Five Years of Blogging

This blog’s fifth anniversary recently passed. I posted my first entry here on May 28th, 2003, and it’s been an interesting ride ever since. (When I started this blog, I had no intention of ever becoming a web developer. Then I fell in love with web standards and web authoring, and now it’s my profession.)

People routinely ask me, “Why do you blog?” Sometimes they get really honest and come right out and say, “Aren’t you worried about privacy?” Privacy is definitely something I think about and feel strongly about. I’ve been reading (and listening) to Cory Doctorow’s new book Little Brother lately, and it has certainly brought privacy issues to the forefront of my mind. But at least with this blog, I get to choose what’s private and what’s not. That’s not a lack of privacy, that’s perfect privacy: controlled by the individual about whom the information is kept.

There are several reasons I blog. Lemme ‘splain it.

  • Recording personal history. This is probably the biggest reason of them all. This blog is a digital heirloom that I will pass on to my children and my children’s children, on and on forever. It won’t take much room to store: the contents of the entire database with all my entries and all the comments from you folks is currently only 3.1 MB in size. If you add all the photos, movies, and other random bits of junk, it inflates to 350 MB. However, in the year 2070, that’ll be nothing. (You can already fit 4 GB of data under your tongue.) Yes, I really do expect these writings to last that long and far longer. I wish I had journals and writings (or English translations of them since I don’t speak German or Swedish) from my ancestors in 1900 or even 1800. I might not read every word they said, but I would be fascinated to hear the kinds of things they cared about. I want to know what they believed, what motivated them, and what they learned. If those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, why would I want to allow my ancestors to be in that pointlessly-repeating crowd? The fact that I’m recording this also inspires me to not live a forgettable life. We’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, many of whom we’ll never meet.
  • Communicating with the world. The “personal history” reason above could be served just as well with me typing into text files on my hard drive and saving them online somewhere. So why make it an easily-accessible blog with a comments system and a Google sitemap? I do this because I love conversing with you all. I’ve been criticized in the past for being “in the comments” too much. At the time of this writing, this blog has had 2,646 comments from readers, and judging by a quick-and-dirty MySQL query, about 22% of them are written by me. I’m not just here taking your comments in silently. I’m responding and conversing. You’ve all taught me a lot through our conversations, and now, you’re all a part of my digital heirloom too. Thank you.
  • I ♥ the Intertubes. It’s true. I absolutely love authoring on an instantaneous worldwide platform. I love it so much I left my previous line of work (project management with a little web authoring when time allowed) and decided to make websites full-time. I don’t write these entries in WordPress’s “Visual Editor” thingy. I open up an XHTML document in TextMate. I like it that way. I don’t know why. Don’t try to sell me on MarsEdit. It’s cool, but I don’t want it. I’m not trying to be efficient, I’m trying to enjoy myself, and XHTML is fun, even if it’s simple. Aside from loving the code, I love having a distribution platform on which I can write creatively, release whatever kind of art or thoughts I want, and know that my good friends will see it. It encourages me to create.

Thanks for taking this ride with me. Here’s to five more years.