I was chatting with Sally over the weekend about Reddit and the future of media when it occurred to me that I started my first blog over ten years ago, on January 10, 2003. In a catastrophic oversight, I missed an opportunity for an timely bout of navel-gazing. Instead, I'll indulge in a tardy bout instead.
Trent Lott incident. It was absolutely amazing--a columnist for the New York Times quoting a random dude who'd been harping on the Senate Majority Leader. Random dude!
In the history of print, the guy who controlled the press (or radio towers) controlled the dialogue. The internet, just about a decade old at that point, made it possible for individuals to begin publishing for free. Starting a blog didn't mean you immediately had the world hanging on your every word--but they could hang, if you were interesting enough. In 2002, the media landscape was little changed from the 1950s. You had newspapers, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, and Dan Rather on the nightly news (Fox existed, but it wasn't yet Fox), radio, and weekly magazines like Time. We had no YouTube, Twitter, or Reddit, RSS existed, but nobody knew how to use it. Google was just a search engine. Blogs were the Neanderthals of communications media--they were the first expression of the "democratization" of the internet people had been touting for years.
My first three blogs were political (Notes on the Atrocities and the cleverly-named Oregon Blog in 2003 and BlueOregon in 2004). I started this blog in January 2006. Over the years, blogs have changed--the subject of a future post in my indulgent week of metablogging--and they have diminished greatly in importance. Co-opted by the media giants they once threatened, blogs run by random dudes are now in quick decline. Politics and beer are actually decent places to keep a blog going--constant fodder--but we've long passed the golden era.
I, however, am far from bitter. When I started blogging, I was doing research at PSU in a field I wasn't trained in. It was a great job, but not a great fit--writing has always been more in my wheelhouse. For years and years, friends mocked my bizarre hobby (rightfully) and wondered why I could possibly be wasting my time doing it. The real answer is that the blog format abets obsessives like Alan and I, whom (speaking for myself), would either be blogging or sending out massive, unsolicited emails to friends. It gave us something to do. In my case, it also helped when I was pitching my book--when the editor at Workman saw Beervana, she thought I might be a good fit for their idea to do a Beer Bible. A win for obsession!
But really, ten years on, I blog because I can. I hope to be around another ten, riding the blog train into complete obsolescence. I hope you keep reading.