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.
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.