Do You Know Your Blogging History?
When people ask me “so…what do you do?” I -somewhat proudly- say, “I’m a Blogger”.
I suppose I could say that I’m a Founder of an Internet Startup, but isn’t everybody these days? Besides, the reason I started Triberr is to legitimize blogging as a profession, and create a powerful blogging middle class. And if you want to learn more about that, you can click here.
What I really want to share with you today is the history of blogging.
- Where did it all begin?
- What were the milestones?
- How did we get here?
And perhaps most importantly, where are we going?
So, let’s get started.
…in the beginning
It’s generally accepted that the very first “blog” -even tho that wasn’t the name used back then- was Links.net
It was a personal homepage of Swarthmore student named Justin Hall. When did Justin start his “personal homepage”?
I went to Archive.org to pull the “then and now” version of Links.net, you know…for comparison sake. And wouldn’t you know it, Links.net predates Archive.org.
In case you’re not aware, Archive.org has been taking snapshots of Internet pages since 1996. So, for example, you can got to Archive.org, and see what google.com looked like back in 1999. Btw, it looked like this.
Justin started Links.net in 1994. The Internet’s premier “way-back machine”, Archive.org, only goes as far back as 1996. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Anyways, here is Links.net back in 1996
And here is Links.net now:
You’ve come a long way, baby.
Weblog is Jorn
In 1997, Jorn Barger, a Usenet legend with more than 10,000 posting to his name, coins the term “weblog” to describe the process of “logging the web” as he surfed.
Note: Usenet was an early version of Twitter minus the 140 character limit.
Most fascinating thing about Jorn? Well, there are actually two things.
First, he came up with the “Inverse Law of Usenet Bandwidth” which still holds true for bloggers and Social Media types everywhere. The more interesting your life becomes, the less you post… and vice versa.
The second most fascinating thing about Jorn is that he looks like this ->
There he is, kids. The father of modern vernacular. The maven of Netlingo. The grand poobah of the Intertubes.
Don’t you just wanna give him a kiss? Muuuu-ahh!
Two important milestones happen in 1998.
Self described cyber-journalist, Jon Dube, writes a post covering Hurricane Bonnie. This marks the first time a news site used the Weblog format to cover breaking news.
This was the first baby-step in making blogging a legitimate media channel. Thank you Jon.
Open Diary, an early blogging platform that’s still in existence, does something totally weird and innovative. They add a “comment system” and effectively change the nature of online interactions from passive non-engagement to high-touch, close-combat, heavy-petting, all-up-in-yer-grill, kind of activity.
Peter Merholz gets clever on his Peterme.com blog and breaks up the phrase “weblog” into “we blog”.
Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams (Pyra Labs) used “blog” as both a noun and verb and cemented the term “blogger” when launching his Blogger platform.
Here is what Blogger.com looked like on October 12th, 1999.
Some dude named Jesse James Garrett, takes it upon himself to compile a list of blogs just like his. He then sends the list to his friend, Cameron Barrett. Cameron published the list on Camworld, at which point others started contributing to the list.
The original list published in 2000 recorded only 23 blogs.
In 2001, “how to” articles get huge; Wikipedia, launched the same year, undoubtedly had something to do with that.
Gizmodo and Boing Boing are launched.
In 2002, Technorati, a blog search engine, is launched.
Also in 2002, for the first time, political candidates experience the “problem” of citizens with a voice. For example:
Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott, kisses Sen. Strom Thurmond’s ass on Thurmond’s 100th birthday, saying that things would be better if Thurmond, a known rasist who ran on segregation ticket back in 1948- was elected President.
“We wouldn’t have had all these problems now”, said Lott on his speech on Dec. 5th 2002.
The story would have died out if there weren’t for those pesky bloggers who kept bringing it back up. Picking at it like a scab that just wouldn’t, it couldn’t heal. Until, eventually, mainstream media got wind of it…again, which led to Lott resigning his post as the Senate Majority Leader.
That’s what happens when you give people a weapon.
It’s 2003, and everyone is on MySpace.
Google buys Blogger from Pyra Labs. Also, updated and finally functional version of WordPress is launched which leads to creation of thousands of blogs per month. An unprecedented growth.
ReadWriteWeb (RWW), a Web technology blog got launched in 2003.
In short…blogging is taking off in a big way in 2003.
Facebook is being coded in a dingy Harvard dorm room.
Time Magazine publishes a Time’s Blog of the Year article. But there is also a backlash…
Mainstream media starts to fear the awesome power of Nobodies and highlights stories of bloggers getting fired for blogging. One such story if about Ellen Simonetti.
In 2004, Ellen Simonetti was suspended and then fired after Delta Air Lines objected to Ellen posing in photos on a company airplane and placing -what Delta deemed- inappropriate commentary on her blog. Ellen then publishes a book called a Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant: The Queen of Sky Blog.
Suck it, Delta.
If there was ever a wave to catch, this was it. In 2005, the Interwebs are exploding in a serious way.
Youtube is launched. LifeHacker and TechCrunch ditto. Also Mashable and Huffington Post. Digg was launched late enough in 2004 (Dec 5th) to be listed in 2005.
An early version of Blogger Perks is launched by Stormhoek, Hugh MacLeod’s wine company. They sent 100 bloggers a bottle of wine expecting nothing in return. And wouldn’t you know it, bloggers start writing about it and Stormhoek doubles its sales in less than 12 months.
Garrett Graff becomes the first blogger ever to be granted White House credentials.
Jeff Jarvis, a little blogger from nowhere, bullies Dell into doing the right thing and shipping him a replacement computer in place of the lemon they sold him previously.
50 Million Blogs
According to a tiny little blog directory site we mentioned back in 2002, Technorati reports that it has over 50 million blog indexed in its database.
Half-baked ideas that launched the previous year start to take off with the rising tide. Major media outlets team up with Huffington Post and Mashable to syndicate content across their respective channels.
On July 31, 2006, an unknown band named OK GO released a video featuring an elaborately choreographed dance on treadmills. This video was viewed by over one million people on YouTube in the first six days.
OK GO’s success wasn’t due to high search ranking, Google, radio, music industry channels, or any other “traditional” media exposure. It was due to social sharing. The times they are a changin’.
Also, in 2006, the genius behing 2 Million fake Twitter followers and Big Boy’s retarded cousin, Newt Gingrich, argued that censoring the Internet would be the right thing to do. Censor this (grabs his crotch), asshole.
TIME Magazine named Matt Drudge, the blogger behind the Drudge Report, one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Bloggers start to ask no one in particular if blogging is dead.
Monetizing your blogging becomes a pervasive topic of discussion amongst bloggers.
Tumblr is launched.
Twitter suffers growing pains and experiences long-term downtime. People are forced to talk to each other in person.
In 2008, Wired, a technology prediction Oracle, gets it completely wrong and tells us to give up blogging because Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004.
More importantly, we don’t own our Twitter followers, and we don’t own our Facebook Likes. But we do own our blog subscriber list, and the whole point of blogging is to have direct access to your audience. So thank you Wired, I think I’ll keep my blog if it’s all the same to you.
Also, (according to Technorati), a typical blogger contribute to four blogs on average, and the average blogging tenure is three years.
While only 14% of users in general population use Twitter, 73% of bloggers are actively promoting their blogs, sharing interesting links, and looking for trending topics. According to Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, May 2009 report.
In short, Bloggers like Twitter. This will become important next year.
Sites that were launched before or around 2005 benefit from the culture of backlinks which gave them high search rankings on Google. By this time, the culture of sharing has taken root, and these same sites get caught in a virtuous circle of high search rankings and new culture of social sharing.
Frog Legs, Anyone?
A subtle yet seismic shift has occurred, and Google was caught with their pants down.
No one noticed it because it took years, but the Blogosphere went from the culture of backlinking, to a culture of sharing. This sounds nice, except Google was never supposed to consider shares in their ranking algorithm. Google uses backlinks, and the relative authority of the site you’re receiving a link from, in order to rank you in someone’s search results.
How does Google build a ranking profile for a site if the culture has shifted, and the number of backlinks has dropped off to a statistically insignificant level?
In 2010, Google flirts with Twitter, while being actively ignored by Facebook.
Google rolls out G+, and Triberr is born.
By this point, Google had realized that the culture-shift has occurred and there was nothing Google could do to change that. So, they decided to play into the sharing culture by rolling out G+.
The big idea is that if people prefer to share (instead of backlink), and if Twitter and Facebook don’t want to play nice, then Google will create their own social network and force people to use it by integrating it with over 100+ other Google offerings to date.
At this point, the Blogosphere has turned into a society of 1 percenters who are bathed in Attention, and the rest of the Bloggers struggle to get their content seen amongst the onslaught of shares from sites that were launched years ago.
These old sites (like Mashable and HuffPost) routinely churn out mediocre content and yet benefit from 1000s of shares. Triberr is born to help small, and new bloggers get Attention.
Two important innovations occur that level the playing field for small bloggers.
Easy syndication option (guest posts) is available to everyone with a single click of a button, PLUS a comment system that mirrors ALL comments across ALL instances of a syndicated post is born. Both innovations are brought to you by Triberr.
Where Are We Going?
Instead of predicting what’s going to happen, I will only share what I am actively trying to make happen.
The Blogosphere is broken. Small bloggers who are creating amazing content are drowned out by the promotion machine of big, powerful, blogs.
In any society where there are few rich and many poor, the rich oppress the poor, and the poor, eventually, rise up.
Conversely, any society with a vast, expansive middle class, is tolerant, well educated, and enlightened society.
Unfortunately, the Blogosphere is a society of few rich. And if you want to rise up, we’ve made you a weapon.
Blogging is high-touch, close-combat, heavy-petting, all-up-in-yer-grill, kind of activity. So, tell me…
- When did you start blogging?
- What is the most historically significant blogging event for you?
- Are you ready to rise up?