Not to misquote the Beatles, but it was 20 years ago today that I posted my first entry to this blog.
By 2003 blogs were pretty popular so I was somewhat late to the game. My friend Ben Reed had a blog that he used kind of like a proto-Twitter where he would post many times during the day on what he was doing, which at the time focused on porting KDE to MacOS. Back then a lot of open source projects used blogs as a communication platform and since I was maintaining an open source project I figured I should start one. He used Moveable Type as his blogging software so I did as well.
Moveable Type was very popular back then, but when they started to move their licensing to a more proprietary model, people were turned off and migrated to WordPress. I find it delightfully ironic that WordPress, which is open source, now forms the basis for around 40% of all websites whereas people have probably never heard of Moveable Type these days.
If there happen to be any younger readers here, blogs twenty years ago were like podcasts today: practically everyone had one. Also like podcasts, most were sporadically updated, which is why Really Simple Syndication (RSS) became important. RSS is a protocol that lets you find out when websites are updated. Using a “news reader” like Google Reader, you could aggregate all the websites you were interested in following into one application. It was pretty cool.
But then along came social media sites and what people used to post on blogs they started posting there instead of on their own sites. Even with a lot of hosting options, running a blog is incrementally harder than posting to, say, Facebook. In 2013 Google killed Reader which pretty much ended blogging (although I still use RSS and find that the open source Nextcloud News is a great Reader replacement).
But I’m old and stubborn so I kept blogging. In fact I think I have something like five or six blogs that I update periodically. I use another blogging technology called a “planet” to aggregate all of those blogs so my three readers can easily keep up with what I’m doing.
Another thing that social media brought about was this idea of engagement. People still look at metrics such as number of followers as an indication of how far a particular post reached, and even when I started this thing folks would brag about their stats. As a contrarian I took the opposite approach and decided that I’d be happy if just three people read my posts. I got a chuckle the first time someone came up to me and said “hey, I’m one of your three readers”. Made the whole thing much more personal.
And to me blogging is personal. I love to write and the best way to become a better writer is to do it. A lot. I really wish I had more time to post but between my job (which involves a lot of writing) and the farm it is hard to find the time. As someone who loves the culture around open source software, sharing is key and I hope some of the stuff I’ve posted here has helped someone else as so many other blogs have helped me.
That’s about it for this update. I would promise that I’ll post more often and with better content in the future but I don’t like to lie (grin), and in any case thanks for reading.