Blogging 2 Years Come September

There was a time when I was genuinely proud, in a kitschy sort of ironic way, that I had a “working lava lamp” on my homepage. This was circa 1995. My page had white text on a black background (wasn’t it cool how web pages could seem to float in space? wasn’t it interesting when we all realized it reminded us of black-velvet Elvis paintings and we all recoiled in horror?) Well, things have changed since then. We’re all so much more sophisticated, so much more jaded. But I’m not so jaded that I can’t celebrate 2 years of keeping a weblog. Because any reason to eat cake is a worthy enterprise.

While I was trying to figure out how to integrate memekitchen with my other more personal-brainfart weblog at drewspace, I remembered the weblog I started in September 2000, over at weblogs.com. And how I’d been hearing about weblogs since a year or more before, but how as usual it took me a year to get around to figuring it out and trying it for myself. (I am most definitely not one of the “cool kids” who do everything first — I’m more of a penultimate cool kid. The safe, let’s see if this is actually really stupid before I try it kind of cool.)

I suppose I’d been ‘blogging’ even earlier, when I was part of a group of online gamers with our own little website, and I talked one of them into whipping up a little perl script to allow us to put newsy bits on the homepage more easily. (Hm, that was around ’97 I believe). But nobody called it blogging yet, so it didn’t count :-)

I’m not sure what I think about all the ballyhoo around weblogs. I have my doubts about overturning the corporate media with millions of weblogs, the way some have forecast. As with most revolutions, this one will be co-opted and folded into the mainstream, almost imperceptibly, and perhaps mostly for the better. It’ll naturally become a part of the mix of human experience, and will mix its DNA with everything else, and change will happen. Which is evolution. Which is much nicer, and less likely to inspire cheesy anthems.

It’s fun to think that we’re all contributing to knowledge and, to some degree, truth. I mean, when people search for something on Google, the results they get are to a large degree shaped what gets linked to and discussed in weblogs. When people browse for information about a new subject, they’re more likely to hit sites that the sites they find link to. (That was such an awkward sentence. My 8th Grade English teacher would’ve had “awk” scrawled in red ink all over it!! But guess what? This is the Web!! So I don’t CARE!!! Muhahahahaha!)

What still excites me about blogging is the ability to create a kind of massive anthill, as a species, that contains vestiges of our personal selves, our real voices, our lived stories. Not just the sterilized version, but a hive-mind version with all the murmurs, whispers and casual asides. It’s all part of living our lives in front of others, an activity which our air-conditioned suburbs have been causing to diminish over the last 50 years or so. It’s a new way for us to be social, and yet private at the same time. It’s both a leap forward in the evolution of how we converse and commune, and a return backward to something more social and open. That still sounds like hype, I suppose. But it’s my hype, so it’s ok with me.

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  • http://studioid.com Michael

    Congratulations, Drew. I’m just happy to read the interesting and substantial commentary you post. Who cares about being first to market.

    I like your comment that blogs force us to be social. Having grown up in the suburbs and now living in NYC for the past 9 years I think I have some perspective about living our lives in front of others. I think interacting with people in your neighborhood in a city does allow you more opportunities on a daily basis to socialize and share yourself (thoughts I mean) with people. I don’t think this happens as often in suburbs. In my first apartment near Times Square, I was a little overwhelmed with the faces that confronted me as I stepped out of my door — roomates, the neighbors, the doorman, the hoardes of tourists, business people. It was too much for me. Living in Brooklyn is more manageable, but I find that a lot more of my more meaningful interactions lately are via email and AIM with people I’ve met via my websites and with co-workers and friends. The ability to be social and still private suits me I guess and is pretty damned convenient when you’re schedule is too full to physically go see friends too frequently.

    Not sure what I believe yet about whether or not blogs will overtake the corporate media. But it is very valuable, in my opinion, to have alternatives to the controlled messages we receive in the corporate media. The big problem, in my opinion, is getting people who only follow the large media makers to question what they see/hear there.

  • http://www.memekitchen.com/ Andrew

    Thanks, Michael. I used to live in Louisville, KY, and there was a district there on Bardstown Road where I got to walk around and knew people there and felt like I was part of a real community. To some degree I’ve missed that in Greensboro. When I was at the university, I had it somewhat, (it has a little college-towny street next to it) but it’s not the same, since the majority of people there are by definition temporary.
    I pretty much grew up in a suburban environment, so it’s not like I grew up with a face-to-face neighborhood surrounding me. So, I wonder if there is some innate need in many people (or all of us?) to find a place like that, where we can know our neighbors, shop on our street, watch out for each others’ kids?
    The Internet won’t ever really be like that, because so much of what makes that kind of space valuable is the physicality of it (actual life and limb are involved). The Internet does, however, give us a kind of spiritual manifestation of that kind of community, which, perhaps, can whet our appetites for the “real thing”?