blogging. Bloggers have been derided as untrained journalists (though many are actual reporters and editors, though that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme), self-obsessed and worse.

And then we had MySpace (why it’s still around I don’t know). Now we have Facebook. Twitter.

Those are still “hot.” Most of us are “on” Facebook, and we all know at least a dozen people who post their daily. There’s some comfort in sharing with one’s friends and not the big, bad world at large. I can’t argue with that. Except that what you post leaves your control and gives Facebook (and Twitter to some extent) a product with which to make money through advertising.

Not that blogging services don’t do the same thing. They do. But for the most part — and always with WordPress.com — you can pack up and take every little bit of content with you to use on your own site, on your own server or hosted space. And you can write more than 140 characters. And design and present that content the way you wish.

These kids today. (Sheesh!) It’s hard to remember a world where reaching even your local community with your writing meant persuading any number of editors that what you are churning out is worthy of their readership’s seeing it in the first place. And then there is the whole “we only have so much space” argument.

Well, you can start your own blog — hell, start a dozen if you want — and create your own worldwide publishing empire based on the merit (read: relevance and popularity) of your work.

Today’s blogging software is flexible enough that you can create a web site that has little or nothing to do with reverse-chronological blogging.

It’s revolutionary. Still.

Catching up with WordPress

I believe that it’s fairly easy to turn just about any Linux server into a WordPress installation. There is even a port of WordPress for OpenBSD. I thought that I’d try to run Movable Type on OpenBSD, but getting PHP and Perl working with the Web server looks incredibly difficult. If somebody else did this and laid out how they managed it (like How to Forge), I could probably follow along, but the difficulty of dealing with the chroot environment in OpenBSD’s default Apache Web server — which isolates the Web server’s files from the rest of the computer for security purposes — makes it extremely difficult for mortals to set up services in the Web server environment.

For a normal Web server with nothing but HTML pages (and no PHP, Perl/CGI), OpenBSD couldn’t be an easier system to use. It’s when things get more complicated that this that the non-OpenBSD geek is especially challenged.

But as I say, there is a WordPress port for OpenBSD, as well as WordPress packages for GNU/Linux systems such as Debian. I also seem to remember talk about a Movable Type package for Debian Lenny, and if it made the installation and configuration of the blogging system easier, I’d be all for it.

As it is now, between installing and configuring MySQL (or PostgreSQL), making sure PHP and Perl are running and getting all the directory permissions correctly set, putting together one of these blogging systems, even on Linux, is no trivial matter. The last time I set up Movable Type, all the MySQL issues I was having prompted me to dump it and use SQLite as my database software. At least MT gives you some options in this regard.

Why am I writing about Movable Type in WordPress?

I’m using my WordPress blog to write about Movable Type because it’s time for an MT break. I’m suddenly knee-deep in reconfiguring a few dozen Movable Type blogs and find myself baffled by layer upon layer of templates and widgets.

I know there’s a reason why this project uses Movable Type, and I’ll probably figure it out eventually, but in the mean time, I remain baffled by all that is MT.