Ten years ago today, I started this blog.
A year later, I wrote a first-anniversary post in which I went into detail about how and why I started blogging, how my blog got its name, how blogging had changed me, and a list of my favorite entries from that first year. If you’re interested in any of that, it’s all there.
Blogging has changed a lot in ten years. At the beginning of 2001, blogging was still pretty new — except to some people — and most blogs were either linkblogs, personal journals, or a combination of the two, like this one. Then 9/11 happened, and blogging went mainstream — but it came to be epitomized in the public mind by warbloggers and political bloggers.
There are a couple of reasons for this. One, the news media started to care about blogs only when blogs started to cover their territory — the news — so that’s how most of the general public was introduced to blogging. Two, the news media didn’t really care about other types of blogs; how do you explain to the masses such blogs as those by Jason Kottke or Matt Haughey or Anil Dash?
Then blogging became monetized, and most new blogs were launched with a focus on just one topic: politics, or home design, or being a mom, or making one’s way through Julia Child’s cookbook. Many of the personal blogs like mine started to fade away.
And then Facebook and Twitter appeared, and now nobody blogs anymore.
I miss the days when lots of gay guys blogged. We had our own homo blog community that spanned the nation and even the world. I made some good friends that way, and I even found my partner. There were lots of bloggers I never even met, and I miss them: bloggers like Closet Boy (what ever happened to him? I hope he’s out of the closet and living a happy life) and the Daily Dean (who, according to the photo on his faculty page, is as hunky as ever).
I really don’t understand why so many people stopped blogging. People claim to be too busy or too lazy or to have run out of things to say. That’s too bad, because I can learn so much more about people through a couple of paragraphs they’ve written than through their 140-character tweets. Reading a blog entry is like catching up with a friend; reading Twitter is like speed dating. When I post a new blog entry, I feel like I’m inviting you into my home, even if you’re reading this through an RSS reader. But when I tweet, I feel like I’m just throwing it out there into the agora where there’s nothing to distinguish it from anyone else’s tweets. It’s just noise — a stream of pithy data coming at you.
But I must confess: I myself once quit blogging. I had let my blog take over my life, and I needed to stop. A year later, I came back, after realizing that I could blog without baring my entire soul, that I could make my blog whatever I wanted it to be instead of letting it or its readers control me. Ever since then, my blog and I have had an understanding: I’m the boss.
You know what, though? I recently went back and skimmed through those highlights from my first year of blogging, and there were several incredibly soul-baring posts in there. There were times when I really lay myself out on a table for everyone to see. In some ways I feel I was a better writer back then, or at least a more interesting one.
Such is the price of stability, I guess.
Oh, one last thing: after I got to the end of writing this, I was curious to know what the traditional tenth anniversary gift is.
You know what it is?
I think that’s funny.
Or aluminum, I guess, but “The Aluminum Man” doesn’t have quite the same ring.
Happy tenth anniversary, blog.
(Explanation of photo here.)